- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 5, 2005

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — America’s most-common apple also may be its most potent. Just don’t skimp on the skin.

A Canadian government study that measured the levels of antioxidants in eight varieties of apples found that Red Delicious contain the highest concentrations of the health-enhancing chemicals.

And to get the most bang for your bite, be sure to eat the peel.

The skin of Red Delicious apples — the most-common variety grown in the United States — contains more than six times more antioxidant activity than the flesh, according to researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

But don’t swear off other varieties just yet.

Though antioxidants are thought to help ward off certain diseases, more research is needed to determine whether quantity alone counts. The study did not consider whether antioxidants in some apples may be better absorbed than others.

Until that is known, food scientist Rong Tsao says his study — which also identified the chemicals responsible for antioxidant activity in apples — probably is most useful to horticulturists breeding new, antioxidant-rich varieties.

The information also could lead to the development of techniques for harvesting antioxidants from the waste products of the apple-processing industry, the bulk of which is peel, Mr. Tsao said.

The study, to be published in the June 29 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, compared apple varieties popular in Canada, some of which are available only regionally in the United States.

Red Delicious, which accounts for 27 percent of U.S. apple production, has more than six times the antioxidants as the bottom-ranked Empire variety. In every variety tested, the skins of the apples contained substantially higher levels of antioxidants than the flesh.

Mr. Tsao attributed the variations to differences in growing seasons, geography and genetic predispositions.

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