Ask A Scientist
How many apples does the average American eat each year?
Asked by: Caitlin McSorley
School: Maine-Endwell Middle School
Teacher: Mr. K. Wagstaff
Hobbies/Interests: Gymnastics, Swimming, Track, Reading
Career Interest: Something to do with animals or art
Answer from Jennifer Wegmann
Lecturer, Binghamton University
Research Area: Eating disorders and body image
Interests/Hobbies: Exercising, reading, writing
Family: Husband, Tom; two sons- Nick & TJ
According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) the average American consumes approximately 50.6 pounds of apples per year. That may seem like a lot but it is important to understand that we consume apples in many different ways. For instance, of those 50 pounds only 37 % or 18.6 pounds are consumed by eating fresh whole apples. The other 63% is consumed by eating processed apples like those found in apple juice, applesauce, and of course apple pie.
There is good and bad news found in these statistics. The bad – a majority of our apple consumption is from processed apples and when we consume apples, or any food for that manner, that have been processed we miss out on many of the benefits that the natural apple provides. For example, the fiber found in an apple is almost completely lost when it is turned into apple juice. Additionally, when we process apples to make foods like apple pies or apple crisp we also add a lot of sugar and fat which in turn lowers the healthiness of the original apple.
However, the good news is that we are consuming almost 19 pounds of fresh apples a year and they are providing many health benefits. Apples are low in calories and high in nutrients and fiber. They pack a nutrient punch with out overloading our diets with unnecessary calories (which can lead to weight gain). Most American’s get less than half the fiber they need each day. Fiber helps keep our digestive track working properly and can also reduce our risk of heart disease. Apples also provide many vitamins and minerals including vitamin C and potassium. Finally, they provide phytochemicals and antioxidants that help protect us against disease. Phytochemicals are substances found only in plants and although they are not essential to our diet they have been found to reduce our risk of conditions like heart disease and cancer. Anti-oxidants help neutralize free radicals in our bodies that cause cell damage, this helps with everything from keeping our skin healthy and looking young to keeping the inside of our vessels free from plaque. So I guess that old saying, “ An apple a day helps keep the doctor away “, really is true.