The researchers, led by Rong Tsao, Ph.D., of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Guelph, Ontario, also pinpointed the individual chemical compounds responsible for antioxidant activity in apples. The findings could lead to the breeding of hybrid apples that pack a heftier antioxidant punch.
The report appears in the June 29 issue of the American Chemical Societys peer-reviewed Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. ACS is the worlds largest scientific society.
Researchers have long known that apples are a good source of antioxidants, a group of chemicals that scavenge and neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals. Free radicals, which can wreak havoc on cells and tissues, appear to play a role in the onset of heart disease and prostate, colon and other cancers.
Polyphenols phytochemicals that act like astringents are major sources of antioxidants in apples, but which polyphenols are most active in the fruit has perplexed scientists. Tsao and his colleagues used three different laboratory measures to evaluate polyphenol activity in apples that are popular in Canada: Red Delicious, McIntosh, Cortland, Northern Spy, Ida Red, Golden Delicious, Mutsu and Empire apples. However, the researchers did not include a number of other apples popular in the United States including Gala, Granny Smith, Jonathan, York, Stayman and Rome. All of the apples used in the study were grown on the same farm under similar conditions. The researchers found: