Apples and Oranges
August 01 2008 12:00 AM ET
Everyone's heard the old saying 'It's like comparing apples to oranges,' suggesting that not all fruit is the same. And it's true'apples are quite different from oranges, but both fruits are nutritional powerhouses that should be included in your diet.
Let's look first at apples; they've got a lot going for them. Apples are low in calories and high in soluble fiber, and they contain many micronutrients. Because apples have a lot of soluble fiber'much in that pectin form that is used to gel jellies'they may also have a role in lowering blood cholesterol and improving insulin response to foods.
Apples also are packed with several phytonutrients and flavonoids, especially in their skin, that have been associated with a lower risk for cancer and of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The sugars in apples are mostly from fructose, a natural carbohydrate with a low glycemic index (meaning apples' sugars cause only small fluctuations in blood-glucose and insulin levels).
What's the best way for you to get apples into your diet? Fresh with the skin still on is best, but frozen apples and unsweetened applesauce are good for you too. At the market, choose firm, fresh apples and store them in your refrigerator for healthy, crunchy treats.
Now let's turn our attention to oranges. By weight, apples and oranges have similar low calorie levels and small amounts of carbohydrates. Oranges, however, have a bit less fiber'about 2.5 grams per fruit compared to between three and five grams in apples. And if you think oranges are juicier than apples, you're right'they have considerably higher water content.
Oranges have many nutritional benefits, including about 30 micrograms of the B vitamin folate, 50-55 milligrams of vitamin C, and 175 milligrams of potassium.
For the most nutritional benefits, eat whole fresh oranges, including the white pulp (called the albedo), which contains much of the fruit's beneficial phytonutrients and fiber that help lower cholesterol and blood-pressure levels.
Oranges stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator (but never in plastic bags!) will stay fresh for about two weeks.
So there you have it'our comparison of apples to oranges. Suffice it to say, though different, both are good for you. Talk with your dietitian about how to best incorporate these fruits'and others'as a healthy part of your diet.
Fields-Gardner is the director of services for the HIV nutrition company Cutting Edge and is a member of the International AIDS Society and the American Dietetic Association's Dietetic Practice Group on HIV and AIDS. She is the author of Living Well With HIV and AIDS: A Guide to Nutrition and a coauthor of HIV Medications: Food Interactions and A Clinician's Guide to Nutrition in HIV and AIDS.