10.8.15

Red or Green Apples: A Debate Beyond Colors And Into Your Diabetes Philosophy

Red and Green Apples Debate: Diabetes Management

A classic dual worth a bit of contemplation, chiefly due to autumn’s arrival, apples (we’re simplifying by omitting yellow) have been a staple of human society since possibly the Stone Age. The bulk of the apple’s use in history can be chalked up to the recreational buzz from a good glass of cider. Only within the last hundred years have breeds been cultivated for the palate; out of the 1000s of apple phenotypes, only about 10 are sold for widespread commercial consumption, including the subjects of today’s discussion.

I will eat any apple: red, green, small, large, sweet, bitter, cider, pie, etc. I love the sour first bite, and subtle sweetness of a Granny Smith. I crave the overwhelming sweetness with light tart of a Fuji. With all this apple talk, wish I could teleport into New England for a few weeks. Whatever, I’ll settle with the watermelon in OK.

The choice of apple, largely the selection of color, can result in substantial differences in both blood sugar considerations and nutrition benefits. So, let’s weigh the options:

  • Starting with the standard, large Granny Smith: 27.5 carbs and 5.7 grams of fiber. If blood sugar concerns are the guiding force, the lower carb count plus the fiber is decent bet for slow absorption and consistent sugars. Plus, research from 2014 points to Granny Smith’s stimulating the reestablishing the gut microbiome in obese mice. Good stuff.
  • Moving into the classic, large Red Delicious apple: 35.4 carbs and 5.5 grams of fiber. Again, if blood sugar concerns are the guiding force, this apple does pack more carbs than the green, making the green the safer bet in that comparison. But, an important note is the distinction of the red delicious apple as having the most antioxidants in a selection of apples studied.

Okay, so apples are awesome on all fronts. So, which would you choose? Do you go with the green due to the lower carb-count and potential benefits in the gut? Do you choose the loftier carbs in a red delicious in exchange for the antioxidant effects (the ability to clean up cellular damage, preventing cancer)?

This opens up the inevitable choice we all make daily, in diabetes terms–take the low-carb safe approach or the preventative, possibly higher carb philosophy. I am not imploring that all low-carb foods are low in nutrient value. Instead, I am examining the body’s need for fruits and vegetables, usually on the higher end of the carb scale, albeit with tons of fiber.

On a basic level, the question is this: In your life, today, do you feel that eating the red apple is worth it? For me, being partial given the diet I consume, I would choose the red apple in any given scenario 90% of the time. Why? I am comfortable with the sacrifice, even the possible rise in a1c (although this has not happened), to insert more nutrient rich foods in my life. I totally get and relate to the other side of the coin. In a year, I may fall into that camp. Who knows.

 

Which apple would you choose? What’s your outlook on food choices? Feel free to join the discussion with a comment.

Former co-founder of DiabetesDailyGrind, Ryan's mission is to motivate others with diabetes to live their own authentic life. Most days, when not in the hospital during his medical residency, you can find him on the bike, surfboard, or yoga mat. He believes in the power of clean eating, and loves his Dexcom.

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