A recent Austrian study confirms the indelible belief that an apple a day keeps the doctor away — especially when you cram the whole freaking thing, core included, down your throat. The researchers estimate the average apple contains a whopping 100 million beneficial bacteria, which may help with digestive disorders, but when you renounce the core, that number lands closer to a whimpy 10 million.
In my humble opinion, this is just another example of why the world is one gargantuan sick joke: The least appetizing part of the apple is considerably healthier than the most appetizing part.
Look, I know humans can be picky and have a tendency to waste perfectly good food. As dietician Abbey Sharp, author of The Mindful Glow Cookbook, points out when discussing our habit of trashing apple cores, “We waste 30 percent of our apples, which is about $42 wasted per person each year.”
Does that really mean we should be gobbling apples whole, though? I guess that depends on your priorities (and your gag reflex). But if you do choose to follow this suggestion, there are a couple things you should know. “One thing to keep in mind is that apple seeds contain a substance known as amygdalin, which can release a small amount of hydrogen cyanide when digested,” Sharp warns. “However, you would have to eat an extremely high dose of apple cores to achieve any fatal dose of cyanide, so I wouldn’t worry about this too much if you’re consuming apples in normal portions.”
Another thing you might be worried about, especially if you’re a small child with a big imagination, is whether those apple seeds will grow into trees in your stomach. You might be happy to learn that your stomach, brimming with highly acidic digestive juices, is a completely inhospitable place for plants to grow. Basically, unless you eat bulging sacks of apples on a daily basis, eating the whole freaking thing, seeds included, is absolutely safe.
The bigger concern for me, though, is actually managing to swallow that stringy and unappealing core. “Most people would probably find it difficult to swallow a whole apple core,” Sharp reiterates. “Blending it in a smoothie may help. Sautéing the apple to soften it can also help, and you could then add that to oatmeal.” Sadly, though, the study authors mentioned that cooking them kills most of the healthy bacteria, because again: World = sick joke.
If you’d rather slam the entire raw apple, Sharp suggests, “Some people find eating the apple from the very bottom and finishing at the top, where the stem is, may help because you’re not just isolating the core and eating it separately.”
Which makes a certain amount of sense, but eat an apple like that in public and I guarantee you’ll be the subject of a viral smartphone video in days.