An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away… or does it?

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”

I think I must’ve heard that line more than 100 times growing up. I even said it to others myself! And sure enough, I believed it. 

After all, aren’t apples a nutritious fruit that help your skin complexion and heart health and aid in weight loss and make your teeth white and so on?

I thought so too… and honestly, they do have health benefits, but not the ones most Americans and Canadians consume today. Here are some concerning facts I’ve found in my research that I think you should be aware of:

Chemical Spray

Apples are one of the most chemically-sprayed fruit  in America. In fact, in a study conducted by the USDA in 2016, it was found that 80% of conventionally-grown apples contained diphenylamine, a chemical that is banned in Europe. Diphenylamine  is used to keep apples free from brown spots (aka apple scald), and to look healthy and ‘fresh’. You can also find diphenylamine in machine lubricants, and used as fungicides. As well, the chemical is considered ‘practically insoluble’, which means it won’t come off when you wash an apple underwater. And to top it off, in another study it was found that diphenylamine actually got past the skin of the apple.

Coated With Wax

Most apples are coated with wax (yes, really) to appear shinier. When apples grow on trees they form a natural wax coat as protection. But after apples are picked from farms and washed, food processors apply a coat of synthetic edible wax to them, usually made from carnauba, beeswax, or shellac. Here is a video showing results of apples before and after the wax is removed; it’s pretty surprising. Apparently the best way to wash the wax off is with vinegar. It would be easy to just peel the skin of the apple, but that’s where most of the nutrients and fiber are!

Not Just Apples

Unfortunately, apples are just the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to the EWG (Environmental Food Group), each year they come out with updated information about which produce is safe and unsafe.

Here is a list of the top 13 most heavily sprayed produce with chemicals and pesticides:

  • Peaches
  • Apples (apples topped this list for 5 years in a row previously)
  • Strawberries (one EWG study found 36 types of pesticides on strawberries)
  • Cherries (pesticides found in 91% of cherries tested in EWG study)
  • Grapes
  • Pears
  • Hot Peppers
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Celery (29 varieties of pesticides found)
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes (also found to contain fungicides)
  • Tomatoes

(list source:

A lot of the foods I love are on this list, so finding out they are so heavily sprayed with chemicals was a real shock to me. The best solutions I’ve found to keep eating these foods without the negative effects of chemicals are to buy organic, when in-season, farm-fresh, or even frozen.

And how many times have you seen someone take a bite out of a fruit just after they bought it? I admit I did it myself a couple times (no wonder the apple tasted weird). So if I could give one piece of advice, it’s to never ever eat fresh produce without washing it first. For all the reasons listed above!

-USDA. (March 2005). Apples: Shipping Point and Market Inspection Instructions. [report]
-Natural News, Edsel Cook. (Sep. 2018). 80% of non-organic apples are sprayed with a toxic chemical to make them look fresh. [blog post]
-MSU, Jeannie Nichols. (Aug. 2018). Wax On Produce. [article]
-Down To Earth, Tracy Rohland. (Oct. 2017). The Dirty Dozen: Most Heavily Sprayed Foods. [blog post]
-EWG, Alex Formuzis. (March 2017). Pesticide Push-Back, the Clean Power Plan, Frozen Foods and More. [article]
-USDA. (Oct. 2017). Ethylene. [report]
-Youtube. (April 2016). Apples and Wax - What You Should Know, fixitsamo.

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