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Food & Recipes

An Apple Carries 100 Million Bacteria — But Are They All Good For You?

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. And it may also boost your gut health — if it has the right kind of bacteria. Recent research shows that apples in general can contain up to 100 million bacteria, but the specific strains depend on what type you buy. But wait, are all of these bacteria in apples considered good bacteria?

The July 2019 study published in Frontiers in Microbiology found that organic and conventional apples were both occupied by similar numbers of bacteria. Interestingly enough, the vast majority of this bacteria was found in the seeds, as well as other parts of the core. So if you eat the entire apple, you can consume 100 million bacteria. But if you toss the core, you end up consuming about 10 million (not too shabby, if you ask us!). Researchers found that organic apples harbor a more balanced bacterial community, which could make them not only healthier for you but tastier as well.

“Freshly harvested, organically managed apples harbor a significantly more diverse, more even and distinct bacterial community, compared to conventional ones,” said senior author Professor Gabriele Berg in a press release. “This variety and balance would be expected to limit overgrowth of any one species, and previous studies have reported a negative correlation between human pathogen abundance and microbiome diversity of fresh produce.”

Specific groups of bacteria known to affect health also pointed toward organic apples as the better choice. Berg explained, “Escherichia-Shigella — a group of bacteria that includes known pathogens — was found in most of the conventional apple samples, but none from organic apples. For beneficial Lactobacilli — of probiotic fame — the reverse was true.”

So the next time you go to the grocery store, you might consider swapping conventional apples for organic. A small change in your shopping list can make a big difference. And don’t worry — you don’t need to eat the core if you don’t want to!

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