Getting the recommended apple a day to keep the doctor away is easy this time of year.

The more than 100 different species of apples grown throughout the United States are in abundance in September and October. Throughout the fall, orchard farmers in from New York to California welcome families for apple picking. Ginger Golds, Honeycrisps, McIntoshes and Galas were part of the bumper apple crop reported in the New England area, with some regions reporting pickings earlier than usual and fruits above average in size.

No matter how the apples are eaten, the fruit flesh and skin offer significant benefits to health. Eating apples can reduce risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, asthma and diabetes. The fruits are rich in phytochemicals, which are strong antioxidants. The consumption of apples has also been demonstrated to alleviate age-related neurodegenerative processes such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The composition of apples and amount of phytochemicals can vary between varieties and the ripeness of an apple. Storage does not impact the phytochemicals, but processing of the fruit into applesauce or other products can. One category of phytochemicals is flavonoids, and apples are a major source of this in the United States with 22 percent coming from apples.

One type of flavonoid is quercetin, and it may play an important role in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders. Quercetin is primarily found in apples, berries and onions. Flavonoids are also beneficial for lung function.

The apple skin or peel has higher phytochemical content, antioxidant activity and antiproliferative activity than the flesh of the apple. The peels of four varieties of apples (Rome Beauty, Idared, Cortland, and Golden Delicious) were researched, and Idared and Rome Beauty apple peels had the highest total phenolic contents and were also highest in flavonoids.

The apple peels also contain pectin, which is a soluble fiber that is considered effective in lowering cholesterol levels. Researchers have found that apples are the richest of fruits in pectin. Apple pectin in any form is advocated for diabetics, those suffering from ulcers and colitis, and for regulating the blood pressure.

Apples are good for all ages. The National Institutes of Health even have apples in the healthy nutrition campaigns targeted for children, with apples featured in playful songs and games.

The apple industry in North Carolina, one of the leading apple producers in the United States, summarizes the benefits, "Apples are by far America's favorite fruit. Apples contain modest amounts of nearly all the most important nutrients. And because of their universal flavor appeal, versatility and convenience for use, nutritionists and dietitians rate them high on any list for eating right and staying fit. They are good for your teeth, stomach, your skin and complexion, your nerves, your smile and overall good health."

So enjoy an apple a day.