To the heroes who eat the whole apple: In addition to extra fiber, flavonoids, and flavors, you quaffle ten times more bacteria per fruit than your core-degrading counterparts.
Is that a good thing? Probably. But it could depend on how your apples were grown.
A new study published in Frontiers in Microbiology shows that organic apples contain a more diverse and balanced bacterial community ̵
You are what you eat
Nowhere more than your gut.
"The bacteria, fungi and viruses in our food temporarily colonize our guts," says study leader Professor Gabriele Berg from Graz University of Technology, Austria. "Cooking kills most of it, which is why raw fruits and vegetables are a particularly important source of intestinal microbes."
To facilitate the selection of our colonic colonists, Berg's group analyzed the microbiome of one of the most popular fruits in the world: the apple.  "In 2018, 83 million apples were grown and production continues to increase," says Berg. "While recent studies have mapped their fungal levels, less is known about the bacteria in apples."
The researchers compared the bacteria in traditional, store-bought apples with those in optically-adjusted, fresh organic apples. Stem, peel, pulp, seeds and calyx – the shabby bit at the bottom of the flower – were analyzed separately.
Microbial diversity indicates advantage of organic apples
Overall, the organic and conventional apples were populated with a similar number of bacteria.
"If we sum up the average values for each apple component, we estimate that a typical 240 g apple contains about 100 million bacteria," reports Berg.
The majority of bacteria are in the seeds, with the meat making up most of the remainder. So, if you throw the core away – out of shame! – Your intake drops to just under 10 million. The question is: are these bacteria good for you?
When it comes to gut health, variety is the spice of life – and in this respect, organic apples seem to be ahead of the pack.
"Freshly Harvested, Organically Farmed In comparison to conventional apples, apples have a much more diverse, uniform and clearer bacterial community," explains Berg. "This diversity and balance is expected to limit the overgrowth of a species, and previous studies have reported a negative correlation between the frequency of human pathogens and the microbiome diversity of fresh products."
Specific groups of bacteria known for their unhealthy potential are weighed in favor of organic apples.
" Escherichia-shigella – a group of bacteria that contains known pathogens – was found in most conventional apple samples, but none made from organic apples – for favorable Lactobacilli – of probiotic fame – the opposite was true the case. "
And there may even be a justification for those who can" taste "the difference in biological products.
"Methylobacterium, which is known to enhance the biosynthesis of strawberry flavor compounds, was significantly more abundant in organic apples, especially peel and pulp samples, which generally had a more diverse microbiota than seeds, stems or calyxes."
The results reflect the results of fungal communities in apples.
"Our findings are remarkably consistent with a recent study of the apple fruit related fungal community, which revealed the specificity of fungal cultivars for different tissues and management practices." comments Birgit Wasserman, mountain protégé and lead author of the study.
Together, the studies show that the apple microbiome is more diverse in both bacte- ria and fungi in organically grown fruits. Since another study has shown that the apple mushroom community is also variety-specific, the bacterial analyzes should also be repeated for other varieties.
"The microbiome and antioxidant profiles of fresh produce could someday become standard nutrition information displayed alongside macronutrients, vitamins and minerals as a guide for consumers," Wasserman suggests. "An important step will be to confirm the extent to which diversity in the food microbiome leads to microbial diversity in the gut and improved health outcomes."
Consumers willing to pay more for locally grown apples
Birgit Wassermann et al., One apple a day: Which bacteria do we eat with organic and conventional apples?, Frontiers in Microbiology (2019). DOI: 10.3389 / fmicb.2019.01629
An apple carries about 100 million bacteria – good luck washing dishes (2019, 24th of July)
retrieved on July 24, 2019
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