Skip to Content

Which is healthier red apple or green apple?

Apples are one of the most popular and delicious fruits, known for being crunchy, sweet, and highly nutritious. They come in a range of colors, with red and green being the most common. But when it comes to health, is one color of apple better than the other? Let’s take a detailed look at red versus green apples to find out which variety packs the most nutritional punch.

Nutritional Breakdown

At first glance, red and green apples look quite similar in terms of nutrients. One medium apple of either color contains around:

  • 95 calories
  • 25 grams of carbohydrates
  • 4 grams of fiber
  • 14 grams of sugar
  • 195 milligrams of potassium
  • 8.4 milligrams of vitamin C (14% DV)

However, when we dig deeper and look at some of the individual antioxidants and polyphenols found in apples, a few differences emerge.


Both red and green apples contain various antioxidants that can benefit health, including:

  • Quercetin: Found in apple skin, quercetin is an anti-inflammatory flavonoid antioxidant.
  • Catechin: This natural phenol antioxidant has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Chlorogenic acid: This antioxidant compound is thought to help lower blood sugar levels.

Some research shows that red apples, especially Red Delicious, tend to contain higher antioxidant levels than green. One study found total antioxidant activity was:

  • Red Delicious: 22.22 mmol
  • Golden Delicious: 21.01 mmol
  • Granny Smith (green): 18.95 mmol

The same study also found that polyphenol concentrations were higher in red apples compared to greens.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful nutrient that acts as an antioxidant in the body. It’s also essential for immune health, collagen production, and iron absorption.

While both red and green apples contain vitamin C, green tend to pack a bit more of this nutrient. Here’s how the vitamin C content of 1 medium apple compares by color:

Apple Color Vitamin C
Red (Red Delicious) 7.3 mg (8% DV)
Green (Granny Smith) 11.8 mg (13% DV)

As you can see, choosing a green apple over a red provides significantly more vitamin C.


Anthocyanins are a special type of polyphenol that give red apples their brilliant color. They act as powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in the body.

Red apples contain significantly higher levels of anthocyanins compared to green varieties. In one study, red apples had up to 4.5 times more anthocyanins than green apples.

Some of the specific anthocyanins found in red apples include:

  • Cyanidin-3-galactoside
  • Cyanidin-3-glucoside
  • Cyanidin-3-arabinoside

Research shows that anthocyanins have many potential health benefits, including:

  • Lowering heart disease risk
  • Protecting brain function
  • Controlling diabetes
  • Reducing cancer risk
  • Easing inflammation

For these reasons, the anthocyanins in red apples give them an antioxidant edge over green.


Dietary fiber is important for digestion, heart health, stabilizing blood sugar, and weight control. Apples contain a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol and slows digestion, while insoluble aids digestion and promotes regularity.

Both red and green apples contain similar amounts of fiber. A medium-sized apple has around 4 grams of fiber, or about 16% of the recommended daily amount.

The skin of the apple contains much of the insoluble fiber, while the flesh is higher in soluble fiber. Therefore, be sure to eat the skin for the greatest amount of fiber.

Sugar Content

Although apples are relatively low in calories, they do contain sugar. The natural sugar found in apples is fructose, along with smaller amounts of glucose and sucrose.

On average, a medium apple contains around 14 grams of sugar. The glycemic index (GI) of apples ranges between 29–44, which is low to moderately low.

Green apples tend to be slightly higher in sugar content and glycemic index (GI) value compared to red. However, this difference is minimal:

Apple Color Sugar (grams) Glycemic Index
Red (Red Delicious) 12.4 29
Green (Granny Smith) 13.8 31

Overall, both red and green apples can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy, balanced diet.


Tannins are natural compounds found in apples, particularly in the skin. They have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in the body.

Apples with thick, dark skins like Red Delicious tend to be highest in tannins. Green apples have lower tannin levels in comparison.

Research shows tannins may help protect against chronic diseases including heart disease and cancer. They can also help manage diabetes.

Nutrition Summary

When we look at all the evidence, each color of apple has its own unique health benefits:

Red apples:

  • Higher in antioxidants like anthocyanins
  • Contain more tannins

Green apples:

  • Higher vitamin C content
  • Slightly more sugar and higher GI

This comparison shows that antioxidant compounds seem to be greater in red apples. However, green apples still contain antioxidants and polyphenols, just in slightly lower concentrations.

Overall, both types of apples offer crunchy nutrition and health perks, so enjoying a balance of different colors is the best approach.

Health Benefits

Here’s a closer look at some of the top studied benefits of apples for health:

Supports Heart Health

Numerous studies link apple consumption with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Apples help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation – all protective factors for your heart.

Much of apples heart-healthy effects come from the soluble fiber they contain. Fiber binds to cholesterol in the gut, helping pull it from the body.

The polyphenols found in apples, including quercetin, catechin, anthocyanins, and chlorogenic acid, also support heart health through their antioxidant effects.

Regulates Blood Sugar

The fiber in apples helps slow the absorption of sugar from the digestive tract into the bloodstream. This moderates blood sugar spikes after eating.

Polyphenols like chlorogenic acid also help control blood sugar levels. Some research shows apples may improve insulin sensitivity and lower diabetes risk.

Supports Gut Health

Around 80% of the immune system resides in the gut. The polyphenols and insoluble fiber in apples help nourish gut bacteria.

Apples are also a prebiotic food, meaning they contain compounds that stimulate healthy bacteria growth. A healthy gut microbiome boosts immunity and digestion.

Aids Weight Loss

Apples are low energy density, meaning they provide few calories for their volume. The fiber fills you up without adding tons of calories.

By suppressing appetite, moderating blood sugar, and promoting digestion, apples can support weight control and loss.

Fights Cancer

Certain compounds in apples, including antioxidants like quercetin, catechin, and chlorogenic acid, may help inhibit cancer cell growth and tumor formation.

While more human research is needed, studies show apples could lower cancer risk in the lung, breast, liver, colon, and prostate.

Improves Brain Function

Quercetin and other antioxidants in apples help protect the brain from oxidative damage that can lead to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Animal studies also indicate apples may help preserve acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that declines in Alzheimer’s disease.

Supports Lung Function

Due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, some research shows apples may help improve lung function. Apples may lower your risk of asthma and slow rates of lung decline as you age.

Downsides of Apples

Apples make a super healthy addition to your diet, but do come with some potential drawbacks to consider:

  • Pesticide exposure: Buy organic when possible to minimize pesticide residues.
  • High in sugar: Apples contain fructose, which can be problematic in excess amounts.
  • Contaminated with bacteria: On rare occasions, apples have caused food poisoning from E. coli or Listeria bacteria.
  • Allergies: Some people are allergic to fresh apples or apple pollen.
  • May interact with drugs: Compounds in apples may interact with certain medications like blood thinners.

As long as you eat them in moderation as part of a overall healthy diet, apples make an excellent addition to your regular fruit intake.

The Bottom Line

When you’re choosing between red and green apples, both provide incredible health benefits thanks to their fiber, vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content.

Red apples excel when it comes to flavonoid antioxidants, especially anthocyanins, that give them their red color. This provides powerful anti-inflammatory and disease-fighting effects.

Green apples are marginally higher in sugar and carbs. However, they contain more vitamin C and are still a great source of antioxidants.

To reap the optimal nutritional rewards, include a colorful mix of different apple varieties in your diet. The saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is really true!