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Red-y for September Apples?

As we venture into September, this month kicks off the first couple of weeks of fall. With fall comes the family-friendly activity of apple picking. Are you red-y to learn more about apples?

Apples are a crop we can grow here in our region of the Midwest. More than 2,500 varieties are grown in the U.S., and more than 7,500 varieties are grown worldwide. Of the vast array of varieties available, experts here at NDSU Extension have found the following varieties to grow best in our region:

  • Hazen
  • Honeycrisp
  • Zestar
  • Sweet Sixteen
  • Haralred

The five varieties listed are extremely hardy and have been found to withstand the harsh weather conditions of winters in North Dakota.

I am sure you are familiar with the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Although preventing a visit to your health professionals takes more than just an apple, the saying holds some truth due to the nutritional benefits an apple provides.

Apples are relatively low in calories, with a medium apple containing 80 calories and absolutely no fat, sodium and cholesterol. Additionally, apples have many vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C and A.

Interestingly, approximately half of the vitamin C content of an apple is housed just beneath the skin. That means consuming the skin and flesh of the apple is important.

In addition to the vitamins apples provide, they are an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber. The soluble fiber, known as pectin, has been found to assist in reducing the cholesterol buildup that occurs in the blood vessels that leads to atherosclerosis and heart disease. The insoluble fiber of the apple assists our intestines by providing bulk and moving food quickly through the digestive system.

Apples also are an excellent source of various phytochemicals (also known as phytonutrients), which vary depending on the variety of apple, when it was harvested, how it was stored and the apple’s processing. Research has found that the powerful phytochemicals found in apples can play a major role in reducing the rapid growth of cancer cells, decreasing lipid (LDL) oxidation and helping reduce the risk of Type II diabetes mellitus.

Apples not only provide many nutritional benefits, but add a variety of taste, texture and colors to a meal. Apples can be sweet, tart, soft, crunchy, crisp and smooth, depending on the variety one chooses. Because of the variety of taste, texture and colors, apples are used in many ways, from a raw snack to a variety of cooked and preserved foods.

Source: This information is based on the NDSU Extension publication “From Orchard to Table: Apples!” at www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/from-orchard-to-table-apples/fn1847.pdf.

 

Stephanie Jensen, Program Assistant, NDSU Extension

Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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