By: Mary Ann Lienhart-Crosslienhart@purdue.edu

Photo Credit: Evey Wilson/The Elkhart Truth

When it comes to eating, nothing says fall like the crunch of a fresh locally grown apple or the flavor of fresh cider, cold or hot.

The cooler temperatures bring to my taste buds so many great-tasting locally grown foods. But the queen of the fall is the apple.

The apple is a food that tastes good and is good for you. A medium apple only has about 81 calories, is full of fiber and can help you maintain a healthy weight. An apple also  keeps blood sugar levels up — making you feel full longer — and the sweet taste and satisfying crunch adds to your eating pleasure.

Locally grown apples will put a fresh crunch into your healthy eating plan. A real plus is that there are so many locally grown varieties and you can pick them yourself or purchase them freshly picked.

Even better, apples have no cholesterol and contain a water-soluble fiber called pectin that can actually help lower blood cholesterol levels. The potassium in apples can contribute to the control of high blood pressure. Potassium is also associated with a reduced risk of stroke. The carotenoids found in apples can actually help reduce the risks of developing some forms of cancer.

Each of us needs to effectively fight the stress of everyday life as well as reduce the risk of developing heart disease and some forms of cancer and diabetes.

Apples can also help with the prevention of osteoporosis, which is the bone-thinning disease that causes bone fractures in women over 60. Apples contain boron, a mineral that works with calcium. Retaining calcium is also important in preventing tooth loss. A recent U.S.D.A. study showed that boron in apples could help keep you mentally alert by influencing brain function.

To work more apples in your healthy eating plan, here are some suggestions:

  • Mix apple chunks into a favorite high-fiber breakfast cereal. The apple chunks add a sweet crunch and extra fiber.
  • They’re great tossed in both fruit and green salads.
  • For a quick, low-calorie dessert, microwave a cored apple in a little apple cider or other fruit juice until tender.
  • Apple slices, low-fat cheese and whole-wheat crackers make a delicious snack or appetizer.

Enjoy an apple every day.

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