Today is National Eat An Apple Day. Given that there are a number of apple orchards in our area I am sure they agree we all should eat an apple today! I am certain you have heard the phrase "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." This dates back to 1866 when the saying was: 'Eat an apple on going to bed, and you'll keep the doctor from earing his bread."

This is a case where there was some truth in an "old wise tale." An apple has only 50 to 80 calories, no fat or sodium and high levels of vitamin C, A, and smaller amounts of phosphorus, iron and calcium. An apple is also high in soluble fiber. We all know about the recommendations to have more fiber in our diet. There was also a study that showed an apple before a meal helped women lose 33 percent more weight than those that did not.

There are more than 7,500 apple varieties. Apples have been grown for thousands of years in Europe and Asia. They were brought to North America by immigrants from Europe. When settlers moved from the east coast to the Midwest they brought apples with them. However, they found the varieties could not survive the harsh Minnesota winters. That led to the start of the apple breeding program at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. This is one of only about 3 apple breeding programs still in existence in the United States.

I am sure you will recognize some of these apple varieties that were developed at the University of Minnesota: Haralson, Fireside, Honeygold, Honeycrisp, SweeTango, Zestar, SnowSweet just to name a few.

One of the other reasons apples are so popular is that they can used in so many different ways. You can eat them right off the tree, or in apple pie, apple crisp, apple sauce, apple cider and now even hard apple cider. My favorite is apple pie, especially topped with ice cream.

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