The goal of the Family & Consumer Sciences Program is to improve the quality of life for individuals and families in Garrard County. We want to help the residents of our county meet new challenges in a changing environment. We focus on our clients' economic and social well-being through programs that help people extend their incomes, improve their health and strengthen their personal and family relationships.

For more information, contact Mary Hixson, County Extension Agent for Family & Consumer Sciences at the Garrard County Extension Office 859-792-3026

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An Apple a Day

By Mary Hixson, FCS Extension Agent for Garrard County

The old adage of an apple a day, keeps the doctor away, may well be true. Since they are rich in pectin and mild acids, apples help digestion, including a healthy dose of prebiotics. Each apple averages four grams of fiber which helps to slow digestion. In a large study reported in JAMA Internal Medicine, participants who ate at least one small apple per day required fewer doctor visits, hospital stays, and prescription medications than those who didn’t eat apples.

One medium apple with skin counts as a fruit serving according to USDA’s MyPlate and contains about 95 calories. An apple supplies 14 percent of your Daily Value (DV) of vitamin A and 11 percent of the DV of vitamin C. Antioxidants, such as vitamins A and C help prevent excessive free radical damage, which research shows reduces the risk of chronic disease.

While a fresh apple is best, apples are successfully kept in controlled-atmosphere (CA) storage that regulates the temperature and the atmosphere. CA storage seals the apples in an environment that is around 2 percent oxygen and carefully manages temperature, humidity, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. Since apples continue to ripen after they are picked, CA storage slows this process, essentially putting the apple to sleep. This allows for extended storage of four to six months, meaning most apples you see at the store out of season have been stored this way.

Which apples should you buy? That depends on what you are using the apples for — cooking, baking, drying, or eating raw. To cook with them, use these measurements: one pound of apples is equal to two large, three medium or four small apples; that one pound of apples yields three cups of diced fruit or two cups of peeled, sliced fruit; and two pounds of apples is enough for a 9-inch pie. Apples recommended for pies and applesauce include Braeburn, Jonagold, Cortland, Winesap, or McIntosh. For baking, try Fuji, Winesap, Granny Smith, and Rome. Gala apples are great for drying.

Look for apples that are free of bruises and firm to touch. To store small amounts of apples for one to four weeks, place in the refrigerator away from strong odors. Apples stored at room temperature will soften about 10 times faster than if refrigerated. For eating, try the varieties of McIntosh, Fuji, Red Delicious, Gala, Crispin, Braeburn, or Honeycrisp. There are many other popular varieties available at your local markets that could become your favorites, if you just try them.

There is nothing better than a bite from a sweet, crisp apple and although fresh from the tree is a little past due right now in Kentucky, there are still many apples available through grocery stores and farm markets that might still be open.

While historians believe the apple originated in Asia, early settlers planted apple trees in the United States in the 1700s. U.S. Apple reports there are more than 100 apple varieties grown commercially, and 90 percent of the production is from 15 popular varieties. So, have you had your apple today? This is a great time of year to keep apples as a healthy snack since we are all around many sugary treats and have more occasions than usual to eat unhealthy choices for snacking. Snacking the unhealthy choices is okay in moderation, but having healthy options readily available helps all family members snack mindfully.

Source: Dr. Sandra Bastin, RDN, LDN, Extension Professor, Foods and Nutrition Specialist