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Apples are a source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber such as pectin actually helps to prevent cholesterol buildup in the lining of blood vessel walls, thus reducing the incident of atherosclerosis and heart disease. The insoluble fiber in apples provides bulk in the intestinal tract, holding water to cleanse and move food quickly through the digestive system.

There are hundreds of varieties of apples on the market today, although most people have only tasted one or two of the most popular such as Red Delicious or Granny Smith. Apples can be sweet, tart, soft and smooth or crisp and crunchy, depending on the one you choose. There is an apple to suit almost everyone's taste.

It is a good idea to eat apples with their skin. Almost half of the vitamin C content is just underneath the skin. Eating the skin also increases insoluble fiber content. Most of an apple's fragrance cells are also concentrated in the skin and as they ripen, the skin cells develop more aroma and flavor.

One medium apple contains about 80 calories and is a good source of fiber and Vitamin C.

The antioxidant phytonutrients found in apples help fight the damaging effects of LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Just one apple provides as much dietary fiber as a serving of bran cereal.

An apple a day strengthens lung function and can lower the incidence of lung cancer, as well.

Apples contain the essential trace element, boron, which has been shown to strengthen bones - a good defense agianst osteoporosis.

In an average year, U.S. farmers grow about 250 million bushels of apples.

About 60 percent of the U.S. apple crop is consumed fresh.

The top U.S. apple varieties are: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith, Fuji and McIntosh.

Largest apple producers (in decreasing order): China, United States, Italy, France, Poland and Germany.

About 300 different apple varieties are grown in the U.S.

Look for firm apples, free of wrinkles and bruises.

Store apples in their original plastic bag in the refrigerator where they will keep for up to one month.

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