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    N.Y. Growers Urge Kids to Leave Apples for Santa on Christmas Eve

    FISHERS, N.Y. - New York apple growers are again urging kids to leave apples out for Santa on Christmas Eve, instead of cookies or other fatty treats.

    FISHERS, N.Y. - New York apple growers are again urging kids to leave apples out for Santa on Christmas Eve, instead of cookies or other fatty treats.

    The apple message is part of an ongoing campaign to promote better health and fight the national obesity epidemic. "Let's face it: Santa has a weight problem," said Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association. "Those extra pounds on old St. Nick are not so jolly. They can lead to serious health problems like heart disease and diabetes."

    This year marks the fourth for the "Apples for Santa" campaign. The state association hopes to foster a new tradition that would regularly encourage Santa and his "helpers" to choose healthier treats during the holidays. Apples, it says, are 100 percent fat-free, have only 80 calories, and are high in fiber. They have been proved to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and asthma, according to a recent study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition."

    This fall Cornell University researchers found that apples can help prevent Alzheimer's disease. A Cornell study four years ago proved that apples help fight cancer. In addition, a newly published scientific review in the United Kingdom reports that eating more fiber and phytonutrient-rich apples may significantly reduce the risk of developing digestive or "gut" cancers, among the world's top causes of cancer-related illness and death.

    The New York Apple Association, based in Fishers, N.Y., has been making a big push to promote the health benefits of apples. New York state, with 695 commercial apple growers, ranks second nationally in apple production.

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