Apples are sweet, crunchy and delicious — and they’ve always been known to be super-healthy (hence the saying “An apple a day ...”). Multiple studies show that, as part of a healthy diet, regularly eating apples can help prevent diabetes, reduce cholesterol, help fight heart disease, keep your brain sharp, protect against asthma and even fight some kinds of cancer.
As if that’s not enough, here’s one more big benefit: Apples can help you lose weight. Here’s why.
1. Apples are low in calories.
Not all calories are created equal. The calories in most fruit — including apples — are low-density, meaning there are fewer calories per gram of food. Translation: Apples give you fewer calories in each crunchy bite. And that’s good news if you’re trying to lose weight.
2. They’re rich in fiber.
Experts say eating high-fiber foods helps reduce the risk of weight gain in a couple of ways. First, fiber fills you up, so you’re less likely to overeat. Fiber also feeds the good bacteria in your gut, improving gut health. Studies have shown a connection between harmful gut bacteria and obesity. And if you want to get the most fiber from your fruit, eat the apple skins.
What kind of apple you eat may make a difference too. One study found that Granny Smith apples, which have more indigestible fiber than other varieties, benefited the growth of gut-friendly bacteria. The study was on mice, so the implications for humans aren’t clear. But if you’re trying to shed pounds, munching on a tart green Granny Smith can’t hurt — and it may help.
3. They fill you up.
Apples have a high water content (they’re 85% water) and are rich in fiber (a medium apple contains 4 grams, or about 14% of your Daily Value), two things you need to feel full. According to the Satiety Index — a list researchers created in 1995 that ranks foods by how well they help you feel full — apples can fill you up more than many other foods, even eggs, cheese and beans. The more satisfied you feel, the less likely you are to overeat and pack on pounds.
Apples have one other feel-full benefit: They take time to eat. Foods you can gobble down quickly tend to leave you hungry, so you end up eating more. In one five-week study of 58 people, those who had an apple before their meals ate less and took in fewer calories than those who had either apple juice or applesauce — both of which have less fiber and take less time to polish off.
4.They satisfy your sweet tooth, naturally.
Apples have a low glycemic index, which means your blood sugar levels don’t spike when you eat them. So, while a rosy Red Delicious or sunny Honeycrisp might taste amazingly sweet, your body is able to process the sugar in a manageable way. And because apples are both sweet and filling, snacking on an apple can be a smart way to control cravings when you’re trying to lose weight. Just be sure to eat the whole fruit, peel and all. The fiber will help keep you satisfied.
(EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at www.eatingwell.com.)
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