Wonder Fruit: Weight-Loss Benefits of Adding Apples to Your Diet
Fruits are packed with important nutrients and vitamins that support a healthy diet. Generally, they are low in calories yet high in fiber, making them great additions for your weight loss diet. More so, they are also important to regulate vital functions in the body and prevent certain risks for diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and heart disease (1).
If you happen to hear the phrase, “an apple a day keeps the doctors away” – you might get the hint that apples are no exceptions to the many health benefits of fruits (2). As a matter of fact, apples are considered as one of the healthiest foods you can eat and include regularly as part of your healthy eating plan (3). Recognized for being a nutritional powerhouse, apples offer numerous benefits and nutritional value that you can even get by having it as a standalone snack (4).
Best of all, they are cultivated around the world, and are extensively produced in the genus, Malus (4), which are found throughout temperate zones of the northern hemisphere (5). Moreover, they are native fruits of North America, Asia, and Europe – making them available all-year-long (4).
Researches Supporting the Weight-Loss Benefits of Apples
The health benefits offered by these crunchy and juicy fruits are often unimaginable, but many of them have been backed up by research and scientific studies. For instance, a study revealed that apples and apple juices are effective in decreasing individuals’ risk for cancer on the colon, breast, and skin. Other than that, they are also found to alleviate the effects of asthma and Alzheimer’s disease, and also stimulate digestion, strengthen bone, and promote weight loss (4).
That said, there are studies that found apples to support weight loss (1). Researchers put forward that including apples in one’s healthy diet can promote weight loss. On that note, a study that involved women with excess weight following a low-calorie or weight-reduction diet revealed that apple intake is associated with weight loss (6).
In a study wherein women were given three pears, three apples, and three oat cookies – all with similar calorie value – everyday for 10 weeks, the researchers found the apple group lost the most pounds (0.91 kg) compared to the pear group (0.84 kg) and oatmeal group (no change) (1). In addition, the apple group lessened calorie intake by 25 calories daily, while the oat group ended up eating a bit more calories (6).
In addition, an observational study conducted on 124,086 individuals found that people who consumed apples lost around 0.56 kg per serving per day over a four-year period (1).
There are two studies that also linked apple juice to the trimming of body fat. Moreover, apple polyphenol extract – which is made from one of apple’s natural compounds – has also been linked to lowered cholesterol levels (1).
Nonetheless, research still suggests that apples should be eaten whole (rather than juiced) to control your appetite and reduce hunger. You can eat them either cooked or raw, or you can add them to your hot and cold cereals, stews, salads, and yogurt or even bake them solely (1). Aside from their weight loss benefits, they are also found to improve the overall diet quality and reduce the risk of obesity in children (6).
There’s no doubt that apples – like any other fruit – are jam-packed with nutrients that can aid in weight loss and overall health. As per the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a medium apple contains the following (7):
- Calories: 95 (7)
- Protein: 0.5 grams (7)
- Fat: 0 g (7)
- Fiber: 4 g (14 percent of daily value) (7)
- Magnesium: 9 mg (7)
- Carbohydrates: 25 g (7)
- Vitamin C: 8 mg (7)
- Potassium: 195 mg (7)
Other vitamins and minerals found in apples include vitamins A, E, K, B1, B2, and B6, as well as copper and manganese. The rich lineup of phytochemicals in apples include anthocyanin, quercetin, and chlorogenic acid are also important for overall health (4).
Weight Loss Benefits of Apples
Some studies have compared the consumption of apples to other fruits and foods and found that apples come on top in aiding people lose weight. If you still need some convincing, here are some noteworthy benefits of apples in weight loss from dieticians’ perspective (8).
1. Apples are High in Fiber
Apples contain outstanding fiber content – specifically in pectin fiber. This type of fiber helps reduce the levels of unhealthy saturated (LDL) fats, as noted in DK Publishing’s book, “Healing Foods.” Moreover, pectin fiber also helps lower the body’s absorption of excess dietary fats and keeps you full for longer (9).
On that note, a Bangalore-based nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood mentions that fiber delays digestion, which keeps you satiated and prevents you from bingeing on other foods that are fattening or sugar-loaded. She added, “in the long run, this aids in weight loss (9).”
That said, the apple’s impressive fiber content makes it a favorite of nutritionists worldwide. The four grams of fiber located in a medium-sized apple covers 16 percent of the recommended fiber intake for women and eleven percent for men (9).
In addition, the pectin fiber content in apples is said to slow digestion while pushing stool through your intestines smoothly. Thus, it aids both in digestion and weight loss (9).
2. Apples are Low in Calories
As per healthadvise.org’s chief editor Edie Reads, RD, “losing weight is as simple as restricting caloric intake, rather, burning more calories that you consume.” Reads adds “Apples are high in water, while low in overall calories. This is one fruit you want to eat as a snack. Its high-water content will keep you full for longer so you can limit your caloric intake. (3)”
Apple contains a lot of water. In fact, a medium-sized apple has about 86 percent, making it filling – often leading you to reduced calorie intake and overall less calorie density in foods. In other words, foods with low calorie density – like apples – tend to be high in water and fiber. Although a medium-sized apple has only 95 calories, it has plenty of water and fiber (6).
There are also studies that prove low-calorie-dense foods promote fullness, less calorie intake, and weight loss. In one study, it is found that apples lead to reduced calorie intake and weight loss compared to oat cookies, which have higher calorie density yet similar fiber and calorie contents (6).
Simply put, apples contain all factors that aid weight loss: very low in overall calories, low in calorie density, and high in water content (6).
3. Apple Fills You Up
It is known that one of the most popular secrets in shedding those extra pounds is to make yourself feel full. Thus, taking in low-calorie fats, complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fiber-rich foods like apples can help you feel full for hours (3).
On that note, Finally Full, Finally Slim author Lisa R. Young PhD, RDN, states, “Apples are high in fiber, antioxidants, and low in calories—making it a filling snack and perfect for weight loss. (3)”
4. Apples Have High Water Content
Apples are one of the most filling and nutrition-packed fruits that you can include in your diet plan. In addition to fiber, an apple is also rich in water (particularly containing 86 percent water) – making it a healthy snack that induces satiety without taking in much calories (9).
Staying hydrated does wonders for your skin and helps to ease headaches. On that note, studies have shown that increased hydration can significantly contribute to fat loss and weight reduction. Apart from staying hydrated with a bottle of water, you can also eat apples to benefit from high water content with loads of healthy fiber (8).
5. Apples Have Low Glycemic Index
Glycemic Index (GI) is much related to your blood sugar, which can come in handy if you’re aiming to shed some extra pounds. The scale, which ranges from 0 to 100, indicates how much blood glucose is raised by a food within two hours of consumption (8).
According to dietician Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD, consuming foods with a lower glycemic index may aid in weight management, as a steadier blood sugar keeps your hunger at bay. Otherwise, having a low blood sugar makes you hungry and want to eat again (8). This leads to our next point…
6. Apples Help Prevent Overeating
Given that they are nutrient-dense foods, apples aid well in weight loss. As mentioned by Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, with Balance One Supplements, the two primary factors that make an apple a great addition to your weight loss diet would be fiber and water content (3).
Best says, “Staying full for longer periods of time on a low-calorie food, like apples, can prevent overeating throughout the day on high-calorie foods. The fiber and water content both contribute to the weight loss benefits of apples in this way (3).”
7. Apples Prevent Blood Sugar Spikes
According to Theresa Gentile, owner of Full Plate Nutrition and New York City Media Rep for the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Diabetics, “Apples may promote weight loss by preventing blood glucose and insulin spikes (3).”
She adds, “Anthocyanins in apples may help adipose tissue and skeletal muscle take up blood glucose to burn for energy and reduce glucose production in the liver. The result is a decrease in circulating insulin levels needed to clear glucose from the blood. This can contribute to weight loss because insulin is a prime fat-storage hormone and you don’t want excess levels floating around (3).”
8. Apples are Full of Antioxidants
Apples are rich in antioxidants, particularly an antioxidant called quercetin – which reduces inflammation in the body. Reducing inflammation alone has its own benefits, but it can also pave the way to shed those extra pounds (8).
“Inflammation is linked with obesity because it may affect insulin resistance—the way our bodies use insulin,” says Andrews. He also adds, “When we have insulin resistance, our bodies may produce more insulin, which makes our bodies fat. Quercetin may alter pro-inflammatory compounds in the body, and therefore impact insulin resistance (8).”
It is important to note that you can get the most out of apples’ antioxidants by eating them raw (8).
9. Apples are Convenient
Given their outstanding availability around the globe, apples can be eaten regularly as a healthy snack – even on busy days. Its convenience factor may especially aid in weight loss (8).
As per dietician Elizabeth Gunner, RDN, Convenience is key to creating healthy lifestyle choices that are feasible for you. She explains, “If the healthy choices you are making aren’t convenient for you, then you are less likely to stick to them long-term (8).”
If you want to eat apples on a regular basis, Gunner suggests making these healthy options visible and easy to pick up on the go. To do so, she mentions that you can place fruit in a fruit bow and set it on your countertop where it can be highly visible and aesthetically pleasing (8).
A Note on Eating Too Much Apples
Since apples are high in fiber, eating the fruit in high quantities can lead to unpleasant side effects, specifically if you are not used to doing so. Increasing fiber intake too quickly can result in bloating, diarrhea, or gas. Plus, eating too much fiber can also affect how your body properly absorbs minerals and vitamins (10).
For instance, if you decide to consume five medium apples daily as an addition to your normal food intake, you would increase your calories by nearly 500 daily, or 3,500 weekly. Since 3,500 is equal to a pound of body weight, you can gain 52 pounds annually by consuming five apples a day. However, substituting an apple for a higher calorie snack, you can lose weight (2).
Some Delicious Recipes to Try
You can either have apples in your salads, blend them into a refreshing smoothie, or eat them raw. While there are many options out there, here are two weight loss-friendly recipes to try.
1. Apple Chia Seeds Smoothie
This simple, quick, and delicious recipe only takes five minutes and three ingredients to make. It is great to take on the morning or as an evening snack.
2. Apple and Walnut Salad
If you’re looking for that flavorsome and crunchy combination of walnuts and apples, this recipe is perfect for you!
3. Jowar Apple Crumble
Apple crumble has been an all-time favorite combination for the gluten-free jowar. The good news is, this incredible recipe is definitely easy to make.
Apples are one of the healthiest fruits made easily available. Plus, they offer incredible benefits for weight loss because of their high fiber and water content, complex carbohydrates, antioxidants, and micronutrients.
Although it works great in addition to your diet, keep in mind that you need to consume the right amount of these fruits, and not beyond what is needed to avoid weight gain.
Nonetheless, apples offer a lot more benefits than one could imagine, and it does keep you in shape and healthy for a long time. That’s why, they make the best (and probably healthiest) convenient snack for anyone trying to lose weight.