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One of my favorite fruits is also a health and weight loss wonder. Anyone who is trying to follow a healthy diet should always have these treats on hand for a quick, satisfying snack.
My go-to choice for a fruit snack – apples.
Apples represent some of the tastiest, most remarkably healthy fruits. Aside from being easy to store and consume at the spur of the moment, these fruits produce benefits that continue to impress researchers.
Apples help weight-loss
A lab study at Washington State University shows that natural substances in apples that are metabolized and fermented by bacteria in the gut can influence body chemistry in ways that help you keep off extra pounds. Granny Smith apples are particularly rich in these non-digestible compounds.
“We know that, in general, apples are a good source of these non-digestible compounds but there are differences in varieties,” says food scientist Giuliana Noratto who led the study. “Results from this study will help consumers to discriminate between apple varieties that can aid in the fight against obesity.”
Although the dietary fiber in apples may not be directly digested by the intestines, they are taken in by intestinal (probiotic) bacteria.
In her lab study, Noratto found that “the nondigestible compounds in the Granny Smith apples actually changed the proportions of fecal bacteria from obese (lab animals) to be similar to that of lean (animals).”
Noratto notes that by balancing bacteria in the intestines, apples can keep the immune system behaving more moderately. The result: less of the type of inflammation linked to diabetes.
“What determines the balance of bacteria in our colon is the food we consume,” she says.
She adds that when apples re-establish a healthy balance of bacteria, you also feel more satisfied with less food. That translates into fewer calories and a lower weight.
According to researcher Bahram H. Arjmandi, at Florida State University, apples are a “miracle fruit” that everyone should be eating daily.
Arjmandi says that lab studies have demonstrated how apple pectin (a type of dietary fiber) and polyphenols (beneficial chemicals found in apples) improve the ways in which the body deals with fats and reduces molecules in the body that would otherwise increase inflammation. Arjmandi’s own studies have shown that eating apples protects the heart health of postmenopausal women.
The results of Arjmandi’s research have demonstrated health benefits that were stronger than he initially expected. When women in his research ate apples everyday for six months, their LDL (bad) cholesterol dropped by an average of 23 percent. Arjmandi terms these “incredible changes.” In addition, apple consumption was linked to heart healthy reductions of lipid hydroperoxide levels and C-reactive protein.
“I never expected apple consumption to reduce bad cholesterol to this extent while increasing HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol by about 4%,” Arjmandi says.
He also points out that in his study, the extra 240 calories per day in the apples his subjects ate did not cause them to gain weight. To the contrary, they lost an average of 3.3 pounds.
“Reducing body weight is an added benefit to daily apple intake,” he says. He believes that the pectin in apples, which adds to your feeling of fullness after eating, is a key to helping you take off pounds.
While the old saying goes: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” you can also add that the same apple keeps the belly fat and diabetes away.