Get thinner with the right kind of apple

If you bob for apples this Halloween, you may be able to offset some of the fattening effects of holiday candy.

That’s because a study of how apples feed the probiotic bacteria in the intestines shows that one apple variety may be particularly helpful in helping you keep your weight down.

One of the health problems that arises when you gain weight is an increase in the body’s inflammation. The extra fat you carry around your middle as you put on pounds leads the immune system to overproduce cells that can interfere with the function of various organs. The result is a greater susceptibility to chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.

But Granny Smith apples, lab tests at Washing State University indicate, may help limit this inflammation and, at the same time, help eliminate some of those extra pounds.

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An apple a day keeps the fat away

The dietary fiber and other natural substances (“nondigestible compounds”) in Granny Smiths are particularly adept at nourishing the digestive tract’s probiotic bacteria that keep digestion functioning smoothly.

“We know that, in general, apples are a good source of these nondigestible compounds but there are differences in varieties,” says researcher Giuliana Noratto, a food scientist. “Results from this study will help consumers to discriminate between apple varieties that can aid in the fight against obesity.”

Granny Smiths are a concentrated source of the natural substances preferred by probiotic bacteria. They are also lower in sugar which might otherwise promote the growth of harmful microbes.

Noratto believes that the apples can support the growth of probiotic bacteria associated with less body fat. She notes that the bacterial communities living in the digestive tract of overweight people can be dominated by harmful bacteria.

“What determines the balance of bacteria in our colon is the food we consume,” she said.

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There’s more: Less fat, more muscle

Many individuals will often peel their apples before eating them, discarding a part of the fruit that has been known to be rich in nutrients. But, researchers at the University of Iowa know of one more reason why consumers should opt to keep their apples intact: The skin apparently contains a compound that may stave off muscle loss.

“Many of us know from our own experiences that muscle weakness and atrophy are big problems as we become older,” said Dr. Christopher Adams, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa, said in a press release. “These problems have a major impact on our quality of life and health.”

In research modelling using elderly mice, researchers found that rodents that ate food supplemented with ursolic acid — a component of apple peels — had a 10 percent increase in muscle mass and a 30 percent increase in muscle strength — the equivalent of returning muscle ability to that of a young adult.

These muscle-boosting compounds may one day be added to foods, supplements or drugs. But there’s no reason for you to wait on that to start beefing up your muscles. Just wash your apple well, choose organic apples preferably, and don’t peel them to benefit.

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Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.