Americans have a nasty habit of depriving ourselves when we want to drop pounds. We often believe that cutting calories is the secret to success, but we wind up just feeling hungry all the time. It may surprise you that one healthy alternative to the hopeless feeling of hunger is to actually add food to your diet. Evidence suggests that adding nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods to your diet can actually help reduce your cravings. The secret? Fiber slows down the digestion of food, so you get a slow and steady source of glucose rather than ups and down in blood sugar levels.
Most Americans don’t get enough fiber. On average, we take in 15 grams a day of the 25 to 38 grams that are recommended, depending on your gender 1. So where do apples fit into all this? One apple with the skin on contains roughly 4.4 grams of fiber, about one fifth of your daily intake. Also, apples are rich in a very powerful kind of fiber called pectin, which is typically used as a gelling agent and stabilizer in food. It’s that stuff that they make jams and jellies out of. Pectin also is effective in delaying the emptying of the stomach by slowing the movement of food from your stomach into your small intestine, which works to discourage overeating and help you sustain that full feeling for a greater extent of time.
Still have your doubts? One study showed that substituting pectin for regular fiber doubled the time it took subjects’ stomachs to empty, keeping them full that much longer 2. In another study, scientists found that when participants ate an apple or a pear before meals they experienced weight loss 3. So, while it might seem counterintuitive, adding in those extra calories before meals can actually help you stay full for longer so that you resist those dangerous junk foods between meals!
But that’s not all. There is more to apples than just their awesome ability to keep us feeling full for longer. Apples provide many positive health benefits, specifically anti-cancer benefits. One report published in 2008 claimed that apple extracts and components have been shown to influence multiple mechanisms relevant for cancer prevention in in vitro studies. They also went on to say that epidemiological observations indicate that regular consumption of one or more apples a day may reduce the risk for lung and colon cancer 4.
Next time you’re looking around for something to eat, try grabbing an apple. By you’ve taken that last bite, you probably won’t be hungry anymore. You may just find that over time it helps you to become a slimmer, healthier you!