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5 Reasons To Eat An Apple A Day To Keep The Doctor Away

Posted Sep 15 2012 10:29am

It’s that time of year again: days getting shorter, air turning cooler, kids heading back to school and especially for those of us in New England, the leaves are turning and apples are ripening!

While available year round at any local grocery store, there’s something about snacking on a crisp, juicy apple that just seems more satisfying in the fall. They certainly are a tasty treat, but is there really anything to that age-old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?” I think it’s about time to get to the core of the question:

An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away picture

What if the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” was true?

The Apple: 95 calories, 4 grams of fiber, 0 fat, 0 cholesterol and a good source of vitamins and phytochemicals

Phytochemicals? These chemical compounds occur naturally in plants. You may also know them as antioxidants or flavonoids. Even though some have been identified, there are many that are still being discovered. So, the best way to get all the benefits is to eat them as fruits and vegetables from which they come.

Getting back to the whole apple, 5 reasons to reach for one a day:

1. Weight Loss/Maintenance

Apples are about 85% water meaning you’re going to fill up before you fill out. With that much water, these fruits are far from calorie dense. Plus, when you bite into one you will naturally have to slow down to eat it. Taking your time and chewing each bite can help your brain catch up to your stomach.

2. Blood Sugar Control

Apples have a good amount of fiber packed in – and not just any fiber: pectin, a soluble fiber. The soluble fiber is found in the inner part of the apple, the flesh under the skin. Soluble fiber mixes with water in your digestive system and slows things down.

This not only makes you feel full and keep you full longer, helping with weight control, but can help control blood sugar levels. Since fiber itself doesn’t raise insulin levels and acts to slow digestion you don’t experience that “sugar high” and then low that can come with simple carbohydrates.

3. Heart Health

It may surprise you to learn that the same soluble fiber can help your heart by lowering the LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. As the apple and the fiber from the apple moves through your gut, the fiber interferes with the re-absorption of cholesterol back into your blood. While the apple is a great source of this soluble fiber, so too are oats and legumes.

4. Digestive Health

Both soluble and insoluble fibers are key here, and apples have both. The insoluble fiber, found in the peel of the apple, helps keep you regular by getting things moving along. Regularity that comes with a high fiber diet may help with certain digestive conditions such as IBS and diverticulitis. Equally important is feeding the good bacteria in your gut.

These good bacteria keep you healthy and participate in digestion. Feeding them the right things can be simple. Some types of soluble fiber are prebiotics, and this feeds the bacteria. You may have heard of probiotics as well – both are important for a healthy gut.

5. Cleaner Teeth

Apples can clean your teeth? I know it’s surprising, but apples like other crunchy foods help to brush away bacteria and anything left around your teeth especially after a meal. Plus, it gets your salivary glands going which promotes dental health.

All in all, I’d say apples live up to the hype. No time like the fall to go sample your local apples. Red, green, yellow or pink it’s high time to find your favorite and take a big juicy bite.

About The Author: Hillary Monroe, MS RD. Hillary is a Registered Dietitian in Boston, MA and a writer for Everyday Health Calorie Counter .

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