The Apple Diet

That old saying about "an apple a day" might just be true. Eating apples can improve your health and reduce your weight.  Wow! A diet that's healthful, easy and delicious, too! Here's what you should know.

Apples are wonderful fruit. They are credited with reducing asthma in children, fighting cancer and slowing Alzheimer's disease.  The soluble fiber in apples, called pectin, binds with LDL cholesterol so it can be eliminated and helps the body regulate blood sugar levels, a boon to diabetics.

Although grocery stores carry a broad variety of apple varieties, their nutritive value doesn't vary significantly, so choose the apples that taste best! Just don't peel the apple before eating. Much of the nutritive value is actually in the apple's skin, so peeling is a real waste.

The Apple Diet is pretty straight forward. Before each meal, you eat an apple. Yep, that's it. Just eat an apple before anything else at each meal. The theory is that eating an apple will make you feel full more quickly, which will let you eat less without feeling deprived.

Does the Apple Diet work? Scientists at Pennsylvania State University took up that question. They studied three groups of people and their calorie consumption. One group had nothing special before they were given a meal. A second group received sliced apples (the equivalent of about 1 ½ apples) and the third group was given a similar amount of applesauce or apple juice.

All three groups had their calorie intake measured. On average, the group receiving a before-meal apple ate 187 fewer calories than the group that did not receive any apple products. That's a nice reduction, given that the people in the study did not know that their calorie intake was being measured, so they ate until they were satisfied. The group that received applesauce or apple juice ate about the same amount as the group without any apples.

The scientists speculate that the fiber in the apples made the diners feel full more quickly. Since apples have very few calories (45-75 calories), they replace food with much higher calorie content. Instant victory! Without feeling deprived, you have just reduced your calorie intake. Without counting calories or cooking up special meals, you can lose weight and improve your nutrition. Sounds like a pretty good deal!

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