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Are Apples Weight Loss Friendly or Fattening?

Young Woman Holding an Apple and a Measuring TapeApples are an incredibly
popular and healthy fruit.

Research shows they provide many
health benefits
, such as reducing the risk of diabetes

But can eating apples also help you lose weight, or are they

This article explores the effects apples have on your weight,
backed by scientific research.

Apples Have a Low Calorie Density

contain a lot of water.

In fact, one medium-sized apple consists of about 85% water.
Water-rich foods are quite filling, which often leads to
reduced calorie intake (2, 3, 4).

Not only is water filling, it also lowers the energy density of
foods considerably.

is defined as the number of calories in a
particular weight of food. It is often described as the number
of calories in a gram of the food in question. Energy density
is measured in units of kcal/g.

The energy density of water is 0 kcal/g, so it does not add
calories to food. However, it does increase the weight or
volume of the food.

Foods with low energy density tend to be high in water and
fiber. This holds true with apples. A medium apple has only 95
calories, but plenty of water and fiber.

Several studies have shown that foods with low energy densities
promote fullness, reduced calorie intake and weight loss
(5, 6, 7).

One study compared the effects of eating apples with the
effects of eating oat cookies. The cookies had a higher energy
density, but similar calorie and fiber content.

In this study, eating the apples caused reduced calorie intake
and weight loss (8).

Bottom Line: Apples are high in water, low
in energy density and low in calories overall, all properties
that have been shown to aid weight loss.

Apples Are High in Weight Loss Friendly Fiber

Red Apple with Measuring Tape Wrapped Around It

A medium-sized apple contains 4 grams of fiber

This is 16% of the recommended fiber intake for women and 11%
for men (9).

The fiber content is extremely high given the low calorie
content of apples, making them an excellent food to help you
reach your daily
fiber recommendations

Although this does depend on the type of fiber, many studies
show that eating more fiber overall is linked to a lower body
weight and a significantly reduced risk of obesity (10, 11).

Eating fiber may slow the digestion of food and make you feel
more full with fewer calories. For this reason, foods high in
fiber may help you eat fewer total calories overall, which
helps you lose weight (12).

Fiber may also improve your digestive health and feed the
friendly bacteria in your gut, which can also have benefits for
metabolic health and weight control (10, 13).

Bottom Line: Apples are rich in fiber, which
may promote fullness and appetite reduction — and therefore
weight control.

Apples Are Very Filling

The combination of water and fiber in apples makes them an
incredibly filling

In one study, whole apples were found to be significantly more
filling than applesauce or apple juice when eaten before a meal

Furthermore, apples take significantly longer to eat when
compared to lower-volume foods that don’t contain fiber. How
long a food takes to eat is another factor that contributes to

For example, a study of 10 individuals found that juice could
be consumed 11 times faster than whole apples (15).

The filling effects of apples may reduce appetite and lead to
weight reduction.

Bottom Line: Apples have several properties
that increase feelings of fullness, which may aid weight loss
by reducing overall calorie intake.

In a Few Studies, Eating Apples Regularly Resulted in Weight

Green Apple and Measuring Tape

Researchers have proposed that including apples in an otherwise
healthy and balanced diet may encourage
weight loss

Apple intake has been associated with weight loss in studies of
overweight women who also follow a low-calorie or
weight-reduction diet (8, 16).

In one of these studies, weight loss was measured in those who
ingested apples, pears or oat cookies on a regular basis for 12
weeks (16).

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The fruit group lost 2.7 lbs (1.22 kg) after 12 weeks, whereas
the oat group showed no significant weight loss.

Another similar study examined 50 participants who were
randomly assigned to add three apples, three pears or three oat
cookies to their diets for 10 weeks. The three types of food
had similar fiber and calorie contents (8).

After the 10-week period, weight was unchanged in the oat
group, but those who ate apples had lost 2 lbs (0.93 kg).

Additionally, the apple group reduced overall calorie intake by
25 calories per day, while the oat group ending up consuming
slightly more calories.

In both studies, reduced calorie intake and weight reduction
were attributed to the fruit’s low energy density and glycemic

Research has also been conducted with observational studies to
examine the effect that fruit intake has on weight loss over

In a study of 124,086 men and women, increased intake of fiber
and antioxidant-rich fruits, such as apples, was associated
with weight loss (17, 18).

Individuals in the study who consumed apples lost an average of
1.24 lb (0.56 kg) over a four-year period.

Not only do apples appear to be weight loss friendly for
adults, they may also improve overall diet quality and reduce
the risk of obesity in children (19).

Bottom Line: Research suggests that
including apples in a healthy diet may promote weight loss
and better overall health.

Apples Also Have Other Health Benefits

Person Measuring Their Waist With a Measuring Tape and Holding an Apple

Apples have several other benefits in addition to promoting
weight loss.

Nutrient Density

Apples contain small amounts of many vitamins and minerals.
They are well known for their vitamin C and potassium content,
providing more than 5% of the RDI for both (2).

Other important nutrients found in apples include vitamin K,
vitamin B6, manganese and copper (2).

Additionally, apple peels are particularly high in plant
compounds that may lower disease risk and provide many other
health benefits (20).

Low Glycemic Index

Apples have a low glycemic index, which is a measure of how
much blood sugar levels rise after eating.

Low-glycemic-index foods may be useful for blood
sugar control
and weight management since they help keep
blood sugar levels balanced rather than spiking them (21, 22, 23).

There is increasing evidence that a low-glycemic-index diet may
help prevent diabetes, heart disease and some cancers (24).

Heart Health

The combination of nutrients, antioxidants and fiber in apples
may reduce the risk of heart disease (25).

Apples have been shown to reduce cholesterol and inflammation
levels in the body, both key factors for heart disease
prevention (25).

Other studies have found that eating foods rich in
antioxidants, such as apples, may lower the risk of death from
heart disease. Some of the associations are weak, but promising
nevertheless (26, 27, 28).

Anti-Cancer Effects

The antioxidant activity of apples may help prevent certain
types of cancer.

Several studies in men and women have found associations
between apple intake and lung cancer prevention (1, 29).

Furthermore, consuming at least one apple a day has been shown
to significantly reduce the risk of mouth, throat, breast,
ovarian and colon cancer (1).

Brain Function

According to animal studies, consuming apple juice may help
prevent mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

In one study on mice, apple juice reduced mental decline by
decreasing the amount of harmful reactive oxygen species in
brain tissue (30).

Apple juice has also been found to preserve neurotransmitters
that are important for optimal brain function and Alzheimer’s
disease prevention (1).

Bottom Line: Apples have several healthy
characteristics that work together to benefit blood sugar
control, heart health, cancer risk and brain function.

Take Home Message

Apples are a good source of antioxidants, fiber, water and
several nutrients.

The many healthy components of apples may contribute to
fullness and reduced calorie intake.

Including apples in an already healthy and well-balanced diet
may indeed be useful for weight loss.

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