Many are familiar with the phrase ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’, but few of us realise how true this adage is today. Registered nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert has teamed up with the national grower’s organisation, British Apples and Pears, to look at the nutritional evidence behind this saying and reveal why there is an optimum time of day to eat an apple.
“3pm is the time when most people reach for those sugar-laden snacks but opting for an apple instead will still give you that sweet fix, alongside a number of nutritional benefits,” says Lambert. “As a rich source of fibre (known as pectin), snacking on an apple offers a slow release of energy to keep us feeling fuller later into the day and avoid that spike in blood sugar levels from sugary alternatives.”
Rhiannon adds, “Apples are also full of vitamin C and low in calories, so they are the ideal snack for that mid-afternoon slump.” Have a British apple on its own or simply drizzle with honey, dip into nut butter or grate into porridge oats to create a tasty snacking alternative as part of your five a day. To get the most out of apples, leave the skin on as it contains fibre and many of the polyphenols.
Tom Sanders, Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at Kings College London worked with British Apples & Pears to create a summary of the nutritional benefits of apples . This summary reminds us that British apples contain fibre (1.2g per 100g), and are full of vital vitamins, minerals and a wide variety of phytochemicals for just 77kcal an apple. This means an apple a day can be:
- Good for gut health – Over the last few years, the importance of gut health has become an emerging focus. Eating an apple a day encourages the growth of more ‘friendly’ bacteria in the large bowel , essential for keeping a healthy gut in the long term. Apples could also contribute to more regular bowel movements because they are rich in fibre.
- Part of a healthy diet to prevent diabetes – With the sharp rise in recent years in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the UK, focusing on sugar intake has become a priority. Whilst eating an apple may seem a sweet treat, the consumption of a whole apple results in a much smaller rise in blood sugar than eating food items such as a chocolate bar. It is also recognised that apples, because they contain polyphenols with antioxidant properties, may help to prevent type 2 diabetes.
- Helpful in preventing cardiovascular disease – Meta-analyses show that eating more fruit, especially apples, is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, including stroke and heart attack .
So, pick up a juicy, crisp British apple and take a delicious bite every day!