An apple a day may or may not keep the doctor away, but it can keep hunger pains at bay. Apples contain numerous healthy nutrients, and they are especially rich in dietary fiber. Fiber makes you feel full for longer periods of time, which can prevent hunger pains. The bulk and sugar content of an apple can keep your stomach from grumbling between meals.
Apples combine lots of nutrients with a delicious and relatively sweet taste, which makes them healthy and popular snacks, especially for kids. Apples are available in hundreds of varieties, which range in color, size and taste, but all are good sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that may help deter stomach infections and ulcers caused by bacteria, which can lead to symptoms that mimic hunger. Apples also contain vitamins A, E, K and many B vitamins as well as trace amounts of various minerals. They are also pretty easy on the waistline with most medium-sized varieties containing fewer than 100 calories.
The most abundant nutrient in apples is dietary fiber. Medium-sized apples typically contain about 4.5 grams of fiber, which is almost 20 percent of the daily requirement for adults. Apples contain both types of dietary fiber -- soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber, such as pectin, is found mainly in apple skins and is beneficial because it helps to lower cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber, such as cellulose, is found mainly in apple cores and the surrounding pulp. Insoluble fiber combats constipation because it promotes regular bowel movements. Both types of fiber combine to curb your appetite because they spend a little longer time in your stomach, and they don’t cause a dramatic rise in blood sugar levels that leads to an energy crash. As long as your blood glucose levels remain fairly constant, you won’t feel hungry and get ravaged by hunger pangs.
Apples are a good source of fructose, which takes a little more time to digest than the sucrose found in sugary snacks and most baked goods or the lactose found in dairy products. Fructose gives you sustained energy and makes you feel satiated for longer periods of time, which can keep hunger pains at bay. In contrast, sugary snacks are digested more quickly, cause higher spikes in blood sugar and insulin release and cause you to feel hungry sooner. Fructose is the predominant sugar in all fruit.
Since most of the pectin is in the skin, avoid peeling the apple before eating it if you want it to satisfy your hunger. Take smaller bites and chew slowly because the increased amount of saliva will help fill your stomach and alleviate hunger. Whole apples are usually fine as snacks for diabetics, but apple juice is much more concentrated in fructose sugar and may cause some blood sugar spiking. Eating lots of apples may rid you of hunger pains, but it may lead to constipation and abdominal pain if you don’t drink enough water. Fiber absorbs water, and it can clog your digestive tract if the mucus membranes of the intestines become too dry.
- Encyclopedia of Human Nutrition; Benjamin Caballero et al.
- The Nutribase Complete Book of Food Counts; Art Ulene
- Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism; James L. Groff et al.
Sirah Dubois is currently a PhD student in food science after having completed her master's degree in nutrition at the University of Alberta. She has worked in private practice as a dietitian in Edmonton, Canada and her nutrition-related articles have appeared in The Edmonton Journal newspaper.