By

Amanda is Healthy Food Guide's nutrition editor with a degree in nutrition and a post-grad diploma in dietetics. She is a member of the British Dietetic Association; The Nutrition Society and The Guild of Food...

Our waistlines are particularly challenged after Christmas time. Eating more nutrient dense, low-calorie fruit and vegetables is one way to tackle belly fat

Swapping your mid-morning biscuits for an apple is a quick win. A 100g apple has only 47 calories and 10g of carbs of which all are sugars. The good news is that these sugars don’t count towards our free or added sugars for the day, unless as a juice or in a smoothie. Compare that to one small 50g bar of milk chocolate, which has 265 calories and 7tsp of added sugars.

If you’re finding that swap difficult, it will help to remind yourself of the many health benefits of apples. They contain both soluble fibre in the form of pectin in the flesh and insoluble cellulose in the skin. This means that regularly eating apples may help to lower cholesterol, balance blood sugar levels and promote healthy bacteria in the colon.

The fibrous combination may in part be responsible for the results of one study, which showed that eating an apple 15 minutes before mealtimes, could result in a net 60 fewer calories consumed at the meal. For this reason, we can believe that eating an apple a day, when well timed, may help with weight loss.

Eating an apple a day could help to reduce your calorie intakeWoman measuring her waist

As well as fibre, the peel of apples also delivers phytochemicals including antioxidant polyphenols such as quercetin, which has anti-inflammatory effects. In apples that have a red or partly red skin, you can also expect some antioxidant pigments called anthocyanins. The combination of polyphenols could play an additional role to the fibre in lessening the absorption of glucose, which in turn helps blood sugar control.

Eating even a small apple a day has been shown in a Finnish study to put women and men at a lower rate of death from coronary heart disease. Further research also links apples to a lower risk of lung cancer and anti-asthma benefits.

Read editor Melanie Leyshon’s blog about the Pink Lady apple harvest.

Header image courtesy of Wendy H Gilmour (aka @thankfifi)