Does an apple a day really keep the doctor away? When it comes to your digestive health, it just might. Apples are not only an excellent source of fiber, but they are also delicious and can be easily incorporated into your daily diet.
Apples contain a certain type of fiber called pectin which is found between the cell walls of plants and is classified as soluble fiber. Soluble fiber has been shown to slow down digestion by attracting water and forming a gel which ultimately helps you feel fuller longer. For this reason, a diet high in soluble fiber is recommended for people who want to lose weight and who have a problem with frequent loose stools. Soluble fiber is also found in berries, oats, and beans.
When eaten with the skin, apples are a good source of insoluble fiber as well. Apples contain the insoluble fiber cellulose, which is the main structural component of the cell wall in plants and is found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water so it adds bulk to the stool which helps relieve constipation and keep things moving quickly through your digestive system.
Increasing Your Water Intake
When eating foods high in fiber — both soluble and insoluble — increasing your water intake is crucial. Consuming a diet high in fiber without the proper water intake fiber can have the opposite effect and cause constipation along with other stomach issues. The daily recommended intake for water is about 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women. If you are trying to increase your water consumption do it gradually and include watery foods like melons, soups, and puddings to slowly get to your recommendation. Also try flavoring your water with lemon, lime, or cucumber slices for some extra flavor without the added calories and sugar.
How Many Apples Should You Eat?
Apples are a great grab-and-go snack and can be incorporated into everyday meals easily. A medium apple contains about 4 grams of fiber with only 80 calories. The recommended fiber intake for adults is about 30 to 40 grams per day, so substituting an apple instead of a bag of chips for a snack can save calories and help you reach your daily fiber requirement. Apples can be eaten whole or you can add them to your salads, cereal, sandwiches, and even desserts.
Important Notice: This article was originally published at healthyeating.sfgate.com by Jacqueline Lindow, R.D. where all credits are due.
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