Including more fruit and vegetables in your diet is often one of the first steps towards lasting weight loss and disease prevention. But, this isn’t only because these lower-calorie, natural foods are often taking the place of unhealthy, processed ones. It’s because they contain a wealth of antioxidants and beneficial compounds that have numerous health benefits. One particular fruit – apples – can be especially helpful in losing weight and even preventing diabetes.
Researchers with the University of Iowa recently conducted a study on apples, fully expecting to find they had beneficial effects on obesity risk. But, they found other benefits as well.
Apples have a substance known as ursolic acid within their peels. Researchers know that ursolic acid had positive effects on increasing muscle mass and strength in mice. But, they hadn’t realized just how far-reaching these benefits were.
The results of their study were published last year in the journal PLoS ONE. They believed the substance would be useful in treating muscle wasting diseases, but they found it may have even more beneficial uses.
The researchers found that not only did ursolic acid convert calories into muscle but also into brown fat. Contrary to popular opinion, not all fat is bad—brown fat is actually a valuable asset in the battle against obesity and has been shown to both absorb and burn glucose (sugar) in the blood—important to diabetics whose bodies have difficulty regulating blood sugar.
In the study, muscle mass was increased with the increased consumption of ursolic acid. Also, blood sugar levels were lowered.
This isn’t the first study to link apples and decreased diabetic risk, however. An analysis of over 200,000 American men and women found that those who eat more apples and blueberries have a decreased risk of diabetes.
This study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed the participants for up to 24 years. None of them were diabetic at the onset of the study, but about 12,600 were diagnosed throughout the course of the research period. Participants who ate five or more apples each week had a 23% lower risk of developing diabetes than those who didn’t.
Though sugars present in fruit raise blood sugar initially, the benefits of pectin, fibers, and compounds like ursolic acid far outweigh those changes. By increasing apple consumption, you can fight obesity, diabetes and other issues such as high blood pressure.