Calories in = calories out, right? Wrong. While Insta-famous wellness gurus and so-called fitness buffs might have you believe that all you have to do to be healthy is track your macros, as a dietitian I'm here to tell you that's certainly not the case.
You see, calories are just one part of the nutrition equation. Sure, they're an important consideration in maintaining a healthy weight, but calories aren't the be-all and end-all when it comes to overall health. Vitamins, minerals and fibre are just some examples of other things to consider, too.
Let's take the humble apple, for example…Calories in an appleHere's what you've come here for: a typical granny smith apple contains a mere 72 calories (roughly 300 kilojoules).
But, apples are so much more than just calories. Here's why…Apart from being low in calories, apples are naturally low in fat and have a high water content, which makes them a great option for healthy snacking with your waistline in mind (read: they're a far better choice than those energy-dense bars and balls you'd find in the snack food aisle).
Apples also have a low glycaemic index. To get you up to speed with what that actually means, here's a quick science lesson: when you eat carbs, they are broken down into glucose (aka sugar) which enters the bloodstream - the glycaemic index is a measure of how quickly this sugar enters the bloodstream. So, as apples are low GI, their energy is slowly released, which can help to keep you feeling full and satisfied. Capiche?
But, before the fear of that dreaded 's' word sinks in, let me tell you that you don't have to worry about the natural sugar in apples (FYI, there's roughly 15 grams). What you should try to minimise is added sugar, i.e. the kind in that packet of M&M's sitting in your desk drawer.
Apples are good for your gut as well. A single apple contains almost 4 grams of fibre, which is more than 10 per cent of the suggested daily target for women. An added bonus is that fibre can help with blood sugar management and cholesterol reduction, too. Plus, it helps to keep you feeling full.
What's more, apples are brimming with disease-fighting antioxidants. They are rich in a particular type of antioxidant called 'flavonoids', which are linked to reduced risk of heart disease. Plus, apples provide vitamin C and vitamin E, both of which have antioxidant properties.
A single apple actually provides around 15 per cent of your daily vitamin C needs, which is also involved in the production of collagen and can help to absorb dietary iron as well.And there you have it! As the saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away…
The writer is a Sydney-based dietitian
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