Eating Apples, Pears Before Each Meal Increases Weight Loss in Women, Brazilian Researchers Report

VIENNA, Va., April 11 -- The apple of the famed old health adage may also help reduce the feminine pear shape more rapidly. Adding apples and pears to your daily diet may melt pounds away faster, according to new research from Brazil. Study findings were recently published in Nutrition, the international journal of applied and basic nutritional sciences.

Researchers from the State University of Rio de Janeiro studying the impact of fruit intake on weight loss report that overweight women who ate just 300 grams of apples or pears -- that's the equivalent of three small fruits a day -- lost more weight on a low-calorie diet than women who didn't add fruit to their diet. In addition, the fruit eaters ate fewer calories overall, boosting their weight loss efforts.

"Results indicated that overweight, (high cholesterol) women have important changes in their body weights and metabolic profiles by adding fruits to their diet," Maria Conceicao de Oliveira, R.D., Ph.D., and her colleagues wrote.

Researchers suggested several theories as to why apple and pear consumption may promote weight loss. First, fruits like apples and pears are "low energy-density" foods -- that is, they have a relatively low calorie count compared to other non-fruit foods. Second, research has shown that eating a high-fiber diet (calorie intake being equal) promotes postmeal "satiety," meaning we feel fuller and for longer after eating a high-fiber meal. Apples and pears are both important sources of fiber, delivering 5 grams per medium-sized apple and 4 grams per medium-sized pear. And finally, research has also established that eating a high-fiber diet decreases total calorie intake, thus contributing to weight loss. In other words, eating a high-fruit diet tends to make it more difficult to overeat, because eating a lot of low-energy dense fruits like apples and pears crowds out other foods, reducing our total caloric intake.

"While several recent studies have suggested apples may provide a 'whole body' range of health benefits, this is the first published study to demonstrate that eating an apple before every meal can help increase weight loss," said U.S. Apple Association president and ceo Nancy Foster. "This has intriguing implications for those of us who are trying to lose a few pounds."

"We are excited to see a published study that has established a connection between weight loss and daily intake of fresh pears," said Kevin Moffitt, Pear Bureau Northwest president and chief executive officer. "We've long been saying that fresh pears are healthy, delicious and sweet, and now we have an additional tool to help us convey this message."

Study Details

The Brazilian study involved overweight women with high cholesterol. Thirty-five subjects were followed for 12 weeks. Study participants were selected from among Brazil's low-income population, which traditionally have a low intake of fruit. Participants were instructed to eat a standardized, low-calorie diet, and dietary records were kept. They were then randomly assigned to supplement that diet by eating either 300 grams of apple, 300 grams of pear or 60 grams of oat cookie three times per day, while eating a total of six meals per day. Researchers combined the apple and pear groups to evaluate the effect of fruit intake on body weight. Baseline characteristics of the fruit and oat groups were not statistically different. The groups were followed for 12 weeks. Researchers studied the various diets' impact on total energy intake, weight loss, glucose levels and cholesterol levels. They found that the fruit group lost more weight, consumed fewer total calories and had lower blood glucose levels than the oat group, while the oat group demonstrated a greater though statistically insignificant decrease in cholesterol compared to the fruit group.

Citation: de Oliveira M., Sichieri R., Sanchez Moura A. Nutrition 19: 253-256, 2003; online at

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