We explore if the old saying ‘eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread’ is fact or fiction. Medically reviewed by Dr Juliet McGrattan (MBChB) and words by Helen Bond If your parents ever struggled to get you to eat your five-a-day you will be familiar with the old adage, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor at bay’. But is there any truth to the saying, and just how much fruit and veg should you be consuming on a daily basis? We spoke to registered dietitian Helen Bond about the health benefits of the humble apple and if you really do need an apple a day to get the most from your health: Should you eat an apple a day? The saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is believed to come from the old Welsh proverb, ‘eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread’ – first cited in Wales in 1866. Sadly a US study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that eating an apple is not associated with fewer visits to the doctor. However! Research confirms that regular consumption of fruits and vegetables, including apples, as part of a healthy balanced diet can help in the prevention of chronic disease and maintenance of good health – all of which can help keep you out of GP surgeries and the hospital. To be on the safe side, aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg every day, and add an apple into the mix if you’re in the mood! Apple a day health benefits However you choose to eat yours, adding apples to your daily diet is always a good thing, and an apple a day comes with the following health benefits: 🍎 Support weight management Apples are the kind of fruit that our waistlines love. Packing in quite a bit of fibre (1.8g per medium apple) for a modest amount of calories (77 calories) makes apples a filling, naturally sweet snack that you can enjoy morning, noon and night. 🍎 Gut health Apples contain good amounts of fibre (1.8g per medium sized apple), including the prebiotic fibre pectin, which help to feed our gut flora, supporting them to grow and flourish, so they can regulate every aspect of our digestive health effectively. 🍎 Good digestion Apples provide stool-bulking fibre, which helps to keep your gut healthy, by speeding the passage of waste products through the digestive tract. In other words, an apple a day is good for healthy poo too! 🍎 Beat diabetes A large review of three consecutive studies found that an apple a day was linked to a whopping 28 per cent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, so it’s worth chowing down on your daily fruit after all. 🍎 Reduced cancer risk Several studies have specifically linked apple consumption with a reduced risk for cancer, especially lung cancer. In the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals’ follow-up study, women who consumed at least one serving per day of apples and pears had a reduced risk of lung cancer. 🍎 Boost your heart health Studies show that eating apples could have cardiovascular benefits, as apple consumption is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. What’s more, another large study found that eating fruit and veg was linked to a lower risk of stroke thanks to flavonoids, which are compounds that reduce inflammation and boost heart health. How many apples should you eat? One medium (150g) apple does count as one of your five-a-day, so if you aim to eat at least one piece of fruit you’ll be well on your way to meeting your daily fruit and veg daily quota. With lots of British apple varieties to choose from, there are many possibilities to enjoy them – whether that’s as an everyday healthy snack or ingredient in main meals. Regular consumption of fruits and vegetables can help in the prevention of chronic disease. To jazz up your apple consumption, liven up a winter salad by throwing in peel-on apple shavings, add extra crunch to your morning porridge by mixing in sliced apple, or stew with a sprinkling of cinnamon for a warming compote. Should we follow the five-a-day rule? As a dietitian I always try and lead by example and get my (at least) five-a-day, but sadly the average Brit doesn’t manage this – let alone seven-a-day! Worryingly, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey have revealed these stats about who currently meets their five-a-day fruit and vegetable recommendation, and it looks like many of us are not eating an apple a day: • 9 per cent of teenage girls (11-18 years) • 7 per cent of teenage boys • 29 per cent of UK men • 32 per cent of women aged 19-64 year olds • 31 per cent of men • 32 per cent of women aged 65-74 years • 18 per cent of men and 20 per cent of women over 75 On average, adults aged 19-64 years consume 4.2 portions of fruit and vegetables daily. Those aged 65 to 74 years have 4.3 portions and teenagers just 2.7. There is clearly room for improvement in the nation’s eating habits! So while five-a-day is a healthy goal, ‘just eating more’ fruit and veg is a message that may be more achievable to many. What is the best veg/fruit ratio? According to Public Health England’s Eatwell Guide, fruit and veg should make up just over a third of the food we eat every day and we should aim for at least five portions of a variety of fruit and veg each day. It’s best to have a variety, but there’s no specific advice on how the five should be split between fruit and vegetables. Many people worry about the sugar content of fruit, but British apples, like other fruits and vegetables, only contain naturally occurring sugars, contained within their plant cell structure and come wrapped in fibre, which slows its absorption in the bloodstream. Fruit is also a nutrient dense food. When you eat a British apple, you’re also consuming a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals such as flavonoids. They’re also 86 per cent water and a source of fibre, which is good for your gut and heart health. How much fruit should we eat? What’s important is that we should all be eating a wide variety of both fruit and vegetables each day for our overall health and wellbeing. And with only 31 per cent of adults (19-64 years) achieving the five-a-day recommendation, most of us shouldn’t cut back on fruit or veg! More is definitely better! We should all be eating a wide variety of both fruit and vegetables each day for our overall health. Get people thinking about how many portions they’re eating now and how they can improve this. One serving should be 80g and is roughly equal to a piece of fruit eg an apple, banana or pear, two small fruits eg satsumas, plums or apricots, a bowl of fruit salad, berries, or salad, or three heaped tablespoons of vegetables. For dried fruit, one heaped tablespoon (30g) counts as one serving. Limit unsweetened fruit or vegetable juice or smoothies to just one small (150ml) glass a day. What’s the best way to eat apples? We all like a bit of individual attention – and so do our apples. Storing and cooking your apples just the way they like it and you’ll make the most of them by helping to retain their nutrients and quality. Where possible, try to make the most of the British apple varieties available and enjoy eating unpeeled apples raw (sliced, diced, grated or even spiralised) to obtain the maximum amount of nutrients. But, if you are going to cook your apples, keep apples pieces large, prepare them just before they’re to be cooked rather than leaving them to stand in water, or exposed to air and light. This will help preserve apples’ nutrients and minimise any losses – especially fragile water-soluble vitamins, like Vitamin C. Apples also love to be baked and it’s a great and healthy way to cook apples, and enjoy different textures and flavours. 🍏 Did you know that an apple eaten with its peel provides an incredible 13% more vitamin C, 10% more vitamin B6, 27% more vitamin K, 16% more potassium, and 46% more fibre than when it’s peeled. What’s more, try to leave the skin on your apples when cooking (even if you’ve chosen a recipe that requires peeled apples!) – not only does the skin naturally protect the apple flesh inside, a high concentration of nutrients and plant phytochemicals are found just below the skin – peel it away and you’ll miss out on those, as well an all-important fibre boost! To prevent browning when slicing apples for a recipe, simply put the slices in a bowl and add a spoonful of vitamin C rich lemon juice. For use in future recipes, sliced ‘skin-on’ apples also freeze well in plastic bags or containers and retain their beneficial nutrients. Net Dotor


Bid farewell to the biscuit tin and stay satiated until dinnertime.

By Annie Hayes

If you frequently find yourself feeling hungry between meals, low calorie snacks can bridge the gap without derailing your health. When the 3pm slump strikes, it’s easy to reach for a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps – but they’re unlikely to satiate you, meaning you’re more likely to swing by the biscuit tin for seconds.

What you choose to snack on affects your eating habits for the rest of the day. Healthy snacks that promote a feeling of fullness can actually reduce the amount of food you eat at subsequent meals – and limit your overall food consumption – according to research from the Institute of Food Technologists.

If you’re imagining a future filled with endless rice cakes, take it from us: low calorie snacks don’t have to be dull. Combine the right ingredients and they can be as tasty and filling as their energy-dense counterparts, with the added benefit of important nutrients like fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Whether you’re a paid-up serial snacker or relatively new to the art of afternoon fridge-raiding, scroll on for 26 low calorie snacks that’ll keep you satiated until dinner:


When air-popped and lightly-seasoned, popcorn is a low-fat, low-calorie snack. As a whole grain, it’s high in gut-filling fibre and contains high levels of antioxidants called polyphenols. Avoid pre-filled bags and buy plain kernels to pop at home – each 30g serve contains 113 calories.

2Frozen grapes

If you’re looking for a refreshing sweet treat, try frozen grapes. Simply wash them, add to a ziploc bag and freeze overnight or for at least eight hours. A 150g serve contains 107 calories, and one third of your daily vitamin C and vitamin K intake.

3Avocado on rye crackers

Avocado is incredibly nutritious and immensely satiating – eating half an avocado (161 calories) reduces hunger by 40 per cent for three hours, a study published in Nutrition Journal found. Spread on a rye crispbread (37 calories) for a satisfying crunch. You’ll eat 8 per cent less at your next meal, Swedish scientists found.

4Almond butter celery boats

Slasher 30g almond butter (188 calories) on 100g celery stalks (16 calories) for a healthy, low calorie snack. The celery is high in fibre, while nut butter is a source of filling plant-based protein. To spice up the dish – quite literally – add one teaspoon of allspice to the almond butter first.

5Tuna, olive and feta bowl

To make this simple snack, combine 70g canned tuna, 10g kalamata olives, 15g feta cheese, 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp dried oregano. You’ll benefit from a potent dose of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants including vitamin E, plus calcium and vitamin B12. Total calories? 185.

6Greek yogurt with mixed berries

Not only does Greek yogurt contain twice the protein content of regular yogurts, but it’s packed with gut-healthy probiotic cultures. Add a handful of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries to 100g Greek yogurt (125 calories) for a sweet, light snack filled with with fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants.

7Edamame and soy sauce

Edamame beans are whole, immature soybeans that are packed with protein, at 11g per 50g serve (and 111 calories). Unlike other plant sources, they contain all nine essential amino acids, along with iron and vitamin K. Rather than sprinkling them with table salt, serve with a small dipping pot of soy sauce – it’s lower in sodium.

8Hummus and veggies

Made from blended chickpeas, tahini, olive oil and lemon juice, hummus is a protein-rich dip that pairs well with raw veggies like carrots, cucumber, bell peppers and radishes. A 30g serving of hummus contains just 84 calories, while the water-rich veggies promote a feeling of fullness.

9Roasted almonds

To make nuts more satisfying and flavoursome, try roasting them. Combine unsalted almonds in a bowl with a few dashes of tamari sauce, and then bake at 180°C for 10 minutes or until toasted. Enjoy a small handful – as a guide, there are 140 calories in 20 almonds – and store the rest in an airtight container.

10Hard boiled egg

Low in calories and nutrient-dense, eggs are sometimes called nature’s multivitamin, and for good reason. They’re packed with protein, B vitamins, choline, zinc, calcium, and a bevy of important nutrients and antioxidants. As well as being cheap and easy to prepare, each egg contains just 71 calories.

11Salmon, cottage cheese and cucumber rounds

These bite-size nibbles take seconds to assemble, and contain a mix of healthy fats and protein that’ll keep you satiated until dinnertime. Combine 60g salmon, 30g cottage cheese and 50g cucumber to make a snack totalling 145 calories.

12Banana and peanut butter

The ultimate combo for the 3pm slump. The fast-acting carbohydrates in banana will give you a burst of energy, and the protein in the peanut butter stabilises your blood sugar, avoiding a crash. One banana with 20g peanut butter clocks up 218 calories.


Depending on the ingredients, a smoothie can be a full-blown meal replacement – with banana, nut butter and all the trimmings – or it can be simple, low calorie snack. For a pared-down affair, try blending one kiwi, 250ml unsweetened almond milk and 60g spinach for a 91-calorie smoothie.

14Dark chocolate and apple

Apple skins contain inflammation-fighting quercetin, while dark chocolate‘s catechins reduce blood pressure. Better yet, the choc satisfies a sweet tooth, while the fibre in the apple will keep you full. A sliced apple served with 20g of dark choc totals 194 calories.

15Miso soup

As a fermented food, miso provides the gut with beneficial bacteria – particularly the probiotic A. oryzae, which supports digestion. One 250ml serving contains 87 calories, along with 6g of protein and 11 per cent of your daily iron recommendation.

16Chia pudding

Don’t be fooled by their size – chia seeds are loaded with nutrients, especially manganese, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. Soak two tablespoons (approx 20g) in 120ml of unsweetened coconut milk overnight and enjoy a 90-calorie snack the next morning. Top with cacao nibs and fruit for a sweet treat.

17Caprese salad

The combination of mozzarella, tomatoes, and sweet basil makes for a healthy, filling snack. Mozzarella is lower in salt and calories than other cheeses, and is packed with probiotics and calcium. Slice 40g mozzarella, 50g tomatoes and drizzle with 1tsp olive oil and 1tsp balsamic vinegar for a 169-calorie snack.

18Energy bites

Energy balls don’t have to be complicated. Add 200g pitted dates, 50g desiccated coconut and 15ml coconut oil to a food processor and blend. Divide the mixture into eight balls, coat with a little extra desiccated coconut and refrigerate for an hour – each will contain roughly 125 calories.

19Roasted chickpeas

If you’re partial to a crunchy savoury snack, look no further than roasted chickpeas. Combine them with a teaspoon of olive oil, fresh or dried herbs of your choice – we like paprika, cumin and coriander – and bake in the oven at 180°C for 25 minutes or until golden brown. One 50g serving of chickpeas contains 82 calories.

20Vegetable soup with peas

A warming mug of vegetable soup can make a filling low calorie snack. You could make your own and freeze it ahead of time, or portion out a shop-bought version. To bulk up pureed soup without racking up calories, add 20g fibre-rich green peas to the bowl in exchange for an additional 18 calories.

21Stuffed dates

With their soft texture, caramel-like flavour and rich antioxidant profile, dates make the perfect healthy treat. Slice them open and add a small scoop of nut butter for a sweet protein hit. Alternatively, try ricotta – this thick, creamy Italian cheese is packed with muscle-building whey.

22Goat’s cheese and pear

Slice a pear in half and place it on a baking tray. Top with 30g goat’s cheese and bake in the oven at 180°C for 12 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned. Serve immediately as a 183-calorie snack, or drizzle a touch of honey over the top to make it more indulgent.

23Egg muffins

These savoury bites are high in protein, packed with nutrients, and immensely flavourful from the seasonings. To make them, combine beaten eggs with chopped, cooked veggies, grated cheese, and herbs and spices. Bake in a muffin tin at 180°C for 25 to 30 minutes.

24Protein shake

Who says a protein shake has to taste dull? Inject a bit of life into your post-workout shake with a few healthful additions, such as frozen fruit, flaxseed, cacao powder, maca, hazlenuts, or sunflower seeds. You could try a plant-based milk, such as oat, cashew, or almond. Blitz in a blender with ice before serving.

25Lentil bruchetta

If you’re craving carbs, toast a slice of whole grain bread and top with 40g lentils, 50g tomato, 25g red onion and fresh basil. Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil before serving. Tuck in for just 208 calories.

26Falafel with yogurt dip

Whether shop-bought or home-made, falafel make a quick, easy-to-assemble snack at just 57 calories each – and they’re a reliable source of fibre and plant-based protein. To make the dip, combine Greek yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper.

Net Doctor


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