Is it Good to Eat an Apple Before Bed?

Is it Good to Eat an Apple Before Bed?
February 2, 2021 at 10:14 PM

There is an old wives tale that says you shouldn’t eat before bed. The truth is, going to be hungry can actually disrupt your sleep and even give you bad dreams.

Contents

  1. Nutritional Profile of Apples
  2. Health Benefits of Apples
  3. Side Effects of Apples
  4. How Many Apples a Day?
  5. Types of Apples
  6. Eating Apples Before Bed
  7. Best Ways to Eat Apples
  8. The Bottom Line

Having a snack before bed is not a bad thing as long as you make healthy choices and try to eat about four hours before hitting the hay, so your body has time to digest and absorb the nutrients.

Plus, it gives your body time to get over the natural burst of energy that comes from food so you can settle down and get some much needed Z’s.

So, what’s a good food to eat before bed? Well, not just any food will do. You want to avoid sugar and caffeine for obvious reasons. Finding a food that is high in fiber and high in sleep supporting nutrients like Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and potassium. In fact, apples just might be your best choice for a before bed snack.

Nutritional Profile of Apples

You’ve probably heard the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” which originated in the 1860s in Wales. Actually, the original wording was slightly different, “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.”

How interesting that not only is the apple noted for its nutritious properties, but also as a great bedtime snack!

One medium (182 grams) apple, raw, with the skin, contains 156 grams of water.

Other nutritional information includes:

  • Calories – 94
  • Protein - .5 g
  • Carbohydrate – 25
  • Fiber – 4.5 g
  • Sugar – 19 g
  • Magnesium – 9 mg
  • Potassium – 195 mg
  • Vitamin C – 8 mg
  • Vitamin A – 5.5 µg
  • Vitamin B6 - .08 mg
  • Lutein – 53 µg
  • Rich in Phytochemicals (strong antioxidants), such as quercetin, catechin, phloridzin or chlorogenic acid.

Apples are also low in fat and sodium. They are a super healthy snack that are as delicious as they are good for you.

Health Benefits of Apples

Apples are extremely high in antioxidants and the peel can have as much as four times the antioxidants than the flesh. That, combined with their high fiber content, makes them very beneficial to the body in a number of ways.

Alzheimer’s – An August 2020 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that including foods rich in flavonoids in the diets of adults 50 and older were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than people who consumed small amounts. In a January 2020 review published in Biomolecules, the flavonoid quercetin, which is abundant in apples, was found to have several anti-Alzheimer’sproperties.

Cancer – Some research suggests that the high antioxidant level in apples could help limit or slow cancer cell growth.  A review published in Public Health Nutrition in October 2016 found that including apples as a regular part of a healthy diet may be linked to a reduced risk of certain cancers such as breast, oral cavity, colorecta, and esophageal cancers. A 2016 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that females who ate a high fiber diet during the adolescent years and into young adulthood had a lower risk of breast cancer in their adult years.

Heart Health – Apples can be a great boost to heart health by potentially lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Soluble fiber can help prevent the buildup of cholesterol in blood vessel walls which decreases the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Research indicated that the inclusion of apples in a daily diet is linked to a 52% lower risk of stroke. A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in February 2020, study participants who ate two apples a day lowered their LDL cholesterol as well as their triglyceride levels.

Diabetic Friendly – There’s an old wives’ tale that says you can’t eat fruit if you are diabetic, but that isn’t true. Actually, the high soluble fiber in apples can help slow the rate at which sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. In fact, eating apples on a regular basis may even help blood sugar levels improve. It may also help improve triglyceride levels and reduce insulin resistance.

Digestion – The high fiber content in apples aid in digestion. Both soluble and insoluble fiber are integral to effective, efficient digestion. Fortunately, apples are rich in both, especially in the skin where the highest concentration of fiber is. Because of their fiber, apples leave you feeling fuller longer, help control blood sugar and slow the digestion of glucose. They also help prevent and ease constipation.

Immune System – Some research indicates that consuming foods rich in soluble fiber, like apples, can boost the immune system and convert pro-inflammatory cells into immune supporting, anti-inflammatory cells. Research published in Immunity in May 2018 found that a high fiber diet may have protected mice from contracting the flu.

Weight Loss – Adding fresh fruits and vegetables is the cornerstone of a healthy diet and can help you lose weight. Apples are high in dietary fiber which helps weight loss in several ways. Your blood sugar doesn’t rise as quickly, and your digestion is slowed. This makes you feel more satisfied and less likely to overeat. A March 2003 study published in The Lancet found that people who ate a high fiber diet had significantly lower body weight. In one study, overweight women ate three apples a day. Over 12 weeks they lost an average of 2.7 pounds.

Side Effects of Apples

Eating apples is considered safe for most people unless they have an allergy or are sensitive to foods in the Rosaceae family (peach, almond, strawberry, apricot, pear, and plum). People who are allergic to birch pollen may also experience an allergic reaction.

The skin and flesh are safe in most cases for daily consumption, but the seeds should not be consumed. Apple seeds contain cyanide, making them poisonous. Approximately one cup of seeds can result in death.

The high fiber content in apples may cause mild gas and bloating in some people. Eating too much apple may cause diarrhea but this will vary from person to person. Some people will be able to eat several apples in one day without incident while others may experience loose stools after eating just one apple.

How Many Apples a Day?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the amount of fruit a person should eat depends on several factors including age, gender, and physical activity level. Typically, it ranges from 1 cup a day to 2 cups a day. For instance, a 3 year old child should have 1 cup of fruit a day while an adult male should have 2 cups.

So, an average sized apple that is about the size of a tennis ball is approximately 1 cup.

Experts recommend eating 1 apple, up to 3 apples a day – with the skin - for optimal health. Of course, if you are diabetic or trying to lose weight you should talk to your doctor to make sure your apple eating won’t interfere with your other health goals.

Types of Apples

If you’ve spend any amount of time in the produce section of the grocery you’ve probably seen several types of apples in the bins. Actually, there are around 7,500 varieties of apples in the world! Only about 2,500 apples are grown in the U.S. though and it is unlikely that you will ever see all 2,500, especially not in one place. But you have probably seen some of the more common.

Here’s a quick and easy guide to some of the more popular apple varieties. Try a few types and find your favorites.

  • Ambrosia – Yellow skin with red patches, delicate flesh that is crisp and juicy, and flavor that is less acidic and sweet with a touch of honey taste.
  • Cameo – Yellow skin with red streaks, firm, dense flesh, sweet flavor with a citrus zing.
  • Envy – Deep red with a firm, crunchy flesh, and sweet taste.
  • Fuji – Deep red skin with a mild flavor. Good for dishes that need an accent, but you don’t want to overpower the other ingredients.
  • Gala – Light red skin with some yellow undertones, crisp flesh, and mildly sweet flavor. These apples are not as round but taller and thinner than other apples. Although the flavor is not very intense, these apples are still nice for baking and cooking some dishes.
  • Golden Delicious – Thin, golden skin with soft flesh that is sweet. Good for baking and cooking.
  • Granny Smith – Light green skin with a crisp flesh and slightly tart flavor. Good for baking and nice with savory dishes as well as sweet dips.
  • Honeycrisp – Lighter blush red skin with green undertones, very crisp, juicy flesh, and a perfect balance of tart and sweet. The flesh holds its shape during cooking and the juice is often used for cider.
  • Jazz – Light red skin with strong yellow undertones, super firm, dense flesh texture, and fruity, sweet, sharp flavor.
  • McIntosh – Red skin with yellow spots, flesh is less firm than other types, and flavor is a pleasant balance between tart and sweet. Best eaten raw or chopped in a salad.
  • Pink Lady – Pinkish skin and flesh that is as first tart but finishes sweet with each bite. Fun fact, in order to be labeled a Pink Lady the apple must meet certain standards for sugar, firmness level, and acid. Those that don’t make the grade are sold as a variety called Cripps.
  • Red Delicious – Deep, vibrant red skin, crisp flesh, and very mild flavor. Not great for baking because the flavor is just too mild, but they make a great snack on their own.

These are some of the more popular apple varieties but if you see other types go ahead and give them a try. You just might find a new favorite.

Eating Apples Before Bed

Should you eat an apple before bed? That is a personal choice that really depends on you. How your body processes food has a lot to do with whether a snack before bed is a good idea. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

Cons of eating an apple before bed:

  • The fiber in an apple can cause some gas and bloating which can interrupt your sleep.
  • While apples are a fairly light snack, overeating can cause indigestion and acid reflux which can make it hard to stay asleep.
  • Some experts claim that when you sleep your metabolism slows so that your body turns the calories from late night snacks into fat. However, many other experts say that your metabolism is consistent all night.

Pros of eating an apple before bed:

  • The fiber in an apple can help you feel full all night long, so you won’t wake in the night because you are hungry.
  • The vitamin B6 and potassium in apples can help you fall asleep easier and sleep better.
  • Eating a healthy snack can help you relax, clear your mind, and prepare for sleep.
  • If you are hungry it will be hard to sleep so eating a snack before bed can help you feel full – and comfortable.
  • A bedtime snack will help keep your blood sugar levels stable all night which can help you sleep all night.

Eating an apple before bedtime can be just what the doctor ordered for a good quality sleep. Just make sure that when you eat the apple with the skin. The bulk of the nutrients is in the skin.

Best Ways to Eat Apples

The best ways to eat an apple include eating the skin. That’s how you get the most nutritional bang for your buck so to speak.

When you have an apple before bed, try these tempting treats:

  • Combine your apple with other foods that promote sleep like:
    • Almond butter
    • Yogurt
    • Seed butter like sunflower seed butter
    • Diced turkey
    • Cheese
  • Have your apple with a steaming cup of chamomile tea on the side
  • Dice your apple into some granola
  • Apple chips: Core the apple and slice it very thin with the skin on. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with Vietnamese cinnamon or a pinch of nutmeg. Bake for one hour at 225 degrees. Flip the apple slices and continue baking for another hour. Apples should feel dry. Let cool completely on cooling rack.
  • Chop apples into a salad.
  • Apple smoothie: Core apple. In a food processor or blender puree the apple with skin and a little water. Add spices like Vietnamese cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. For an extra nutritional boost, add pumpkin, carrot, pear, or sweet potato.
  • Apple pomace: The pulp from juicing apples or making cider. The pomace actually still has some amazing health benefits! Put it in oatmeal or bake it into your favorite treats.
  • Wash it, core it, and eat it raw! That might even be the best way to eat an apple!

There are so many ways to enjoy apples. Find what you like and enjoy!

The Bottom Line

Apples are a super healthy snack and a great way to send yourself off to dream land. They have some great health benefits, and they taste amazing! If you want to eat an apple before bed, you should be able to do it with no problem. If you find that you feel a little too full afterward and it interferes with your sleep, just eat a little earlier so you can put a couple of hours between your snack and when you hit the hay.

That way you give your body time to digest. It’s that simple.

So, go ahead, make a crisp, juicy apple a regular part of your bedtime routing. Your body will thank you.

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Written by: Michal Vilímovský (EN)
Education: Physician
Image resources:

Canva.com

Published: February 2, 2021 at 10:14 PM
Next scheduled update: February 2, 2023 at 10:14 PM
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