Evaluating apple consumption impact on gut microbiota in adults living with overweight or obesity

Faculty of Health Sciences
Nutrition Sciences

By the School of Nutrition Sciences

Marie Dominique Antoine - Communication, Faculty of Health Sciences

Apples in and outside a basket w/ woman
October is Apple Month, but we consume apples year round. So, we decided to feature the benefits of the fruit and highlight promising research from the School of Nutrition Sciences.

Krista Power, an associate professor at the school, is working with Dr. Lindsay Robinson of the University of Guelph to evaluate the impact of daily apple consumption for six weeks on the gut microbiota in adults living with overweight or obesity.  

One goal of Power’s study is to determine if dietary intervention with apples can alter the intestinal microbiota composition and function, if microbial changes can be associated with inflammation and if changes in gut-permeability and inflammation are mediated by microbially produced short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). 

The research follows on the findings of Liddle et al. (2021) showing that daily apple consumption reduces plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cell-secreted inflammatory biomarkers in adults with overweight and obesity through a six-week randomized, controlled parallel-arm trial. 

In Power’s study, participants with overweight or obesity were enrolled in a randomized controlled trial at the University of Guelph, where they either consumed three whole Gala apples as part of their usual diet or avoided apples for six weeks. Fecal samples were collected and are currently being analyzed at uOttawa by Power’s research team (including Alexane Rodrigue, PhD candidate) for microbiota composition and function. 

While we await research findings in summer 2023, remember that apples are versatile and can be added to main courses, salads or desserts. Furthermore, adding apples to daily servings has many health benefits thanks to their high pectin content.  

Note that red apples contain a third more pectin than green apples. Fresh, whole apples offer the most nutrients. Discarding the skin removes much of the fibre, dehydrating or drying removes vitamin C and filtering and pasteurization remove most of the flavonoids and fibres.1