Eating An Apple Before Shopping Inspires You To Make Healthier Choices At The Supermarket, Study Suggests

30/04/2015 15:45 BST | Updated 30/04/2015 15:59 BST

When faced with rows of treats, it's tempting to fill our trollies with food we know isn't particularly good for our health.

But new research suggests eating an apple before going to the supermarket may help us to resist the lure of crisps and chocolate.

After eating an apple, shoppers buy 25% more fruit and vegetables than they would otherwise, the study says.

apples

Researchers from Cornell University completed three experiments to draw their conclusions.

In the first experiment, the scientists split 120 shoppers into three group. The first group were given an apple before they arrived at the supermarket and the second group were given a cookie. The third group ate nothing at all before shopping.

After analysing their trollies, the researchers concluded that those who ate an apple bought 28% more fruit and veg than those given a cookie.

The apple eaters also bought 25% more fruit and veg than the group who ate nothing at all.

"What this teaches us, is that having a small healthy snack before shopping can put us in a healthier mindset and steer us towards making better food choices," one of the study authors Aner Tal said in a statement.

In the second and third experiments, participants completed a virtual shopping test.

For the second experiment, 56 participants were split in half, with 28 of them eating an apple and 28 of them eating a cookie before the test began.

Each group was shown pictures of foods that are either high or low in calories.

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When the participants were asked which foods they would like to buy, the apple-eating group made healthier choices.

For the third experiment, the researchers looked into whether our perception of what healthy food is also influences our shopping choices.

In this part of the investigation, 59 participants were split into three groups.

Group one was given chocolate milk labeled "healthy, wholesome chocolate milk", group two was given the same chocolate milk but it was labeled "rich, indulgent chocolate milk" and the final group did not receive any chocolate milk.

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Healthy Foods You Should Be Eating

All 59 participants were then asked to complete the same virtual shopping test that was used in the second experiment.

Participants who were given the milk labeled "healthy and wholesome" selected more healthy foods in the virtual grocery test than people in either of the other two groups.

This finding may indicate that what influences shoppers behaviour after consuming a sample is not the actual healthiness of the sample, but its perceived healthiness, the authors concluded.

Eating an apple before hitting the supermarket may not be the only way to improve the content of your basket.

HuffPost Healthy Living previously asked nutrition experts for their tips on how to complete the weekly shop in a healthier way.

"Know your grocery store and go with a list of healthy foods in the order they are laid out," Elizabeth Ward recommended.

"That will help you resist temptation, and it speeds up shopping because you're not wasting time cruising the aisles for what you need."

Vandana Sheth, another expert, suggested you should always do the weekly shop just after you've eaten.

She said: "Do not attempt to grocery shop when you are hungry, as you will be surprised at the significant number of impulse buys in your cart."

H/T: The MailOnline