The Victorians introduced the saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ nearly 150 years ago and just in the last few months the Victorians have possibly been proven scientifically and medically correct!
A study by a team of researchers at the University of Oxford was published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in December 2013. The team used mathematical models to test the old saying and confirmed that by prescribing an apple a day to all adults aged 50 and over could prevent or delay around 8,500 vascular deaths every year in the UK. The study also suggested that this result would be similar to giving statins to everyone over 50 years who is not already taking them. By the researchers calculations, if adults of all ages could manage to eat an extra portion of fruit or veg a day, as many as 11,000 vascular deaths could be averted each year.
Considering nearly 600,000 men and 600,000 women in the UK have had a stroke and the number of people in the UK living with coronary heart disease is around 2.3 million, the research findings are significant. Not only would this cut the need for prescription medication in the target age group but there are no side effects from eating an apple compared to taking statins. Therefore while no-one currently prescribed statins should replace them for apples, everyone including those taking the medication could benefit from simply eating more fruit.
Apples have long been known as a natural source of antioxidants and chemical compounds, all of which are good for our health and wellbeing. So what else is in an apple to make it such an important part of our daily diet?
- Boron supports strong bones and a healthy brain and is found in abundance in apples
- Pectin is a type of soluble fibre which lowers both blood pressure and glucose levels. It can also lower the levels of LDL in the body. Pectin helps maintain the health of the digestive system and apples are an excellent source of pectin.
- Apples are rich in a variety of Phytonutrients including vitamins A and E and beta carotene. These compounds fight damage from free radicals and can have a profound effect on health, including reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and asthma.
- Quercetin is a flavonoid, this nutrient has links with reducing the risk of various cancers, including cancers in the lungs and breast. It may also reduce free radical damage by neutralising it, which has been implicated in a variety of age-related health problems, including Alzheimer's disease.
- Vitamin C boosts immunity, which helps maintain overall health.
So to conclude apples have been found to reduce the risk of strokes and CHD in older adults, they also act as a toothbrush, cleaning teeth and killing bacteria in the mouth, which may reduce the risk of tooth decay and they are affordable and readily available in the UK.
Why are we not all eating an apple a day?