Does an Apple a Day Actually Keep the Doctor Away?
We’ve all heard the saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’, but is there actually any truth behind this Victorian proverb? 19.3 million US adults are daily apple eaters, and with it being both inexpensive, and easily accessible, could the consumption of apples really be a way to reduce visits to the doctor?
Apples contain many phytochemicals (compounds produced by plants) including one called quercetin. It is an antioxidant, and can help to lower blood pressure. This means it can inhibit the oxidation of ‘bad cholesterol’ which has been known to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and relax the blood vessels.
The presence of quercetin also reduces the risk of blood clots, by preventing the clumping of platelets, meaning that you are less likely to have a buildup of plaque in your arteries. So, all in all, I think it’s safe to say your cardiovascular system will thank you greatly for eating apples!
In addition to this, apple peel also contains pectin, which you may have heard used for thickening things like jam and jellies; but this natural substance has a surprising amount of health benefits. If a sufficient (>6g a day) amount is consumed, it has been proven to lower your blood cholesterol, once again reducing risk of cardiovascular problems.
Pectin also reduces the rate of digestion. This can reduce overeating, as the food you eat will take longer to digest meaning you stay fuller for longer. This means that apples are a healthy option for those wishing to reduce things like binge eating and lose weight, as it can stop you from eating more, unhealthier, foods.
With evidence for these, and evidence of some antibacterial properties, reduced risk of arthritis, gut health, prevention of neurological degradation and many more, it is clear that eating an apple a day definitely can’t hurt your health. However, with most preventative remedies, it is the lifestyle that accompanies it which is the ultimate factor.
The fundamental idea that consuming natural, healthy foods, such as apples, that will benefit your health is key as diet plays a major role in both physical and mental wellbeing. So, I guess the idea is there, and eating an apple will benefit you… but whether it directly correlates with a reduction of physician visits greatly depends on the individual’s lifestyle. An apple can’t compensate for an unhealthy diet!
Milad Rouf Final Year Medical Student, Cardiff University.
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