Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — An Apple a Day

Dr. Walt,

My grandma used to always say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Any truth to this grandmom’s tale?

Interested in Prevention in Indiana

Dear Apple Fan,

The answer is an unequivocal “perhaps.”

A study earlier this year found “an apple a day does not keep the doctor away.” The researchers reported although apple eaters had slightly fewer physician visits than apple avoiders (those who ate less than one daily or no apples), the difference disappeared when the researchers considered other factors that can influence frequency of medical visits.

Despite this, several past studies have found an association between apple consumption and reduced risk of lung cancer. In the Nurses Health Study involving more than 77,000 women in the United States, those who consumed at least one serving per day of apples and/or pears had a reduced risk of lung cancer. In a study in Hawaii, apple and onion intake was linked with a reduced risk of lung cancer in both men and women.

Studies have also linked apple intake with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The Women’s Health Study, which surveyed nearly 40,000 women, found that women eating an apple a day had a 13 to 22% decrease in cardiovascular disease risk.

And, a study in Great Britain estimated that if doctors there prescribed an apple a day to all adults aged 50 and over, it would prevent or delay around 8,500 vascular deaths such as heart attacks and strokes every year in the UK – similar to giving a prescription statin medication to everyone over 50 years who is not already taking them.

“To protect yourself against cardiovascular disease and several forms of cancer, it’s important to include at least seven servings – and preferably more – of fruits and vegetables in your diet every day, but if there’s one particular type of fruit you want to make sure you eat every day, it’s an apple. Better yet, eat two,” advises Dr. James Barnard, UCLA professor and researcher and author of more than 190 studies on diet, exercise, and disease prevention.

As for this family physician, it’s a Honey Crisp apple once or twice most every day!

This Q&A was originally published in the May 2015 edition of Today’s Christian Living.

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2016. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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