An Apple a Day

A study published in the British Medical Journal 1 stated

If everyone over the age of 50 ate an apple a day, 8,500 deaths from heart attacks and strokes could be avoided every year in the UK.

Apples give a similar decrease in the risk of heart disease as statins but do not carry any of the potential side effects.

The researchers from the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group at Oxford University drew their conclusions on modelling data from a large group of medical trials involving hundreds of thousands of patients.

Dr Adam Briggs, the lead researcher of the study stated:

It just shows how effective small changes in diet can be, and that both drugs and healthier living can make a real difference in preventing heart disease and stroke.

He also stated:

While no-one currently prescribed statins should replace them for apples, we could all benefit from simply eating more fruit.

Despite the evidence that simple changes can have a big impact on our health, the conclusion of the paper is somewhat gloomy.

The comparison of a medicalised approach to chronic disease prevention with that of a lifestyle one has been previously estimated (polypill versus polymeal), although, in our view, not with any realistic hope of changing population behaviour, despite the suggestion to employ out of work cardiologists as chefs.

Apples contain a significant amount of the following nutrients: 2 vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium, dietary fibre, and riboflavin with smaller amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese.

Dr. Rui Hai Liu is a professor at Cornell University in the state of New York.  He and his research team studied vitamin C and its antioxidant effect in apples. Even though 100 g of apple contains approximately 6 mg of vitamin C, they found that it had an antioxidant effect equivalent to 1,500 mg of vitamin C.

Other antioxidants components include quercetin, catechin, phlorizin, and chlorogenic acid.  The interaction between these components and the thousands of others are complex and the health benefits are far greater than the sum of the individual components.

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  1. Briggs, a D. M. et al. (2013) A statin a day keeps the doctor away: comparative proverb assessment modelling study. BMJ. [Online] 347 (December), f7267–f7267.
  2. Campbell, T. C. & Jacobson, H. (2013) Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition. Dallas, Texas: Benbella Books.

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