Can an apple a day keep the doctor at bay?


Since 1913, when the iconic phrase was first coined, a homemaker’s answer for treating everything from fatigue to insomnia could be found in a bright, juicy parcel of an apple freshly picked from the tree.

But is the secret to disease prevention truly this simple? Well, yes and no. Experts are at odds in determining the measurable benefits of daily apple consumption. But all agree that eating apples is a healthy choice that can surely result in improved health and wellness.

“I don’t know if eating apples can help someone avoid visits to their doctor altogether, but I do know our facility has apples on-hand for both the staff and residents to enjoy. Apples are the perfect snack food when you need a healthy pick-me-up while on the go,” said Jim Morrison, executive director for Redmond Care and Rehabilitation Center.

 Here are five benefits from eating apples that support some of today’s theories:

1. Apples are brain food.

In his article for Medical News Today, writer Joseph Nordqvist referred to two studies that showed eating apples improves neurological health.

A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that drinking apple juice increased the production of neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain. “This improves memory in subjects showing Alzheimer’s-like symptoms.”

The other study published in the Journal of Food Science suggested that eating apples every day protected neuron cells against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity. In other words, these studies show that eating apples can be an effective strategy for preventing the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

2. Apples create a strong defense against the common cold.

Until there’s a cure, experts have found one of the best defenses for battling or preventing the onset of the common cold and flu is diet.

 “The most popular source of antioxidants in our diet is the apple,” wrote Men’s Health contributor Amy Palanjian. “One apple has an antioxidant effect equivalent to 1,500 mg of vitamin C. Apples are loaded with protective flavonoids, which may also prevent heart disease and cancer.” Remember, the magic is in the apple peel, so be sure to eat the entire apple for optimal health.

3. Apples strengthen the heart.

“Turns out that a daily apple habit can slash your heart disease risk nearly in half,” wrote Prevention Magazine contributor Kristen Domonell. Based on research conducted at Ohio State University and published in the Journal of Functional Foods, studies found that apples contain high levels of polyphenol antioxidants. This phenomenon blocks oxidation (LDL cholesterol) in the blood by as much 40 percent. Lower LDL cholesterol levels mean a reduced threat of heart attack or stroke.

4. Apples are great for weight loss.

 The key to eating apples as a means of weight loss is increasing your fiber intake. “The reason fiber helps us control our weight is that it fills the belly yet yields few calories since fiber is, for the most part, not something that we can digest,” wrote contributor Kathy Freston. “It also slows down the digestion of food, so you get a slow and steady source of glucose.”

Most people don’t get enough fiber in their diet each day. Based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet, women should be getting around 25 grams of fiber per day, and men should be getting 38 grams. “However, the average American only gets about 15 grams daily,” Freston said. Apples are an easy, portable and sweet way to increase your fiber and lose weight in the process.

5. Reduces need for prescription medications.

Eating apples every day may not cut down on the doctor’s visits, but it can certainly reduce your trips to the pharmacy. Writer Markus MacGill based his article on a study out of the University of Michigan School of Nursing, which found “the daily apple eaters were also more likely to avoid successfully prescription medication use (47.7 percent versus 41.8 percent).”

The results showed that eating apples every day may not prevent people from catching a disease, but it did limit the severity of the illness and made it more likely that infections can be fought with over-the-counter remedies.

If you are looking for an easy way to stave off infection and disease, take a tip from the wise health experts of yesteryear. An apple a day improves brain function, staves off colds, reduces cholesterol levels, helps with weight loss, and reduces the severity of infections. Who knew good health could be so delicious?

This article was previously published by the Herald Extra and republished here with permission.


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