April 10, 2015—If you think apple-eating is a cure-all, you’re not alone. For years, the idea that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has persisted.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. While apples are packed full of nutrients, they aren’t powerful enough to repel doctor visits, according to new research.
About the study
Researchers examined the apple-eating habits of more than 8,000 adults. People who ate at least 149 grams—about 1 small raw apple—every day were considered apple eaters. Everybody else was categorized as a non–apple eater.
Then, researchers determined how often participants saw a doctor or another health professional in the year prior. Those who had 1 or no visits during that timespan were considered successful in keeping the doctor away. Everybody else was not.
When socioeconomic and health-related factors were taken into account, there was no difference in doctor visits between those who ate apples and those who didn’t.
But there were a few differences between the 2 groups. Apple eaters were more likely to be from racial and ethnic minority groups, researchers said, and they also had a higher education level than did those who didn’t eat apples. Apple eaters were also less likely to smoke.
And those who ate apples didn’t use prescription medications as frequently as apple eaters.
The core of the matter
Did the apples protect these people from needing prescriptions? Researchers aren’t sure. Maybe the apple eaters did so because they were health conscious—which kept them in an overall healthier state. Those kinds of conclusions would require more research.
To learn more, read the study in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Take away message
Apples may not be able to keep doctors away, but according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, they can still be great for your overall health. They’re fat-free, sodium-free, flavorful and full of fiber. They’re also low in calories and high in antioxidants, so they can help you keep your weight down while supporting your immune system.
Apples are perfect for busy families too. A firm, shiny, smooth-skinned apple stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator can last for 3 weeks. And there’s no real prep involved in an apple snack. This is a fruit that’s made for on-the-go crunching.
If raw apples aren’t your snacking style, consider incorporating them into your meals—such as on top of a fresh salad or a healthy stir-fry. And applesauce makes for a tart start to any morning.
And don’t add just apples to your shopping list. Click here for many more unique fruits and veggies that can help boost the nutrition quality of your diet.