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An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away: Is It True?

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We all know the old Pembrokeshire, Wales’s proverb, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But why did this proverb exist to begin with?

Surprisingly, the original saying from the 1866 edition of Notes and Queries magazine goes, “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” Clever they were back then.​

But, what are health benefits of apples? And what good they do to body?​

Like avocados, apples are impressive fruits. Originating from Central Asia and the Middle East, apples are now grown throughout the world.

Progressing through the centuries, they diversified giving us more geographically distant varieties and enabling more resistance to modern diseases.

There are over 7,500 varieties of apples with 100 grown commercially in the U.S. Some well known are Fuji, Gala, Jonagold, Braeburn, and the Red Delicious. Most grocery stores carry about five kinds of apples. Therefore, these names may sound familiar.​(1)

An apple has many vitamins and minerals such as:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Folate or Vitamin B9
  • Vitamin D
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorous
  • Zinc

Most of the minerals in a 100 g serving do not exceed a single mineral amount of 3% of the % DV. Vitamin A contains the highest amount of grams with a total of 6.2 whereas Vitamin C has the lowest at 40 IU.(2)

Though apples have 16g of carbohydrates and 10.4g of sugar they still have a low Glycemic index (GI) of 40. GI is the measurement of how carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels.

Apples provide an enhance resistance to Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular heart disease, cancer, asthma, and diabetes. Because apples have high fiber content, they help maintain low blood sugar levels and with their high amount of antioxidants aid in lowering the risk of heart diseases and cancer.​

1. Apples help in losing weight and make you fit and fine

In this day and age, there are fast food joints by the millions making it even easier to go out to eat, instead of cooking a healthy meal at home.

This makes maintaining a healthy weight even harder in turn creating a less enjoyable life. In Americans, one in four adults is considered over-weight.

Balancing over time and the energy one uses help maintain a healthy weight.

The weight gain and obesity occur when we do not use up the calories that are being taken in. Because of our American lifestyle and the fact fast food joints have been increasing since the fifties, culturally, we are now becoming more obese.

One of the leading causes of obesity is the hours we spend in front of the T.V. We should not be spending over two hours in front of the T.V. Other reasons would include:​

  • ​using cars instead of walking,
  • fewer physical demands at home and work,
  • and less physical education classes at school

These all are all leading to an increase in obesity. This inactive lifestyle is raising our risks to coronary heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and colon cancer.

But, apples are here to save the day​. Apples contain 17% or 4 grams of the daily intake of fiber.

Fiber, like the laxative, has been known to help in losing weight. With the dietary fiber, chlorogenic acid, and low caloric intake, the apple has shown to be an aid in weight loss.

One study followed by a group of older women found that apples can aid in lowering weight in just 12 weeks. (3)(4)

2. Apples help in healthy digestion

One by-product of Fiber is pectin. Pectin is the complex carbohydrate created from the soluble and insoluble fiber.

The high level of pectin derives from fiber makes the digestive process easier and lowers the chance of acid reflux.

Pectin also removes the unwanted metals and toxins from the body, lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of exposure to radiation.

Soluble fiber's effect on the healthy bacteria or probiotics creates a loving environment for the intestines because no one enjoys being backed up.

A healthy digestive system aids in lowering the risk for Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, pouchitis, constipation, diarrhea, and cancer.

3. Apples improve heart health and minimize the risk for stroke

Apples have had an inversely association with coronary disease, and its mortality, especially in women. Because these women ate more apples. The flavonoids found in the apple had positive effects on their heart, aiding in decreasing their risk of heart diseases.

One study over hamsters who suffered from high cholesterol levels found that apples reduce the plaque build-up in the arteries, and reduced their cholesterol.(5)

Because of antioxidants and fiber in an apple, it has shown to help the diet, heart, and digestion. Dietary fiber should be considered a super carbohydrate.

One Finland study found that the risk of heart disease was lower in women than men when they ate 54 grams, or 1.9 oz apples a day. (6)

4. Apples heal wounds faster after surgery

Personally, I was surprised to find that fruit heals wounds faster. People with diabetes have a harder time with wounds and healing.

My grandmother could stand in an ant bed and do not feel a single bite, because her diabetes made it difficult to feel anything in her feet.

​With this being the case people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing wounds such as foot ulcers, or pressure sores.

When we are hurt our body works in overtime to heal. When we eat healthy foods rich in vitamins, minerals, energy and protein then we have a higher chance of healing faster.

Because of their low GI, Apples have been found to help the dietary treatment of diabetes. Since apples help lower blood sugar levels they then aid in preventing and curing a wound.

5. Apples are great for keeping pregnant women healthy and happy

Apples were such a help because of the flavonoids-- --, or phytochemical content found in the them.

Flavonoids in apples are beneficially associated with reducing the risk of asthma, and aiding in hypersensitive bronchial, and lung functions in adults.

Among the aid and prevention of asthma in the mother and child, apples make pregnant women happy with the reduced risk of heartburn, and weight gain, as well as detoxification of the body. 

Amazingly, one study found that women who eat apples during pregnancy are actually lowering the chance of their child having asthma later in life. Not only is asthma at a reduced risk of the children developing, but so is eczema (skin disease) and childhood wheezing. The longitudinal study studied 2000 women and 1253 children. In 2004, it was found that asthma is the third-ranking hospitalization among children younger than age 15 in the U.S. (7)

This super food really is a common, misunderstood superhero.

6. Apples nourish the skin and make it shine

Apples are rich in vitamin C which helps nourish our skin. With the rays of the sun, chemicals applied daily from makeup, lotions, and creams.

It is no wonder why our skin looks as aged and bland as ever. But with vitamin C, the body is able to create collagen which is crucial to prevent vitamin C deficiency.

​If we do not obtain vitamin C's daily needed intake of 75 milligrams, our skin tears, breaks, and can re-open old skin wounds. We need collagen to keep the skins’ waterproof barrier.

7. Apples help manage cholesterol levels

If animals are anything like humans then we would find that apples are exceedingly helpful in lowering the cholesterol levels.

The study spoken about above in the heart disease section found that not only did the plaque buildup decreases, but blood cholesterol levels lowered in hamsters that were hyper-cholesterolemic .

When it comes to old age cholesterol tends to always become a worry. But if elderly ate an apple a day, they would find their levels lowered substantially.

8. Apples are great for the lungs

One study found by researchers in the United Kingdom that apples may be a great source for a better lung function. Because an apple has high amounts of Vitamin C, E, and citrus. And these vitamins are increasingly helpful.

Of the 2500 men in the study in their late forties ate at least five apples a day. It was because of apples they ate was the only fruit to make a large impact. The slow deterioration of the lungs by aging might have a positive short-term effect on lung function as we grow older. The antioxidants in apples such as Quercetin aids in protecting our lungs from our polluted atmosphere.​

The antioxidant also seems to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-depressant medicinal effects one study found from animals.​

9. Apples lower the symptoms of GERD

Whereas some pregnant women have problems with apples and their reflux. But overall apples seem to be on the rise to the symptoms decline for people who suffer from GERD (or Gastroesophageal reflux disease).

There are few clinical trials to support the claims that apples help with the GERD. It is known that apples have digestive properties to help reduce the chance of acid reflux.

Red apples are better for this than green since green apples have a higher acidity level. Sweet, organic apples are considered to do the job better than their sore counterparts. Apples have many metallic minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium that are considered to aid in the job of reducing acid reflux.​

How do you take your apple?

Apples can be taken in a number of ways. They are a very versatile fruit. Some apples are better for cooking than eating raw.

You can juice an apple, cut it up and eat it raw, bake your apples with cinnamon and sugar or just add apple cider vinegar to the pot. Either way, apples are a fun fruit to add to any recipe.

Side effects of apples

Though apples are considered to be overall completely healthy for you. It may cause some digestion problems for people.

Personally, it was difficult for me to eat, or drink apples/apple juice when I was pregnant because like oranges they would give awful acid reflux. The ascorbic acid can cause reflux in some pregnant women. But this problem seems to be only in a select few.

Bottom Line

Apples are great for you. The old saying really is true. Whether you are young or old an apple a day will truly keep the doctor away. They are low in calories and energy, high in fiber, and vitamin A and C. Apples will nourish your skin, reduce the risk of asthma in your child, and possibly prevent cancer, and diabetes.

Why would anyone be against apples?

They truly are one of America’s favorite super foods.

Now what is your take about apples? Leave your experience with apples in your diet in comments.​

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