An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away! True or False?

   |  Updated: March 31, 2015 15:06 IST

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An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away! True or False?

'An apple a day keeps the doctor away' - this famous phrase that has been spouted for centuries was actually adopted from the traditional English proverb "An apple before going to bed keeps the doctor from earning his bread." It's been used time and again without anyone having questioned its validity. Are apples the only fruit that can keep you disease-free? Let's find out.



We know apples are rich in Vitamin C, A and E. They're also rich in phytonutrients that curb damage caused by free radicals and thereby prevent heart disease and diabetes. They're also part of a range of teeth whitening fruits. According to present research, foods that are firm or crisp are known to help clean teeth as they're eaten. They can also destroy the bacteria in your mouth and prevent tooth decay.



(Eat Your Way to Whiter Teeth)



The group of researchers that set out to test the credibility of this popular phrase found it to be slightly misguided. The study was found in JAMA Internal Medicine which is a medical journal published twice a month by the American Medical Association and found that those who eat apples daily had just as many doctor visits as those who did not regularly eat the fruit. However, the study also found that daily apple eaters are less likely to use prescription medications.



Researchers compared daily apple eaters (those who consumed at least 1 small apple per day or 149 grams of raw apple) with non-apple eaters. The authors analysed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2007-2008 and 2009-2010). Of the 8,399 survey participants who completed a dietary recall questionnaire, 753 (9 per cent) were apple eaters and 7,646 (91 per cent) were non-apple eaters. Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Nursing, Ann Arbor, and colleagues measured "keeping the doctor away" as no more than one self-reported visit to a physician during the past year.

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There was no statistically significant difference between apple eaters and non-apple eaters when it came to keeping the doctor away when socio demographic and health-related characteristics were taken into account. However, apple eaters had marginally higher odds of avoiding prescription medications, according to the results. Researchers found no difference between apple eaters and non-apple eaters when measuring the likelihood of avoiding an overnight hospital stay or a visit to mental health professional.



"Our findings suggest that the promotion of apple consumption may have limited benefit in reducing national health care spending. The study concluded that, "In the age of evidence-based assertions, however, there may be merit to saying 'An apple a day keeps the pharmacist away' instead of 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away'."



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With inputs from PTI



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