Does An Apple A Day Really Keep The Doctor Away?

Researchers tested the old adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. It’s not exactly true — but the fruit might benefit us anyway.

Finally, someone has put “an apple a day” to the test — and we can stop repeating the phrase just because everyone else does.

“An apple a day keeps the pharmacist away” might be more accurate anyhow.

Determined to find out whether there is any association between apple-eating frequency and doctor-visit frequency, researchers led by Matthew Davis of the University of Michigan School of Nursing analyzed data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The results were published online Monday by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Study participants who were considered daily apple eaters were no less likely, in a statistically significant way, to avoid doctors visits than non-apple eaters. Nor were daily apple eaters less likely to avoid mental health visits or overnight hospitalizations.

Daily apple eaters were “marginally” more likely to avoid prescription medications, however. As the study concludes:

Our findings suggest that the promotion of apple consumption may have limited benefit in reducing national health care spending. In the age of evidence-based assertions, however, there may be merit to saying “An apple a day keeps the pharmacist away.”

A JAMA press release hints, however, that the apple study was published in jest as much as it was in seriousness. JAMA Internal Medicine editor-in-chief Dr. Rita F. Redberg writes:

Although we take seriously the statement “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” (and the importance of a good parachute), these articles launch our first April Fool’s issue. At least once per year, and more is likely better (but needs to be tested), laughter is the best medicine.

On a more serious note, however, Consumer Reports cautions consumers to pay attention when apple shopping, as the magazine’s recent “Pesticides in produce” analysis ranks apples as high risk.

Whether you eat them daily or not, buy apples grown in New Zealand or else buy organic. Apples contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals—but a recent Consumer Reports analysis found those grown conventionally in the U.S. are high-risk for pesticide residues. Conventional New Zealand apples and organics from any location are low risk.

Do you eat an apple a day? Sound off with a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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