The famous medical aphorism, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” has been around in our society for several decades. Its first appearance originated in Wales in 1866 as “Eat an apple on going to bed and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” The advice was then revised in 1913 in its current form. The current version is now shorter and much easier to say. No wonder that this might be the first health advice a child will hear from their parents and teachers. Apple is widely used as an epitome of healthy eating habits as well as education that we normally see in various public health messages. With the increasing doctor consultation fees and medicines, people are obsessed with keeping away from the doctors and being healthy. With a very simple advice of eating a fruit, this should be strongly advocated if held true.
Interestingly, a lot of people including researchers are curious whether this medical advice from our ancestors is true. A study entitled “Association Between Apple Consumption and Physician Visits: Appealing the Conventional Wisdom That an Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away” was published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The study was participated by 8,399 adults, where 24-hour food recall was collected from the participants. Surprisingly, the study concludes that the evidence does not support that eating an apple a day will help you evade doctor visits.
“An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away”
Yet, a lot of us will now wonder whether this tasty fruit will still be beneficial to our body. To decide on this, we must first assess the nutritional content of this forbidden fruit. First, apple contains soluble fiber called ‘pectin’. Most of the pectin can be found underneath fruits and vegetables peelings, in varying amounts. Soluble fiber like pectin helps to reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. More than the fiber, apples also contain substantial amounts of potassium which helps to regulate your blood pressure. It also contains vitamin C, an antioxidant, that can help you boost your immunity and fight away diseases. The colors and pigments of an apple are considered as phytonutrients. Phytonutrients provide anti-inflammatory, antioxidant protection against free-radicals that can cause inflammatory diseases like heart disease and cancer. An example of phytonutrients found in apples is quercetin. Quercetin is found in citrus pulp, apples, and onions, which is a yellow flavonoid with anti-inflammatory action towards mast cells.
And what part of the apple can you find these nutrients? If you said peelings, you are absolutely right! Most of the nutrients are concentrated underneath the peelings, just like the fiber. Thus, dietitians like me always recommend eating the whole fruit with peelings whenever possible or to peel the fruits thinly to preserve the nutrients. What about fruit juices then? Fruit juice is not comparable to whole fruits since juices contain fewer fiber that are beneficial to the body.
Apples are also a good snack or dessert option. They are sweet and tasty that children love! And with about 85% of water in 100 grams of fruit, apples can help you feel full without giving you too many calories while keeping you hydrated at the same time. Apple is also a versatile ingredient that you can include in salads and viands.
Even though apples failed the critical test on keeping us away from the doctors, this fruit can still be included in our balanced, healthy diet. Another good news is that other fruits can be included too, like oranges, bananas, grapes, and others as they function the same with apples. So why not trade your fried snacks for fresh fruits?