Archive | September, 2012

What about an apple a day?

13 Sep

By: Megan Arppe-Robertson

Most people have heard the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but how much truth is in it?  A family member recently asked me this question and it was enough to spark my curiosity (that and the fact that it is apple season).  While apple research is limited, what I found does suggest that apples really can help keep the doctor away.

In 2000, a study determined that red delicious apples were an excellent source of antioxidants. Interestingly, only a very small percentage of this antioxidant activity was due to vitamin C.  Rather, the phenolics and flavonoids in the apples provided most of the antioxidant activity (Eberhardt et al.).  Also, almost half of the phenolics and flavonoids were found in the apple skin (Eberhardt et al., 2000).  Apple extract inhibited the growth of colon-cancer cell lines and human liver-tumour cells in vitro, especially when apple skin was included in the extract(Eberhardt et al., 2000).

Recent data from large observational studies have pointed to flavonoid intake, particularly from apples, as being negatively associated with disease progression. In a study with 200 894 American adults, flavonoid consumption (namely from apples and blueberries) was also associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes (Wedick et al., 2012).  Another study of

129 646 adults found that the risk of Parkinson’s disease was also decreased significantly in men (but not women) with increased flavonoid and specifically apple consumption (Gao et al., 2012; Kukull, 2012).  Similarly, for every 25g/day increase in white fruit consumption research has shown a 9% decrease in risk of stroke; apples and pears were, by far, the most common white fruits and vegetables consumed in the large study (Oude Griep et al., 2011).  Apples also contain fibre, water and are relatively low in calories.

All this being said, apples, like most fruit, are high in sugar, so moderation is important. Also, most of the above-mentioned studies demonstrate associations, not cause and effect relationships.  Still, the evidence does point towards an apple each day (or at least 5 per week) as having beneficial effects and being a healthy addition to a balanced diet.

For more information, check out this article from Best Health Magazine for a rundown of apple health effects: http://www.besthealthmag.ca/eat-well/nutrition/15-health-benefits-of-eating-apples.

Eberhardt, M.V., Lee, C.Y. and Liu, R.H.  (2000).  Antioxidant activity of fresh apples.    Nature, 405, 903-904.

Gao, X., et al.  (2012). Habitual intake of dietary flavenoids and risk of Parkinson disease.  Neurology, 78, 1138-1145.

Kukull, W.W.  (2012).  An apple a day to prevent Parkinson disease Reduction of risk by flavenoids.  Neurology, 78, 1112-1113.

Oude Griep, L.M., et al. (2011).  Colors of Fruit and Vegetables and 10-Year Incidence of Stroke.  Stroke, 42, 3190-3195.

Wedick, N.M., et al.  (2012).  Dietary flavnoid intakes and risk of type 2 diabetes in US men and women.  Am J Clin Nutr, 95, 925-933.