Can an Apple a Day Really Keep the Doctor Away?

Here’s a riddle: What fruit contains salicylic acid, cyanide, acetone (nail polish remover), and isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) and is still touted as one of the healthiest foods around? That’s right. It’s one of the best-selling, best-loved fruits – the apple. We’ve bobbed them, baked them, and juiced them since antiquity, but can eating an apple a day really keep the doctor at bay? The short answer is, yes.

Apples and Antioxidants

Obviously, oxygen is a gas that human beings can’t live without, but did you know that they also have great difficulties living with it? It turns out that just the natural process of breathing produces rogue molecules called free radicals that wreak havoc in the human biological system. These free radicals are very destructive, and worse, they tend to accumulate and become precursors for conditions like heart disease, dementia, and certain cancers.

Antioxidants found in various fruits and vegetables are nature’s way of neutralizing and even reversing the devastating effects of free radicals. One of the first major studies published in The Lancet, the world’s leading general medical journal, put the old “apple a day” adage to the test and found that the antioxidant activity from just one apple a day had a positive impact on people’s health. In subsequent studies at Cornell University, scientists found that apple extract impeded the growth and proliferation of colon and liver cancer cells.

Other Sources of Beneficial Antioxidants

Of course, before we begin assigning magical properties to apples, it should be noted that many other foods contain antioxidants. Serving for serving, blueberries, cranberries, and kidney beans have more antioxidants than apples. And herbs like oregano and garlic possess many times more antioxidants than apples or other fruit. Other great sources of antioxidants include tea, red wine, and dark chocolate. The key to getting an adequate amount of antioxidants may, indeed, be in consuming a variety of different foods that contain these important health-promoting nutrients.

Additional Benefits of Apples

Along with being packed with antioxidants, apples possess even more benefits for health.

Although antioxidants can be obtained by other means, an apple or two a day is a delicious way to get the recommended dose of these important nutritional elements for good health.

References: Joe Schwartz, PhD. An Apple a Day. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2007.