An Apple a Day Really Does Keep the Doctor Away

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We’ve all heard the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Turns out, that’s not just a rhyme to make kids eat some fruit; it’s a fact. You could make apple pie, apple crumb, applesauce, apple juice, and more out of this small ball that grows on trees. As fruits, apples were already considered to be healthy things to eat. What you more than likely were not aware of was that it isn’t just the classification of ‘fruit’ that makes them healthy.

There are chemicals in the apples, called phytonutrients, that defend the apple from bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Two studies done by Cornell University discovered that quercetin and phenolic compounds, which are phytonutrients in apples, were effective in protecting the brain cells of rats from oxidative stress. Granted, since the laboratory tests were done on rats and not humans, the results should not make people eat ten apples a day under the assumption that they’ll be totally protected from neurodegenerative diseases and oxidative stress.

What would be interesting to see is if someone could try injecting quercetin and phenolic compounds into some other food. Maybe they could be injected into other fruits and vegetables missing those phytonutrients that could further confirm or refute the findings from these studies by adding to what may become a strong meta-analysis of this phenomenon. Maybe they could be injected into red meat and see if the phytonutrients could fend off bacteria and make meat safer for consumption by reducing the likelihood of deadly illnesses such as Salmonella.                                                                                  photo 2

These studies revealed that the phytonutrients in apples are better at preventing cancer than vitamin C is, as well as stronger anti-oxidant protective effects than vitamin C. On top of that, the phytonutrients are also associated with reducing the risks of other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. From what scientists are uncovering about these phytonutrients, it sounds as if apples are a panacea. However, to confirm these findings, scientists would have to carry out a study involving human subjects, not just rats. More work needs to be done to figure out whether these phytonutrients are just as effective at preventing disease in humans as they are in rats. Medicine could be revolutionized if they are effective at preventing diseases in humans, as daily vitamins may end up with quercetin as an ingredient sooner rather than later.

1 thought on “An Apple a Day Really Does Keep the Doctor Away

  1. Nicholas E Schneider

    I found it interesting and surprising that not only does the “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” adage actually have some truth behind it, but that the phytonutrients found in apples can be more beneficial than some vitamins in regards to preventing certain diseases. I definitely think your post was intriguing and well done, however, it made me ask more questions than it answered. For example, you mentioned various different dishes made from apples. I wonder, does every apple-based dish (regardless of what it is; cobbler, pie, sauce) that is made with the same number of apples as another dish contain the same level or number phytonutrients? My guess would be that it does not. In addition, I’d be interested to find out what part of the apple contains the phytonutrients. If I skin an apple and eat the slices, am I consuming the same amount of beneficial nutrients that i would be had I eaten the apple normally? Finally, you blogs states that “the phytonutrients in apples are better at preventing cancer than vitamin C is, as well as stronger anti-oxidant protective effects than vitamin C.” If this is true, I’d like to find out the appropriate/necessary serving of phytonutrients needed to be more beneficial to preventing cancer than your daily percentage of vitamin C. All in all, it would be excellent if truly eating just one apple a day could decrease a person’s chances of developing cancer, diabetes, or heart disease, but I think more research is needed before parents opt for an apple in their child’s lunch as an alternative to a daily vitamin.

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