We’ve all heard “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but just how much truth is there to the old adage?
First, let’s look at the origin of that popular saying. According to Caroline Taggart, author of An Apple a Day: Old-Fashioned Proverbs and Why They Still Work, the saying originated in Wales with a slightly different wording. ‘‘Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread” was the similar statement first recorded in the 1860s. During the 19th century, the adage changed to “an apple a day sends the doctor away,” and then it morphed again in the 20th century into the phrase we know today.
Although the saying may have originated in modern times, the health benefits of apples have been known since ancient times. Apples were part of traditional Ayurvedic medicine in Southern Asia, dating back some 1,500 years, and historians believe that the Ancient Anglo-Saxons and Romans prized apples for their nutritional benefits.
Apples are a good source of natural fiber, are low in calories and are a great source of Vitamin C. Here are 12 health benefits of apples.
1. Dental care. When you bite and chew an apple, you stimulate saliva production in your mouth, lowering the levels of bacteria there and reducing the chance for tooth decay.
2. Brain power. Apple consumption can boost levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain, aiding your cognitive function.
3. Nerve protection. The high fiber content and antioxidants found in fruits like apples may help protect against nerve disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, which affects the central nervous system.
4. Reduced risk for certain cancers. Cancer researchers recommend a high fiber intake to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. In addition, apple peel contains compounds called triterpenoids that may help limit the growth of cancer cells in the colon, liver and breast.
5. Lower risk of diabetes. The soluble fiber found in apples helps regulate blood sugar swings and may help protect against the onset of type 2 diabetes.
6. Lower cholesterol. That same high quantity of soluble fiber in apples helps your intestines and lowers your “bad” cholesterol levels. Lower cholesterol is good for your heart and aids in the prevention of other health issues, such as gallstones.
7. Heart health. The fiber in apples also helps your arteries stay stronger and clearer of plaque, which can build up and lead to coronary disease.
8. Digestion. Dietary fiber, such as the healthy kind found in apples, aids the body’s digestive and elimination processes, helping the colon and bowls to work effectively.
9. Weight control. Foods that are high in fiber but low in calories – like apples — help you feel fuller longer, which can aid in weight reduction.
10. Detoxification. You can help your liver do what it is supposed to do – cleanse your body of toxins – by eating fiber- and nutrient-rich apples
11. Immunity boost. The antioxidant called quercetin that is found in red apples can aid your immune system, helping you fight off infection, especially when you are stressed.
12. Eye health. People who have a diet rich in certain fruits – including apples – are less likely to develop cataracts as they age.
So, will an apple a day really keep the doctor away? There are no guarantees when it comes to health. However, a diet that includes delicious, inexpensive, portable and versatile apples certainly can’t hurt.
What would you add to our list? Share your tips in the section below: