‘Apple a day’ saying may hold some truth

The common refrain “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has been said so often, its truth is rarely questioned. However, a team of researchers recently set out to see whether there was any fact in the saying, and the findings published in the British Medical Journal seem to suggest yes. Relying on a mathematical formula, scientists found that if adults 50 and older ate one apple a day, the U.K. would see fewer heart attacks each year.

To understand whether apples really do have the significant benefits they tout, researchers from the University of Oxford wanted to see what would happen if they prescribed adults 50 and older to eat an apple every day as opposed to taking a daily statin. The team estimated that approximately 9,500 deaths from stroke or heart attack would be prevented using statins. Interestingly, that figure was about 8,500 for adults who ate an apple each day. Experts say the findings are significant because they shed light on how much nutrition can impact senior health.

“This study shows that small dietary changes as well as increased use of statins at a population level may significantly reduce vascular mortality in the U.K.,” the authors said. “This research adds weight to calls for the increased use of drugs for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, as well as for persevering with policies aimed at improving the nutritional quality of U.K. diets.”

Although the findings come from the U.K., older adults in Canada can certainly take them to heart, especially given the rate of cardiovascular disease among the retired population. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, approximately 70,000 heart attacks take place in Canada each year along with about 50,000 strokes.