There’s a wealth of research suggesting that eating fruits and vegetables has a number of health benefits, from promoting a healthy weight to reducing risk for heart disease. Due to their high levels of fiber and essential vitamins and minerals, apples, specifically, have been used for years to symbolize a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle. But does eating apples actually help keep the doctor away and lower health care use?
Researchers from Dartmouth College analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which surveys Americans annually regarding their health, diet and lifestyle. Using responses from 2007–2008 and 2009–2010 surveys, researchers compared apple consumption and use of health care services among more than 8,700 adults.
Among study participants, only 9% reported eating at least one small apple a day. After analysis, researchers found there was no difference in health care use between adults that consumed apples regularly versus those who did not. However, they did find that apple eaters were 27% more likely to avoid prescription drugs than non-apple eaters.
Based on study findings published in JAMA Internal Medicine, authors conclude that contrary to the old proverb, an apple a day will not keep the doctor away. But for the small fraction of Americans that do eat apples regularly, they may be less likely to use prescription medication than those who don’t.
This study aside, it’s important to remember that eating plenty of fruits and vegetable promotes better health, regardless of which types you choose. Fruits and vegetables are a key part of any well-balanced diet, and adding variety can help increase overall fruit and vegetable consumption. While eating apples may not keep you out of the doctor’s office, fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk for a number of chronic health conditions and improve overall health.