THE CLAIM: an apple a day keeps the doctor away

THE ANALYSIS: Rosy cheeks, lots of stem-ina, and a tough inner core? Must be all the apples you eat! Turns out the elixir for hearty health is available ‘year round at the grocery store for $2.99 a pound. But before you cancel your health insurance, we’d better examine this claim to see if it bites back.

Despite its nom de guerre, “the forbidden fruit”, suggesting it has its roots in something more sordid than good health, (hence the anatomical term “Adam’s Apple”!), Talmudic sources cite the Eitz HaDa’as as a grape or fig tree, leaving the apple deliciously innocent. Apples hail from Central Asia and at least 55 million tonnes were grown worldwide in 2005, worth about $10 billion. The US is the second largest producer of apples, but, as in most things in life, most of the world’s apples are stamped with the words “Made in China”. Interestingly enough, the apple is a rose by any other name; apples are a member of the Rosacea family, minus the thorns.

There is no question that an apple packs a wonderful, healthful crunch. Apples have been shown to reduce cholesterol and the risk of cancer thanks to the antioxidants they contain, particularly in the peel, especially the Red Delicious variety. New studies from Cornell University suggest that a potent chemical in apples may protect the brain from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.  “The studies show that additional apple consumption not only may help reduce the risk of cancer, as previous studies have shown, but also that an apple a day may supply major bioactive compounds, which may play an important role in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders,” says Chang Y. “Cy” Lee, Cornell professor of food science.

However, there are other fruits and vegetables that also offer many of the health benefits that apples bring to the table, though “A blueberry a day keeps the doctor away!” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. In any case, health is about overall lifestyle; an avid apple consumer who likes his medicine pied, caked, and sauced or supplements his apple habit with lots of couch potatoes and little medical attention, may be in trouble.

THE VERDICT: Having seen the fruit’s ap-peel, Sir Isaac Newton would certainly be pleased with us gravitating toward apples. But do visit your doctor every now and then, nonetheless.


Photo by Matt Seymour on

July 10, 2021

Very entertaining, and encouraging. I guess It’s worth adding an apple to a fruit shake every day!

August 15, 2021

Sounds like a good idea–and a yummy one, too, Devorah! 🙂

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