Apple-a-day prevents strokes
& heart attacks
Article page |
Health page |
Eating an apple-a-day is an effective as statins at preventing deaths from strokes and heart attacks, Oxford University scientists has discovered.
The original 1866 proverb states: Eat an apple on going to bed, and you'll keep the doctor from earning his bread.
But a study from Oxford University has shown than an apple-a-day really will keep the doctor away and is as affective as statins at preventing strokes and heart attacks.
Researchers have concluded that around 8,500 deaths could be prevented every year if over-50s who are not already taking statins ate one apple each day.
Previous studies have shown that apples are high in soluble fibre which slows the build-up of cholesterol-rich plaque in the arteries.
Apples also contain antioxodiants and flavanoids which are beneficial to health and boost the immune system.
Dr Adam Briggs of the BHF Health Promotion Research Group at Oxford University said: "The Victorians had it spot on when they came up with the clear and simple public health advice, 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away'.
"It just shows how effective little changes in diet can be.
"While no-one currently prescribed medicine should replace them for apples, we could all benefit from simply eating more fruit.
"This study shows that small dietary changes as well as increased use of statins at a popuation level may significantly reduce vascular mortality in the UK.”
Apples also have fewer side effects than statins, which can raise the risk of diabetes and muscle weakness.
Researchers looked at previous studies which demonstrated the benefits of fruit consumption for cardiovascular health and decreased mortality. They then compared that to similar mortality figures for statins.
Around 5.2 million people are currently eligible for statins in the UK.
If everyone over the age of 50 was prescribed statins it would mean an extra 17.6 million people would take the drug – and 9,400 more deaths would be prevented each year.
Researchers assumed there would only be a 70 per cent compliance rate if apples were prescribed. But they said that even at that level it would prevent 8,500 deaths a year. If there was an100 per cent take-up it could prevent more than 12,000 deaths a year.
The report authors noted: “Prescribing either an apple a day or a statin a day to everyone over 50 yeas old is likely to have a similar effect on population vascular mortality.
“Choosing apples rather than statins may avoid more than a thousands excess cases of myopathy and more than 12,000 excess diabetes diagnoses.”
The authors found the only downside to prescribing apples in stead of statins would be that the fruit currently costs more.
Dr Peter Coleman, Deputy Director of Research at The Stroke Association said: “Apples have long been known as a natural source of antioxidants and chemical compounds called flavanoids, all of which are good for our health and wellbeing.
“This study shows that, as part of a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, a daily apple could help to reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.
“Whilst it is vital that those who have been prescribed the cholesterol lowering-drugs, statins, continue to take this highly effective medication, everyone can lower their risk of stroke with simple lifestyle changes, like eating a balanced diet.”
The results were published in the British Medical Journal.
( Courtesy: The telegraph )