“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is an English-language proverb claiming that apple consumption or fruits and vegetables in general has health benefits.
The first recorded use of the proverb was in the 1860s in Wales. The original wording of the saying was “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” The current phrasing (“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”) was first used in print in 1922.
A 2011 study found that consumption of apples and pears might prevent strokes. A 2012 study found that apple consumption significantly lowered bad cholesterol levels in middle-aged adults. In 2013, the BMJ published a study as part of its humorous Christmas issue comparing the effects of prescribing everyone in the UK over age 50 either an apple or a statin a day. The study concluded that both interventions would be similarly effective.
A 2015 study looked directly at the relationship between apple consumption and physician visits and found no evidence that the proverb was true. The study did, however, find that people who ate an apple a day did use fewer prescription medications.
However, a 2011 study found that adding one ‘Golden Delicious’ apple to the daily diet of a small group of overweight men led to higher levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. The higher sugar and low-phenolic content of ‘Golden Delicious’ apples was blamed for the results.