A new health report released today advises us to get back to basics by eating an apple a day because, according to the science, they really can keep the doctor away.
The Apple Report, a comprehensive review of scientific research published over the last 10 years, found that apples are one of the only foods specifically identified to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers – two of the biggest causes of death in Australia. It also found apples are consistently associated with asthma protection, can reduce the risk of type II diabetes, and are a useful aid for weight loss.
Mr Shane Landon, Accredited Practising Dietitian and the author of the new report, said these are highly significant findings. “Apples are unique in the quality and quantity of research that establishes them as a true superfood.”
“In one study the risk reduction found for lung cancer was up to 50% while another large study showed a risk reduction for cardiovascular disease of up to 22%. Australians are only eating around an apple a week, so there is plenty of room for improvement,” Mr Landon said.
“We often hear about new foods hitting the supermarket shelves that have had this or that nutrient added to them during processing, but apples are a natural nutrition powerhouse,” he said.
Antioxidants are a measure of a food’s disease fighting potential and one of the most surprising findings in the report is the high antioxidant content of apples. Of all Australia’s popular fruits, apples have the highest antioxidant content.
“The news gets even more surprising when you compare apples to foods that are often promoted as good sources of antioxidants,” Mr Landon said. “Not only does an apple have around one and a half times more antioxidants than a 75g serve of blueberries, it has more than twice the antioxidants of a cup of tea, about three times the antioxidants of an orange and almost eight times the antioxidants of a banana,” he said.
The report will be welcome news to consumer groups concerned that Australians are bombarded with too much marketing hype promoting expensive ‘superfoods’. When it comes to so-called ‘superfruit juices’ like goji juice, Australians are paying up to five times as much for only a fraction of the antioxidants they would get in a Red Delicious apple.
“This is great news for the people who would struggle to afford these foods,” Mr Landon said. “The humble apple – a staple in our fruit bowls – is a better, more affordable and more convenient choice.”
“We know that Australians aren’t eating enough fruit and vegetables and if knowing that apples are an antioxidant powerhouse encourages people to choose it over a less healthy snack like a muesli bar, we have a very positive outcome for public health,” he said.
If all Australians ate just one more serve of fruit or vegetables every day, the estimated saving in direct healthcare costs for cardiovascular disease alone is over $150 million a year (Australian Fruit & Vegetable Coalition).
“The research is compelling and the health message is simple – we must get back to basics. An apple a day is a very good start.”
Mr Darral Ashton, Chairman of Apple and Pear Australia Limited, said they are thrilled with the report’s findings. “Many of our growers have had a tough few years with the drought and the findings of The Apple Report, along with this year’s crop of great quality apples, have given them a great boost,” he said.