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An apple a day can keep heart problems at bay

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The old saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is proving to be more true everyday.

Apples are already known to contain pectin that is soluble fiber that lowers the both blood pressure and glucose levels. It can also lower the levels of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol in the body.

This wonderful fruit (there are 7,500 varieties worldwide) is also rich in phytonutrients, including vitamins A and E and beta carotene, that can fight damage from free radicals and help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and asthma.

A new study by Oxford University published in the Christmas edition of the British Medical Journal suggests that the health benefits from apples may not only be effective in preventing death from heart disease – it could even be as effective as taking a statin.

Statins are medications that lower cholesterol to prevent heart disease and are prescribed to people who have high cholesterol or are otherwise at risk of developing heart disease.

Researchers suggest that prescribing an apple a day to everyone aged 50 and over would prevent or delay around 8,500 heart attacks and strokes a year in the UK, while in comparison giving statins to all adults 50 or over would reduce the number by 9,400.

The researchers used a mathematical risk assessment model based on nutritional information and deaths from disease to calculate the benefits of eating apples, and they also modeled the side effects (myopathy and Type 2 diabetes) of taking statins in their calculations.

Dr Adam Briggs, of the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group at Oxford University, said, “The Victorians had it about right when they came up with ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ It just shows how effective small changes in diet can be and that both drugs and healthier living can make a real difference in preventing heart disease and stroke.”

He however stressed, “While no one currently prescribed statins should replace them with apples, we could all benefit from simply eating more fruit.”

Dr Peter Coleman, of 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.

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