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A daily apple may keep the doctor away after all

December 21, 2013

It's no secret that apples are among the healthiest fruits around. After all, the saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away," exists for a reason. But just how true is that popular saying? Researchers from the University of Oxford recently set out to find the impact a daily apple could have on healthy aging, and they determined the practice could prevent thousands of heart attacks and strokes each year.

To determine the role apples play in a healthy lifestyle for seniors, scientists estimated the death rate for adults 50 and older if they were prescribed statins or told to eat an apple each day. They came to the conclusion that statins would prevent approximately 9,400 deaths from heart attack and strokes. The number was not much less for apples - about 8,500 deaths could be avoided. Experts say the results send a clear message about the role of nutrition in senior living.

"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," the authors wrote in a press release. "While no-one currently prescribed statins should replace them for apples, we could all benefit from simply eating more fruit."

Making positive dietary changes is a wise choice for seniors, especially given the role that cardiovascular issues play in everyday life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the cause of death for about 600,000 people each year, making it the leading mortality cause in the U.S. More specifically, strokes impact approximately 795,000 Americans each year.