In 17th century Wales, in the United Kingdom, the saying “an apple before bed keeps the doctor from earning his bread” suddenly appeared. This was later changed to “an apple a day keeps the doctor at bay”. For three centuries, people have repeated this saying without ever looking into its validity. Some scientists have decided to put it to the test, and they found that the old saying is, in fact… true! An extensive study was completed by Ohio State University, which came to the following conclusion:
Intakes of apples or apple polyphenols decrease plasma values for oxidized low-density lipoprotein/beta2-glycoprotein I complex.
In layman’s terms, this means that people who eat at least one apple a day may notice that their LDL cholesterol, which is the bad cholesterol that clogs up the arteries to the heart, has been reduced significantly. Researchers suggested that this is thanks to polyphenol, the main antioxidant found in apple. Polyphenol has immediately been hailed a ‘superhero’ among antioxidants for that reason.
This result led the researchers to try something else. They used a different control group and gave them a daily polyphenol supplement. Interestingly, while they did also see a drop in the LDL cholesterol levels, it was nowhere near as high as that of those who consumed an apple a dat, even though the polyphenol levels were the same. This suggests that there truly is something special about apples.
This wasn’t the first study to have indicated that apples can have powerful heart protecting abilities. Not just that, it now seems that the apple, which is believed to be the forbidden fruit mentioned in the Bible, actually has a variety of other health benefits as well.
Apples are a widely consumed, rich source of phytochemicals, and epidemiological studies have linked the consumption of apples with reduced risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and diabetes. In the laboratory, apples have been found to have very strong antioxidant activity, inhibit cancer cell proliferation, decrease lipid oxidation, and lower cholesterol.
So why did the Bible turn this magical fruit into the forbidden fruit? Was that just coincidence, or was it because some may have believed that this humble fruit had such powerful properties that it must have been divine? It seems that, in reality, this could have been due to a mistranslation.
It is highly likely that this view of the fruit comes from a medieval pun: the Latin for “evil” is malum and the Latin for “apple” is malus. Possibly medieval monks simply played a game with the words to make the fruit which conducted evil (malum) into the world an apple (malus).
Others suggest that the forbidden fruit was actually a grape. This is because grapes are made to produce wine, wine is an alcoholic drink, and drinking alcohol is a sin as well. However, this would, once again, not stand up due to the fact that grapes are filled with flavanoids, which also have tremendous health benefits. The truth is that we will never know what the true fruit of the tree in the Garden of Eden was, nor does it truly matter. What does matter is the fact that apples may significantly improve your health.
The next question then becomes whether all apples are created equally. Generally speaking, Red Delicious apples, the most common of all apples, have been used in studies. However, Granny Smiths and Golden Crisps have also been used. It has been found that the levels of antioxidants are pretty much the same between all the varieties of apples, and all their colors. As such, those who want to keep the doctor at bay can bite into whichever one they happen to like best.