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Does an apple a day really keep the doctor away?

Kevin Maloney

We’ve all been told that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. In the over 150 years that saying has been around, many have taken it as common health knowledge. But are apples really that good for you?

According to Joan Rogus, a registered dietician from central New York, the reason the saying has stood the test of time is because of the truth behind it. When asked what health benefits an apple can provide, Joan believes an easier question to answer would be, “What doesn’t an apple do for us?”

Click "Read More" to hear our interview with Joan Rogus.

Joan Rogus has been a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for over 25 years. She maintains a private practice in Syracuse, and has nothing but praise for the fruit that currently has over 7,500 different varieties. Rogus says that whatever variety you prefer— McIntosh, Gala, the list goes on and on—you are doing your body a favor.

Apples contain numerous nutrients that range from pectin—a fiber that regulates blood sugar as well as lowers blood pressure and cholesterol—to boron, which contains cancer fighting qualities as well as nutrients that lower your risk for heart disease and asthma.

“And, if that isn’t enough,” Rogus says, “just think about it. When you eat an apple, it’s almost like a natural toothbrush.” Apples contain nutrients that can kill bacteria in your mouth that can reduce your risk of tooth decay.

In order to receive all of the benefits an apple can provide, Rogus has one disclaimer—don’t peel the skin. This is because most of the important nutrients an apple contains are located in the layer between the skin and the actual fruit. Once you take away that layer, you lose a good portion of what makes an apple so good for you.

A very popular thing to do with apples is to put some in a fruit bowl and lay them out on the table. Rogus says that if you want to keep those apples fresh for an extended period of time, putting them out on the table is not a good idea. Instead, apples should be stored in a refrigerator, where the cool temperature can keep them fresh for up to three to four months in some cases.

When it comes to storage though, another common apple saying may come to mind: one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. According to Rogus, this is true. When apples deteriorate, they give off ethylene gas, which can then spoil nearby apples. Rogus suggests regularly checking apples that are stored together and discarding those that begin to spoil.

While McIntosh is the apple of choice for Rogus, there are many varieties that have flavors that range from sweet to tart.  In order to find your favorite of the fruit that provides so much for you health, Rogus has one simple suggestion: “Try them all.”