An apple a day keeps the doctor away

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It is commonly believed that apple consumption has health benefits.

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is a common English-language proverb of Welsh origin. It espouses the folk-wisdom that apple consumption (or consumption of fruits and vegetables in general) has identifiable health benefits.


First recorded in the 1860s, the proverb originated in Wales, and was particularly prevalent in Pembrokeshire. The original wording of the saying was "Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread." The current phrasing, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away", began usage at the end of the 19th century, [1][2] early print examples found as early as 1887.[3][4]

The background for the proverb was that at bedtime it was served either a fried apple filled with caraway seeds or a fresh apple with caraway seeds stuck in the apple.[5] Caraway was considered very healthy and the apple was a way to eat as much caraway as possible.[5]

Scientific evaluation[edit]

A 2011 study found that consumption of apples and pears might prevent strokes.[1] A 2012 study found that apple consumption significantly lowered bad cholesterol levels in middle-aged adults.[1] In 2013, the BMJ published a study as part of its humorous Christmas issue comparing the effects of prescribing everyone in the UK over age 50 either an apple or a statin a day. The study concluded that both interventions would be similarly effective.[6]

A 2015 study looked directly at the relationship between apple consumption and physician visits and found no evidence that the proverb was true. The study did, however, find that people who ate an apple a day did use fewer prescription medications.[7]

However, a 2011 study found that adding one ‘Golden Delicious’ apple to the daily diet of a small group of overweight men led to higher levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. The results were attributed to the higher sugar and low-phenolic content of ‘Golden Delicious’ apples.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Ely, Margaret (24 September 2013). "History behind 'An apple a day'". Washington Post. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  2. ^ "An apple a day keeps the doctor away".
  3. ^ "THEPOMOLOGIOALSHOW - Wrexham and Denbighshire Advertiser and Cheshire Shropshire and North Wales Register". George Bayley. 1887-11-26. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
  4. ^ "Google Books Search Results". Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  5. ^ a b Annemarta Borgen (1973). "Innenlandske ville kryddurter: Karve". Urtehagen på Knatten (in Norwegian). Gyldendal. pp. 37–38. ISBN 8205060118. Opprinnelsen til ordspråket om at "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" er at ved sengetid ble det før servert enten et stekt eple fylt med karve eller et friskt gjennomstukket med karve. Eplet var der for at folk skulle få mest mulig karve i seg.
  6. ^ Briggs, A. D. M.; Mizdrak, A.; Scarborough, P. (17 December 2013). "A statin a day keeps the doctor away: comparative proverb assessment modelling study". BMJ. 347 (dec17 2): f7267–f7267. doi:10.1136/bmj.f7267. Lay summary.
  7. ^ Davis, Matthew A.; Bynum, Julie P. W.; Sirovich, Brenda E. (1 May 2015). "Association Between Apple Consumption and Physician Visits". JAMA Internal Medicine. 175 (5): 777. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.5466. PMC 4420713. Lay summary.
  8. ^ James, Wong (4 October 2015). "Gardens: the truth about apples". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 April 2016.