An apple a day keeps the doctor away

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"An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is a common English-language proverb that appeared in the 19th century, advocating for the consumption of apples, and by extension, "if one eats healthy foods, one will remain in good health and will not need to see the doctor often."[1]


A variant of the proverb, "Eat an apple on going to bed, and you'll keep the doctor from earning his bread" was recorded as a Pembrokeshire saying in 1866.[2][3][4] The modern phrasing, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away", began usage at the end of the 19th century, with early print examples found as early as 1887.[5][6][7][8]

Scientific background[edit]

A 2013 study using computer modelling compared eating apples with taking a common daily cholesterol-lowering drug to estimate risk of cardiovascular diseases.[9] The computer model estimated that eating an apple a day was generally comparable for people over age 50 years to using a statin drug to reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, concluding that eating an apple a day "is able to match modern medicine and is likely to have fewer side effects," while having similar annual cost.[9]

A 2015 study found apple eaters "were more likely, in the crude analysis, to keep the doctor (and prescription medications) away." When they adjusted for "sociodemographic and health-related characteristics, however, the association was no longer statistically significant”. The study also found that people who ate an apple a day used fewer prescription medications.[2]

Nutritional content of an apple[edit]

A medium-size (100 gram) raw apple is 86% water and 14% carbohydrates with negligible content of fat and protein, and supplies 52 calories of food energy.[10] It contains a moderate amount of dietary fiber, but otherwise has a low level of micronutrients.[10]


  1. ^ "What Does An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away Mean?". Writing Explained. 4 April 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  2. ^ a b 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): 777–83. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.5466. PMC 4420713. PMID 25822137.
  3. ^ Speake J, ed. (2015). "An apple a day keeps the doctor away". Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs (6th ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-0198734901.
  4. ^ Phillips, J. P. (1866). "A Pembrokeshire proverb". Notes & Queries. 127 (s3–IX): 153.
  5. ^ Ely, Margaret (24 September 2013). "History behind 'An apple a day'". Washington Post. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  6. ^ "The Pomological Show: Wrexham and Denbighshire Advertiser and Cheshire Shropshire and North Wales Register". George Bayley. 26 November 1887. p. 5. hdl:10107/4592708. The vote of thanks having been carried unanimously, Mr Chilton responded on behalf of Miss Chilton. He also lamented the fact that large sums of money were sent out of the country for foreign fruit, and hoped that by the example and influence of that how much good would be done. He advocated the increased use of fruit, for he believed in the old saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." (Laughter.) He proposed a vote of thanks to Mr Jones, the secretary, to whose untiring efforts and enthusiasm the success of the show was due. This vote of thanks having been carried, Mr Jones briefly responded, and the proceedings terminated.
  7. ^ "Cover". The Country Gentleman. Vol. LXXVIII, no. 50. 13 December 1913. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  8. ^ Lambert, Madeline (6 September 1913). "Your Wife as Your Business Partner". The Country Gentleman. Vol. LXXVIII, no. 36. p. 37. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  9. ^ a b Briggs, Adam D. M.; Mizdrak, Anja; Scarborough, Peter (17 December 2013). "A statin a day keeps the doctor away: comparative proverb assessment modelling study". BMJ. 347: f7267. doi:10.1136/bmj.f7267. PMC 3898162. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  10. ^ a b "Apple, raw, 100 grams". FoodData Central, US Department of Agriculture. 31 December 2018. Retrieved 16 August 2021.