An apple a day keeps the doctor away

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There is no validity to the proverb's literal meaning

"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]

Statistical evidence seems to show no correlation between eating apples and physician visits, but it correlates with the use of fewer prescriptions.


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 current 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]

Scientific evaluation[edit]

A 2015 study found no evidence that the proverb was true: adult consumers of one small apple per day had the same number of physician visits as those who did not eat apples. The study also found, however, that people who ate an apple a day used fewer prescription medications.[2]

Other than for a moderate amount of carbohydrates as fructose and dietary fiber, a medium-size apple (182 g with skin) supplies 95 calories and 14% of the Daily Value for vitamin C, but otherwise has a low content of micronutrients.[8]


  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. ^ "The Country Gentleman". Vol. LXXVIII no. 50. 13 December 1913. pp. Cover, 7, 37. Retrieved 26 December 2017. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  8. ^ "Apples, raw, with skin [Includes USDA commodity food A343]; medium apple, 182 g"., Conde Nast; using data from version SR-21 of the USDA National Nutrient Database. 2018. Retrieved 1 March 2020.