The adage of eating an apple a day to stay healthy has been spouted for centuries; the proverb was first coined by the Welsh in the 17th century: "An apple before bed keeps the doctor from earning his bread."
Well, it turns out this age-old remedy does in fact hold up in the lab.
In a new Ohio State University study, those who ate an apple every day actually lowered their heart-clogging LDL-cholesterol count significantly. The apple's standout antioxidant, polyphenol, appears to be the main superhero that beats back this heart-disease-causing culprit. In the same study, other participants took a polyphenol supplement. Though this group's members did see their cholesterol drop, the actual apple eaters had the lowest levels at the end of the four-week study.
Other studies support the apple's ticker-protecting power, and a growing body of research suggests that polyphenol and other properties of this original forbidden fruit may help ward off common colds and cancer and actually slow the aging process of our cells.
So which apple should you pick when perusing the produce stand? While most apple studies use the most widely available varieties—Red Delicious, Golden Crisp, and Granny Smith—the antioxidant levels among the various apple "genres" (or colors) are negligible. In short, to keep the cardiologist, oncologist, and cosmetic surgeon at bay, scarf whatever apple flavor best suits you. And no, hard cider doesn't count.
—Mike Dawson is a magazine writer and editor and a regular contributor to Details.