An apple a day keeps the statins away

Everyone knows the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But that’s not even the half of it. According to a brand new study, researchers estimate that eating an apple a day would prevent almost 10,000 deaths a year. And that’s just in the U.K.! Imagine what the numbers would look like in the U.S., which has almost five times as many people.

More on that exciting, new study in a moment. But first, let’s back up…

Without a doubt, apples are highly nutritious. They contain lots of antioxidants. The “meat” or white of the apple does contain some fructose. But, as I’ve explained before, your body digests and metabolizes this natural sugar differently than it does sucrose (table sugar).

Just make sure to eat the skin of the apple too!

The skin contains the highest concentration of nutrients. It also contains insoluble fiber. This kind of fiber helps bulk up your stools. It also pushes the waste through your intestines in a timely manner. And it helps to control the acidity (or pH) in your bowels.

Unfortunately, most conventionally grown apples carry a heavy pesticide burden. In fact, each year the Environmental Working Group puts together a “Dirty Dozen” list. It ranks the top-12 foods most contaminated by pesticides. And apples top the list year after year. The synthetic chemical pesticides used on conventionally grown apples can and do accumulate in your body. They can poison your tissues and metabolism.

So, always eat organic apples. At the very least, wash all apples before you eat them. And make sure you eat one a day. It will definitely help keep the doctor away. But…can it really save your life?

To tackle that question, let’s get back to the new U.K. study…

Researchers wanted to see if they could find a way to prevent cardiovascular disease naturally. (A good idea, don’t you think?) And they wondered if eating an apple a day could do the trick. Of course, this is exactly the type of research we need, given the new expanded guidelines for the use of statin drugs.

For their analysis, researchers used a risk-assessment model called PRIME. Basically, this formula calculated what would happen if 70 percent of people in the U.K. ate just one apple a day. (They decided daily caloric intake would stay the same. So, it this model, men and women had to replace another food with an apple.)

The researchers found that eating one just one apple a day could prevent nearly 8,500 deaths from cardiovascular diseases every year. And, again, that’s just in the United Kingdom.

In fact, the researchers found that simply eating one extra apple a day would prevent almost as many deaths as taking 40 mg of simvastatin (Zocor). And that was using the old data the drug companies put out showing statins benefit certain types of patients. Newer studies, of course, discredit that old data.

Of course, the U.K. has less aggressive statin protocols than we do here in the U.S. In the U.S., the new guidelines say you need to take a statin if you have a 10-year risk of developing cardiovascular disease greater than 7.5 percent. In the U.K., they allow a 20 percent risk.

Of course, the analysis turned up some other noteworthy results…

The researchers estimated that prescribing statins to all those people would lead to 1,200 cases of cardiomyopathy. This is the technical term for pathological damage to the heart muscle. Statins would also lead to 200 cases of rhabdomyolysis (destruction of skeletal muscles). They would also cause 12,300 new cases of diabetes. Ironically, experts now estimate that diabetes itself causes up to 75 percent of new heart attacks!

And what about the financial costs?

Statin therapy would cost 180 million pounds in the U.K. ($296 million U.S. dollars.) And that doesn’t count the heavy costs of managing all the side effects, complications and diseases caused by the drug. Plus, in the U.S., we pay even more for these drugs.


Well, Medicare (Part D) and Medicaid can’t negotiate the drug costs as they do in the U.K. It has to pay the full price on prescription drugs…according to U.S. law!

But according to this new study, you could just eat a 50-cent apple a day. And you avoid all this. (How’s that for another practical and sensible resolution for the New Year?) Again, just make sure they’re organic apples. And make sure to wash and eat the skin!


1. “Comparative Proverb Assessment Modelling Study,” British Medical Journal. December 17, 2013