Eating an apple a day slashes the risk of dying early by 35 per cent, a study has found.
Women who ate more than 100 grams of the fruit each day – one small apple – were likely to have a longer life expectancy than those who didn’t.
Researchers at the University of Western Australia, followed a group of pensioners aged 70 to 85 for 15 years.
Each of the 1,456 participants completed a food frequency questionnaire, which the researchers used to understand how apples impacted on their mortality.
It found a variety of different fruits when consumed on a daily basis gave moderate health benefits.
Apples have high levels of flavonoids and fibre which are linked to artery relaxation, lower cholesterol and blood pressure and a reduced cancer risk
Dr Jonathan Hodgson, from the UWAs School of Medicine and Pharmacology, said it was down to high concentrations of fibre and flavonoids in the skin.
Flavonoids are plant compounds found in fruit and vegetables including apples, berries, pears, strawberries and radishes.
They have long been celebrated for their antioxidant effect, which is thought to help prevent cell damage.
‘Apples are amongst the top contributors to total flavonoid intake,’ he said.
‘We have previously shown that flavonoid intake from apple skin improved artery relaxation.
‘We have now shown that higher apple intake was associated with lower risk of all-cause mortality and cancer mortality in older women.’
The researchers examined the impact of apples because they are a popular are widely eaten fruit.
The study found women who ate them regularly had a lower risk of dying but Dr Hodgson said it would also apply to other fruits.
High levels of fibre found in apples has been linked to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and a reduced cancer risk.
They are also a good source of magnesium, potassium, vitamin C.
People who eat apples are also more likely to live healthy lifestyles and consume other fruits and vegetables, which may also contribute to their longer life expectancy.
It follows research which found flavonoids may also help reduce the energy – particularly from sugar – that is absorbed from food.
Earlier this year, a study by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Harvard Medical School linked the compounds to both maintaining a healthy weight, and even helped people lose a little.
Eating the flavonoids contained in an 80g (2.8oz) handful of blueberries every day for four years helped people to lose about 2lb 10oz.
By comparison, the average woman in the same period would usually put on about 2lb 3oz, and the average man 4lb 6oz.
Speaking at the time, Professor Aedin Cassidy, from the UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said eating a ‘modest amount’ could lead to significant health benefits.
‘We found that an increased consumption of most flavonoids was associated with weight maintenance, and even a modest weight loss.
‘The results were found to be consistent across men and women, and different ages.
‘However losing even small amounts of weight, or preventing weight gain, can improve health and these modest effects were seen with a small, readily achievable increase in intake of many of these fruits.
‘Just a single portion of some of these fruits per day would have an important impact on health at a population level.’