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Dec 18, 2013 08:35 AM EST

Apples Can Prevent 8,500 Heart Attacks and Strokes Every Year, Study

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An Apple a day keeps the doctor away.
An Apple a day keeps the doctor away.
(Photo : Flickr)

Elderly population aged 50 and above can benefit from having an apple a day as it has been found to reduce heart attacks and strokes, according to an Oxford University study.

Researchers said that the health benefits of eating apples have been found to be similar to that of having cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins). Plus, apples don't carry any side-effects of statins such as muscle diseases and diabetes.

They claim that if older population added an apple to their daily diet, it could prevent 8,500 heart attacks and strokes every year in the UK.

 "The Victorians had it about right when they came up with: 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away.' It just shows how effective small changes in diet can be, and that both drugs and healthier living can make a real difference in preventing heart disease and stroke," Dr Adam Briggs, of the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group at Oxford University, said in a press release.

For the study, the researchers prescribed either statins or an apple a day for older adults, aged 50 and above. They used mathematical models to assess the benefits on the most common causes of vascular mortality - heart attacks and strokes.

The scientists assumed that at least seven in every 10 would have strictly followed their recommendation. They found that apples could save 8500 lives a year in comparison to statins, which could save 9,400 lives in the same period.

Researchers said that the 'Victorian mantra' is chiefly important to those over-50 and those who are at an increased risk of developing vascular diseases.

Experts also suggest that if the general population eats an extra portion of fruits or veggies a day, nearly 11,000 vascular deaths can be prevented each year.

"Apples have long been known as a natural source of antioxidants and chemical compounds called flavanoids, all of which are good for our health and wellbeing. This study shows that, as part of a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, a daily apple could help to reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease, "Dr Peter Coleman, of the Stroke Association said, BBC reports.

The finding has been published in the Christmas edition of the British Medical Journal.

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