An apple a day doesn’t keep the doctor away

My patients are always a little surprised when I warn them about apples. But as common and convenient as they are, as far as fruits go, apples actually contain quite a lot of sugar. Which is why I recommend limiting how many you eat to a few per month—if that.

Now, a new study backs up my recommendation. And literally disproves the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Researchers looked at data from 8,400 US adults. Preliminary analysis showed those who ate an apple a day had slightly fewer doctor visits than “apple avoiders.” But when the researchers adjusted for factors like weight, race, and education, that difference disappeared.

Let me be the first to say this study is a little silly. (And I think—or at least hope—it was meant to be to some degree. After all, the study authors claimed their objective was “To examine the relationship between eating an apple a day and keeping the doctor away.”)

But it is a good reminder that when it comes to conventional wisdom, it’s best to dispense with traditional proverbs and look at real science. And science has proven, time and again, that too much sugar, whether it comes from apples or something else, can throw your health into a dangerous tailspin.


“Consumption and Physician Visits: Appealing the Conventional Wisdom That an Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.” JAMA Internal Medicine, epub ahead of print 3/30/15