An Apple a Day May Really Keep the Doctor Away
WebMD News Archive
More than 900 different plant chemicals have been identified as components
of different fruits, nuts, grains, and vegetables. Apples are rich in
isoflavones and phenolics, but other widely studied phytochemicals include
lycopene, found in tomatoes; carotenoids, found in carrots and citrus fruits;
and allyl sulfides, found in garlic and onions. It is believed that various
phytochemicals help prevent cell damage, prevent cancer cell replication, and
decrease cholesterol levels.
Charles Halsted, MD, says evidence is mounting that suggests taking vitamin
supplements, even in large doses, does not provide the health benefits of a
healthy diet. Halsted edits the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
(AJCN) and is a professor of internal medicine at the University of
California, Davis. He was not involved with the study, but reviewed it for
"I think the argument that natural sources of antioxidants are better is
a pretty sound one," he says, adding that AJCN will soon publish
studies showing a diet high in fruits and vegetables to be protective against
heart attacks and colon cancer.
"If you look at single compound studies, you see mixed results,"
Halsted says. "For example, the early studies of beta-carotene suggested
that it protected against lung cancer, but later studies found that it
increased lung cancer risk. Single supplements may not be able to provide the
benefits of a healthy diet."
The Cornell study was funded, in part, by the New York Apple Research
Development Program and the New York Apple Association, and Liu is an eager
spokesman for their favorite fruit.
"You should eat an apple every day," he says. "Everybody in my
family gets an apple a day. We go through several thousand apples a
- Many of the antioxidants in an apple are in the skin, which might have
- Researchers think it's better to get antioxidants from fruits and
vegetables than from dietary supplements. These naturally occurring plant
chemicals, or phytochemicals, may work together to fight cancer and other
- As scientists study antioxidants, many say they are beginning to believe
it's the combination of different phytochemicals working together that bring