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An Apple a Day May Really Keep the Doctor Away

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"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 year."

Vital Information:

  • Many of the antioxidants in an apple are in the skin, which might have cancer-fighting properties.
  • 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 disease.
  • As scientists study antioxidants, many say they are beginning to believe it's the combination of different phytochemicals working together that bring good health.
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