In modern times, apples are not the most famous of the fruits which start with the letter “a.” Avocados have stolen their thunder, making splashy headlines—and it-girl Instagram feeds—on a regular basis. Still, the old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” continues to hold research-backed weight, which means it might not be wise to forget this classic fruit.
A new study led by researchers at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and published in the European Respiratory Journal found that a diet high in tomatoes and fruits—specifically apples—slowed the decline of lung health over a 10-year-period in former smokers.
The research showed benefits in non-smokers as well, as lung function tends to deteriorate around the age of 30 regardless of whether or not you’ve ever picked up a cigarette. “Our study suggests that eating more fruits on a regular basis can help attenuate the decline as people age, and might even help repair damage caused by smoking,” Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health and the study’s lead author, told NutraIngredients.com.
Specifically, Garcia-Larsen’s investigation—which included 650 subjects and controlled for factors such as physical activity and socioeconomic status—found that eating more than two tomatoes a day or more than three servings of fresh fruit a day slowed lung deterioration when compared to eating less than one tomato or less than one serving of fresh fruit per day. In other words, if you hope to reap the benefits of fruit consumption, quantity counts.
Past research has also shown apples to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, asthma, and type II diabetes. Plus, they’re high in fiber, which is vital for gut health, and rich in immune-boosting vitamin C. It might, then, be time to start a new Instagram trend. Apple (butter) toast, anyone?
This health-food superstar doesn’t have to be boring. Give it some “jazz hands” by whipping it into Julianne Hough’s favorite apple pie smoothie. Or, try this recipe for Paleo-friendly, gluten- (and guilt)-free cinnamon apple cake.