By Brigid Delaney
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- It's an old cliche about an apple a day keeps the doctor away -- but is it really that simple? If it were true there would be no doctors, no sick people and a vibrant apple industry. So while we should not take the saying literally, there are plenty of health benefits to eating apples regularly.
A medium sized apple contains no fat or cholesterol, 5 grams of fibre and 16 grams of sugar. Americans eat on average one apple a week but considering the health benefits of apples, maybe we should all be crunching a few more.
For a start apples are an excellent source of fibre, which aids digestion and helps promote weight loss. Having an apple instead of a chocolate brownie means you will still get a sugar fix and feel full, but without the empty calories.
They are also rich in vitamin C. An extensive study published in March 2007 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed 34,000 women. The study found flavonoid-rich apples to be one of three foods (along with red wine and pears) that decrease the risk of mortality for both coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease among post-menopausal women.
A 1996 Finnish study also showed people who eat a diet rich in flavonoids have a lower rate of heart disease, while other studies show such a diet can prevent strokes.
Two British studies show that eating five apples a week can improve lung function while research from the University of Massachusetts Lowell suggests that consuming apple juice may protect against cell damage that contributes to age-related memory loss.
Apples are also fairly versatile. You can bake them in a pie, crush them into a juice or take them to a party disguised as a cider. But really the best way to consume apples is au natural. Go to a fruit stall, hand over some coins and start crunching away. There are certainly worse things you can do for your body than have an apple a day.
In the face of super foods have the benefits of the humble apple been overlooked?