An apple a day really does keep the doctor away, especially if you like to smoke or drink.
Research from Edith Cowan University shows it could even help reduce your risk of an early death.
Food and drink rich in antioxidant molecules known as flavonoids – such as apples, berries, tea, and vegetables can protect against cancer and heart disease – according to the findings.
Lead researcher Nicola Bondonno says the beneficial effects seem especially pronounced among those at greater risk due to smoking or excess drinking.
“Alcohol consumption and smoking both increase inflammation and damage blood vessels, which can increase the risk of a range of diseases,” Dr Bondonno says.
“Flavonoids have been shown to be anti-inflammatory and improve blood vessel function, which may explain why they are associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease and cancer.”
It takes more than just one apple, however.
To reap the benefits, researchers estimate we need to consume about 500 grams of flavonoid-rich food or drink per day, the equivalent of an apple, an orange, 100 grams of blueberries, a similar-sized portion of broccoli and a cup of tea.
But Dr Bondonno cautions a healthier diet is no substitute for quitting smoking or reducing the amount of alcohol you drink.
“Flavonoid consumption does not counteract all of the increased risk of death caused by smoking and high alcohol consumption.
“We know these kind of lifestyle changes can be very challenging, so encouraging flavonoid consumption might be a novel way to alleviate the increased risk, while also encouraging people to quit smoking and reduce their alcohol intake.”
(The information in this article should not be considered medical advice. Please see your medical professional for information tailored to your personal circumstances.)
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