Fruit for Thought

By Scott LaFee

January 1, 2014 4 min read

You know the Welsh adage about an apple a day keeping the doctor away? Well, a recent report published in the British Medical Journal found that in people ages 50 and older, the positive effects of eating an apple a day on cardiovascular health are comparable to those of taking a cholesterol-lowering statin drug.

Researchers at the University of Oxford calculated the health benefits of 70 percent of Britons older than 50 eating one apple daily compared to the same group consuming a statin. They estimated that by eating apples, 8,500 deaths would be avoided annually versus 9,400 lives saved on statins — based on a total population of 17.6 million people.

Apples are rich in antioxidants, flavonoids and dietary fiber, which is particularly useful in cardiovascular health. A Florida State University study, for example, found that older women who ate apples daily had 23 percent less bad cholesterol, or LDL, and 4 percent more good cholesterol, or HDL, after just six months.

The researchers wryly noted that on the negative side, apples cost more than statins and are not covered by health insurance. On the plus: Apple consumption has no known adverse side effects.

BODY OF KNOWLEDGE

An adult human spine compresses roughly 0.59 inches from morning to night.

GET ME THAT. STAT!

The "total" cost of depression in the United States is estimated to be $44 billion: $12 billion in direct costs of treatment; $8 billion in premature death; and $24 billion in absenteeism and reduced productivity, according to Raymond Lam and Hiram Wok, authors of "Depression" (2009). The estimate does not include out-of-pocket family expenses, costs of minor and untreated depression, excessive hospitalization, general medical services, and diagnostic tests.

NUMBER CRUNCHER

A single serving of canned tuna (284 grams: Albacore, solid white, in water) contains 70 calories, 0 from fat. It has 0 grams of total fat, or 0 percent of the recommended total fat intake for a 2,000-calorie daily diet.

It also contains 25 milligrams of cholesterol (8 percent); 140 milligrams of sodium (6 percent); 0 grams of total carbohydrates; and 16 grams of protein.

COUNTS

18 — Percentage of Americans polled who said there should be no minimum age requirement to purchase the morning after birth control pill

17 — Percentage who said a prescription should be required, regardless of the buyer's age

61 — Percentage who said the morning after pill should be covered by health insurance

Source: NPR Truven Health Analytics

DOC TALK

Anhidrosis — the abnormal absence of sweat

PHOBIA OF THE WEEK

Chiroptophobia — fear of bats

NEVER SAY DIET

The Major League Eating speed-eating record for fruitcake is 4 pounds, 14.25 ounces in 10 minutes, held by Sonya Thomas. Warning: Thomas set the fruitcake record 10 years ago, which is coincidentally about the time it takes to entirely digest most fruitcakes.

OBSERVATION

"He who laughs, lasts." — American author Mary Pettibone Poole

CURTAIN CALLS

The famed Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe died in 1601 from complications of a burst bladder after refusing to leave a dinner table to relieve himself because it would have been a breach of etiquette.

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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