Eating an apple daily can help adults above 50 years to live longerEEPaul/Flickr

The old saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" has been proven right once again. A new study from UK says that regular consumption of apples is as effective as the cholesterol lowering drugs statin, in preventing deaths from cardiovascular diseases. Interestingly, apples were found to be a safer option, as they do not have any side-effects compared to the drug.

The University of Oxford study, reported in the British Medical Journal found that eating an apple daily can help adults above 50 years to live longer. Apples are said to have the capacity to save thousands of lives claimed every year by heart attacks and strokes.

However, the researchers urged that patients taking statin should not discontinue their medication. Prescribing either apples or statins to everyone above 30 years was associated with a 30 percent reduction in vascular deaths.

"The Victorians had it about right when they came up with their brilliantly clear and simple public health advice: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away". It just shows how effective small changes in diet can be, and that both drugs and healthier living can make a real difference in preventing heart disease and stroke," Dr Adam Briggs of the BHF Health Promotion Research Group at Oxford University said in a statement.  "While no-one currently prescribed statins should replace them for apples, we could all benefit from simply eating more fruit."

Researchers found that only a minority in the UK population (5.5 million compared to 17.6 million at risk) were eligible for the statin treatment.  They said that extending the statin use to the rest  17.6 million people can help avoid 9,400 deaths related to cardiovascular events, on the other hand, enabling 22 million people above 50 years to receive an apple every day, can save about 8,500 lives claimed by the deadly diseases. However, according to the authors, making all people aged above 50 eligible for statin can also widely contribute to a surge in the myopathy (a disease that leads to muscular weakness) and diabetes cases across the country.