Apple may help one live longer

London: An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Now, scientists claim the fruit may help one live longer-at least among flies.

Researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that when given an apple extract, fruits flies, which share many genes with humans despite their tiny size, lived 10 per cent longer than those fed normally.

The flies with normal diet lived an average of 50 days -five days fewer than those whose food was supplemented with apple extract, the Daily Mail reported.

Not only did the flies given the apple extract live ten per cent longer, they also found it easier to walk, climb and move about as they aged.

The apple extract also cut levels of various biochemicals found in older fruit flies and linked to age-related deterioration, the researchers found.

They believe that the antioxidants in the extract mopped up free radicals, the dangerous chemicals blamed for a host of ills, including ageing.

"The results, obtained with fruit flies-stand-ins for humans in hundreds of research projects each year- bolster similar findings on apple antioxidants in other animal tests," said a spokesman for the American Chemical Society.

In another study, researchers who quizzed thousands of women about their diets found that those who regularly ate apples were 20 per cent less likely to suffer heart attacks and strokes.

Researchers are already using the information to grow red-fleshed apples bursting with antioxidants credited with keeping eyes and joints healthy and warding off heart disease, cancer, Alzheimers disease and diabetes.

Apples that suppress appetite could also be in the pipeline, with the first "extra-healthy" apples on supermarket shelves within just four to five years.

The apple`s genetic code has recently been cracked, paving the way for crunchier, juicier and healthier fruits.

The decoding of the apples DNA by a team of almost 100 scientists from five countries has also shed new light on its roots.

The research suggested that around 65 million years ago, the time when a comet is thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs, the plant that would eventually give rise to the apple tree underwent a massive and rapid genetic change in which many of its genes were duplicated.

The extra genes allowed the apple to adapt to tougher conditions and sent it along a different evolutionary path from peaches, strawberries and other related fruit.