An old saying goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But the modern man asks, “Does this hold today?”
More and more people recognize and understand the link between eating fruits and vegetables and having good health. Diet-conscious readers have realized that they can find many nutritious foods in our natural environment’s abundance.
The apple, which grows on little, tasty trees, is known as "the king among all delectable fruits" because of its lovely shape and appealing flavor. Looking so pretty in all its grandeur, the apple is also a fruit full of treasures.
In this article, we will uncover the proven health benefits of apple juice as backed by scientific research. We also offer some words of precaution about your regular consumption of it. At the same time, we learn to differentiate between a clear apple juice beverage and a cloudy beverage. As the proverbial cream on top, we have included some delectable ways to prepare the apple juice!
Approximately 7,500 different varieties of apples exist around the world. Many eat it raw, while others like it baked, grilled or processed into something more savory and juicy. But, most amazing of all are the varieties of drinks we have concocted from it. Humans have designed so many ways to turn this fruit into liquid — be it juice, applesauce, or apple cider.
Apples contain a lot of polyphenols, which are primarily concentrated in the peel, making them a good choice for promoting good nutrition and advancing food science.
Medical researchers have studied polyphenols for a variety of reasons, including their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The most common polyphenols — namely flavan-3-ols, hydroxycinnamic acids, flavonols, dihydrochalcones, and anthocyanins — are found in apples in abundance.
However, polyphenols are secondary plant metabolism chemical substances, which means they are also found in berries, and grapes. It's important to note that polyphenols are not synthesized or stored by the human body, so foods rich in this substance must be consumed daily. An apple a day, perhaps?
Table of Contents
- So We Ask: Is the Fruit the Same As Its Juice and Other Products?
- Antioxidants in Apple Juice
- Apple Juice for Diabetes Prevention
- Apple Juice for Bone Health
- Apple Juice for Gastrointestinal Health
- Apple Juice for Hydration
- Dietary Recommendations
- The Contents of Apple Juice
- Precautions on Apple Juice Consumption
- Commercially Prepared Clear Versus Cloudy Apple Juice
- The Issue of Apple Acidity
- Apple Juice Preparation
So We Ask: Is the Fruit the Same As Its Juice and Other Products?
"Fruit juices have the essential physical, chemical, organoleptic, and nutritional qualities of the fruit(s) from which it comes," according to the CODEX General Standard for Fruit Juices and Nectars. Juices that have been properly extracted are pretty comparable to the fruit. Thereby, they contain most of the substances found in the original ripe and sound fruit from which they were squeezed from.
Apple juice, apple cider, apple cider vinegar, and probiotic fermented apple juice are the most common products derived from apples. The focus of many current studies is on polyphenols in apple juice rather than in fermented apple juices. However, there is also mounting evidence that fermentation improves polyphenol bioavailability and the nutritional value of food made from apples.
Antioxidants in Apple Juice
Early research suggested a link between apple consumption and a lower incidence of coronary artery disease, lung cancer, asthma, and diabetes. Reactive oxygen species-induced alterations in DNA, protein, lipids, and other cellular components appear to be a beginning factor in various chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease. The phytochemical and nutritional profiles of apples suggest that they may be helpful in the prevention of a variety of chronic diseases in humans.
The big C — or cancer — has cut off the quality of life of many individuals affected by that degenerative condition. Cancer can be influenced by genetic, environmental, and other contributing factors that are yet poorly understood.
It is noteworthy to say that certain foods can help prevent cancer. There are no foods that entirely protect humans against cancer. Instead, the term "cancer-fighting foods" refers to foods that may reduce the risk of cancer when included in a person's diet.
Apples and apple products have been shown to prevent skin, breast, and colon cancers. According to epidemiological findings, eating one or more apples each day may lower the incidence of lung and colon cancer. Improved nutrition — notably through increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains — is expected to save one-third of all cancer deaths.
In vitro studies have revealed that apple extracts and components, particularly “oligomeric procyanidins,” regulate various processes in the human body that are relevant to cancer prevention. Antimutagenic action, carcinogen metabolism modulation, and antioxidant activity are among the essential mechanisms of cancer prevention made possible through regular consumption of apples and food products made from these wonderful fruits.
Lowers Bad Cholesterol
Apples contain lots and lots of fiber. In the gut, soluble fibers compete with lipids. Because of the rivalry between fiber and lipids, LDL low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) absorption decreases while HDL high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol) absorption increases. Bad cholesterol contributes to the narrowing of the blood vessels, which can cause harmful effects when left untreated.
In the long term, a myriad of non-communicable diseases can be prevented. According to a review of research, high flavonoid intake was connected to a 20% decreased risk of stroke. By lowering blood pressure and acting as antioxidants, flavonoids can also help prevent heart disease.
Another study compared the effects of eating one apple a day to taking statins, a kind of cholesterol-lowering medication, and found that apples were virtually as effective as the drugs at reducing death from heart disease.
Protects Pulmonary Function
Over the last several decades, global cases of respiratory illnesses, particularly asthma, quickly rose in number, becoming more prevalent than before. Environmental and lifestyle factors, such as a diet that terribly lacks dietary antioxidants, are thought to have contributed to the surge.
As we have said, phytochemicals and polyphenols are antioxidants found in apples. They have characteristics that help in cellular repair, which can help a person recover from breathing issues caused by asthma and also enhance overall lung function.
Apple consumption was connected to improved pulmonary function in both healthy subjects and those with documented pulmonary diseases.
In a study using experimental models, oxidant stress activates inflammatory mediators that cause asthma. Oxidative stress appears to be significant in the genesis of asthma in humans. Apple consumption of more than 31.2 g/d (equivalent to more than 15% of a large apple) was linked to a 10% risk reduction of asthmatic diseases. It also prevents the development of asthma symptoms like wheezing or difficulty in breathing.
A study also examined the effect of maternal intake of apples during pregnancy. The study showed a significant reduction in diagnosed asthma in babies whose mothers regularly took apples. Apple intake ranged from 0–1/wk to 1–4/wk to >4/wk. Apples were the only fruit with the protective effect among the numerous diets evaluated in the study.
Counteracts the Effects of Aging
Oxidative stress in the brain can make you age faster. Pair that with an unhealthy diet, and you could age more than the actual years you spent on earth.
Mounting evidence has shown that there's a link between diet and cognitive loss in normal aging. Plus, it may also increase the risk and progression of neurodegenerative disorders.
Apple juice consumption, in particular, helps to counteract acetylcholine depletion that comes with age and oxidative stress.
Cholinergic agents mimic the actions of acetylcholine in the nervous system. When there isn't enough acetylcholine in the system, the synapses in your brain won't have enough neurotransmitters to function well.
Thus, a cholinergic deficit occurs. This deficit in the brain has been linked to decreased memory and cognitive performance. Most importantly, it's been linked to Alzheimer's disease.
Apple juice's capacity to sustain levels of this neurotransmitter could be crucial in preventing this degenerative disease. A series of recent experiments from Shea et al have offered new information on the ability of apple juice concentrate to modify pathways linked to Alzheimer's disease risks.
Additionally, people diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease who drank 1 cup (240 ml) of apple juice every day for one month saw a 27 percent improvement in behavioral and mental symptoms such as anxiety, restlessness, and incorrect beliefs. Memory and problem-solving skills, on the other hand, did not improve.
Apple Juice for Diabetes Prevention
New research has found a possible link between apple juice consumption and lower risk of developing diabetes. In fact, in the study, the only flavonoid-rich food that has been found as potentially protective was apples.
Compared to no apple consumption, eating 2 to 6 apples per week or 1 apple per day reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 27 and 28 percent, respectively. The study cites that catechins or other polyphenolic components in apples lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, probably because they protect pancreatic b-cell function by reducing oxidative stress-induced tissue damage. Beta cells in the human body create insulin and are frequently destroyed in persons with type-2 diabetes.
Apple Juice for Bone Health
Each year, 1.5 million people are projected to experience an osteoporotic-related fracture. Generally, adding fruits and vegetables to your diet can help protect your bones from getting brittle and breaking or cracking easily. It's because these foods contain vitamins and minerals linked to better bone health. These include vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, and other alkaline metabolites that help retain more calcium in your body.
Only a few research studies have looked into the role of apples in bone health. But preliminary findings suggest that it may positively affect bone health indices — meaning it can strengthen your bones. These studies were conducted on healthy subjects whose ages ranged from 19 to 50 years old.
The benefit of apples on bone health also extends into the post-menopausal period. In this period, there is a decrease in estrogen which is associated with an increase in the generation of inflammatory mediators in the bone’s microenvironment. This event is counteracted by the generation of antioxidants that are found in apples.
Apple Juice for Gastrointestinal Health
Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that causes peptic ulcer disease, is more common than you think and can take a huge toll on your health if you're not careful. It's a good thing apples are there to help you!
Compounds from apples may protect against stomach ulcers, according to preliminary in-vitro research. Apple peel extracts containing carotenoids were efficient against H. pylori in a laboratory setting. Another in-vitro investigation using apples has revealed that there may be further benefits to eating apples or drinking apple juice. Consumption can lead to gastrointestinal equilibrium through a different mechanism that reduces the risk of mutagenesis that results in gastric cancer.
Apple Juice for Hydration
Apple juice is made up of 88 percent water and has a pleasant flavor. It is more convenient to eat, particularly for individuals who are sick and at risk of dehydration.
Some pediatricians recommend half-strength apple juice — a mixture consisting of 50% juice and 50% water — for sick children over the age of one and those who are mildly dehydrated. To rehydrate, drink diluted juice instead of full-strength juice. The high sugar content of full-strength juice can draw excess water into the intestines, and worsen diarrhea, especially during recovery from an illness.
In a trial of mildly dehydrated toddlers who had diarrhea and were vomiting, those given diluted apple juice were 6.5 percent less likely than those given a pharmaceutical electrolyte drink to require intravenous fluids.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends consuming at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day — a minimum of 400 g of fruits and vegetables per day. Although fruit juices should be consumed in moderation by children, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children aged 1-3 years old consume 120mL of juice daily. For 3-6 years of age, the daily limit is up to 175mL. For ages 7 to 18 and for adults, 1 cup or 240mL (that's about one cup) is the upper limit.
The Contents of Apple Juice
One cup (248 g) of apple juice contains the following nutrients, according to the US Department of Agriculture:
- 219 g of water
- 114 kcal of energy
- 28 g carbohydrate
- 0.24 g protein
- 3.12 g sucrose
- 2.23 mg vitamin C
When you make apple juice from fresh apples, you will have almost the same nutritional value as eating raw apples. Preservatives are commonly found in commercially produced juices, lowering the nutritional value of apple juice. As a result, preparing apple juice at home is the most excellent method to get the most out of its health and nutrition benefits.
Precautions on Apple Juice Consumption
Be careful with having too much.
Apple juice, when consumed in large proportions, can lead to weight gain. A cup serving of apple juice has about 116 calories. Juice also doesn't do a great job of satisfying hunger or making you feel full. Because of this, calories can go overboard, resulting in weight gain.
In one trial, adults were given an equal amount of whole apple, applesauce, or apple juice based on calories. The easiest way to satisfy their appetite was to eat whole apples. Even when fiber was added to the apple juice, it was the least filling.
On the other hand, consumption of apples — the fruit itself — resulted in weight loss due to two of its most essential components: fiber and water. According to researchers, these are thought to be less energy-dense while still providing fiber and volume. A 10-week trial done in one study of 50 overweight women found that those who ate apples lost an average of 2 pounds (1 kg) and consumed fewer calories overall than those who ate oat cookies with similar calorie and fiber content.
Sudden spikes in blood sugar, while low in fiber
One hundred percent fruit juice is still the best way to drink up your favorite fruit.
Some apple juices are made of almost all carbohydrates, fructose, and glucose. These carbohydrates can cause a sudden rise in blood sugar levels, which can be harmful when sustained.
To compare, a medium apple with the peel has 4.5 grams of fiber or 18% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for this nutrient. On the other hand, 1 cup (240 ml) of juice has only 0.5 grams of fiber.
Poor source of Vitamin C
One cup (240 ml) of pure apple juice cannot provide enough vitamins or minerals, especially Vitamin C, that would meet the recommended daily intake (RDI) for the average person. A serving doesn't provide at least 10% of the RDI for any micronutrient. Vitamin C is mostly found in the flesh; therefore, when the peels are removed during processing and the flesh is dehydrated or dried, much of the vitamin C is lost.
However, some products frequently add vitamin C to deliver 100% or more of RDI of vitamin C per serving. Apple juice, if not fortified, only offers around 2% of the RDI for this vitamin per serving. In comparison, one medium apple provides 9% of the RDI.
It is essential to know that the most significant mineral in this juice is potassium, which accounts for around 7% of your daily requirements in a single serving.
A toll on dental health
Because of the glucose and fructose in apple juice, too much consumption has been linked to tooth decay. Avoid swishing it around in your mouth. The longer the teeth are exposed to sugar in the juice, the more likely that bacteria in your mouth will grow and cause cavities. It also helps to use a straw to reduce the risk.
Risk of kidney stones
Apple juice contains oxalates, which may increase the risk of kidney stones. According to a study undertaken by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, excess dietary oxalates may directly lead to kidney stone production.
Concerns on pesticides
Apples are consistently at the top of the list of fruits with the most amount of pesticide residue. Because they are more susceptible to bugs and diseases, they often require more insecticides. Most apples are washed before being sold, but the amount of residue left is unclear and may vary considerably.
According to the US Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), these residues were below the limits in the United States but children are still more vulnerable to pesticide exposure than adults. For children who consume apple juice regularly, organic is probably the best option.
Allergic reaction to apples
Some people may develop an allergy to apples and products made from apples. Hypersensitivity can be of two types: immediate and delayed-type reactions.
In the immediate type, symptoms can be severe. This appears nearly immediately after patients have eaten an apple. This sort of apple allergy is more common among people with a Mediterranean heritage.
In the delayed type, a person may react to a protein in the apple comparable to proteins present in birch tree pollen. Cross-reactivity is the term for this. Symptoms arise in and around the mouth in these patients — that's why it's called oral allergy syndrome.
Commercially Prepared Clear Versus Cloudy Apple Juice
Commercially available apple juice has been pasteurized and filtered to remove particles, allowing it to last longer. Sugar is occasionally added. The sour and bitter qualities of the natural apple flavonoids may be eliminated during filtration, leaving apple juice with a consistent sweet flavor.
There are two types of apple juice on the market: the clear and the cloudy.
According to the Society of Chemical Industry, cloudy apple juice is said to be 4x healthier than the clear type. Because people believe that clear juice is purer, it sells significantly more than cloudy apple juice. But the truth is, the beneficial components are removed from the apple pulp during the centrifugation process of preparation.
Retailers also prefer clear juice since it has a longer shelf life than hazy juice. Apple polyphenols, however, are removed by the enzyme, which causes the apple juice to appear clear.
The Issue of Apple Acidity
Citrus juices and other acidic beverages, such as pineapple juice and apple juice, can produce acid reflux. On the other hand, apple cider vinegar has been cited in some studies to effectively improve symptoms of GERD.
However, there isn't enough evidence to back up these claims because experts haven't done enough research on the effects of apple cider vinegar on gut acidity.
Apples have a PRAL score (a value used to estimate the amount of acid produced during digestion) of a negative 1.8 per 100 g, which means they're considered base or alkaline food. However, their initial acidity can worsen symptoms of upper gastrointestinal conditions like an ulcer or acid reflux.
Apple Juice Preparation
The Food and Drug Administration recommends thoroughly washing all vegetables (even organic) under running water before cutting them up or consuming them. Scrub firm produce, such as apples, with a clean produce brush. They advise against using soap, detergent, or even professional produce washes to clean produce.
Refrigerate in the crisper drawer to extend the life of the food. They should last at least 1-2 months, if not longer. Apples are climacteric fruits, which means they continue to ripen after harvesting due to the ethylene gas they emit. Apple enzymes and ethylene gas speed up ripening when stored at room temperature.
There are two ways to make your apple juice. The first is to boil the apples and make a juice you can preserve for a long time. The second is by juicing apples in a blender, centrifugal juicer, or slow juicer.
First Method: Boiling
The ingredients are as follows:
- 3 peels and cores from red apples with seeds removed.
- 5 cups water
- ¼ cup white sugar
In a saucepan, combine the peelings and cores with the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat and cook. Stir regularly, for 30 minutes, or until the water has picked up the apple flavor and color.
Strain the apple juice, eliminating any solid chunks, and then stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Allow time for the liquid to cool before drinking. You may refrigerate afterward.
Second Method: Juicing
Slice the apples. You may or may not remove the seeds. The seeds may contain a small amount of cyanide, but that's generally handled well by the body. A few apples are added, and the cup begins to fill.
There may be some foam that collects at the top. But, don't worry; it's just air that gets into the mix while blending or juicing. Let it settle before pouring.
Only the juice comes out when you pour it into a pitcher or glass; the foam stays in this cup. You can then enjoy the drink.
Juice Making Techniques
- Others opt to remove the apple peel. But as we have said, much of the fiber content is in the peel so that you may do away with this technique.
- For the highest nutrition and health benefits, combine fruits that are compatible with apples. You may use orange, strawberry, and bananas to complement the taste. You may also add vanilla, cinnamon, or coconut water.
- Soak the cut fruit in a saltwater solution (half a teaspoon of kosher salt per cup of water) for 10 minutes to avoid browning, then drain and keep until ready to use. Some use plain water, lemon juice, or citric acid.
Jam-packed with all the health benefits, an apple a day may be the best kick-off towards your journey to a healthy lifestyle. It sure is excellent in taste, low in cost, and comes as an easy recipe, even if you are not the fruit-lover type.
Apple juice, which retains most of the health benefits of the original fruit, helps improve cardiovascular, lung, gut, bone, and brain health. It is a good supplement for the prevention of non-communicable diseases, like diabetes.
Some precautions are to be observed but sure are outweighed by the benefits we get from apple juice. Know your allergies and contact your doctor if you have doubts about having an apple allergy.
Science tells us that the consumption of apples and their health benefits are a “tale as old as time.” Their purposes in nutrition and in the culinary world continue throughout the 21st century, making them “the apple of our health.”