Not all apple juices are created equal; sweet cider or cloudy apple juice might actually be healthier for you! Sweet cider has more pulp, is cloudy in appearance and contains more antioxidants than clear juice. And as we all know today, antioxidants help to protect against certain types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Here is how apple juice is made: The first step consists of crushing and pressing the fruits to extract an unrefined juice, that is to say the juice, peel residue and pulp of the apples. Bottled at this stage, the juice is called either “old fashioned”, “non-clarified” or “sweet cider”. In the next step, the unrefined juice is treated with enzymes to degrade the pectin and starch naturally contained in apples, which makes juice slightly more viscous. At this stage, the juice is clarified by pouring it through a fine sieve to eliminate large particles and molecules such as tannins, which affect its transparency. The juice bottled after these last two steps is called apple juice. Finally, the juice can be heated to make a concentrate. The apple concentrate is either packaged in containers destined to be frozen, or further diluted and bottled in liquid form. At this stage the product should be called apple drink rather than apple juice.
Regardless of the stage at which production was stopped, apple juice remains a healthy choice because it rarely contains any added sugar. It seems however that non-clarified juice or apple cider is better for your health because it contains twice as many antioxidants as clarified juice. The enzyme treatment and filtration steps lower the concentration of the antioxidant substance polyphenols.
Previous studies have demonstrated antioxidants can help us in our fight against cancer and cardiovascular diseases, believed to be caused in part by free radicals present in our bodies.
Free radicals are normally produced when our cells extract the energy they need. At times, negatively charged particles escape the process and then try to neutralise themselves by pairing with a positively charged particle. Free radicals are very unstable and often collide with healthy cells and tissues in their quest for pairing. These damaged cells in turn become unstable – becoming free radicals themselves. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals before they collide with healthy cells and break the chain of destruction.
It’s all a matter of taste! Some people prefer clarified juice for its smooth texture while others favour sweet cider for its natural apple taste and more rustic texture. Apple juice manufacturers use different varieties of apples, which affects the taste and acidity of their end products. The colour of the juice can also influence our choice of a particular brand over another. However, you should know that a darker colour has no bearing on the quality of a product. Colour degradation is caused by the same reaction that occurs when we bite into an apple, and turns brown after a while.
Of course, eating whole apples is even better for your health because they contain dietary fibres. To the old adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” we can now add: “so will a glass of sweet cider”.