NEW YORK — When it comes to apple juice, “cloudier” may mean healthier, according to a study published Monday.
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In a head-to-head comparison of apple juices, Polish researchers found that pulpy, non-clarified juice carried a greater antioxidant punch than clear juice. Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize free radicals, molecules that can damage body cells and contribute to disease.
Unlike cloudy apple juice, the much more common clear variety undergoes additional processing to remove any apple solids. Manufacturers typically think the public will favor the more attractive, clear juice over its cloudy cousin, and retailers prefer the clear variety for its longer shelf life.
But the new findings suggest that health-conscious consumers should reach for the cloudy variety, according to Dr. Jan Oszmianski, the study’s lead author.
“Cloudy apple juices contain much more antioxidant than clear,” Oszmianski, a researcher at the Agricultural University of Wroclaw, told Reuters Health.
In fact, Oszmianski’s team found, cloudy juice packed up to four times the level of polyphenols, a group of antioxidant plant compounds. And in experiments, cloudy juice was the more effective free radical “scavenger,” the researchers report in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
The findings are based on four juices that the study authors prepared themselves, using two varieties of apple — Champion and Idared. Cloudy juice from Champion apples turned out to be the most antioxidant-rich, but clarification of either juice cut their antioxidant levels significantly.
The process, Oszmianski explained, involves using an enzyme that oxidizes the juice’s antioxidants, particularly compounds called procyanidins.
But while cloudy apple juice may be a healthier choice than clear, it’s still best to get your apples in the form nature made them.
“It is better to eat whole apples with skins than drink the juice to get the most antioxidants,” Oszmianski said.
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