Perhaps the biggest advantage of apple juices at home is the taste of the ripe, freshly pressed fruit. However, the health of the product is of great importance to home juice enthusiasts. Unfiltered or lightly filtered apple juice, made from fresh, unpeeled apples, contains pulp rich in fiber, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances that can thwart chronic diseases and improve body functions. Cooks who press apples from their own soil may also avoid concerns about arsenic in their fruit.
For the highest possible nutritional value of apple juice, the solution can be to squeeze your own unfiltered product, including the apple peels. The pulp in unfiltered apple juice is a valuable source of plant substances – also called phytochemicals – such as polyphenols, which provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection to delay aging and deter disease. Apple peels are particularly rich in polyphenols, which help fight chronic health problems such as cancer, heart disease and asthma. Fiber in apple pulp is useful in cleansing the intestines and preventing diseases of the digestive system.
For maximum nutritional value during pressing, you must start with the freshest products, according to the recognized nutritionist Monica Reinagel. Reinagel notes that when pressing fresh products, the product crushed in a "whole juicer" machine contains more pulp – and therefore more nutritional value – than a thinner juice made in an extractor. A whole juice extractor liquefies fruit and vegetables in a way that is comparable to a blender. However, Reinagel says it is necessary to dilute the pulpy liquid with a thinner juice for easier drinking. Reinagel says it is also necessary to drink fresh juice as quickly as possible, because the antioxidants and other nutrients deteriorate when exposed to air and light. Freezing excess juice and drinking within a few days is perhaps the best storage solution for retaining nutrients, she says.
Cancer response and prevention
The American Institute for Cancer Research reports that apple peels contain one third or more of the components of the fruit that are thought to be useful in combating different types of cancer. It notes that 80 percent of the quercetin content of an apple – one of the four most important polyphenols in apples – is in the skin. The American Cancer Society states that animal studies show that quercetin can be particularly useful in the fight against colon cancer.
In a 2008 study entitled "Cancer chemo preventive potential of apples, apple juice, and apple components," a researcher from DKFZ, the German Cancer Research Center, notes that unfiltered juice made from cider apples is particularly rich in polyphenols, while clear apple juice is low in them.
Heart and lung protection
Making your own apple juice that is cloudy with pulp can also increase your protection against heart disease. A study by the University of California in 2001 with human subjects showed that the quercetin in apples and apple juice reduces the build-up of cholesterol plaque in arteries and thereby reduces the risk of heart attacks. Study participants experienced the benefits of dental plaque reduction after six weeks of eating two apples or drinking 12 ounces of juice per day.
Apples are also good for asthma patients. Although drinking apple juice rich in quercetin cannot replace a rescue inhaler, the polyphenols can help reduce an asthma attack. In addition, according to Dr. Janet Morrow, quercetin in research with guinea pigs reduced the production of histamine, the irritating chemicals that the body produces in response to allergens. Allergic flare-ups often cause asthma attacks.
Arsenic in apple juice started making headlines in the fall of 2011. When "Consumer Reports" conducted laboratory tests that year, it discovered some samples of apple juice with a higher arsenic content than the federal government allows in bottled or tap water. Arsenic is a naturally occurring substance in the soil. However, the levels are high in some soils, especially those from old commercial orchards where it was once used in herbicides. Arsenic remains in the ground for decades. If a soil test shows that your own soil has a low arsenic content, then growing and pressing your own apples can be a good way to get a safe supply of apple juice for your family.