Does Apple Cider Have Health Benefits?

A cup full of cold or warm apple cider is quintessential to fall. If you’re wondering whether cider has health benefits, get your scarf tied tight as we help you find an answer.  

How is apple cider made?

Most cider mills produce their cider in a factory setting. First, they wash, cut and ground apples into a mash before taking layers of that mash, wrapping it in cloth, and loading it into wooded racks that a hydraulic press then squeezes to create fresh, unfiltered apple cider. The liquid flows into refrigerated tanks and at most mills, the cider is then pasteurized to kill bacteria and prolong its shelf life.

You can typically tell cider is pasteurized if it is stocked in the middle of a store at room temperature. If it is stocked in the refrigerator of cider mill shops or grocery stores, that usually means it is unpasteurized.

The risks of unpasteurized apple cider

Unpasteurized or raw apple cider can contain harmful bacteria that can make people sick. Without pasteurization, or some other heat treatment to kill bacteria, pathogens can linger in the finished product. The Food and Drug Administration requires all unpasteurized apple cider products to come with a warning label.

The FDA also warns that these certain groups risk serious illness from drinking untreated juices:

  • Infants and young children
  • Older adults
  • People taking certain kinds of medications or with weakened immune systems stemming from conditions like diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, organ transplants, or from past chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
  • Pregnant women

E-coli infections have also been linked to unpasteurized cider in Michigan in the past.

Apple cider’s nutrition value

One cup (240 milliliters/8 ounces) of most apple ciders contain between:

  • 105-120 calories
  • 25-30 grams of carbohydrates
  • Less than 0.5 grams of fat
  • Less than 0.5 grams of protein
  • Less than 1 gram of fiber
  • 20-30 grams of sugar

Potential health benefits of apple cider

Contains heart-healthy polyphenols: Apple cider contains most of the same nutrients that apples do, including polyphenols, which possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Diets rich in foods containing polyphenols can promote cardiovascular health and protect against the development of cancer and diabetes.

Hydration source: Mainly composed of water, apple cider could help hydrate you if you are sick. You can dilute it with water, as well, to knock out some of the sugar.

Why apple cider may not be a healthy option

Apple cider has a high sugar content. Consuming more than a cup in one sitting could lead to a blood sugar spike. Its relatively high caloric content could also lead to weight gain if you drink too much of it. There are also the health risks that can possibly be incurred by drinking unpasteurized apple cider, detailed above.

Though it is a natural, minimally processed drink that contains nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, iron, and calcium, apple cider can’t be considered a true health drink. It is fine to consume in moderation this fall, just don’t overdo it!

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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