Apple Juice May Be Worse than Sugar Water

Apple Juice May Be Worse than Sugar Water
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Why the spike in antioxidant levels in our bloodstream after drinking apple juice might not be a good thing.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Just as you can measure the amount of antioxidants in a cup of apple juice, you can measure the antioxidant level in someone’s bloodstream. If you drink that apple juice, within minutes, the antioxidant power of your blood starts to rise. You get a nice peak, and then it comes back down. If you drink water, nothing happens—stays the same, down around 10. First, note the scale here. This is in the same units, using the same test as in our 3,000+ food study.

Compared to most foods in the produce aisle, the antioxidant level in our bodies is kind of pitiful. We don’t even make it up to iceberg lettuce. Not much better than meat, actually. But then again, meat is what we’re made out of, so I guess it’s not that surprising. Now, your level does rise a few points when we eat healthy foods. So, if ,you know, stuff Babe with some blueberries right before you whack him, you may get a healthier pork chop. 

Apple juice is a long way from blueberries, though. Basically, just sugar water, fitting in right about here. Hardly even has any vitamin C. So, why was there that nice spike in blood antioxidant level, drinking some apple juice? Well, must be the phenolic phytonutrients. But, look, we’re not talking purple grape juice here, or cranberry, or pomegranate; we’re talking apple.

And, indeed, when you measure polyphenol levels in the blood, here’s what water does, compared to three types of apple juice. No difference. So, what could it be? 

Turns out you can get a similar spike in antioxidant activity by feeding people essentially straight sugar water. Recently, researchers at the Polish institute of fruit and flower farming—sounds like a nice place to work—figured it out.

It appears to be the uric acid, not the phytonutrients, that are responsible for the rise in blood antioxidant activity after apple juice consumption. Remember, fructose leads to uric acid production, and uric acid, for all the terrible things it does, has some antioxidant activity.

So, the reason we see this nice spike in antioxidant activity when we drink apple juice is not because we’re absorbing antioxidants into our bloodstream. It’s not because of a good thing; it’s because of all this excess uric acid waste produced when you take in that much sugar. And, you know, table sugar is only 50% fructose; high fructose corn syrup only 55%. The sugar in apple juice is two-thirds fructose.

So, apple juice, in this respect, may be even worse than sugar water.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to SuzifooPacHD.comKrasowitweatherrockeyeDmitry Kichenko via flickr; Brian0918 and Arad via Wikimedia; and the National Cancer Institute

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Just as you can measure the amount of antioxidants in a cup of apple juice, you can measure the antioxidant level in someone’s bloodstream. If you drink that apple juice, within minutes, the antioxidant power of your blood starts to rise. You get a nice peak, and then it comes back down. If you drink water, nothing happens—stays the same, down around 10. First, note the scale here. This is in the same units, using the same test as in our 3,000+ food study.

Compared to most foods in the produce aisle, the antioxidant level in our bodies is kind of pitiful. We don’t even make it up to iceberg lettuce. Not much better than meat, actually. But then again, meat is what we’re made out of, so I guess it’s not that surprising. Now, your level does rise a few points when we eat healthy foods. So, if ,you know, stuff Babe with some blueberries right before you whack him, you may get a healthier pork chop. 

Apple juice is a long way from blueberries, though. Basically, just sugar water, fitting in right about here. Hardly even has any vitamin C. So, why was there that nice spike in blood antioxidant level, drinking some apple juice? Well, must be the phenolic phytonutrients. But, look, we’re not talking purple grape juice here, or cranberry, or pomegranate; we’re talking apple.

And, indeed, when you measure polyphenol levels in the blood, here’s what water does, compared to three types of apple juice. No difference. So, what could it be? 

Turns out you can get a similar spike in antioxidant activity by feeding people essentially straight sugar water. Recently, researchers at the Polish institute of fruit and flower farming—sounds like a nice place to work—figured it out.

It appears to be the uric acid, not the phytonutrients, that are responsible for the rise in blood antioxidant activity after apple juice consumption. Remember, fructose leads to uric acid production, and uric acid, for all the terrible things it does, has some antioxidant activity.

So, the reason we see this nice spike in antioxidant activity when we drink apple juice is not because we’re absorbing antioxidants into our bloodstream. It’s not because of a good thing; it’s because of all this excess uric acid waste produced when you take in that much sugar. And, you know, table sugar is only 50% fructose; high fructose corn syrup only 55%. The sugar in apple juice is two-thirds fructose.

So, apple juice, in this respect, may be even worse than sugar water.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to SuzifooPacHD.comKrasowitweatherrockeyeDmitry Kichenko via flickr; Brian0918 and Arad via Wikimedia; and the National Cancer Institute

Nota del Doctor

This is the third in a video series about sugar. Be sure to see Miocene Meteorites and Uric Acid and  Flesh and Fructose.

The antioxidant comparison is taken from my video Antioxidant Power of Plant Foods Versus Animal Foods. The comparison among juices is from Best Fruit Juice.

There is actually a fruit that’s healthier in juice form. See The Fruit Whose Juice is Healthier.

Conventional apple juice may also contain contaminants (Fungal Toxins in Apples), so one should probably avoid apple juice. But, what about apples? Find out in Apple Skin: Peeling Back Cancer.

For more context, check out my associated blog post, Apple Peels Turn On Anticancer Genes.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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