Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

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Apple peel getting boost from sports events

January 5, 2009  By Marg Land


Apple peel getting boost
from sports events

From Adam and Eve to Isaac
Newton to William Tell, apples have been as much a part of legend and
lore as they have been known to be healthful.

January 5, 2009, Franklin Centre, Que. – From Adam and Eve to Isaac Newton to William Tell, apples have been as much a part of legend and lore as they are known to be healthful. But apple peel, dried and powdered, is a 21st century phenomenon that is only now beginning to find its stride.

 Jim Leahy

By blending dried apple peel powder (DAPPTM) into organic applesauce, first-year functional food company AppleBoost Products Inc. has moved cutting-edge food science out of Cornell University laboratories and onto the world stage of athletics. The top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners snack on AppleBoost energy snack tubes and the U.S. Olympic Committee distributed 6,000 tubes of the nutritionally fortified applesauce to American Olympians and coaches for their flight to China.

Much of an apple’s nutritional value is concentrated in and just under the skin, which is what prompted Cornell researchers to develop a patented process for powdering apple peel while retaining all its nutrients. The purpose of Cornell’s early research was to find a more convenient, inexpensive method of infusing antioxidant-rich apple peel into a wide variety of foods to make them healthier.

Initial efforts by AppleBoost Products to promote apple peel powder as a value-added food ingredient got off to a slow start in 2008 for co-founders Jim Leahy and Dave Copeland, who distribute their fledgling family of apple-based products out of Churubusco, NY.

Cornell University has been testing and showing that apple peel powder is a healthy whole food ingredient since research findings were first reported in 2002,” explained Leahy, 77, who founded Leahy Orchards of Franklin Centre, Quebec, 30 years ago and turned it into the fourth largest applesauce producer in North America.

“We think Cornell’s findings are compelling,” Leahy explained, “so we decided to blend apple peel powder into our own organic applesauce, package it in portable tubes to make them convenient for athletes, and present it as a good-tasting, low-calorie health food for everyone snacking on the go.”

Long considered nature’s perfect food, and credited with “keeping the doctor away,” apples caught the eye of Cornell associate professor Dr. Rui Hai Liu nine years ago when he set out to prove that the most nutritious part of some fruit, including plums and cherries but especially apples, is in the peel.

Dr. Liu and Xiangjiu He, a Cornell postdoctoral researcher, identified a dozen compounds in apple peel that either inhibit or kill cancer cells in laboratory cultures. Some compounds were more potent and acted differently against the various cancer cell lines, Dr. Liu said, but they all showed potent anti-cancer activities and should be studied further.

Leahy, who spent his entire life in the apple business before turning his successful food processing operation over to his sons in 2007, said Dr.Liu’s research affirms what he’s always believed: there’s even more goodness in apples than they’re given credit for.

With its current processing capabilities, Leahy Orchards, the largest applesauce producer in Canada, can produce more than a million pounds of dry weight apple peel powder a year on its own.

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