Antioxidant activity of apple peels.J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Jan 29; 51(3):609-14.JA
Consumption of fruits and vegetables has been shown to be effective in the prevention of chronic diseases. These benefits are often attributed to the high antioxidant content of some plant foods. Apples are commonly eaten and are large contributors of phenolic compounds in European and North American diets. The peels of apples, in particular, are high in phenolics. During applesauce and canned apple manufacture, the antioxidant-rich peels of apples are discarded. To determine if a useful source of antioxidants is being wasted, the phytochemical content, antioxidant activity, and antiproliferative activity of the peels of four varieties of apples (Rome Beauty, Idared, Cortland, and Golden Delicious) commonly used in applesauce production in New York state were investigated. The values of the peels were compared to those of the flesh and flesh + peel components of the apples. Within each variety, the total phenolic and flavonoid contents were highest in the peels, followed by the flesh + peel and the flesh. Idared and Rome Beauty apple peels had the highest total phenolic contents (588.9 +/- 83.2 and 500.2 +/- 13.7 mg of gallic acid equivalents/100 g of peels, respectively). Rome Beauty and Idared peels were also highest in flavonoids (306.1 +/- 6.7 and 303.2 +/- 41.5 mg of catechin equivalents/100 g of peels, respectively). Of the four varieties, Idared apple peels had the most anthocyanins, with 26.8 +/- 6.5 mg of cyanidin 3-glucoside equivalents/100 g of peels. The peels all had significantly higher total antioxidant activities than the flesh + peel and flesh of the apple varieties examined. Idared peels had the greatest antioxidant activity (312.2 +/- 9.8 micromol of vitamin C equivalents/g of peels). Apple peels were also shown to more effectively inhibit the growth of HepG(2) human liver cancer cells than the other apple components. Rome Beauty apple peels showed the most bioactivity, inhibiting cell proliferation by 50% at the low concentration of 12.4 +/- 0.4 mg of peels/mL. The high content of phenolic compounds, antioxidant activity, and antiproliferative activity of apple peels indicate that they may impart health benefits when consumed and should be regarded as a valuable source of antioxidants.