Just imagine you bike a long way uphill with your friends and then reach a plateau. All of a sudden you say, hey, who is tired, and launch a short sprint race. Exactly this kind of task has been set by Japanese researchers. Three groups of healthy volunteers had to perform a two hours workload program on a bike ergometer with intermediate sprints of ten seconds at maximum speed. In the week before this test, the volunteers of each group have taken either capsules with an extract from unripe apples, capsules with vitamin C or placebo capsules without any effective substance each day. In the sprint trial, the apple extract group performed clearly better than the vitamin C and the placebo groups. Conclusion: The apple extract fights physical fatigue whereas vitamin C does not.
The extract is manufactured by the Japanese company Maypro from unripe apples, because they contain ten times the level of polyphenols found in ripe apples. It is sold under the brand name Applephenon in the form of food supplement capsules and supplements for processed foods, beverages and ingredients for the cosmetic industry.
Both the unripe apple extract and vitamin C are antioxidants. These healthy agents help fight noxious substances in the body that may promote cancer and a rapid aging. Vitamin C has its merits and is an absolute must for health. But if the apple extract performs better in one field, it may perform better in others. Who knows.
I have found only three more studies about the extract. It can block cholera toxin in test tube experiments, shows an effect against allergy and is safe even at a high overdose.
Take home message
Applephenon capsules are expensive given the scarce study material. But I think it is not necessary to buy them: Just eat apples in an early ripening stage - although not unripe they may still contain more of the healthy antioxidants than fully ripe apples. If you have to peel apples, never throw the skin away but eat it: Most of the antioxidants are in the skin.
Recipes with unripe apples
Eating unripe apples cannot be recommended. But according to Linda Tobin of Lindystoast unripe windfall apples are excellent for green apple jelly. Nigel Deacon has a method of making cider from unripe apples, he says that «early, unripe apples are the best for cider, apart from true cider apples».
Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/georginchen/180011192/