Hard cider sales and options are growing at a rapid pace. Reuters reports the US cider market is predicted to grow 65 percent between 2011 and 2016. Customers are paying attention to the health benefits of hard cider. 

Americas beverage of choice from colonial times is making a huge comeback. Time reports hard cider is growing faster than craft beer at the moment. Hard cider is made from a combination of yeast and the 'superfood' apples. You know apples - mother nature's toothbrush, full of antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins, minerals. The list goes on and on. The benefits vary from bottle to bottle of cider due to the types of ingredients and apples used. One study reports that both beer and cider contains an excellent source of antioxidants:

For the health conscious consumer who needs a break from the Bordeaux, there’s other options. Any beverage made from fresh fruit or vegetables is likely to have antioxidants - take cider for example. Cider is made from apples, and apples contain an abundance of antioxidants such as quercetin in the apple peel and hydroxycinnamic acids. Not surprisingly, apple juice and cider also contain antioxidants...Cereal grains are a good source of antioxidants and not surprisingly beer, which is made from malted barley, also contains antioxidants.

Greatist.com says, "A study by the University of Glasgow compared two varieties of ciders using the same method of fermentation and production and found a huge range of polyphenol concentration, making it clear that the levels of polyphenols can vary significantly depending on the apple variety used." 

In the beer-making process, naturally occurring polyphenols (usually found in hops and malt) are often removed by the brewer as they can cause beer to appear cloudy. This usually decreases the total polyphenol content, which means the astringency (the puckering feeling) found in ciders and red wines, is noticeably absent from beer. Compared to cider, beer falls behind in polyphenol concentration. However, a study by Oregon State University found that hops often contain flavonoids (a type of polyphenol compound), which provide antioxidant protection to cells

Scientists have been studying the benefits of alcoholic beverages for a long time. Most of the studies come to the same conclusion that one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men do have plenty of health benefits like their ability to lower the risk of heart disease, cognitive decline, and dementia.

The bottom line:

  • Read the label and see how much sugar is added to the cider.
  • How many carbohydrates per serving.
  • One bottle of a healthier beer, a lower-sugar cider, or a glass of wine can provide a good dose of antioxidants — so learn to savor just one drink.

A great place to get information from the professionals is the Syracuse Beer Festival.