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Apple Peels Become Energy Booster

By Isabel Sterne '10

Rui Hai Liu
University Photography
Rui Hai Liu

In 2008, dietitians for the U.S. Olympic Committee armed their athletes with 6,000 tubes of AppleBoost, a new energy food product inspired by the research of Cornell associate professor and world-renowned food scientist Rui Hai Liu, PhD '93.

The secret to these energy snacks resides in the peels, which contain the bulk of an apple's antioxidant, antiinflammatory, and high-fiber properties. As Liu discovered, a peel's antioxidant properties are especially important because they may provide a promising defense against certain chronic diseases, such as cancer.

To incorporate the benefits of apple peels into a range of products from baby foods to breakfast cereals to energy enhancers—like the one consumed at the Olympics—Liu developed a patented apple-peel powdering process that retains the peel's healthful properties. As an added benefit, apple product companies can use tons of peels that are typically discarded following applesauce production.

"Using this knowledge, we can turn a waste product into a value-added product," says Liu.


When Jim Leahy, president of Leahy Orchards, and business partner Dave Copeland heard of Liu's research, they jumped at the opportunity to incorporate apple-peel powder into their pre-existing product. The result is AppleBoost, an organic, nutrient-rich blend of apples and other flavors that can be consumed chilled or frozen. Each packet contains the equivalent of a whole apple peel and is offered in two flavors: Mango-Peach and Wildberry.

Since its commercial launch at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, AppleBoost has steadily increased in sales. Copeland says he hopes to soon expand into school lunch programs nationwide.

Although AppleBoost is among the first products to utilize Liu's apple powder, the powder is a naturally healthful food source that can be infused into other foods. From school cafeterias to football fields, apple powder may soon be providing Americans with a little more of their daily recommended fruit servings.