Which apple cider has less sugar?

Apple cider is a popular fall drink made by pressing apples to extract the juice. The juice usually contains some pulp and sediment from the apples. Apple cider can be unfiltered, with a opaque appearance, or filtered to be clear. The main ingredients are simply apples and sometimes preservatives.

The sugar content of apple cider can vary widely depending on the sweetness of the apples used and whether any extra sugars are added after pressing. When comparing brands and types of apple cider, one of the main considerations is how much sugar it contains. For people looking to reduce their sugar intake, this is an important factor in choosing which cider to buy.

How is apple cider made?

Apple cider is made by pressing or crushing apples to squeeze out the juice inside. This can be done with cider presses that grind and squeeze the apples. The freshly pressed juice contains pulp and sediment from the apples.

To make clear apple cider, the raw pressed cider is filtered to remove solids. Unfiltered apple cider retains more of the pulp and particles.

The natural sugar in apple cider comes from the apples used. Different apple varieties have higher or lower levels of fructose and glucose, which make up the sugars. Sweeter apple varieties will produce cider higher in sugar content.

Many commercial ciders add extra sugar after pressing to boost the sweetness. Common types include sucrose, brown sugar, corn syrup or honey. Check the ingredients list to see if any added sugars are present.

Nutrition facts: Sugar in apple cider

The main natural sugars in apple cider are fructose and glucose. These simple sugars are found in all fruits.

A typical nutritional profile of apple cider per 8 oz serving is:

Calories 117
Total Carbohydrates 29 g
Sugars 24 g

As you can see, a 8 oz glass of apple cider contains about 24 grams of sugar. This accounts for the majority of the carbohydrates.

Some brands of cider can be much higher or lower in sugar based on the ingredients. To get a more accurate comparison, you need to look at the nutrition labels of specific ciders.

Comparing popular apple cider brands

Here is a nutritional comparison of some popular apple cider brands:

Apple Cider (8 oz) Total Sugars Ingredients
Martinelli’s Gold Medal 32g Apples, Ascorbic Acid
Santa Cruz Organic 29g Organic Apples
White House Organic 28g Organic Apples
Motts 36g Apples, Corn Syrup, Ascorbic Acid
Trader Joe’s 27g Fresh Pressed Apples
Musselman’s 31g Apples, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Ascorbic Acid

Looking at popular apple cider brands, there is a range of total sugar content from 27 to 36 grams per 8 ounce serving.

Martinelli’s Gold Medal cider is one of the highest, with 32 grams of sugar. Motts also has 36 grams, which can be attributed to the added corn syrup.

The ciders with the least amount of sugar are Trader Joe’s at 27 grams and White House Organic at 28 grams of sugar per serving.

Added sugars versus natural sugars

When comparing sugar content, it is also useful to look at the ingredients list. Ciders that are 100% pressed apples will generally be lower in sugar than brands adding extra sweeteners.

For example, though Martinelli’s has more sugar than many others, the only ingredient is apples. So the sugars are naturally occurring rather than added.

On the other hand, Motts and Musselman’s both contain high fructose corn syrup as an added sweetener. This bumps up the total sugar content.

Choosing low sugar apple cider

When selecting an apple cider, keep the following tips in mind:

– Check the nutrition labels and look for ciders lowest in sugar per serving
– Avoid ciders with added sugars like corn syrup, honey or sucrose
– Look for options labeled 100% apple juice or freshly pressed
– Dilute with water or carbonated water to reduce sugar content
– Opt for small serving sizes like 4-6 oz rather than large mugs

Sparkling or hard ciders tend to be lower in sugar since they contain less actual juice. But they will be higher in alcohol content.

Juice blends that mix apple cider with other fruits can also lower the relative sugar amount. Pairing apple juice with berries, pears, or citrus fruits can be a tasty lower sugar option.

Reduced sugar and “light” ciders

In recent years, some companies have introduced reduced or low sugar apple ciders:

Martinelli’s Gold Medal 25% Less Sugar
– 8 oz: 24g sugar

Santa Cruz Organic 50% Less Sugar
– 8 oz: 15g sugar

Honest Kids Appley Ever After Organic Juice Drink
– 6 oz: 9g sugar

Martinelli’s 40% Less Sugar
– 8 oz: 19g sugar

While these products do contain less sugar than regular apple cider, they achieve this by diluting the juice with water and adding artificial sweeteners like stevia or sucralose.

Compared to ciders without added sweeteners, the reduced sugar options tend to have more artificial ingredients. But they can be an alternative for people monitoring their sugar intake.

Making your own low sugar apple cider

Another way to control the sugar content of apple cider is to make your own at home.

Using naturally tart apple varieties like Granny Smith will produce cider lower in sugar than very sweet apples. You can also dilute freshly pressed apple juice with water to reduce the sugar concentration.

Here is a simple recipe for homemade apple cider with less sugar:

– 5 medium Granny Smith apples, washed and chopped
– 6 cups water
– Cinnamon sticks, star anise, or apple slices for flavor (optional)

1. Place the chopped apples in a pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Drain the cooked apples in a colander lined with cheesecloth. Twist to squeeze out as much juice as possible. Discard the remaining apple pulp.
3. Add the extracted apple juice back to the pot. Add the remaining 4 cups water and stir well.
4. Optional: Add cinnamon sticks, star anise or fresh apple slices for extra flavor.
5. Heat the diluted juice over medium heat until warmed through but not boiling.
6. Remove spice sticks or apple slices before serving. Store leftover cider in the fridge for 3-4 days.

The advantage of homemade cider is you control the amount of apple juice versus water. You can reduce the sugar substantially by diluting the pressed juice.

Is apple cider healthy?

Despite its sugar content, pure apple cider does confer some health benefits. It contains beneficial plant compounds like polyphenols and vitamins C, B6, and K:

Polyphenols: Antioxidants that may help lower inflammation and reduce disease risk factors like blood pressure.

Vitamin C: Immune supporting vitamin that acts as an antioxidant. Apples contain about 5.7 mg vitamin C per 100 grams.

Vitamin B6: Needed for metabolism and red blood cell formation. Small amounts occur naturally in apples.

Vitamin K: Important for blood clotting. Apple skins (retained in unfiltered cider) provide around 4% of your daily vitamin K needs per serving.

So while apple cider is high in natural sugar, it does come along with beneficial plant compounds, vitamins, and minerals. Moderating intake and diluting with water can allow you to get these perks while reducing sugar intake.

Potential downsides of apple cider

Some potential downsides of drinking apple cider include:

– High in sugar if intake is uncontrolled. Can contribute excess calories and spike blood sugar.
– Acidity from apples may aggravate reflux or irritate the stomach lining for those with gastrointestinal conditions.
– Carbs can cause weight gain if large amounts are consumed. About 117 calories per 8 oz.
– Unpasteurized ciders may contain bacteria like E. coli, though this is rare.
– Allergies: Apples contain proteins that can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Symptoms may include itching, hives, swelling, and anaphylaxis.

While apple cider has some nutrition benefits, it’s best enjoyed in moderation. Those with diabetes or attempting weight loss may want to limit intake or dilute with water given the high carb and sugar content.


When comparing the sugar content in different apple ciders, check the nutrition labels and ingredients lists. Ciders lowest in sugar tend to have minimal added sweeteners and be 100% apple juice. Popular lower sugar options include Trader Joe’s cider and White House Organic at around 28 grams sugar per serving.

Making your own cider allows you to control the sugar content by pressing tart apples and diluting with water. While apple cider does contain beneficial nutrients like polyphenols and vitamins, limiting intake due to the high natural sugar is recommended, especially for those monitoring blood sugar levels or calories. Moderating portion sizes and diluting with water are effective ways reduce the sugar content of apple cider while still enjoying its fresh apple flavor.

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