British apple industry leaders have welcomed the news that functional ciders could be in the pipeline, after a Glasgow University researcher said she was aiming to prove the tipple's health benefits.

Serena Marks has found that some varieties of cider apple contain high levels of phenolics - antioxidants linked to protection against stroke, heart disease and cancer. Now she is investigating whether or not varieties such as Yarlington Mill, Medaille d'Or and Ashton Bitter pass these benefits on to cider.

Marks said: "Our research shows that cider apples have a higher phenolic content than dessert apples. This could mean that drinking a glass of cider is both enjoyable and a great way for people to naturally increase the amount of

phenolics in their diet."

A spokesman for the National Association of Cider Makers said this would help to reinforce the message that cider was natural and potentially healthy when drunk in moderation.