Applesauce is made from cooked apples and can be flavored with added spices like cinnamon and nutmeg or sweetened with maple syrup and sugar.
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Because the main ingredient is fruit, applesauce can be a nutritious addition to most meal plans. It's associated with a host of health benefits supported by scientific research. If you're looking for a reason to add applesauce to your menu, there are a few to consider.
According to the USDA, a 1/2-cup serving of unsweetened applesauce will give you:
- Calories: 45
- Total fat: 0 g
- Saturated fat: 0 g
- Trans fat: 0 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Sodium: 0 mg
- Total carbs: 11.2 g
- Dietary fiber: 1.5 g
- Sugar: 9 g
- Protein: 0 g
- Total fat: A serving of applesauce does not have any fat.
- Carbohydrates: Carbs are the main nutrient in applesauce, with about 11 grams per serving, which is 4 percent of the recommended daily value (DV). 1.5 grams of the carbs in applesauce come from fiber.
- Protein: Applesauce does not have any protein.
Vitamins, Minerals and Other Micronutrients
- Vitamin C: 19% DV
- Potassium: 2% DV
Health Benefits of Applesauce
1. It's Rich in Antioxidants
Many fruits, including apples, are a natural source of antioxidants. Applesauce is full of antioxidants called phytochemicals. Apples are especially rich in the phytochemicals quercetin, catechin, chlorogenic acid and anthocyanin, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
These antioxidants are associated with a reduced risk of disease, namely cancer, heart disease, asthma and Alzheimer's disease, according to September 2011 research in Advances in Nutrition.
To get more antioxidants from your applesauce, opt for varieties made with whole, unpeeled apples. Apples without the peels have less antioxidant activity, according to May 2004 research in Nutrition Journal. You can also make your own at home to ensure it's made with the apple peel.
2. It Provides a Source of Nutrients
Like apples, applesauce is a source of many nutrients. Applesauce boasts small amounts of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and folate, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.
While the nutrient content in applesauce may not be significant, applesauce is a more nutritious snack option than those containing added sugars or trans fats.
Apples are a notoriously great source of dietary fiber, a nutrient in which many Americans are lacking. An estimated 95 percent of U.S. adults and children don't eat enough fiber, according to January 2017 research in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.
While applesauce doesn't contain as much dietary fiber as whole apples, it does contain some fiber in each serving.
Dietary fiber is vital for healthy digestion, but its benefits go far beyond that. A healthy gut is linked to a functioning immune system, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Your digestion is responsible for breaking down nutrients so they can be used for processes like cell repair.
Apples are especially high in soluble fiber, which is linked to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Eating more fruit is generally associated with a reduced risk of disease. Specifically, eating lots of apples is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, according to October 2019 research in Current Developments in Nutrition.
If you have diabetes or are trying to manage your blood sugar, check your food labels to make sure the applesauce you're buying does not have added sugars in it.
5. It's a Low-Sugar Alternative in Baking
You may have seen applesauce recommended as an alternative to oil in baking and other recipes. It's also often used as an egg alternative in egg-free or plant-based recipes.
Because it's naturally sweet, applesauce can be used in lieu of sugar and other sweeteners in some recipes. Though applesauce is not a sugar-free food, it's a source of natural sugars that occur in fruits.
This is a clever way to sweeten foods like banana bread, brownies and muffins. For best results, you may need to experiment with the ratio of wet to dry ingredients because applesauce adds a lot of moisture.
Incorporating Applesauce Into Your Diet
You can purchase unsweetened applesauce in most grocery stores. Making homemade applesauce is also an option if you want more control over the ingredients.
To make applesauce at home, you'll need apples, water and cinnamon, per Iowa State University. Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and cook until the apples are soft and ready to be mashed and eaten. You can even use applesauce in your pancakes, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Applesauce isn't a superfood, but it's associated with a few health benefits and it has an impressive nutritional profile. Incorporating applesauce into your eating plan can be a healthy addition to your diet.
Replacing processed snacks with applesauce or using it as a natural sweetener in baked goods are easy and healthy ways to incorporate this food.
Applesauce Recipes to Try
- Advances in Nutrition: “A Comprehensive Review of Apples and Apple Components and Their Relationship to Human Health”
- Nutrition Journal: “Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits”
- USDA FoodData Central: “Applesauce, unsweetened”
- American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine: “Closing America’s Fiber Intake Gap”
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Apples"
- Current Developments in Nutrition: "Effects of Intake of Apples, Pears, or Their Products on Cardiometabolic Risk Factors and Clinical Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis"
- Iowa State University: "Homemade Applesauce"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Applesauce French Toast"
- Experimental and Molecular Medicine: “The effects of different dietary fiber pectin structures on the gastrointestinal immune barrier: impact via gut microbiota and direct effects on immune cells”
- BMJ: “Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies"
- USDA MyFoodData: Hy-Vee Inc. - Unsweetened Apple Sauce
- Harvard Health Publishing: Feed Your Gut
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Applesauce, canned, unsweetened, without added ascorbic acid, 1 cup
- Standford Medicine: Soluble fiber may boost your immune system
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Fiber