Is Applesauce Good for You? Health Benefits & Nutrition

Is Applesauce Good for You? Health Benefits & Nutrition

For thousands of years, varieties of apples have existed and intrigued humans. Legend says the Trojan War began because Paris gave an apple to Aphrodite, who, in turn, got Helen to fall in love with Paris. Some say it was an apple that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. And the evil witch in Snow White gets Snow White to take a bite of a tempting but poisoned apple.

Research shows an apple a day probably won’t keep the doctor away. It does say apples are chock-full of beneficial nutrients that can improve your health when you incorporate them into a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

So, whether you’re on the run or just need a quick snack at home, apples can be an excellent choice; they’re portable, nutritious, and have a durable yet tasty wrapper. Apples are fantastic on their own and are even better when paired with other foods like peanut butter or cheese. Since apples are nutritious, you might be wondering if applesauce is as well. Read on to find out if applesauce is just as healthy as the original!

What’s Applesauce?

Applesauce is a reasonably simple creation. In its purest form, applesauce is nothing but cooked apples. Typically the apples are peeled, cored, and softened (either by boiling or baking), then mashed, pressed through a mesh sieve, or pureed. The result is a sweet, delicious sauce!  

Consistency varies depending on which technique you use; you may prefer the smoother, pureed version or the chunkier result of light mashing. And depending on taste preference and the variety of apples you use to make the sauce, you may or may not need to add other ingredients. Typically, you’d add sugar if tart apples were the main ingredient. It’s common to add cinnamon since it adds a nice color and an added layer of sweetness. You can add lemon juice or ascorbic acid to make it tarter, stop the applesauce from turning brown, and increase its shelf-life.

Recorded recipes for applesauce date as far back as the Medieval Period in Europe, and recipes exist from as early as 1390. But it’s likely applesauce has been around for much longer! 

Applesauce Nutrition

The apple’s primary macronutrient is a carbohydrate; apples are rich in fiber and the simple sugars fructose, glucose, and sucrose. As far as micronutrients go, apples are also a good source of vitamin C and other antioxidants. The more processed applesauce is, the more nutrients it will lose. Despite losing nutrients during processing, a serving of applesauce is still an excellent fiber and vitamin C source – providing 12% and 7% of your daily needs, respectively.

Applesauce nutrition changes dramatically depending on which ingredients you use. If the apple skin remains, fiber and antioxidant content go up. If you add sugar, calories go up. Store-bought applesauce sometimes has other ingredients like high fructose corn syrup or other fruits, each of which impacts the sauce’s nutritional content. High-fructose corn syrup can be detrimental to your health, so always be sure to read the label when you buy applesauce from the store.

Applesauce’s Health Benefits

Applesauce can be a terrific addition to your healthy and balanced lifestyle, as long as you eat it in moderation: Wound Healing. Vitamin C helps you heal your wounds. You use vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in each step of the wound healing process, from the initial inflammatory phase through scar formation. Clinical dietitians often prescribe vitamin C to their hospital patients with wounds.

is applesauce good for you
  • Diabetes Prevention. Studies show there may be a link between apple consumption and a decreased risk for type 2 diabetes. These studies indicate it’s better to consume whole fruit to lower your risk for diabetes. From a nutritional standpoint, it’s best to leave the skin on your apples!
  • Heart Health. The antioxidants and fiber that apples contain can prevent vascular damage from free radicals and lower your cholesterol. Apple consumption also has an inverse relationship with stroke onset. Again, these studies indicate these effects are more prevalent when you eat the entire apple.
  • Possibly Reduced Risk for Cancer. Applesauce’s vitamin C content may neutralize your body’s free radicals to help stave off cancer. Multiple studies show a diet higher in fruit, including apples, can decrease your risk for specific cancer types, including lung, liver, and digestive-tract cancers.
  • Weight Control. The fiber and water content in applesauce helps you feel full longer than other snacks might. Pair applesauce with nuts or mix it with chia seeds, and you’ve got a snack that’ll keep you satisfied for several hours.
  • Baking Substitute. Applesauce can serve as a suitable replacement for fat in baked goods if you prefer. For example, you can replace the eggs in a recipe with a quarter cup of applesauce per egg. If you use applesauce as a substitute, you’ll have more fiber and vitamins in your goodies. Because applesauce tends to be sweet, it’s a terrific way to reduce the sugar in your baked goods.

Possible Downsides of Applesauce

All around, applesauce is a healthy snack, side dish, or baking substitute. But, there are some things to pay attention to with this lovely treat. Some store-bought applesauce variations have ingredients that are detrimental to your health. The excessive sugar in some applesauce makes the applesauce very palatable but can also lead to weight gain if you eat it frequently and without moderation. Additionally, the added sugar can raise your blood sugar, leading to insulin resistance and further weight gain over time. Other ingredients like preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup can have a detrimental effect on your health. If you have diabetes or are at risk, these applesauce variations may not be best for you. Typically, store-bought applesauce doesn’t include the peels, so many nutrients are left out! Additionally, some variations include other fruits; if you have a fruit allergy, be sure to read applesauce labels to make sure you don’t have adverse side-effects.

How to Make Applesauce

To make homemade applesauce with the peel, all you need is apples and water:

applesauce benefits
  • Core and quarter two large apples.
  • Add the apples to a small saucepan and pour in two to four tablespoons of water.
  • Cover and cook the apples over medium heat until the water simmers and the apples lose their shape.
  • Remove the stove apples, allow them to cool for a minute or two, and then blend them. You can use an immersion blender, a standard blender, or a food processor. If you use a food processor, you may want to pour the mixture through a sieve to remove the larger skin chunks.
  • This recipe makes about two one-half cup servings. Enjoy it warm or keep it in the fridge and eat it cold. ! It will keep for up to seven days in the fridge.

You can also add a dash of cinnamon to get that nutty flavor and add a couple of lemon juice splashes after it is blended to get some more vitamin C and help the color last longer. Whether you make it yourself or purchase it from the store, applesauce can be a fantastic addition to a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Be aware of any health concerns you have related to applesauce, and always read labels when you consider store-bought options.

Author's bio

Grace Engels, RD

Grace Engels, RD

Grace Engels is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in the Greater NYC Area. She completed her undergraduate coursework and requirements to sit for the RDN exam (including 1400 hours of supervised practice) at Cornell University. Grace keeps busy with three main jobs: Clinical ...