An apple a day might be enough to keep the doctor away, but can applesauce claim such bold health benefits, too? We're explaining more about this sweet apple puree and digging deeper into the nutritional value of applesauce.
If I had a dollar for every time I'd heard that old apple/doctor adage, I'd be rich enough to buy an entire apple orchard.
And while the health benefits of whole fresh fruits like apples are undeniable between their fiber and nutrient content, do they remain even after cooking these sweet red fruits down into a sauce?
Applesauce ingredients differ from recipe to recipe - some are healthy while others are full of added sugar, the ultimate nemesis of good health.
To enjoy a healthy dose of applesauce health benefits, you'll want to pick the right kind of applesauce. We're digging into the range of ingredients and applesauce nutrition facts below to help make your choice an easy one.
What is Applesauce?
Applesauce is a cooked sauce consisting of peeled or unpeeled apples, often spiced. You can find sweetened varieties or sugar-free versions of applesauce, which contain only the apples' natural sugars and still tastes quite sweet.
Apples are an inexpensive, accessible fruit for us here in North America, and applesauce is an excellent way to preserve in-season apples to enjoy year-round without the worry of spoiled fruit.
You can make applesauce with any apple variety, but sweet apples will give you some incredible flavors, especially when paired with the right blend of spices.
Common applesauce ingredients include:
- Peeled or unpeeled, cored apples
- Spices like cinnamon or nutmeg
- Apple cider vinegar
- Lemon juice and peel
- White sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, or other sweeteners
Applesauce Nutrition + Serving Sizes
Is applesauce healthy?
Let's take a more in-depth peek into some applesauce nutritional facts.
Unsweetened Applesauce Nutrition Facts
- Calories in Unsweetened Applesauce: 51 kcal
- Protein: 0.2g
- Fat: 0.1g
- Carbs: 13.7g
- Fiber: 1.3g
- Sugar: 11.5g
While applesauce calories are relatively low, it contains a moderate amount of natural sugar. Sweetened sauces contain the processed, added sugars, with up to 18g of sugar per serving or more.
Speaking of servings, the generally accepted portion size for applesauce is ½ cup, so measure it out to get a good idea of how much you should be eating in one sitting.
Benefits of Eating Applesauce
Here are a few of the fruity health benefits you can find in a bowl of the good stuff.
Vitamins & Minerals
Any healthy applesauce recipe is full of vitamins and minerals at its…core. (We had to!)
- You'll find plenty of the same nutrients in applesauce that you'd see in fresh apples themselves: potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B6, to name a few.
- While cooking the apples removes some of the nutrition, it's not all lost in transit, and some manufacturers double up on the vitamin C by adding some into their recipe. We add lemon juice to the recipe at home, which tastes good while upping the vitamin C content significantly.
- Vitamin C helps grow and repair all bodily tissues, form collagen, and maintain healthy bones. It's crucial to helping our bodies to improve iron absorption, which is why you often see sources of iron and vitamin C paired together in a meal.
High Fiber Content
Again, some fiber in applesauce breaks down during the cooking process, but much of the actual fiber content remains.
Fiber helps your body digest sugars without causing blood sugar spikes, which can turn into diabetes when our body loses the ability to control and regulate them.
This nutrient is also vital for weight loss, as it keeps us fuller for a longer time to help us lower our daily food intake without the hunger pangs.
Antioxidants & Phytochemicals
One of the best applesauce benefits is its unique blend of antioxidants and phytochemicals, both of which help fight free radicals within our bodies to slow the aging process - and we're not just talking about wrinkles!
All of our cells age, and when toxins build out of control in our bodies, we're less able to fight off disease and cancers as we age - this is why a diet rich in antioxidants is vital for our health.
Potential Drawbacks of Applesauce
High Sugar Content
While an unsweetened applesauce recipe isn't completely free of sugar, it doesn't contain much, with ample fiber to offset the sugar spikes.
On the other hand, sweetened applesauce contains significantly higher sugar without the added fiber, which is bad news all around. Why bother adding sugar to a naturally sweet sauce, anway?
While apple allergies aren't as common as peanut or dairy allergies, they exist.
If you're allergic to apples, lemons, or another main ingredient, it's best to stay away from applesauce altogether and opt for different fruits instead.
Whole Foods vs. Cooked
Cooking down apples removes some of their nutrients, so the most nutritious way to eat an apple is raw.
That said, we're not robots that eat purely for nutrition - convenience and enjoyment are both factors in our dietary choices.
We say, enjoy both in moderation! To maximize the nutritional benefits, use unpeeled apples in your sauce as the peels contain most of the apple's nutrition and fiber.
Moderate Carbs in Applesauce
The carbs in unsweetened applesauce are relatively low but not non-existent.
The only time these carbs could present a problem is for those following a very low-carb diet like Keto. Even then, it's still possible to enjoy applesauce in moderation if you keep your daily macronutrient ratios within their acceptable range.
How to Make Homemade Applesauce
Applesauce is pretty simple to make at home and allows you full control over the added ingredients, which is especially handy if you're concerned about sugar content.
Grab some unpeeled, cored apples, lemon, and spices of your choice. Toss them into a Dutch oven and simmer covered over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, then mash by hand or process the applesauce in a blender.
What is Applesauce Good For?
Applesauce is a healthy source of fiber and nutrients that makes an excellent low-calorie, inexpensive snack.
As always, read your labels closely when purchasing pre-made varieties and opt for applesauce brands with no-added-sugar and extra vitamin C.
And if you decide to try your hand in making some at home, leave the apples unpeeled for the best flavor and nutritional benefits.If you liked reading about applesauce nutrition, we recommend checking out our breakdown of the benefits of oat milk next!