We’ve all heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but what about applesauce? This often portable and always tasty puréed fruit is most likely lurking in your pantry or refrigerator. More than the perfect kid-friendly fruit, applesauce is an easy way to entice people of any age to eat an extra serving of fruit.
Grab a spoon and enjoy these four surprising side effects of eating applesauce.
Probiotics like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir get all the glory for gut health, but they can’t do their job without a healthy dose of prebiotics. “Apples are a prebiotic food, meaning it feeds your good gut bacteria,” says Amanda Sauceda, MS, RD. Other prebiotic foods include beans, oats, bananas, berries, and garlic.
Fueling the good bacteria in the gut is just one part of the story. One cup of unsweetened applesauce has two grams of fiber, most of which is soluble. Soluble fiber helps to slow down digestion, which improves the absorption of nutrients from the food you eat.
If you’re looking for easy ways to cut down on calories without sacrificing your favorite foods, applesauce can help.
“Using applesauce as a substitute for cooking oil as a 1 to 1 ratio helps cut down calories from fat, supports heart health, and provides an additional way to get some fruit in,” says Andrew Akhaphong, MS, RD, LD, registered dietitian for Mackenthun’s Fine Foods.
A cup of unsweetened applesauce has only 25 calories compared to the 964 calories found in a half-cup of canola oil.
Akhaphong adds that “applesauce as a substitute for oil work best for cake and bread-like products such as muffins, brownies, and yellow cake.”
There’s nothing worse than a stomach bug that makes it hard to eat or keep anything down. “Applesauce is a healthy hydration source when you’re sick,” says Megan Byrd of The Oregon Dietitian. This can come in handy when you’re plagued with vomiting or diarrhea, both of which increase your risk for dehydration.
88 percent of applesauce is made up of water. This means that just a half-cup of applesauce adds 3.5 ounces of water to your system. Applesauce gets even more bonus points as a sick day food since it’s relatively bland, easy to digest, and a quick source of energy.
Not all applesauce is created equal. You’ll want to read the label carefully since added sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are common ingredients in this packaged food.
Some brands of applesauce can have up to 15 grams of added sugar in a four-ounce portion. This amount of added sugar is significant. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association recommend that children and women get less than 25 grams of added sugar daily and that men eat less than 38 grams each day.
To avoid the health risks of added sugar (including increased risk of heart disease and diabetes) and enjoy this fruit purée’s health benefits, choose only unsweetened applesauce.
Related: 14 Sneaky Sources of Added Sugar
Kelsey Lorencz, RDN