Applesauce can be a handy item to have in your pantry. It makes for a nutritious snack, and apples and applesauce also have some health benefits. If you want to bake without using a lot of fat, applesauce also works well as a fat substitute in some recipes.
Each 1-cup serving of applesauce provides you with at least 5 percent of your recommended daily fiber, potassium and vitamin C, as well as smaller amounts of other essential vitamins and minerals. Fiber helps fill you up for longer, making it easier to lose weight or stay at a healthy weight. Potassium helps keep your blood pressure from getting too high, and vitamin C is an antioxidant that may help you fight off infections like the common cold.
Apples contain phytochemicals, such as quercetin, that act as antioxidants and may help lower your risk for health problems like cancer, diabetes, asthma and heart disease, according to an article published in "Nutrition Journal" in 2004. Unfortunately, applesauce doesn't have as much of these phytochemicals as apples do because of the processing involved. Commercial applesauce production doesn't use the peels, which can contain up to six times the phytochemicals of the apple flesh. However, applesauce does still contain these beneficial chemicals, just at lower levels.
If you love baking but want to make your sweet treats a bit healthier, consider replacing half of any liquid fat called for in a recipe with applesauce. This will not only lower the fat content, it will also make your treats nice and moist and increase the amount of vitamins and minerals they contain. Although you can use this replacement in recipes that call for melted butter, replacing softened butter with applesauce might not provide as successful a result.
Making your own applesauce will give you the healthiest version, since you can leave the skins on and puree them in and avoid adding extra sugar. Many of the beneficial plant chemicals and much of the fiber, vitamins and minerals are concentrated in or around the skin. Keep in mind that fresh apples are still the healthiest option, since they haven't been processed and contain the most vitamins and plant chemicals.
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Applesauce, Canned, Unsweetened, Without Added Ascorbic Acid (Includes USDA Commodity)
- Mother Earth News: Bake With Applesauce: Cakes, Muffins and More
- Nutrition Journal: Apple Phytochemicals and Their Health Benefits
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: 14. Appendix F: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.