One of the best ways for you to increase your overall fiber intake is to eat fruit in its whole, unprocessed form. Eating an apple with its peel intact instead of drinking apple juice is one example. Processed apple products like applesauce contain less fiber per serving than a whole apple, but they are still a good way for you to obtain the soluble and soluble fiber that you need for optimal health.
Total Dietary Fiber
According to Harvard University Health Services, a 1/2-cup serving of applesauce contains approximately 2 grams of dietary fiber compared to the 2.8 grams in a small, whole apple. For an adult man, this amount fulfills 5 percent of his recommended daily allowance of 38 grams of fiber. For a woman, each half-cup of applesauce supplies her with 8 percent of her daily requirement of 25 grams. Applesauce has about as much fiber per serving as a 1/2-cup serving of cooked carrots, seven dried apricot halves, a medium-sized peach and 3 cups of popcorn. A high intake of total dietary fiber may help lower your risk of obesity, stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Of the total dietary fiber contained in a half-cup of applesauce, 0.7 gram is contributed by soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is made up of compounds found within plant cells, including mucilages, pectins and gums. When you eat applesauce, the soluble fiber absorbs water in your digestive tract and forms a thick, viscous mass that slows the rate at which your body absorbs nutrients and may help prevent diabetes and high blood cholesterol. The Food and Nutrition Board has not set a required daily intake of soluble fiber, but nutritionists advise that 20 to 30 percent of your total daily fiber should be soluble.
Unlike soluble fiber, insoluble fiber does not swell with water in the digestive tract. Instead, it adds bulk to your stool and can help regulate your bowel movements by promoting contractions in your colon. Each 1/2-cup serving of applesauce contains 1.3 grams of insoluble fiber, or about as much provided by two medium-sized plums or 1/3 cup of oatmeal. Eating plenty of insoluble fiber sources may help lower your risk of digestive disorders such as diverticular disease, colon cancer, hemorrhoids or duodenal ulcers.
When you're trying to increase your fiber intake by including more fiber-rich foods like applesauce in your diet, do so gradually. Consuming too much fiber, too rapidly, can cause abdominal cramping, diarrhea, bloating and flatulence. You can decrease these side effects by incorporating high-fiber foods into your diet slowly, over a period of two to three weeks. Also, drink at least six to eight glasses of water each day, and exercise to keep your colon contracting regularly. If unpleasant side effects persist or worsen, talk to your doctor.
- Vegetarian Times: Ask the Nutritionist - How Much Fiber Do I Really Need?
- Harvard University Health Services: Fiber Content of Foods in Common Portions
- Mayo Clinic: Dietary Fiber - Essential for a Healthy Diet
- Nutrition Reviews: Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber
- Cleveland Clinic: The Fiber Lifestyle
- Medical Bariatrics of Lexington: Fiber
- The Women's, The Royal Women's Hospital: Normal Bowel Function
Michelle Kerns writes for a variety of print and online publications and specializes in literature and science topics. She has served as a book columnist since 2008 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Kerns studied English literature and neurology at UC Davis.