Grown throughout the world, apples come in thousands of varieties and have offered flavorful nutrition to people for more than 3,000 years, according to Sharon and Ron Herbst, authors of the “Food Lover’s Companion.” Applesauce provides most, but not all, of the health benefits from apples. The healthiest applesauce is the one that you make yourself from scratch.
Vitamins and Minerals
Applesauce provides a good source of fiber and vitamins A and C. The U.S. Department of Agriculture database lists one cup of canned applesauce as having 102 calories, with 0.4 grams of protein, 27.5 grams of carbohydrates and 2.7 grams of fiber. It also contains 10 milligrams of calcium, 181 milligrams of potassium, 5 milligrams of sodium, 2.4 milligrams of vitamin C and 71 international units of vitamin A. Dr. Walter Willett’s homemade version of applesauce contains 204 calories, about the same number as store-bought applesauce, but it has more than twice the protein at 1.8 grams. The homemade version also has 4 grams of fiber, 56 grams of carbohydrates and only 1 milligram of sodium.
The American Institute for Cancer Research touts apples as among the highest of all fruits in antioxidants, the chemicals that may reduce your risk of developing breast, lung and colon cancer. The levels of the antioxidant chemical quercetin in apples is so high that the AICR says even though applesauce contains lower levels than whole apples, it is, nonetheless, a good source for this powerful chemical.
Other Health Benefits
According to the U.S. Apple Association, apples help with weight loss and metabolic syndrome, brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and the health of your lungs, heart, digestive system and immune system. While some of the studies were on apples alone, others looked at apple juice and apple sauce. As is the case with antioxidants, some of the health benefits in whole apples will be reduced with cooked applesauce.
Increasing Nutritional Benefits
You'll get more of the powerful antioxidants and vitamins in apples and less sugar than is found in store-bought applesauce by making your own. Put cut, whole apples, including the peel, in a food mill or food processor to obtain the nutrients from the peel as well as from the fruit. Cook the applesauce just long enough to soften the apple chunks, for 20 to 30 minutes. Add cinnamon, maple syrup, honey and a dash of lemon juice for sweet applesauce. For a savory version, follow Mark Bittman's advice in "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" and add cumin or caraway seeds, chilies, fresh ginger or roasted garlic.
- "The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion"; Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst; 2009
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Applesauce, Canned, Unsweetened
- "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy -- The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating"; Walter Willett; 2005
- American Institute for Cancer Research: Apples -- A Healthy Temptation
- American Institute for Cancer Research: AICR HealthTalk; Karen Collins, M.S., R.D., C.D.N.; January 2010
- U.S. Apple Association: Apple Health Benefits; July 2010
- "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian"; Mark Bittman; 2007
- Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.