Applesauce is a rich subtly sweet sauce that can be enjoyed in many ways. It can be incorporated into baked goods, smoothies, or salad dressings, or it can be eaten as is, along with vegetables and roasted meats, especially pork, duck, or goose. There are sweetened or unsweetened varieties of applesauce that you can buy from the supermarket or you can make yourself.
Due to its bland flavor and some contents, applesauce is considered to be helpful in the treatment of digestive issues. For example, is applesauce good for diarrhea? Let’s find out!
Applesauce: Background Info
Applesauce has been made in households for hundreds of years since the medieval period in Europe. Before refrigerators were invented, applesauce was an inexpensive and efficient method to prevent uneaten apples from rotting and make them last through a winter or drought season.
Although quite common in the United States, applesauce is said to have originated in Central Europe during the mid-1700s. The first printed reference to applesauce was in the 9th edition of an English cookbook called Compleat Housewife, written by Eliza Smith in 1769.
Applesauce is very simple to make. All you have to do is cook the apples either in water or fresh apple juice, wait for the fruits to soften, then mash them up to create a puree. You can add other ingredients like cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla to provide flavor.
But is applesauce as nutritious as apples? Just like whole apples, plain applesauce is low in salt, fat, and calories, and contains carbs, natural sugar, and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.
However, the nutritional content and quality of applesauce may vary significantly depending on some factors involving its production such as:
Higher acidic apples tend to make a finer puree than the less acidic ones.
Cooking apples removes some of their nutrients and decreases the number of antioxidants. Eating apples raw is still the most nutritious way to go.
Method of preparation
Steps in the cooking and processing of applesauce decrease the amounts of some nutrients such as Vitamin C.
Inclusion of the peel in the sauce
When applesauce is made with peeled apples rather than whole ones, most of the fiber and nutrients contained in the peel are gone.
On the other hand, if you want to maximize the health benefits you can get from applesauce, it is best to use the unsweetened variety as the sweetened commercial applesauce contains added sugars that may lower its nutritional value. Some of the benefits of applesauce include:
- Good source of nutrients
- Rich in antioxidants
- Low in sugar (unsweetened variety)
- Restores good appetite
- Promotes proper digestion
- Reduces risk of diabetes
- Reduces risk of certain cancers
Is Applesauce Good For Diarrhea?
Aside from the health benefits mentioned earlier, applesauce is also touted as helpful for digestion. But is applesauce good for diarrhea? Here are some reasons why it can be.
Applesauce is high in pectin.
Pectin, which is a type of soluble fiber found in unsweetened applesauce, is considered to be a prebiotic because it feeds the good bacteria in your body and stimulates their growth and activity. One of these beneficial gut bacteria is called bifidobacteria which helps calm inflammation in the gut, which in turn reduces intestinal permeability and fluid loss.
Apple pectin inhibits the proliferation of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract and neutralizes the effects of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Pectin easily absorbs water and turns into a gel-like substance that helps to normalize stools. Therefore, it is particularly effective in treating digestive problems such as diarrhea and constipation.
In a randomized controlled trial organized at the Jinling Hospital in China, 87 patients diagnosed with IBS-D were divided into two groups. In one group, the subjects were given 24 grams of pectin daily while the other group was given a placebo over a period of 29 months. The first group which was given pectin reported fewer symptoms of constipation and diarrhea while those from the placebo group did not experience these effects.
Applesauce is a major part of the BRAT diet.
Spicy and complex foods can irritate the bowels and put stress on the digestive system. A person who is experiencing diarrhea should eat simple, bland-tasting foods because they are easy on the stomach and help absorb water from the stool. Doctors often recommend the BRAT diet which stands for:
- Rice(plain white)
- Toast or bread
Ideally, you should eat several small meals throughout the day rather than having fewer large meals to avoid overwhelming the digestive system. The BRAT diet is especially helpful during the first day of diarrhea because the foods in it are low in fat, fiber, and protein which make them easy to digest.
The theory behind the BRAT diet is that the symptoms of stomach illness such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can be reduced by consuming only bland, easy-to-digest foods.
However, more and more doctors nowadays do not recommend the restrictive BRAT diet because it lacks the vital nutrients that your body needs to function. Therefore, prolonged use of the BRAT diet may lead to malnutrition and low energy, especially in children,
According to Toronto pediatrician Rahul Saxena of Roundhouse Pediatrics, “The BRAT diet is a terrible idea. It’s a carb-loaded diet and it’s been shown to increase the duration of diarrhea.”
Although applesauce offers a lot of health benefits, it also has potential disadvantages such as:
- Applesauce is a high FODMAP food.
- Commercially grown apples have pesticide residues.
- Applesauce has high carb content.
- Some applesauce brands have added sugar.
- Applesauce can cause a spike in your blood sugar.
- Frequent consumption of applesauce can lead to weight gain.
- Applesauce is not as filling as whole apples.
The best thing to do is to consider whether the health benefits of applesauce far outweigh the potential setbacks for you.
Other Foods That Are Good For Diarrhea
Since applesauce has some disadvantages that can aggravate certain medical conditions that you have, you may want to skip the BRAT diet. In this case, there are other suitable foods and drinks that are bland and do not irritate the bowels when you have diarrhea, and they include:
- Chicken soup
- Saltine crackers
- Boiled potatoes
- Hot cereals like oatmeal and rice porridge
- Clear broths
- Herbal teas like ginger and peppermint
- Sweet potatoes
- Coconut water
In addition, you need to drink plenty of water to help flush toxins out of the body and prevent dehydration.
Since it is made from whole apples along with some other basic ingredients, applesauce also contains the nutrients and antioxidants that whole apples do, but to a lesser degree, along with the accompanying health benefits. Applesauce can be enjoyed on its own or as an accompaniment to other dishes.
Applesauce also serves as comfort food for people who are ill or feeling down emotionally. Although there are many other comfort foods to choose from, applesauce is ideal because it has a mild taste, is easy to digest, and provides plant-based compounds and nutrients. But is applesauce good for diarrhea? Yes, it is, and now you know the reasons why.