Think apples, apple sauce and apple juice are basically the same thing? Food manufacturers would have you believe that they are: Every glass of Mott’s apple juice has 2 servings of real fruit inside the ads say.

But apples, apple sauce and apple juice are quite different. Check out these NuVal scores* (out of 100 for top nutrition):

  • Apples … 96
  • Apple Sauce …
    • high of 30 (for Musselman’s Natural Unsweetened Apple Sauce)
    • low of 4 (Mott’s Original Apple Sauce)
  • Apple Juice… 10

Why the difference? According to NuVal’s Director of Nutrition, Annette Maggi, MS, RD there are three basic reasons for the discrepancy:

  1. There is less fiber in applesauce because the skins are removed.
  2. The process of cooking the apples to make apple sauce results in some vitamin loss.
  3. The sugar is more concentrated in apple sauce than in apples.

But there’s more than nutrition at stake here.

Researchers recently discovered that people don’t get the same amount of satiation – or satisfaction/fullness – from consuming apples in different forms.

In a study designed to figure out if eating apples in different forms affected people’s appetites:

  • apples were the most satisfying or filling
  • apple sauce was less satisfying
  • apple juice was the least satisfying

And here’s the surprising thing: the level of satisfaction had nothing to do with fiber! The researchers know this because they made sure the 3 forms of fruit had the equivalent amount of fiber.

So if it’s not the fiber that satiates, why are whole apples the most satisfying?

Nobody is quite sure but researchers speculate there are two reasons. Both impact taste, texture and appearance and these are the factors that most affect your children’s habits.

  1. A whole apple is larger in volume than either apple sauce or apple juice and, thus, the sheer bulk of an apple affects fullness.
  2. The act of chewing is related to satiation: the more people chew the more satisfied they are.

So what should you take away from this? Teach your children to eat fruit in proportion to its healthful benefits: give them apples the most frequently, apple sauce less frequently and apple juice the least frequently.

The same is true for oranges, grapes, mangos, pineapple…

Don’t believe the ads:the form of fruit matters for nutrition, for satiation and for habits.


* Apple scores taken from Williams, A. R.; apple sauce scores provided in private communication with NuVal; juice scores available online.

Source:; Williams, A. R. 2008. “Shopping by the Numbers.” National Geographic September;; Flood-Obbagy, J. E. and B. J. Rolls. 2009. “The Effect of Fruit in Ndifferent Forms on Energy Intake and Satiety at a Meal.” Appetite 52: 416-22.