Nothing can satisfy your sweet craving and fill up your time quite like a slice of apple pie can.
There’s just something about that sugary, tangy, cinnamony filling that does wonders when combined with a rich, crisp crust.
The only problem is the nagging feeling of guilt that you end up with as you wonder if it’s okay to go for that second serving.
After all, apple pie is a dessert, but is it a healthy one?
Today’s article dives deep into the question “is apple pie good for you?” to give you reliable insight into the nutritional value and health effects of America’s favorite fruit pie.
Apple pie is healthier than other types of sweet pies like chocolate pie and custard pie. It uses apples as a main ingredient, so it naturally beats any non-fruit pie.
That said, apple pie is only healthy in moderation.
Just because apples are the star of the dish, doesn’t mean that the sugar, flour, and butter content doesn’t count.
As such, everyone can agree that apple pie can be both good and bad for you.
The good in an apple pie is mostly thanks to the “apple” part.
Apples are super healthy fruits, rich in nutrients like fiber, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and lipids. As a result, apple pie offers various health benefits, including:
Thanks to the iron content in apples, apple pie helps regulate body temperature and enhances its absorption capacity.
The presence of fiber and thiamine (vitamin B1) promotes better digestion. Fiber prevents constipation while thiamine boosts the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
Speaking of thiamine, it can also improve your memory and ability to focus thanks to its positive effect on the nervous system.
Riboflavin (vitamin B2) plays an essential role in the formation of red blood cells and the development of antibodies. As such, it improves oxygenation, circulation, and immunity power.
Apples are rich in manganese, which demonstrates high antioxidant properties. As such, it can protect the body from the impact of free radicals including cancer.
Manganese is also crucial for the formation of an enzyme known as superoxide dismutase (SOD), which fights oxidative stress within the body.
A slice of homemade apple pie has an average of 411 calories. These mainly come from sugar and flour, which are known as refined carbs, simple carbs, or processed carbs.
Refined carbs provide your body with empty calories because they’ve been stripped of their vitamins, fiber, and minerals. ‘Empty’ refers to the lack of beneficial nutrients.
Due to their quick digestion and high glycemic index, refined carbs also cause spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels.
This leads to overeating and increases the risk of various diseases such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
Additionally, apple pie crust relies heavily on butter to get its flaky, crisp texture.
While butter contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and butyrate that may help reduce the risk of cancer, improve immunity, decrease inflammation, and boost digestion, it also contains a lot of saturated fats (around 63 percent).
Saturated fats are linked to heart disease and should be consumed in moderation along with healthy polyunsaturated fats from fish, nuts, and seeds.
Is homemade apple pie healthier than store-bought? Is it the other way around?
Well, store-bought apple pie usually contains a lot more added sugars than the homemade version. This is why store-bought pie typically tastes sweeter.
The problem is, you can’t know exactly how much sugar is in a store-bought apple pie. Additionally, store-bought apple pie has more calories, saturated fat, total fat, and sodium.
When you make an apple pie at home, you’re in control of the ingredients. This is the biggest difference.
By now, you’re probably wondering if there’s a way to make apple pie healthier. It’s understandable; who doesn’t dream about guilt-free pie eating?
Luckily, there’s more than one solution to make apple pie healthier. The secret lies in ingredient substitution, particularly ingredients that aren’t very good for you.
As such, replacing sugar, flour, and/or butter can result in a healthier version of apple pie that you can dig in without worrying much about consequences.
Here are two sugar substitutes for baking a healthier apple pie:
If honey is the first thing that you think of when looking for a healthy sugar substitute, then you’re absolutely right!
Not only is honey a 100 percent natural alternative to refined sugar, but it also delivers a comparable level of sweetness while being better for you.
Not to mention, honey tastes delicious and won’t really affect the end flavor or texture of your baked goods, including the filling and the crust of apple pie.
Honey contains less glucose and fructose than sugar, however, 1 tablespoon of honey has more calories (64 calories) than 1 tablespoon of sugar (49 calories).
Don’t let that fool you though. Thanks to the enzymes added by the bees, honey is much easier to digest than sugar. In other words, your body will burn the calories sourced from honey a lot faster than the calories coming from sugar.
Additionally, honey is loaded with amino acids, antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. It’s good for your heart, blood sugar, and wound healing.
If your mind thinks of maple syrup as a sugar substitute before honey, that’s okay too.
Maple syrup has pretty much the same benefits as honey, from the lower glucose and fructose content to the antioxidants and minerals.
In fact, maple syrup is particularly rich in manganese. 1 tablespoon can give you 33 percent of your daily manganese needs.
Flavor-wise, maple syrup tastes warmer and more woodsy than honey.
Here are a few white or all-purpose flour substitutes for baking a healthier apple pie:
This type of flour is made from -you guessed it- almonds. Typically, the nuts are blanched and then finely ground to produce a light, fluffy flour.
Almond flour is rich in protein, unsaturated fat, and vitamin E. It bakes very well in place of regular flour, especially in pie crusts, cookies, and muffins.
Despite its name, buckwheat flour is made by grinding seeds of the buckwheat plant, not wheat grains.
Buckwheat flour is gluten-free and can boost your immunity system by increasing the count of beneficial gut bacteria. It also has high levels of fiber and protein.
Buckwheat flour has a pleasantly earthy, nutty taste that goes well with baked desserts.
Another gluten-free substitute, coconut flour is loaded with fiber, protein, and protective fats. It has a lower glycemic index, so it can help keep blood sugar spikes under control.
Coconut flour can promote weight loss as it makes you feel full for longer. It also supports better digestion.
Additionally, coconut flour has a delightful scent and lasts for extended periods. You can store it for up to a year in the fridge.
Here are a couple of butter substitutes for baking a healthier apple pie:
High in protein content, greek yogurt can give your apple pie crust a nice velvety texture. Be sure to use half of the amount of greek yogurt as the amount of butter in the recipe.
The buttery texture of avocados makes its puree form a terrific healthy substitute for butter. It’s rich in fiber, healthy fat, as well as vitamins K, E, C, and B.
So, is apple pie good for you? The answer is yes but in moderation.
Apple pie can help regular body temperature, boost digestion, support immunity, and reduce inflammation. However, it can also spike your blood sugar and insulin, leading to overeating and a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart problems.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.