A single apple doesn’t typically cause excessive gas and bloating, but eating multiple (i.e. 3 or more) can cause issues.
They have a reasonable amount of fiber and certain carbohydrates that can cause gas (e.g. fructose, sorbitol), although a single apple doesn’t contain enough to cause significant issues for the vast majority of people.
I’ve broken down why apples could potentially cause gas in certain situations in this post if you eat enough of them (i.e. while apple picking, or eating a lot of pie).
Table of Contents
The 2 Main Things That Cause Gas
Most people aren’t aware that gas is almost entirely caused by certain carbohydrates.
Our stomachs and small intestines can digest most starches and sugars, but can’t break down some of them very well.
Most of these are classified as fiber, although there are a few others as well.
When they don’t break down, they are passed to the large intestine, where they are fermented by your gut flora to extract nutrients. As you might know, bacterial fermentation produces gasses.
These gasses can build up and cause bloating, until they are released (primarily through flatulence).
Are Apples High in Fiber?
The first thing we can look at is the fiber content in apples.
The table below is per 100 gram serving of a red delicious apple. One full apple is usually about 200 grams.
Obviously different types of apples will differ a bit, but the overall profile is fairly similar.
|Total Lipid (g)||0.21|
In other words, a full apple has about 4 grams of fiber.
This isn’t a small amount, but it’s also not that high compared to certain other foods.
Most adults should aim for at least 20-30 grams of fiber per day.
So if you eat 5 apples, for a total of 20 grams of fiber, that’s a pretty high amount that could cause some gas problems. This is especially true for those that are not used to eating much fiber.
Apple Carbohydrate Breakdown
There are certain carbohydrates that lead to more gas than others.
Some of those are classified as fiber, and some are not.
A few studies have tried to quantify these carbohydrates in foods like apples. I’ve reproduced some of that relevant data below:
|Apple, Golden Delicious||Apple, Granny Smith|
|Moisture||87 g||82 g|
|Fructose||0.45 g||1.63 g|
|Glucose||2.04 g||1.49 g|
|Sorbitol||0.68 g||0.70 g|
|Total FOS||0.07 g||–|
Again, this data is per 100 grams, so double it for a typical apple.
There are a few important things to point out here:
- The amount of fructose in apples varies considerably – I trust the study I just linked above more than the USDA’s food database, but the latter reports that some apples have up to 6 grams of fructose per 100 grams.
- Fructose intolerance is fairly common – Some research has shown that most people can digest 15 grams of fructose in one serving no problem. However, some people start having trouble at amounts greater than that (i.e. excess fructose is fermented and produces gas).
- Sorbitol can have an osmotic effect – Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that is known to cause stomach problems if you eat a lot of it. For some people, just 5 grams of sorbitol can cause flatulence and even diarrhea (i.e. about 3 large apples).
Summary: Can Apples Cause Gas?
Let’s put everything together to make it as simple as possible.
While it does depend on the variety, a single large apple contains about:
- 4 grams of fiber
- 1-3 grams of fructose (possibly a bit more)
- 1.4 grams of sorbitol
That amount in a single apple is unlikely to cause excessive gas or have a profound effect on bowel movements.
Even 2 apples is unlikely to cause issues.
However, once you get to 3 or more, you hit a threshold that will cause digestive issues in certain people.
If you’re highly intolerant of fructose or sorbitol, eating 3 apples (perhaps of one variety but not another) can lead to gas, bloating, and even increased bowel movements.
If you’re one of these people, it makes sense to limit how many apples you eat per day.