Fruit is a key part of a healthy eating plan. Fruits contain many nutrients that your body needs. In fact, a healthy diet that includes fruit has been found to reduce your risk of several chronic diseases.
But fruit contains natural sugars, and some types are fairly high in calories. So some people may wonder whether they’re eating too much of it.
Too Much Fruit?
You can eat too much of anything. But the truth is that it’s hard to get too much fruit. In fact, most Americans don’t eat enough of it. Adults should eat at least 1 ½ cups of fruit every day.
However, a “fruitarian” diet, in which you eat almost nothing but fruit, can keep you from getting enough nutrients from other foods. Experts recommend that 25%-30% of your diet be made up of fruit.
And what about the sugar in fruit? The sugar you should worry about, experts say, is the added type you find in sodas, desserts, and many other products. Since fruit contains fiber, your body reacts differently to its natural sugars.
Still, if you eat large portions, too much fruit sugar could contribute to health problems such as:
- Weight gain
- Complications with pancreatic and kidney conditions
- Tooth decay
- Deficiencies of vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids
Fruits are low in fat and sodium, and don’t contain cholesterol. They do have plenty of healthy nutrients that most people don’t get enough of, including:
Potassium. Potassium helps to regulate your blood pressure. Following the DASH diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy and low in fat, can lower blood pressure almost as well as medications.
Dietary fiber. Diets rich in fiber help reduce cholesterol levels, lower your risk of heart disease, and promote good digestion. Fiber is found in whole or cut fruits. You won’t get much, if any, from fruit juice.
Dietary fiber helps you feel full longer, which helps you manage your weight. It also slows down digestion and the release of sugar into your bloodstream. This prevents sugar spikes and crashes.
Vitamin C. This vitamin supports the growth and repair of your body’s tissues, heals injuries, promotes oral health, and helps your body absorb iron.
Folate. You often see folate used as a supplement called folic acid. It’s often added to bread and other grain products. It’s found naturally in a variety of foods, including fruit.
Folate helps your body produce strong red blood cells, metabolize protein, and break down the amino acid homocysteine (which can lead to heart disease). It’s also important during pregnancy.
Fruit Color Is the Key
If you’re not sure where to begin, start with color. The more colorful your meal is, the more nutrients it has. A fruit’s color can tell you what nutrients it contains.
Red fruits. These contain plenty of vitamins A and C, potassium, and antioxidants. Red fruits include:
- Red apples
- Red grapes
Yellow and orange fruits. These are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. Some yellow and orange fruits are:
- Yellow apples
White fruits. White fruits contain potassium, which promotes heart health. White fruits include:
- White nectarines
- White peaches
Green fruits. Green fruits contain lots of potassium and vitamin K, which are good for blood clotting, vision health, and strong bones. Some Green fruits are:
- Green apples
- Green grapes
Blue and purple fruit. The nutrients found in these fruits not only help to prevent cancer, heart disease, and stroke but also promote memory, healthy aging, digestion, and urinary health. Blue and purple fruits include:
- Purple grapes
What About Fruit Juice?
You can definitely drink too much fruit juice. You may be surprised to learn that fruit juice - even 100% fruit juice - can contain as much sugar as soda. And many juices have added sugar and other additives.
Sugar content.Fruit juice contains “natural” sugar. But unlike fruit, it’s low in fiber. So your body processes it the same way as added sugar ..
Why is fruit better than juice? The sugar and calories in juice are more concentrated than those in whole or cut-up fruit. Without skin and pulp, fruit juices lack the fiber that helps slow down your digestion, prevents spikes in blood sugar, and makes you feel full. It also takes longer for you to eat whole fruits.
What about juicers? A popular alternative to eating whole fruits is to juice them. But most juicers remove fruits’ fiber. And juicing doesn’t help your body absorb more nutrients than just eating the fruit. If you don’t like fruit, use your blender to make it into a smoothie. This makes a delicious drink that still contains fiber.