Have you ever wondered how much fruit you should be eating?
Fruit is a controversial topic in the health world these days. Some health experts will tell you to eat as much as you like, whereas others warn of the dangers of excess sugar intake.
So how much fruit is enough, and is there such thing as too much fruit? Let’s take a closer look.
What are the health benefits of fruit?
As a wholefood, fruit has plenty of health benefits to offer. Some are specific to certain types of fruit, but there are some general benefits as well. For the most part, fruit is:
A good source of fibre. Berries are particularly rich in fibre, as are apples and pears.
A source of prebiotic fibres – the fibres that support the good bacteria in your digestive tract
Hydrating, thanks to the naturally high water content of most fruits
Full of antioxidants that offer a variety of health benefits
A good source of essential vitamins
Along with these general benefits, there is also research to show consuming fruit may:
Reduce your risk of heart disease
Reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes
Aid with blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes
Lower blood pressure
If you are juicing fruit, you do lose some of the benefits of the fibre content. Consuming sugar without fibre, such as fruit juice, is also linked to weight gain, obesity and metabolic syndrome. It’s best to think of fruit juice as an occasional treat rather than a daily source of fruit.
Cooking fruit can also lead to the loss of some vitamins and antioxidants. However, consuming fruit in whole form or adding it to a smoothie will ensure you gain all of the benefits of fruit.
Can eating too much fruit make you overweight?
In the majority of cases, probably not. Unless your fruit intake is taking your calories well above maintenance, it’s unlikely to lead to weight gain. Not convinced? A 2019 systematic review looked at over 40 high-quality studies around weight, body fat and fruit consumption. The researchers found that a higher intake of fruit did not lead to weight gain. In fact, it aided with weight maintenance, and could even help with modest weight loss.
Eating whole fruit was associated with a lower intake of energy overall, particularly if it was consumed prior to a meal or replaced energy-dense foods.
The research team believed that the benefits of fibre, antioxidants and vitamins outweighed the sugar content. The fibre content in particular is believed to be why fruit can increase satiety or fullness.
How much fruit should you eat every day?
This depends on your health goals and calorie needs. However, most of the research into fruit consumption looks at the benefits of 2-4 serves of fruit per day.
When it comes to fruit and vegetables, most studies suggest that between 5 servings and 10 servings per day is where you’ll find the greatest benefit. So that means you want to aim for between 2-5 servings of fruit and 3-5 servings of vegetables per day.
Is there such thing as too much fruit?
Yes, if it is replacing other nutrient-dense foods. For example, if you’re eating 10 serves of fruit but no vegetables every day, you could be missing out on vital nutrients.
At this stage, there is no research that shows eating large amounts of fruit every day is detrimental to health. However, most studies into the area are short-term studies with few participants. More research is required to confirm whether there are dangers in eating large amounts of fruit long-term.
Too much fruit may also be a problem if you have a fructose intolerance. People with fructose intolerance will need to limit their consumption of high-fructose foods including fruit. But even low-fructose fruits in large amounts could trigger symptoms for those who are fructose-intolerant.
Fruit is a fantastic snack option, and you can add it to meals to enhance the flavour. But it should be just one piece of your healthy diet puzzle.
Do you have to eat fruit to be healthy?
Not necessarily. Although fruit contains many beneficial nutrients, you can obtain these nutrients from other foods as well.
So if you’re not a fan of fruit, make sure you eat plenty of fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes and whole grains.
Eating whole fruit supports overall wellbeing, reduces the risk of chronic diseases and may even help you to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. So feel free to enjoy it as part of your balanced diet along with plenty of other whole foods.
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