Fruit is one of nature’s wonder foods. It provides essential vitamins and minerals and can help prevent many diseases. Eating fruit every day is an integral part of a healthy diet, but how much fruit should you eat?
Numerous studies have been conducted over the years to find the perfect amount we should be eating and come up with a magic number. While results have varied, most have agreed that between two and five portions of fruit a day is optimum.
This should be a part of the five-a-day fruit and vegetable rule, meaning you eat at least five portions from this food group combined. Many experts recommend two servings of fruit and three of vegetables.
It’s estimated that less than 10% of Americans meet the recommended daily intake of fruit. This means they miss out on valuable antioxidants and other powerful nutritional benefits that fruit has to offer.
What counts as one portion of fruit?
While the guidelines provided by leading health authorities and researchers are typically for a healthy adult, you can find further details by age. Here you’ll find that some men and boys need 2 ½ cups of fruit a day. Even toddlers need at least ½ cup to 1 cup of fruit per day.
A portion of fruit equals one cup of fresh fruit or 100% fruit juice, or ½ cup of dried fruit. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides some precise figures of what constitutes a cup of fruit.
For example, one cup/portion of apple would be ½ a large (3 ¼” diameter) apple or one small (2¼” diameter) apple. If you want to look at melons like cantaloupe or watermelon, it would be one cup of the fruit diced or in balls.
Can you overeat fruit?
If you’re a fruit lover, the good news is that you can’t overeat fruit. A couple of studies had people eat 20 servings of fruit a day to see what effect this would have on their bodies. One study lasted for two weeks and the other for several months, and both concluded there were no adverse effects from this higher intake of fruit.
Furthermore, it is challenging to eat significant quantities of fruit if you eat the whole fruit. This is because fruit is very high in water and fiber, which both make you feel full.
Unless you have an intolerance to fruit, it is thought to be safe in almost any amount, as long as you follow a balanced diet and include other whole foods.
What about all the sugar in fruit?
With the rise of low-carb and ketogenic diets in recent years, the fruit has sometimes received a bad reputation for its sugar content.
While fruit would need to be limited to follow a ketogenic diet, the fructose found in fruit isn’t metabolized in the body the same way as sugar in processed food. The latest studies have found that you don’t need to avoid the fructose in some fruits to lose weight or maintain a balanced blood sugar level.
Regarding people with diabetes, current guidelines also recommend they eat between two and four servings each day. When sugar from fruit is consumed as part of the whole fruit, it has little effect on blood sugar levels.
The fiber in fruit slows the digestion and absorption of sugar. However, some fruits raise blood sugar more, so it’s recommended that people with diabetes monitor their blood sugar levels after eating to determine which foods to avoid.
What’s the verdict?
Everyone needs to incorporate at least two portions of fruit into their daily diet. Along with a healthy balanced diet, this could go a long way to warding off illnesses and chronic