My first word was "apple," which provides a nice anecdote for whenawkward silence crop ups in conversation. And, beyond that, it might explain why I'm kind of a fiend for the entire fruit kingdom. I snack on blueberries, bananas, and their relatives so much, in fact, that I've kind of been wondering, lately: Can you eat too much fruit? Is that even possible?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines suggest that Americans should eat abouttwo cups of fruit(that's the equivalent of a large banana and half of a large apple) in their daily diet. However,Malina Malkani, RDN, media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and creator of Solve Picky Eating,says there's a very real reason many of us are confused about the nutritional fortitude of fruit: Itstems (pardon the pun) from the widespread demonizing of sugar.
"Sugar gets a bad rap, in part because added sugars are often excessively present in processed foods, and it’s easy to get confused because fruit does contain sugar," says Malkani. "But the nutrient profiles of fruits—which include naturally- occurring sugars that provide energy and are accompanied by vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber—are keenly different than the refined sugars added to processed foods to increase their palatability and shelf life."
For more info on sugar—the good, bad, and the ugly—check out this video with intel from a top RD:
What nutrients does fruit contain?
Now that the issue of fruit sugar is cleared up, it's important to know the other reasons why eating fruit every day can benefit health. While the exact nutrient breakdown of fruit varies depending on what exactly you're consuming, there are some nutrients all fruit has in common. That includes:
This is key for keeping your digestive system running properly and also plays a role in preventing chronic inflammation.
Antioxidants also help protect against inflammation because they fight free radical damage, which comes about during exercise and exposure to sunlight and pollution, among other situations. And fruit is abundant in these protective compounds.
3. Vitamin C
All fruits contain at least a little vitamin C and some—like citrus fruits, tomatoes, pineapples, and berries—are straight up full of it. Vitamin C is crucial for keeping the immune system on point and also keeps skin looking vibrant.
Folate is a nutrient that's especially important for brain health. Citrus fruits are an especially great source.
The vast majority of fruits contain potassium, which helps keep sodium levels in the body balanced, plays a role in digesting carbs, and could protect against cardiovascular disease. The body literally can't function without potassium. Oranges, banana, apricots, and cantaloupe are all great sources of this nutrient.
Okay, so fruit is pretty great. However, there are some compelling digestive reasons not to eat the whole pineapple (I learned this the hard way). Below, Malkani and other dietitians talk about how much fruit is toomuch. But can you eat too much of it?
Can you eat too much fruit?
The simple answer is: "Yes, it’s possible to eat too much of any food—including fruit," says Malkani. The fruitarian diet is an eating plan that consists of a full 55 to 75 percent fruit. This type of eating has not been scientifically studied, but experts emphasize that eating this way can lead to malnutrition. Why? It lacks balance. The truth is, you can't get all the nutrients the body needs just from fruit alone. This type of eating is also super restrictive, which can lead to forms of disordered eating.
Malkani confirms that this way of eating can lead to some very unpleasant repercussions. "Risks associated with excess fruit intake include stomach discomfort, diarrhea, bloating, heartburn, and potential nutrient deficiencies if excess fruit is replacing other important nutrients in the diet," she says.
"It’s possible to eat too much of any food—including fruit, although excess fruit intake is rarely an issue for most people." —Malina Malkani, RDN
Also, from an absorption standpoint, Shena Jaramillo, RD, notes that it's important to remember that your body can only take in so much of the goodness of fruit in one sitting. "It's great to get a variety of fruits daily, but once our bodies acquire the essential nutrients they need from it, there really is not a benefit to having more," she says. (You don't need to triple up on oranges to triple your vitamin C intake, for example, because your body can only take in so much at once.) Instead, focus on making your two cups of fruit as colorful as possible,then move onto your other favorite foods. (You know: pasta, cauliflower pizza, etc.)
Both dietitians note that those with diabetes and elevated blood sugar levels should consult a registered dietitian or their physician if they feel unsure about how much fruit is appropriate for their diets, since they have to be more mindful than others about any kind of sugar consumption. As always, it can't hurt to ask!
The serving sizes of some of your favorite fruits
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), your daily allotment of two cups can come in the form of fresh, frozen, dried, canned, pre-cut, or pureed fruit. If you're channeling your inner-baby and pureeing all your vitamins in smoothies, you might not find it that hard to measure out two cups of apple, blackberries, or some combo. If you're enjoying more adult forms, of fruit, however, it's not that easy to eyeball serving size. For reference:
- 1 cup apple is equal to 1/2 of a large apple
- 1 cup of banana is equal to one large banana
- 1 cup of grapes is the equivalent of 32 seedless grapes
- 1 cup of grapefruit equals one medium grapefruit
- 1 cup of orange is the equivalent of one large orange
- 1 cup of plums is the equivalent of three medium-sized plums
- 1 cup of strawberries is equal to eight large strawberries
You can find a more exhaustive list of fruit serving sizes here.
The nutritional benefits of eating the right amounts of your favorite kinds of fruit
It would take me pretty much the rest of my life to tell you all the benefits of the fruit. (A sacrifice I wouldgladlymake except for that means never eating mango again myself.) The best of the best are definitely worth covering, though.
1. Fruit Is rich in satiating fiber
"Fruit contains fiber which helps slow the rate of the absorption of fructose, the main type of sugar found in fruit, into your bloodstream. This is good because it helps prevent the surges in blood sugar that when repeated, can over time lead to insulin-resistance and increase risk for type 2 diabetes," says Malkani.
If you've enjoyed fruit in your oatmeal, you've probably also experienced its satiating superpowers. "The fiber in fruit helps us feel fuller longer," says Malkani. "It also contributes to the good bacteria in our intestines, which in turn contributes to better gut health." That means more poops and better overall digestion. Who could complain?
A few fruits come out on top when it comes to fiber content. Raspberries contain about eight grams per cup, a medium pear has about six grams, an apple contains five grams, and bananas, oranges, and strawberries all contain about three grams for their respective serving sizes. Design your fruit salad accordingly.
2. It's super hydrating
Fruit may be something you eat, but your body processes it a whole lot like it would a glass of water. "Wild blueberries are about 86 percent water, as are apples. Fresh cherries are 82 percent water, and even a banana is 75 percent water," says registered dietitian Amy Gorin, RDN. Especially if you wake up in the morning feel thirsty, fruit is a really good addition to whatever breakfast your making for yourself—whether it's oatmeal with banana, Greek yogurt with blueberries, or protein pancakes with strawberries.
3. Fruit offers a diverse range of vitamins and minerals
A late 2018 study, which looked at the gut health of 11,000 participants, found that the healthiest folks eat more than 30 different types of plants each week. A diverse diet, researchers found, equals a diverse helping of vitamins and minerals—and fruit can be an instrumental part of that.
"All of fruit's nutrients are essential in optimal functions of body systems." —Shena Jaramillo, RD
For example, says Jaramillo: "Some nutrients we might find in fruit include vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin K, manganese, and vitamin E. All of fruit's nutrients are essential in optimal functions of body systems. Important electrolytes such as potassium are also essential in renal and cardiovascular function."
4. Fruit is good for your heart
Cardiologists have repeatedly told Well+Good writers that they eat fruit every day to protect their ticker. Their most popular go-tos? Avocado (which is full of healthy fats in addition to antioxidants and fiber) and berries (linked to lowering blood pressure).
5. They're good for your brain, too
The reason why fruit is such a brain-healthy food is because of its antioxidants. "Antioxidants are an important dietary need to repair neurons and keep them in prime function," neurologist Kiran Rajneesh, MBBS, previously told Well+Good.
6. Consuming fruit is linked to living longer
Fruit is an important part of the Mediterranean diet, which is the most science-backed eating plan in the entire world. Following the Med diet (fruit included) is linked to lower risk of heart disease and cancer and may add years to your life.
So it's clear: Fruit is really awesome. But it's possible to go overboard on any food, fruit included. If you eat a lot of fruit and start experiencing stomach discomfort, bloating or diarrhea, that's a sign that you may be overdoing it. If that's the case, this is when being mindful of the recommended serving sizes above can especially come in handy.
Fruit is a delicious and vitamin-rich addition to any meal you want to make a bit more satiating and sweet. So serve up your two cups in everything from oatmeal to salad, and count the berries, citrus, and more a win for your entire body.
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Tags: Eating Vegetarian, Food and Nutrition, Healthy Eating Tips
"Risks associated with excess fruit intake include stomach discomfort, diarrhea, bloating, heartburn, and potential nutrient deficiencies if excess fruit is replacing other important nutrients in the diet," she says.How much is eating too much fruit? ›
Unless you are following a ketogenic diet or have some sort of intolerance, there really is no reason to limit the amount of fruit you eat. While most studies suggest that the optimal amount is two to five servings of fruit per day, there seems to be no harm in eating more.What is the right amount of fruit to eat? ›
Depending on their age and sex federal guidelines recommend that adults eat at least 1½ to 2 cups per day of fruit and 2 to 3 cups per day of vegetables as part of a healthy eating pattern.How much fruit can I eat each day? ›
And the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 2½ cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit daily for overall health, which amounts to about nine servings per day.Can you eat 10 fruits a day? ›
Five a day just doesn't cut it anymore – we should be eating 10 portions of fruit or vegetables a day to reduce our chances of dying from a heart attack or cancer. That's according to a review of 95 previous studies of the relationship between diet and health.Is it OK to eat 5 fruits a day? ›
Fruit and vegetables are part of a healthy, balanced diet and can help you stay healthy. It's important that you eat enough of them. Evidence shows there are significant health benefits to getting at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day.Can I eat more than 3 fruits a day? ›
But for healthy adults, experts say that eating lots and lots of fruit is unlikely to get you into trouble, as long as it's part of a normal diet. The main concern with overeating fruit is its natural sugar.Can I eat 4 fruits a day? ›
In the book, Dr. Furman says frozen is OK, but limit dried fruit and avoid fruit juice. "Isn't fruit high in sugar?," you ask, but Dr. Furman says fruit offers the nutrients and fiber your body needs, so don't be afraid to enjoy four fruits a day or more.What happens if you eat 6 fruits a day? ›
As fruit is rich in carbohydrates and sugar, overdoing it can lead to weight gain, high blood sugar levels, and displace other healthy foods, so it's best to stick to around two serves of fruit each day.”What fruit should you eat everyday? ›
Some of the healthiest fruits include pineapple, apples, blueberries, and mangos. You should eat three servings of fruit a day as part of a healthy diet. Eating fruit improves heart health, reduces inflammation, and boosts your immune system.
Eating an apple every day is unlikely to harm your health. However, it's possible to have too much of a good thing, and eating multiple apples each day may cause several adverse side effects.What is the number 1 healthiest fruit? ›
Citrus fruits and berries may be especially powerful for preventing disease. A 2014 study ranked “powerhouse” fruit and vegetables by high nutrient density and low calories. Lemons came out top of the list, followed by strawberry, orange, lime, and pink and red grapefruit.How many bananas is too many? ›
But for a healthy person, "it would be impossible to overdose on bananas," says Collins. "You would probably need around 400 bananas a day to build up the kind of potassium levels that would cause your heart to stop beating... Bananas are not dangerous - and in fact they are, and always have been, very good for you."Is 2 cups of blueberries too much? ›
For a healthy adult, a 0.5 cup daily serving of blueberries is ideal keeping in mind optimum nutrition. However, if you have an underlying health condition like, Salicylate sensitivity, check with your doctor before adding them to your diet.Is 2 apples a day too much? ›
Eating apples, which are rich in fibre and compounds called polyphenols, helps to lower "bad cholesterol", scientists say. Eating two apples a day helps to reduce cholesterol and fight heart disease, according to research.Can you eat too many apples? ›
"Eating too many apples can lead to digestive upset due to the fruit sugar, or fructose, content of this fruit. Fructose is a type of carbohydrate found in fruit and can cause gastrointestinal distress," says Trista Best, RD, the resident dietitian at Balance One Supplements.What happens if you eat fruit everyday? ›
Regular fruit consumption as part of a healthy diet may also help: control blood pressure and cholesterol. improve gut and digestive health. protect against certain types of cancer.Is eating pineapple good for you? ›
Pineapples are delicious, versatile, and loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. Their nutrients and compounds have been linked to impressive health benefits, including improved digestion, a lower risk of cancer, and osteoarthritis relief.How many apples can you eat a day? ›
On an average, a person can have one to two apples in a day. If you are having more than that, you can possibly experience some dangerous and uncomfortable side effects.Is watermelon healthy to eat? ›
Watermelon — which can actually be considered a fruit or a vegetable, according to the National Watermelon Promotion Board — is incredibly nutritious, too. Nutritionists say watermelon is low in calories and sugar and chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making it a great addition to a healthy diet.
But for healthy adults, experts say that eating lots and lots of fruit is unlikely to get you into trouble, as long as it's part of a normal diet. The main concern with overeating fruit is its natural sugar.What happens if you eat fruit all day? ›
Eating a diet made up mostly of fruit, however, can result in nutrient deficiencies and serious health problems. A fruit diet is low in protein, for example, and it can lead to spikes in blood sugar. For this reason, a fruitarian diet is not suitable for a person with diabetes.Can too much fruit cause diabetes? ›
Generally, eating fruit as part of a healthful diet should not increase the risk of diabetes. A diet that is high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and saturated fats is likely to be more of a risk. However, consuming more than the recommended daily allowance of fruit may add too much sugar to the diet.Are grapes good for you? ›
The nutrients in grapes may help protect against cancer, eye problems, cardiovascular disease, and other health conditions. Resveratrol is a key nutrient in grapes that may offer health benefits. Grapes are a good source of fiber, potassium, and a range of vitamins and other minerals.