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Is Fruit Good or Bad for Your Health? The Sweet Truth
Fruit does contain some sugar, but it’s still a healthy option. Whole fruits are packed with nutrients such as vitamins and fiber. Just don’t go overboard on fruit juices and dried fruits.
“Eat more fruits and vegetables.”
This is probably the world’s most common health recommendation.
Most people know that fruits are healthy because they are whole, unprocessed foods.
Many fruits are also very convenient. Some people call them “nature’s fast food” because they are so easy to carry and prepare.
However, fruits are relatively high in sugar compared to other whole foods.
For this reason, you might wonder whether they are truly healthy after all. This article sheds some light on the subject.
It’s a myth that fruits are loaded with unhealthy sugar
A lot of research suggests that excessive intake of added sugar is harmful
This includes table sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup, both of which are about half glucose and half fructose. Fructose, in particular, can have negative effects on your metabolic health when consumed in large amounts
Many people now believe that because added sugars can potentially have negative effects, the same must apply to fruits, which also contain fructose.
However, this is a misconception. Fructose is harmful only in large amounts, and it’s difficult to get excessive amounts of fructose from fruit. For most people, the amount of sugar in fruit is safe to eat.
Evidence suggests that fructose can cause harm when consumed in excess. However, there is not enough fructose in fruit to cause concern.
Fruits take time to chew and digest, which has health benefits
When eating whole fruit, it’s almost impossible to consume enough fructose to cause harm.
Fruits are loaded with fiber and water and have significant chewing resistance. For this reason, most fruits take a while to eat and digest, meaning that the fructose hits your liver slowly.
Fiber doesn’t just slow down your eating. It has many benefits — especially in the case of soluble fiber, which is found in certain whole foods such as fruits. Fiber can reduce cholesterol levels and help your body process sugar, and it may help you feel full ().
If weight loss is a goal for you, some research also suggests that consuming more fiber may reduce appetite and promote weight loss
Fiber-packed foods like fruit are filling. If you’re hungry for a snack, there’s a good chance you’ll feel satisfied after eating one large Golden Delicious apple, which contains 2 grams of fiber and 22 grams of sugar, 13 of which are fructose
Compare that to a 16-ounce (473-mL) can of soda, which contains 0 grams of fiber and 52 grams of sugar, 30 of which are fructose
Sugary drinks are high in calories but likely to leave you feeling hungry. So they’re not a good alternative to a whole-food snack
Plus, when fructose hits your liver quickly and in large amounts, it can have adverse health effects over time. This is what happens when you drink a soda.
Alternatively, eating a piece of fruit means that fructose hits your liver slowly and in small amounts. In this case, your body is well adapted to digest the fructose.
So, while eating large amounts of added sugar can be harmful for most people, the same does not usually apply to fruit.
Whole fruits contain fiber and take time to chew and digest. Because of this, you feel fuller and your body can easily tolerate the small amounts of fructose.
Fruits contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
Of course, fruits contain much more than just fiber and fructose.
They also have lots of nutrients that are important for health, including vitamins, minerals, and a plethora of antioxidants and other plant compounds.
What’s more, fruits tend to be high in several vitamins and minerals that many people don’t get enough of, including vitamin C, potassium, and folate.
Of course, fruit is an entire food group. There are thousands of different edible fruits found in nature, and their nutrient composition can vary greatly.
So, if you want to maximize the health effects of fruit, focus on “super fruits” that are rich in nutrients. There are healthy fruits to suit all tastes, from apples and strawberries to plums and papayas.
The skin of fruits is usually rich in antioxidants and fiber. Berries, which have more skin, gram for gram, than other fruits, are often considered part of a healthy diet
It’s also a good idea to switch things up and eat a variety of fruits because different fruits contain different nutrients.
Fruits contain large amounts of important nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and various antioxidants and plant compounds.
Research suggests that eating fruit can improve your health
Multiple observational studies have shown that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of various diseases.
Eating fruit may reduce cardiovascular disease risk
Many studies have shown that eating fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of heart attack and stroke — the two leading causes of death in Western countries
One review of studies found that each daily portion of fruit consumed reduced the risk of heart disease by 7%
A diet high in fruit could lower the risk of type 2 diabetes
A study including 9,665 U.S. adults found that a high fruit and vegetable intake was associated with a 46% lower risk of diabetes in females. However, in this study, there was no difference in males
A large 2013 study looked at how different types of fruit affect the risk of type 2 diabetes. The researchers concluded that people who consumed the most grapes, apples, and blueberries had the lowest risk, with blueberries having the strongest effect
One problem with observational studies is that they cannot prove that the associations they find are direct causal relationships.
However, a few randomized controlled trials (real human experiments) have shown that increased fruit intake can lower blood pressure, reduce oxidative stress, and improve blood sugar regulation in people with diabetes
Overall, it seems clear from the data that fruits have significant health benefits.
Plenty of evidence shows that a high fruit intake is associated with a lower risk of serious diseases like heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Eating fruit can help you lose weight
Fruits are incredibly filling. If you’re trying to lose weight, replacing some of the calorie-dense foods in your diet with lower calorie foods like fruit could help. This could mean reaching for an orange instead of a granola bar during your break time.
In a small 2013 study, participants either ate raw fruits and vegetables or drank juice before meals. Participants with overweight or obesity felt fuller after eating the fruits and vegetables and ate smaller meals. Drinking juice was not as effective as eating fruit and vegetables
Overall, if you’re looking to lose weight, you may find it helpful to increase the amount of fruit in your diet.
You may want to consult a registered dietitian or doctor about making a plan for healthy weight loss. They can help you reduce your consumption of foods with high calories and low nutritional value and replace them with low calorie, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits.
Replacing calorie-dense foods in your diet with lower calorie foods such as fruit may help you lose weight. A doctor or registered dietitian can help you select foods that may contribute to weight loss while giving you the nutrients you need.
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When to avoid fruit
Even though fruit can be part of a healthy diet for most people, some may need to avoid it for certain reasons.
One possible reason is a food intolerance or allergy. For example, eating certain fruits may cause digestive symptoms in people who have an intolerance to FODMAPs. It’s also possible to be allergic to certain fruits.
People who are following a very low carb or ketogenic diet may also want to avoid fruit. The main goal of ketogenic diets is to drastically reduce carb intake so that your body will change the way it processes sugars and fat into energy. This shift is called ketosis.
For ketosis to happen, it’s necessary to restrict carbs to less than 50 grams per day, and sometimes to as few as 20 grams per day
Given that a single piece of fruit can contain more than 20 grams of carbs, fruits may be inappropriate for this diet. If you’re planning to follow a very low carb or ketogenic diet, consult a registered dietitian or doctor to find out which fruits may be appropriate for you to eat.
You may have heard that people with diabetes should avoid fruit, but this is a myth
In fact, fruit is a healthy choice for people with diabetes. If you have diabetes, just make sure you track the fruits you eat in your meal plan, as you would any other food.
You may need to avoid fruit if you have a food allergy or intolerance or are following a very low carb or ketogenic diet.
Fruit juices and dried fruits should be limited
Whole fruits are very healthy for most people, but it’s best to avoid replacing fruits with fruit juice or dried fruit.
Even if you get 100% real fruit juice, keep your intake moderate. Fruit juice has a lot of sugar — about as much as a sugar-sweetened beverage.
Because juice has no fiber and does not require chewing resistance to slow down consumption, it’s easy to take in a large amount of sugar in a short time.
In general, dried fruits are low in water and can be very concentrated. Because they’re small, it’s often easy to eat large amounts of them — more than you would if you were eating the fresh version. But dried fruit is a portable food that keeps well, and it’s better than no fruit at all.
Fruit smoothies can be healthy since they typically include whole fruit, but the overall nutritional value depends on what else you add. Blending pieces of whole fruit with water or ice may be a great fiber-filled alternative to drinking store-bought fruit juice.
Fruit juice and dried fruits can be part of a healthy diet, but they aren’t the same as whole fruit. You may want to be mindful of portion sizes, as it’s easy to consume lots of these foods quickly.
What are the healthiest fruits? There are lots of different ways to answer that question.
Because most people in the United States don’t eat enough fruit, the healthiest fruits could be any fruits at all — as long as you’re finding ways to add more of them to your diet
This can mean choosing fruits that are affordable and easy to find. Try to choose fruits you’ll enjoy eating. Eating a variety of fruits is a great way to make sure you’re covering your nutritional needs.
If you’re following a special diet, ask a doctor or dietitian about how to choose the best fruits for your needs.
Here are five healthy fruits that also happen to be lower cost options:
Watermelon is typically one of the lowest priced fruits, pound for pound, especially if you purchase it during its summer harvest season.
It’s a crunchy treat when it’s cut into wedges or cubes. You can also put watermelon in a blender to make a fresh juice.
Bananas are a quick and easy source of energy. You can eat them on the go or cut them up to top a slice of toast with peanut butter.
And if you have bananas that have been sitting on the counter a little too long, they don’t have to go to waste. You can use them to make banana bread or another baked treat.
Like bananas, oranges are amazingly portable as a snack. You can also cut a whole orange into wedges, put them in the freezer, and pull out the frozen wedges to eat on a hot day.
Canned mandarin oranges in juice are usually affordable and easy to find in stores. They’re quick to prepare too. You can eat them right out of the package or use them to top salads or yogurt.
A whole, unpeeled apple is usually more filling than apple juice or applesauce because it’s higher in fiber. You can use slices of apple with the peel (skin) as a topping for oatmeal or enjoy them with a snack of cheese and crackers.
You can also leave the peel on when making baked goods such as muffins that include finely chopped apples. If you don’t mind smaller pieces of apple in your recipe, you can even grate your apple with a cheese grater.
Cantaloupe is a rich source of vitamin A. One cup of cubed cantaloupe contains 30% of the DV
Cantaloupe is a classic fruit salad ingredient for other reasons, too. By weight, it tends to be less pricey than other fruits. And because a cantaloupe is relatively large, it goes a long way when feeding a crowd.
Because it’s so sweet, cantaloupe pairs surprisingly well with spicy, salty flavors. You might have tried this combo on watermelon, but you can also pair sliced cantaloupe with lime juice and a bit of chili-lime seasoning. Add fresh mint, too, if you have it.
Top 12 healthful fruits
This video breaks down what the top 12 healthiest fruits are to consume.
Eating more fruit is an excellent way to improve overall health and reduce the risk of disease.
Fruits are an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals, and they are high in fiber. Fruits also provide a wide range of health-boosting antioxidants, including flavonoids.
Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables can reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease, cancer, inflammation, and diabetes. Citrus fruits and berries may be especially powerful for preventing disease.
A 2014 studyTrusted Source 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.
In this article, we look at the nutrition and the many and varied health benefits of these and other fruits you can find in the supermarket.
Lemons are a citrus fruit that people often use in traditional remedies because of their health benefits. Like other citrus fruits, they contain vitamin C and other antioxidants.
Antioxidants are essential for human health. These compounds mop up free radicals in the body that can damage the body’s cells and lead to diseases, such as cancers.
Researchers believe that the flavonoids in lemon and other citrus fruits have antibacterial, anticancer, and antidiabetic properties.
Citrus fruits, including lemons, contain active components called phytochemicals that benefit health. These include:
- vitamin C
- folic acid
The juice from one 48 g lemon containsTrusted Source the following nutrients in grams (g) or milligrams (mg):
- 11 calories
- 3.31 g carbohydrate
- 49 mg potassium
- 18.6 mg vitamin C
- 3 mg calcium
- 0.1 g of fiber
Lemons also contain thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, and vitamin A.
Read more about the health benefits of lemons and lemon water here.
How to eat lemons
Use the juice of a lemon to flavor drinking water or squeeze over a salad or fish. Try adding lemon juice to boiling water with a teaspoon of honey to help soothe a sore throat. It is also possible to eat the rind of organic lemons. Some people use the rind in recipes.
Strawberries are a juicy, red fruit with a high water content. The seeds provide plenty of dietary fiber per serving. Strawberries contain many healthful vitamins and minerals.
Of particular note, they contain anthocyanins, which are flavonoids that can help boost heart health. The fiber and potassium in strawberries can also support a healthy heart.
In one studyTrusted Source, women who ate 3 or more servings per week of strawberries and blueberries — which are both known for their high anthocyanin content — had a lower risk of having a heart attack than those with lower intake.
Strawberries and other colorful berries also contain a flavonoid called quercetin. This is a natural anti-inflammatory compound.
A serving of 3 large strawberries providesTrusted Source the following nutrients:
- 17 calories
- 4.15 g carbohydrate
- 1.1 g of fiber
- 9 mg of calcium
- 7 mg of magnesium
- 83 mg of potassium
- 31.8 mg of vitamin C
Strawberries also contain thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and vitamins B-6, A and K.
How to eat strawberries
Strawberries are a versatile fruit. People can eat them raw or add them to breakfast cereals or yogurt, blend them into a smoothie, or make them into jam.
For more science-backed resources on nutrition, visit our dedicated hub.
Oranges are a sweet, round citrus fruit packed with vitamins and minerals.
Oranges are among the richest sources of vitamin C, with one medium fruit providing 117 percentTrusted Source of a person’s daily value of vitamin C.
A 141 g orange also containsTrusted Source the following nutrients:
- 65 calories
- 16.27 g carbohydrate
- 3.4 g of fiber
- 61 mg of calcium
- 14 mg of magnesium
- 238 mg of potassium
- 63.5 mg of vitamin C
Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body. This vitamin is also essential for immune system function. It boosts immune function by helping the body to absorb iron from plant-based foods.
The human body cannot make vitamin C itself, so people need to get this vitamin from their diet.Oranges also contain high levels of pectin, which is a fiber that can keep the colon healthy by binding to chemicals that can cause cancer and removing them from the colon.
Oranges also provide the following healthful vitamins:
- vitamin A, a compound that is important for healthy skin and eyesight
- B-vitamins, including thiamin and folate, which help keep the nervous and reproductive systems healthy and help create red blood cells.
How to eat oranges
People can eat oranges on their own as a refreshing snack or by drinking a glass of pure orange juice. Juice oranges at home or choose a brand of fresh juice whose label states it is not from concentrate.
People can also grate orange peel into a salad, yogurt, or as a cereal topping to add extra flavor.
Limes are a sour citrus fruit that provide a range of health benefits.
Like other citrus fruits, limes provide a healthful dose of vitamin C. They also have similar health benefits, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties.
The juice of one lime provides the following nutrientsTrusted Source:
- 11 calories
- 3.7 g carbohydrate
- 6 g calcium
- 4 mg magnesium
- 51 mg potassium
- 13.2 mg vitamin C
Read more about the benefits of limes and lime water here.
How to eat limes
Limes work well in savory foods. Try adding the juice or grated peel of a lime to flavor salad dressings or rice dishes. Otherwise, juice a lime and add to hot or cold water for a refreshing drink.
Grapefruits are sour fruits full of health-inducing vitamins and minerals. Grapefruits can be pink, red, or white.
Half a grapefruit containsTrusted Source the following nutrients:
- 52 calories
- 13.11 g carbohydrate
- 2.0 g fiber
- 27 g calcium
- 11 g magnesium
- 166 g potassium
- 38.4 g vitamin C
The flavonoids in grapefruits can help protect against some cancers, inflammation, and obesity.
A review study suggests the compounds called furanocoumarins found in grapefruits can help protect against oxidative stress and tumors and may support healthy bones.
Some research from this review suggests that grapefruit furanocoumarins may have anticancer properties, which may be especially effective against breast cancer, skin cancer, and leukemia. Researchers still need to carry out more studies on animals and humans to confirm these properties.
People may wish to see a doctor before adding grapefruit to their diet, as it can interact with certain medications.
How to eat grapefruit
Try adding grapefruit slices to a fruit salad, or squeeze the juice into water to make a drink. Otherwise, people can buy pure grapefruit juice from the supermarket.
Like other berries, blackberries contain health-boosting anthocyanins.
Blackberries contain many seeds, so they have a high fiber content. This means they can help improve gut health and heart health.
Half a cup of blackberries containsTrusted Source the following nutrients:
- 31 calories
- 6.92 g carbohydrate
- 3.8 g fiber
- 21 mg calcium
- 14 mg magnesium
- 117 mg potassium
- 15.1 mg vitamin C
How to eat blackberries
People can eat blackberries fresh, add them to yogurt for breakfast or dessert, or add frozen blackberries to smoothies.
Fruits You Should Be Eating
If you get a hunger pang, what better choice can you make than a piece of fresh fruit? But unfortunately, not all fruits are created equally. While they all have health benefits, some are healthier than others. And with some fruits, the drawbacks are actually worse than the benefits — talk about a buzzkill! You should be looking for fruit high in fiber and vitamins, and low in calories and sugar. If you don’t, you may not be enjoying the healthy snack that you think you are.
If you’re thinking about which fruits to use as staples in your diet and which to indulge in only occasionally (and yes, fruits can actually be considered indulgences), it’s important to know the facts so you can make the best and healthiest choices for your body.
These are the fruits you should and shouldn’t be eating.
Do eat: Pineapple
If you’re looking for a tropical fruit packed with excellent health benefits, look no further than the pineapple, rich in vitamin C and manganese. The best reason to eat pineapple, however, is an enzyme called bromelain, which you can only get by eating this tasty fruit.
Bromelain helps you absorb antibiotics, stops diarrhea, and may even fight diabetes, heart disease and cancer, according to a study by Biotechnology Research International. It also shortens the healing time after surgery, and is used for treating inflammation and sports injuries.
If you’re looking for ways to incorporate more pineapple into your diet, try putting it on your pizza, cutting up a pineapple and eating it as a snack, or adding it to your smoothies. You can also put in on your oatmeal, add it to beef tacos, or chop it up into some salsa.
Do eat: Blueberries
All berries have incredible health benefits, but blueberries take it to another level. One cup of blueberries contains 4 grams of fiber and only 15 grams of carbohydrates. In that cup, you’ll also get 24 percent of your daily recommended vitamin C and 36 percent of the recommended dose of vitamin K. Due to their high fiber content, they’ll fill you up without adding much to your caloric intake.
Blueberries have more antioxidants than most other fruit or vegetables, so grab a handful if you want to stay young longer. Antioxidants may reduce the effects of aging by counteracting damage to your DNA.
Studies have also found that blueberries can improve your memory, have anti-diabetic effects, and may reduce muscle damage after a rigorous workout. In addition, blueberries can help prevent urinary tract infections.
Want to eat more blueberries? Put them in your guacamole, mix up some delicious blueberry pancakes, or sprinkle them into your salad.
Do eat: Watermelon
There’s a good reason you can find watermelon at most barbecues — not only is it delicious, but it also helps you stay hydrated, as it’s 92 percent water. Watermelon boasts numerous other health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and helping with muscle soreness. Watermelon contains a wide variety of nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium, copper, vitamin A, and vitamin B5.
Watermelon’s claim to fame, however, is the high level of citrulline you can find in the white part of the watermelon rind. In your body, citrulline turns into the amino acid arginine, which helps many of your internal organs, including your lungs and reproductive system.
If you’re looking to eat more watermelon, try tossing it with feta cheese, making gazpacho, or layering it with mozzarella for a sweet caprese salad. Yum!
Do eat: Apples
Apples are cheap, readily available, delicious, and healthy. They may be good for weight loss, as they contain a high percentage of water and are also high in fiber (there are 4 grams in a medium sized apple), so they fill you up without filling you with calories. One study found that subjects who had apple slices before a meal ate an average of 200 less calories during the meal.
Apples peels and flesh also contain polyphenols, a type of antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the risk of strokes and heart disease. There are five times more polyphenols in apple skin than in the rest of the apple, so don’t throw that part out!
If you’re wondering whether all apples have the same nutritional benefits, they don’t. Skip the green apples and go for the red ones, as most of the polyphenols are found in red apple skin.
There’s always room for more apples in your diet, and a million ways to cook with them. Add them to your sandwiches, make them into a tasty slaw, or add them to your bakes goods
Do eat: Grapefruit
You’ll be surprised to learn how many nutrients are packed into grapefruit. Just half of a grapefruit contains 64 percent of your daily recommended vitamin C, as well as small amounts of protein, vitamin A, manganese, thiamine, folate, and magnesium.
In a 2006 study, researchers found that when participants ate half a grapefruit before each meal, they lost an average of 3.5 lbs in 12 weeks, most likely because of grapefruits’ high fiber and water content. Plus, half a grapefruit contains only 52 calories, making it one of the lowest-calorie fruits.
Grapefruit also contains a large variety of antioxidants. One of these is lycopene, which has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer in a number of studies. Grapefruit contains flavonenes as well, which have anti-inflammatory properties.
Grapefruits are acidic and sour, so the idea of eating them raw may not appeal to you. In that case, try sprinkling them with mint leaves, honey, and a bit of salt.
Do eat: Avocado
As if you needed another reason to love avocado, let’s take a look at some of the reasons you should be super excited about them. According to one study, an avocado not only contains high amounts of vitamin E, potassium, and iron, but they’re also high in fat. Why is that good, you ask? Because it’s monounsaturated fat, and it’s the kind that helps lower your cholesterol.
There’s more, too. The potassium in avocados helps manage blood pressure and fight fatigue, and they’re also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help you reduce the risk of heart disease. There’s vitamins B6, C, and D, too, which your immune system needs to keep you healthy. Some of the types of fat in avocados have even been shown to help protect against certain types of cancers.
Avocados are high in calories — one can contain about 400 — but as a part of a healthy diet, they’re a must. Try it for breakfast as avocado toast, or filled with an egg and baked.
Do eat: Lemons
In 1747, British researcher James Lind made history with some of the first controlled medical experiments ever conducted. He was trying to find a cure for scurvy, and found lemons worked so well that within a week, the patients he was treating were back on their feet (via the BBC). Today, we know why: A single lemon gives you 139 percent of your daily vitamin C.
LiveScience says that’s not the only good thing there is about lemons, either. They’re low-calorie, fat-free, and full of folic acid that’s been shown to help protect against strokes and improve cardiovascular health. For anyone who’s prone to kidney stones, they’ll help you there, too. Half a cup of lemon juice a day has been shown to prevent the formation of stones, and studies have suggested, you’re also helping your body protect itself against high cholesterol and even cancer.
Some claim lemons help aid in digestion, and while some nutritionists have debunked the idea lemons and lemon water help with weight loss, lemons are a great way to add flavor to water if you’re trying to keep hydrated, no sugar needed.
Do eat: Kiwi
Everyone suffers from a little bit of gastrointestinal distress sometimes, and it turns out there’s a secret weapon in your fruit bowl that can make you feel better: the kiwi. Studies have found that the fiber present in kiwi has a massive impact on not only aiding digestion, but in improving how well your body absorbs nutrients. There’s also evidence that it helps alleviate the pain of constipation, reduce bloating and discomfort, and increase overall gut health.
Studies from Massey University suggest it’s an enzyme called actinidin that allows kiwis to be an invaluable addition to any diet. Thanks to the presence of that enzyme, regularly snacking on a kiwi will help make your entire digestive tract more efficient, from start to finish. And another study from the Taipei Medical University went even farther, finding that after adding kiwi to their diet for four weeks, participants who suffered from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) saw improvement in their symptoms.