- Fruit is the key to healthy eating, but they can be consumed too much.
- Nutritionist Andy Bellatti told INSIDER that making juice from fruit can be easier to over-consume.
- It also reduces their health benefits.
- Sugar intake from fruit can be a concern for people with health problems related to high blood sugar
Some people claim that there is no limit to the amount of fruit that you can eat every day, and follow a fruitic diet that consists primarily of apples, oranges, and the like. Others, such as those who follow the keto diet, tend to limit the amount of fruit they eat each day, referring to concerns about fructose content. With so many conflicting opinions, it's hard to know how much fruit you should eat every day.
For more information about optimal fruit intake, INSIDER spoke with dietitians Andy Bellatti and Jen Bruning (who is also the media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.)
It is clear that there are many physical – and even psychological – benefits to eating fruit.
First, it is only fair to consider the many health benefits of eating different types of fruit. As a rich source of vitamins, minerals, potassium and fiber, fruits often contain phytochemicals that have antioxidant properties, according to Berkeley Wellness.
Fresh fruit can even improve a person's psychological health. According to a survey from 2017 in PLOS ONE, eating fruit (and vegetables) correlated with an increase in psychological well-being in young adults. In fact, these psychological benefits occurred after just two weeks of increased consumption of fruit and vegetables. With all these health benefits, it is not surprising that the American Heart Association recommends at least four servings of fruit per day.
That being said, consuming too much fruit can lead to health problems for some people.
So how do you know if you've exaggerated the peaches?
Although it seems that the road to health is paved with goji berries, it is important to remember that fruit is not the ultimate diet.
To start with, eating fruit to the exclusion of other foods can lead to possible nutritional deficiencies. As Bellatti noted, fruit is not a good source of iron or zinc, both crucial components of a healthy diet. Excessive fruit intake can also cause stomach upset in some individuals. According to Bruning, heartburn, diarrhea, reflux and a bloated feeling are all possible side effects of eating too much fruit.
High blood sugar is another side effect of fruit consumption and can potentially be dangerous for people with diabetes. "For this reason, fruit should not be completely avoided, it should simply be kept in reasonable portions and eaten together with other foods," Bruning said. For people with potential blood sugar problems, counseling by a nutritionist can be invaluable.
In addition, fruit (like any other food) can be eaten to the point of caloric excess and over time can lead to weight gain. However, fruit is generally not as high in calories compared to other foods.
"A dozen bananas is around 1200 calories (equivalent to 14 cups of blueberries)," Bellatti said. The idea of eating so many blueberries in the course of a day can make a competitive eater difficult. Yet there are ways to get too many calories from fruit.
It is not only how much fruit you eat, but also how you eat them.
Although juice is a popular trend, Bellatti and Bruning agree that it is not an ideal way to get your daily dose of fruit.
"Not only does fruit juice contain fiber, but many health-promoting antioxidants and phytonutrients are fiber-bound and therefore absent in juice," Bellatti said. Moreover, fruit juice can contain a lot of sugar to consume in one go, as Bruning has explained.
Both experts agreed that smoothies were a good alternative to making juice because mixed fruit smoothies retain all parts of the fruit. This includes the most important fiber, of which Bruning Sai rather causes a feeling of satiety.
But don't let fruit frighten you completely.
The sugar content in fruit is not a major concern for most healthy adults. "Just because it contains the S word doesn't make it unhealthy," Bruning said. "Naturally occurring sugars in fruit give us energy and are neatly packaged with fiber, nutrients and a good amount of water that can help us to stay hydrated."
Bruning also recommended eating a variety of fruits – everything from citrus to berries to banana – because all fruits bring something healthy to the table. Moreover, it is nice to try out a wide variety of fruit, and you never know when you will find a new favorite. (Side note: I have recently tried fresh cherimoya, and it is mind-melting delicious.)
Strive for two cups of fruit per day.
According to Bellatti, two to three servings of fruit a day is a healthy goal for most people. Bruning had similar advice and suggested about two cups of fruit a day. With this amount you can take advantage of the nutrients in fruit – especially the important antioxidants and phytonutrients that are found exclusively in fruit – without overeating.
Bellatti said in any case that it is smart to think about nutrition in holistic terms anyway: eating a wide range of foods, including fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds, is often the best way to meet your nutritional needs. He also orders against the fruitarian diet, in which people live almost entirely from fruit, and notes that there is no scientific evidence for it. Instead, a varied diet based on a variety of whole foods is ideal for most people.
Yes, it is possible to overdo it on the fruit, especially if you are attached to your juicer or blender. For the most part, however, fresh fruit is a healthy part of any diet, as long as it is enjoyed moderately.