Fruits are an important part of a healthy diet.
Indeed, diets high in fruit are associated with all types of health benefits, including a reduced risk of many diseases.
However, some people are concerned about the sugar content of fruits and worry that eating too much can be harmful.
So, how many servings of fruit should you eat each day to be healthy? And is it possible to overeat? This article explores current research on the subject.
Fruits are rich in many important nutrients
The nutritional composition of fruits varies considerably between different types, but all varieties contain important nutrients.
For starters, fruits tend to be rich in vitamins and minerals. These include vitamin C, potassium and folic acid, which many people do not have enough (1, 2).
Fruits are also high in fiber, which has many health benefits.
Consuming fiber can help lower cholesterol, increase feelings of fullness and contribute to weight loss over time (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).
In addition, fruits are loaded with antioxidants, which help fight free radicals that can damage cells. A diet rich in antioxidants can help slow aging and reduce the risk of disease (9, 10, 11).
Since different fruits contain different amounts of nutrients, it is important to eat a variety of them to maximize the health benefits.
Summary: fruits are rich in important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Eat many different types for maximum benefits.
Eating fruit can help you lose weight
Fruits are rich in nutrients and relatively low in calories, making them a great choice for those who want to lose weight.
In addition, they are rich in water and fiber, which helps you feel full.
For this reason, you can usually eat fruit until you are satisfied, without consuming a lot of calories.
Indeed, many studies indicate that fruit consumption is associated with lower calorie intake and can contribute to weight loss over time (12, 13, 14, 15).
Apples and citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruits, are among the most garnished (16).
It is also important to note that whole, solid fruits are much richer in mash or fruit juice, which can usually be consumed without feeling full (17).
Studies show that drinking lots of fruit juice is associated with increased calorie intake and can increase the risk of obesity and other serious illnesses (18, 19, 20, 21, 22).
In other words, avoid drinking lots of fruit juices and enjoy whole fruits instead.
Summary: Eating whole fruits can help you consume fewer calories and lose weight over time. However, drinking fruit juice can have the opposite effect.
Eating fruit can reduce the risk of disease
Research consistently shows that diets high in fruits and vegetables are associated with a lower risk of many serious illnesses, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease (23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28).
While many studies focus on the consumption of fruits and vegetables as a whole, some studies explore the benefits of fruits in particular.
A review of nine studies found that each additional serving of fruit consumed daily reduced the risk of heart disease by 7% (29).
Another study found that eating fruits such as grapes, apples and blueberries is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes (22).
Citrus fruits, in particular, can increase citrate levels in the urine, which reduces the risk of kidney stones (30).
Increasing fruit intake can also help lower blood pressure and reduce oxidative stress, which can reduce the risk of heart disease (31).
Eating more fruits and vegetables is also associated with better blood sugar control in people with diabetes (32).
Summary: Numerous studies indicate that eating fruit is associated with a lower risk of many serious illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Are fruits safe for people with diabetes?
Most dietary recommendations for people with diabetes suggest eating lots of fruits and vegetables (33).
Current nutritional guidelines recommend that people with diabetes consume 2 to 4 servings of fruit a day, which is the same as for the general population (34).
However, some people limit the amount they eat because they are concerned about the sugar content.
However, studies show that when sugar is consumed in a whole fruit, it has little effect on blood sugar (35).
In addition, the fruit is rich in fiber, which slows digestion and absorption of sugar, thereby improving overall control of blood sugar (36).
The fiber in fruit can also decrease insulin resistance and can help protect against type 2 diabetes (37, 38).
Fruits also contain polyphenols, which have been shown to improve blood sugar control (39, 40).
In addition, eating more fruits and vegetables has been linked to lower levels of oxidative stress and inflammation in people with diabetes (41).
That said, not all fruit is created equal. Some of them increase blood sugar more than others, and diabetics are encouraged to monitor their blood sugar after eating to find out which foods they should limit.
Summary: The fruit contains sugar, but its fibers and polyphenols can actually improve long-term blood sugar control and protect against type 2 diabetes.
What about people on a low-carb diet?
Some people consider eating 100 to 150 grams of carbohydrates a day “low in carbohydrates”. Others strive to get into nutritional ketosis and reduce carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams per day. This type of diet is called a ketogenic diet and goes beyond the standard low-carb diet.
The average fruit contains 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrates, so the amount of tea you need to eat depends entirely on the number of grams of carbohydrates you want to consume each day.
Needless to say, there isn’t much room to include fruit in a ketogenic diet.
This is not to say that ketogenic diets are not healthy. In fact, following a ketogenic diet can help you lose weight and even fight various illnesses (42, 43, 44, 45).
Of all fruits, berries tend to be the lowest in carbohydrates. So if you count carbohydrates, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries are all great choices.
Fruits are very nutritious at the end of the day, but they do not contain essential nutrients that cannot be obtained from other foods, such as vegetables.
If you choose to follow a ketogenic diet and severely limit your carbohydrate intake, it is good to avoid fruit as long as you get these nutrients from other foods.
For everyone, fruit can and should be part of a healthy, low-carb diet.
Summary: Fruits can be a healthy part of a low-carb diet. However, people on a low-carb ketogenic diet may want to avoid the fruits.
Is it possible to eat too much fruit?
It has been established that fruits are good, but “too much” can be harmful? First of all, when consuming whole fruits, it is quite difficult to overeat. Indeed, the fruits are very rich in water and fiber, which makes them incredibly full, to the point that you will probably feel full after a single piece.
For this reason, it is very difficult to eat large amounts of fruit every day. In fact, less than 1 in 10 Americans meet the minimum daily fruit recommendation (46).
While eating large amounts of fruit every day is highly unlikely, some studies have examined the effects of consuming 20 servings per day.
In one study, 10 people ate 20 servings of fruit a day for two weeks and had no side effects (47).
In a slightly larger study, 17 people ate 20 servings of fruit a day for several months without side effects (48).
In fact, researchers have even discovered potential health benefits. Although these studies are small, they provide reason to believe that fruits can be eaten safely in any quantity.
At the end of the day, if you eat fruit until you feel full, it is almost impossible to eat “too much”. However, it is important to note that fruits should ideally be eaten as part of a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of other whole foods.
Summary: For the average person, fruits are safe in almost all quantities. Unless you have an intolerance or are on a low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet, there is really no reason to limit your intake.
How much fruit is optimal?
While it is possible to eat healthy by eating very little or a lot of fruit, the ideal amount is somewhere in between.
The general recommendation for consuming fruits and vegetables is at least 400 grams per day, or five 80-gram servings (49).
An 80 gram serving is equivalent to a small piece the size of a tennis ball. For fruits and vegetables that can be measured in the cup, one serving is about 1 cup.
This recommendation stems from the fact that eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day is associated with a lower risk of death from diseases such as heart disease, stroke and cancer (50).
An in-depth analysis of 16 scientific studies found that eating more than five servings a day had no additional benefits (50).
However, another systematic review of 95 scientific studies found that the risk of disease was less than 800 grams or 10 servings daily (51).
Remember that these studies have focused on both fruits and vegetables. Assuming that half of these servings come from fruit, you should eat between two and five servings of fruit per day.
The recommendations of different health authorities vary slightly, but generally seem to align with current research.
For example, the guidelines of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommend that the average adult eat two servings of fruit per day, while the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adults consume four to five servings of fruit per day.
Summary: Most studies show health benefits with 2 to 5 servings of fruit per day. However, there doesn’t seem to be any harm in eating more.
Eating whole fruit promotes good health and can reduce the risk of many serious illnesses.
Unless you are on a ketogenic diet or have some kind of intolerance, there is really 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 doesn’t seem to be any harm in eating more.