How Much Fruit Should I Eat in a Day? 

Incorporating fruit into your diet is a delicious and natural way to give your health a boost on a daily basis. Packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, fruits offer a multitude of benefits that contribute to our health and our overall well-being. However, determining the right amount to consume each day can sometimes be confusing, especially when there is sometimes contradictory information to be found online. Balancing between too little and too much is key to maximizing the health benefits without overloading on natural sugars. 

USDA Dietary Guidelines 

Since the 1970s, the United States Department of Agriculture has regularly updated a series of dietary guidelines that provide clarity on numerous questions related to the food we eat. These guidelines include limits on some substances in food, like fat, sugar, and sodium, but they also highlight the recommended amount of fruit as well as definitions for serving sizes.1 A normal serving of fruit is considered 1 cup of fresh fruit, half a cup of dried fruit, or 1 cup of fruit juice. The daily recommended amounts are different for different age groups:

  • Toddlers (12-23 months): ½ to 1 cup
  • Children (2-8 years): 1 to 2 cups
  • Girls (9-18 years): 1½ to 2 cups
  • Boys (9-13 years): 1½ to 2½ cups
  • Women: 1½ to 2 cups
  • Men: 2 to 2½ cups

Having 1-2 cups of fruit a day may seem like a lot or a little depending on who you are and what your life is like. According to the American Heart Association, however, about three quarters of Americans don’t get enough fruit (or veggies) in their diet on a regular basis. This has a number of implications for the health of the population at large, but it can be addressed if more people simply ate a variety of fruits, either whole or prepared without added sugar.2

Why Is Fruit Good for You?

Fruit is one of nature’s perfect gifts, a sweet and tasty vehicle for a wide range of important nutrients. Eating fruit is one of the easiest ways to promote good health and foster additional healthy eating habits. Below are some of the reasons fruit is good for you:

  • Essential nutrients: While there are some compounds that the body can synthesize, many can only come from the foods we eat. Vitamin C, for instance, is an essential nutrient found plentifully in fruit that factors into immune system health, skin health, and a number of other aspects of overall health. Another example is vitamin B9 (also known as folate), a nutrient necessary for metabolizing amino acids and creating DNA. Fruit also contains important minerals like potassium and calcium that the body uses to maintain bone density and a healthy circulatory system.
  • Fiber: Fruit is also a good source of dietary fiber, the semi-indigestible substance that is crucial for digestive health. Fiber helps regulate bowel movements, prevents constipation, and can help reduce the risk of developing digestive disorders. It also contributes to a feeling of fullness, which can aid in weight management. In most cases, much of the fiber in a fruit is found in the skin or rind, though some can also be found in the flesh.
  • Antioxidants: Many fruits are rich in phytochemicals called antioxidants, compounds that prevent oxidation and the damage due to free radicals. Free radicals are small particles that are created during biochemical reactions, and they are believed to cause cellular damage and possibly lead to chronic disease. By maintaining a healthy diet that includes a variety of fruits, you can potentially lower the risk of developing various health problems like cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes.
  • Hydration: Fruits are known for having high water content, which helps keep you hydrated. Proper hydration is vital for maintaining bodily functions like temperature regulation, nutrient transport, and waste removal.
  • Weight loss: Even though fruit does contain sugar in the form of fructose, it doesn’t have the same effect on blood sugar levels as the kind of refined sugar found in most ultra-processed foods. This makes fruit a great candidate for a balanced diet that can lead to weight loss. Also, the high fiber content and relatively low calories make fruit a filling alternative to high-carb snacks.
  • Heart health: One of the most important health benefits of fruit is the impact on heart health. Regular consumption of fruits, especially those high in potassium and fiber, has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Fruits like berries, citrus fruits, and apples have also been shown to improve cholesterol levels and blood pressure, contributing to better cardiovascular health in general.3

Fruits for Good Health

You don’t have to be too picky to add fruit to your diet; essentially any kind of fruit will provide some nutrients and related health benefits. There are, however, some fruits that are known for being especially packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants:

  • Berries: Berries, like blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries, are rich in polyphenols that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They are also high in fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K and have been linked to reduced risks of heart disease, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and certain cancers.
  • Citrus: Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit are all citrus fruits well known for being an excellent source of vitamin C. But they also contain flavonoids and carotenoids that act as antioxidants and may reduce inflammation.
  • Apples: In addition to being notably high in fiber, apples contain a number of vitamins and minerals that are associated with lower risk of various chronic diseases.
  • Apricots: Apricots are a type of stone fruit that are high in vitamins C and E. They are also a great source of beta-carotene, a pigment found in many fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes; beta-carotene is important because the body is able to convert it to vitamin A, an essential nutrient.
  • Pomegranates: The seeds and juice of pomegranates are the parts most often consumed, and they contain many valuable nutrients. Pomegranates also contain a compound called resveratrol that is believed to improve health, but more study is needed.
  • Kiwi: Kiwifruit is an odd fuzzy fruit that has a lot of vitamin C as well as other nutrients. Kiwifruit is also associated with improved digestion because of the fiber content.
  • Plums: Plums are another type of stone fruit that are high in fiber and potassium, a mineral that can help regulate blood pressure and reduce stress on the cardiovascular system.

FruitSmart: the Fruit Experts

Eating fresh fruit is just one way to benefit from the many good attributes of fruit. Though some of the fiber is lost, many of the nutrients of the whole fruit are still available in a juice, puree, or concentrate. At FruitSmart, we are passionate about the endless ways our premium fruit ingredients can be used. Our expert team is always dreaming up new ways to develop recipes that are appealing for both flavor and health purposes. If you’d like to learn more about how FruitSmart can help you create your next great product, please contact us today.

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