Should You Avoid Fruit?

Posted On Aug 16, 2013 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

Freshly sliced figs on a plate

Have you banished bananas or given up grapes because of their sugar content? There is such thing as eating too much fruit or too much of any healthy food. However, the sugar in fruit is much different than downing a giant soda or a chocolate chip cookie.

Benefits of fruit

Unlike sugar from candy and soda, we must look at the entire package to get the whole story with fruit.  Fruit contains fiber, which allows the sugar to be metabolized more slowly, giving you a steady flow of energy rather than a quick surge. Have you ever gotten a sugar rush from a bowl of berries? Probably not!

Apples contain quercetin and cherries have anthocyanins, powerful anti-inflammatory compounds shown to reduce inflammation and pain. Ideally, your fruit intake should change with the seasons. For example, eat berries, melons, and stone fruits, such as peaches, apricots, and nectarines in the summer, apples in the fall and citrus in the winter.

How much is too much?

For most people, 2-3 servings of fruit per day are recommended.  Watch the size though. An apple the size of a tennis ball, a small banana (roughly 6-8inches long), or ¾ cup of chopped fruit is one serving. The softball-size apples and foot-long bananas you might find at the grocery store are not. One serving of fruit has about 80-100 calories. Consuming large quantities of fruit might put you beyond your calorie needs, leading to weight gain or preventing you from losing weight.

What about fruit juice and dried fruit?

Fresh or frozen fruit is optimal because it contains the highest level of nutrients, including fiber from the skin. Additionally, frozen fruit is usually picked at its peak, when it's the most flavorful and nutritious. Even with 100% fruit juice, there's little to no fiber. Therefore, drinking an 8oz glass of orange juice won't keep you full the way a large orange with the same number of calories will. Dried fruit concentrates the sugar in fruit and condenses the volume, making it easier to eat more than fresh fruit.  Avoid things like banana chips, which can be cooked in oil, upping the fat and calorie content.

Should you buy organic?

There's no proof that organic fruit is more nutritious than non-organic fruit. However, if you're trying to go organic to avoid GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or be environmentally friendly, try buying organic produce from the U.S. or locally grown fruit. If you choose not to buy organic or it's not in your budget, wash your fruit well with a solution of water and apple cider vinegar to remove pesticides and chemicals.