How much fruit is too much?

How much fruit is too much?

People often ask me if it’s OK to eat as much fruit as they want when they’re trying to lose weight. How much fruit is too much? It’s a common belief that fruit is a ‘free food’ and should be used to fill you up between meals, or as a pudding. While all fruit has nutritional benefits way beyond sweet foods such as table sugar we still need to limit intake because of its relatively high sugar content.

We should eat some fruit every day, it’s rich in vitamins and minerals, has a high water and fibre content and its energy-to-size ratio is very good, i.e. it’s quite big for a relatively small number of calories. So it’s a brilliant part of a healthy diet but we still need to limit the amount and it’s sensible to choose certain fruits to eat more of or more often than others, based on sugar content.

Enjoy fruit as an important part of  joyous healthy eating with an eatnaturally plan

Sugar content of various fruits

The following are commonly-eaten fruits with their sugar content per 100g. A high sugar food is defined as having over 15g of sugar per 100g. A low sugar food has less than 5g per 100g.

  • Apples 10g
  • Bananas 12g
  • Blueberries 10g
  • Cherries 13g
  • Grapes 16g
  • Kiwi 9g
  • Mango 14g
  • Melon 6g
  • Oranges 9g
  • Papaya 8g
  • Peach 8g
  • Pears 10g
  • Plums 10g
  • Pineapple 10g
  • Raspberries 4.4g
  • Strawberries 4.9g
Why the sugar content may not be what it seems

While some fruits seem quite high-sugar, they release their sugars more slowly due to other compounds. For example apples release slowly because they also contain pectin, whereas grapes and bananas are at the other end of the scale when it comes to their glycaemic load (how fast they raise blood sugar levels). The ripeness of fruit also affects how fast the sugar is released, so a ripe banana releases much more quickly than an unripe one but for that reason is more digestible. Of course cooking affects it too and speeds up release of sugar as it breaks the fruit down before you eat it. Eating fruits that keep their skin on, such as berries or apples is a good way to help slow the sugar release, as is eating fruit with protein such as Greek yoghurt or cheese.

How much fruit to eat each day

A typical day’s fruit intake might consist of a sliced banana with unsweetened muesli, using whole milk and adding extra nuts. An apple at some point in the day and a few (half a teacup) berries or other fruit in some natural or greek yoghurt with lunch. Once in a while you can have fruit as pudding; half a papaya grilled and drizzled with lime juice, served with greek yoghurt or creme fraiche is beautiful and papaya is high in folate, great for pre-conception and early pregnancy.

Greek yoghurt with caramelised peach and raw honeycomb
Greek yoghurt with caramelised peach and raw honeycomb
What’s the bottom line?

The upshot is definitely eat fruit every day, vary it and eat seasonally. As with everything eat it in moderation because by definition too much of anything is too much!

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