Whoever said "moderation in all things" was certainly right when it comes to fruit. Loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, water and fiber, fruit plays an important role in maintaining good health. If you eat fruit regularly, you may reduce your risk of heart disease, certain cancers and possibly even vision loss, says the Harvard School of Public Health. However, consuming too much fruit can also have a negative impact if you have certain health conditions.
If you're concerned with your weight, consuming too much fruit may contribute to weight gain or hinder weight loss. Fruit is a low-calorie food compared to other groups such as meats, fats and grains, but still contains energy. Even low-calorie foods can add up if you take in more calories than your body needs each day, says the American Dietetic Association. If you are watching your weight, take caution regarding fruit juices and dried fruit, which contain denser amounts of sugar and calories than whole fruit and are easier to consume in excess. Juices also tend to lack fiber, which promotes appetite control.
While fruits contain a variety of nutrients, they don't have all the nutrients you need for good health. As carbohydrate-rich foods, fruits lack the essential fatty acids and amino acids that other food groups, such as meats, nuts and legumes, provide. Fruits are also deficient in certain minerals, like calcium, heme-iron and selenium. When fruit is part of a varied diet, this is not an problem. But if you fill up on fruit consistently at the expense of other healthy foods, you could become deficient in some essential nutrients.
If you've gorged yourself in a strawberry patch or eating a few too many prunes, you may have learned firsthand that too much fruit can wreak havoc on the digestive system. Fruit contains fiber which, if eaten in large amounts, can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, a 2013 article in "The New York Times" cautions. You could experience bloating, cramping, gas and loose stools if you overindulge in fruit. To avoid these risks, gradually increase your intake of fiber-rich foods, including fruits, if you currently eat a low-fiber diet, and aim for moderate intake of all food groups.
Elevated Blood Glucose
People with Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes need to be aware that fruit is a carbohydrate source that should be consumed as part of meal plan, says the American Diabetes Association. The natural sugars in fruit break down into glucose when digested, and like pasta, desserts and other carbohydrate-rich foods, raise blood glucose levels after eating. Eating fruits with protein-rich foods, such as low-fat milk, lean meat or eggs, can help minimize these effects. Unlimited fruit intake, particularly on its own, can result in high blood glucose levels. If you have Type 2 diabetes, talk to a certified diabetes educator for personalized guidelines on how much fruit you should eat each day .
The USDA Food Guide Pyramid offers dietary guidance on fruit intake. Recommended fruit amounts range from 1-1/2 to 2 cups -- or 2 to 4 servings -- per day for most adults. One serving is equal to about one piece of whole fruit, such as a small orange or apple, 1 cup of diced fruit or 1/2-cup of 100 percent fruit juice or dried fruit. Aim for a variety of fruits and other healthy foods, such as vegetables, whole grains, healthy fat sources and lean protein-rich foods, for maximum benefits. Like other whole foods, each fruit variety provides a unique blend of nutritional attributes.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Vegetables and Fruits-Get Plenty Every Day
- American Dietetic Association: I Know I Need More Fruit And Vegetables. How Can I Work Them Into My Busy Schedule
- The New York Times: Fiber
- American Diabetes Association: Fruits
- MyPryamid.gov: How Much Fruit Is Needed Daily?