Fruit can be a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth when dieting. The sweetness of grapes, the crunch of an apple or the soft texture of ripe bananas are not only satiating, but the fruits contain antioxidants and other nutrients your body needs. While fruits are an important part of any diet, learning how many fruits to eat each day can help you balance your nutrient intake properly.
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When eaten in moderation, fruit provides your body with energy in the form of calories, carbohydrates and nutrients. Eating adequate amounts of fruits each day may help you avoid developing cardiovascular disease. A September 2007 meta-analysis study published in the "Journal of Human Hypertension" found that of the over 200,000 participants, the ones who ate more than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day had a statistically significant reduction in developing heart disease. Additionally, fruits may help you blood pressure, provide a protective benefit in some cancers, keep your digestive system healthy and aid in your eye health, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
Although fruits carry many health benefits, fruits are not calorie-free. Whether your dietary goals include weight loss or simply weight maintenance, eating too many calories from fruit can hinder your forward progress. If you eat 1 cup of raisins rather than the recommended 1/2 cup, you consume 434 calories rather than 217 calories. Learn the recommended portion sizes for fruits to avoid eating more than you intend. The Dietary Guidelines for 2010 indicate that a serving of fruit is 1 cup of raw or canned fruit, 1 cup of 100 percent fruit juice or 1/2 cup of dried fruits. Measure your fruit servings until you are confident that you can adequately estimate the volume of one serving.
The number of fruit servings you can eat each day while dieting varies based on your caloric intake. The USDA food pyramid recommends that if you eat between 1,400 to 1,800 calories a day, you consume 1 1/2 cups of fruit each day. If you eat between 2,000 to 2,600 calories, you can have 2 cups of fruit a day. Additionally, the guidelines allow between 121 and 362 discretionary calories. If you desire to eat more fruit than the guidelines recommend, use your discretionary calories on fruits rather than a dessert, an extra roll at dinner or a larger piece of meat.
Eat whole, raw fruits whenever possible. A raw apple has 3.3 g of fiber as opposed to 1 cup of apple juice, which contains only .2 g of fiber. Avoid adding granulated sugar to fruit salads or citrus fruits to limit your consumption of refined sugars and save calories. If you use canned fruit as a portion of your fruit intake, choose brands that are canned in juice rather than syrup. Vary the types of fruits you eat to reap the benefits of the different vitamins in fruit. Apples give you vitamin A, bananas are high in potassium, citrus fruits contain vitamin C and berries are good sources of fiber.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Vegetables and Fruits: Get Plenty Every Day
- "Journal of Huan Hypertension"; Increased Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables is Related to a Reduce Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies; Feng J. He, et al.; September 2007
- American Dietetic Association: I Know I Need to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables. How Can I Work Them Into My Busy Schedule
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 17: Calories
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 20: Fiber