Are Fruits Unhealthy to Eat on a Daily Basis?

With the rise in popularity of low carbohydrate diets and studies showing excessive fructose consumption can have negative effects on the body, many have become confused about whether or not fruit is a healthy choice to consume on a regular basis. While processed foods or drinks with fructose sugars can be unhealthy, fruit by itself isn’t bad for you in moderation. As you consider how much fruit you should eat on a daily basis, learn more about why fruit is largely healthy.

Are Fruits Unhealthy? Are Fruits Bad for You?

Since fruit does contain fructose, some worry that including these foods will lead to fat gain and other health issues. However, a meta-analysis by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that about 25-40 grams of fructose per day is safe. In order to exceed this amount of fructose through fruit alone, you would have to consume somewhere between 3-5 medium apples, 5-8 cups of blueberries, or 5-8 bananas daily, which should sound like an unreasonable amount of fruit to have in one day.

While it is important to identify how certain nutrients interact with the body, things are often taken out of context. Every serving of berries, melons, apples, and other fruits will also contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that promote health and well-being. As a result, fruit shouldn’t be your concern when you’re trying to avoid excessive amounts of fructose sugars. Processed foods and beverages, like sodas sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, should be avoided as they can contain 30 grams or more of fructose in just one can.

Back to the claim that fructose will lead to fat gain. No one type of food can be the cause of long-term fat gain. However, consistently exceeding the number of calories you require daily is what causes the accumulation of fat over time. We should be striving to eat a well-balanced combination of foods and no one thing in excess!

What Is the Number 1 Healthiest Fruit?

Though fruit is largely healthy as long as it’s eaten in moderation, some fruits are more healthy than others. Lemons are commonly viewed as the healthiest fruit since they contain antioxidants and phytochemicals, such as vitamin C, pectin, potassium, and folic acid. They’re also low in calories, and some research suggests their flavonoids could have antidiabetic, antibacterial, and anticancer properties.

Other citrus fruits are also typically considered quite healthy, with oranges, limes, and grapefruit being some of the healthiest fruits you can eat. Exceptionally healthy non-citrus fruits include blueberries, strawberries, apples, pomegranates, and cherries. Keep in mind that each fruit has different nutritional benefits, so it’s often a good idea to include a variety of fruits in your diet.

What Fruit Is Most Unhealthy?

Determining the most unhealthy fruit often comes down to your dietary needs and what you’re hoping to avoid. In general, however, dried fruits tend to be the most unhealthy, as they contain more carbs, sugar, and calories per serving than fresh fruits. Additionally, if you have diabetes, you’ll want to avoid candied fruits, fruits canned in heavy syrup, and fruit juice, as these types of fruit products contain high amounts of sugar and low amounts of fiber.

Below, you can find out more information about what fruits to avoid depending on what you’re trying to cut from your diet:

Fruits with the highest amounts of sugar: Besides dried fruits, some fruits contain high amounts of sugar you might want to avoid. For example, a cup of fresh, chopped dates contains 101 grams of sugar, a cup of raw lychee contains 29 grams of sugar, and mangoes contain 22.5 grams of sugar.

Fruits with the highest calories: Since reducing your daily number of calories can be the most effective way to lose weight and fat, people who are trying to drop a few pounds will probably want to avoid high-calorie fruits. Some high-calorie fruits include dried coconut (one cup contains 560 calories) and prunes (one cup contains 418 calories).

Fruits to avoid if you have acid reflux: If you have acid reflux, you should reduce your consumption of fruits known to worsen acid reflux symptoms. These fruits include mandarins, citrus, grapefruit, and tomatoes.

What Fruits Are Not Safe to Eat?

Any fruit you can find at your local grocery store should be safe to eat. However, some fruits that you might find in the wild can be unsafe. For example, winter cherries, coyote melons, alpine honeysuckle, Osage oranges, and asparagus berries are inedible to humans and unsafe to eat, but you’ll probably only encounter them in the wild.

Though fruit offered at the grocery should be safe for most, some people may want to avoid certain fruits due to allergic reactions or potential medical issues. Alongside checking with your doctor about any fruits you should avoid, a dietitian can help you determine which fruits are the healthiest for you.

Turn to Chain Effect for Nutrition Counseling

If you’d like more guidance about the types of fruits you should include in your diet and how much fruit you should eat a day, Chain Effect can help. At Chain Effect, we offer nutrition counseling, and our team of dietitians uses a combination of habit science and psychology to help our patients create a healthy relationship with food. Our dietitians will also tailor your dietary plan to your specific needs, keep you accountable, and take the time to understand your goals.

Learn more about our nutrition counseling services today. If you’d like to know more about how carbohydrates and other nutrients affect your body and performance, contact one of our Registered Dietitians today.

By Eddie Fitzgerald, Performance Dietitian, RD, LDN