If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, can you ever eat too many? With growing attention being drawn to sugar consumption and obesity in recent years, it can be difficult to know what role fruit - and its natural sugars - should play in your diet.
At one end of the scale, there’s the ‘fruitarian’ movement, where people exist on a diet of fruit alone. Steve Jobs famously named his future tech empire Apple after experimenting with this style of eating. On the other hand, research shows around 50% of Australians aren’t eating enough fruit.
So how much is too much fruit? Read on to find out.
Why is fruit good for you?
Fruit is an excellent all rounder; it’s a great source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. Eating fruit as part of a balanced diet can has been shown to have a range of health benefits such as:
- Assisting to lower blood pressure
- Reducing the risk of overeating by making you feel full
- Lowering bad cholesterol
- Keeping the digestive system healthy
There is also growing evidence that a diet rich in whole foods - fruit, vegetables, and legumes - may reduce risk of various types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Indeed, robust research of Australian dietary patterns indicate that both fruit and vegetables can lower mortality rates in these two major areas.
Many of these benefits stem from the soluble and insoluble fibre found in fruit. Soluble fibre dissolves in water in the body. It can help you to feel full, aid digestion, contribute to lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and even help stabilise blood glucose levels in people with diabetes.
As the name suggests, insoluble fibre found in fruit skins doesn’t dissolve; rather it absorbs water. This softens the contents of the bowel to keep bowel movements regular. Insoluble fibre also helps prevent constipation and related problems like haemorrhoids.
How much fruit should I eat?
The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends Australian adults eat two serves of fruit each day. A typical serving might be a medium-sized apple, banana or orange, or two pieces of smaller fruits like plums or kiwi fruit. A cup of chopped fruit salad or tinned fruit is considered another serve, as long as there’s no added sugar.
What happens when you eat too much or too little fruit?
Eating too much sugar can lead to a range of health problems including obesity and tooth decay. And while fruit does contain natural sugars, it’s also one of the essential food groups.
If you’re not getting enough fruit, you could be at increased risk of illness or disease. The World Health Organisation estimates more than 5 millions deaths each year are linked to inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption.