Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing and this is, of course, true for fruit. Why? Well, if you are eating too much fruit each day you will be getting too much sugar and calories, which is not good for your waistline. Eating too much fruit is also bad for you because you will be displacing a variety of other foods, such as dairy, which provide you with other essential nutrients required for good health.
For adults, it is recommended that you have two servings of fruit per day. For young children one serving of fruit is recommended, and for teenagers three servings is recommended. If you are pregnant you should be aiming for four servings and if you are breast feeding five servings is recommended.
What quantity of fruit equates to one serving?
So what is a serving? Well, the following equates to one serving:
- One medium piece of fruit (for example, an apple, orange, banana)
- Two pieces of smaller fruit (for example, apricots, kiwi fruit, plums)
- One cup of canned fruit, four pieces of dried fruit, half a cup of fruit juice, one quarter medium melon (eg. rockmelon, honeydew)
- 20 grapes or eight strawberries
How can I make sure I eat enough fruit?
Ways to get your servings in? Snack on a piece of fruit during the day, sprinkle some dried fruit over your cereal, blend some berries into low fat milk to make a smoothie, or add some fruit to a salad at your evening meal. Delicious!
Do you find your fruit goes off quickly? Always have a backup plan so you never go without your daily fruit intake. Tinned fruit is great to store in the pantry or if opened keep refrigerated, just make sure to get the tinned fruit that is in natural juices and not the syrup, so you will save yourself a teaspoon or more of sugar.
Can fruit help with my fibre intake?
Depending on your age, a general rule of thumb for fibre intake for an adult is 30g every day. Fibre is important for bowel health and keeping you regular. Fruit can be a great contributor to help you achieve your recommended fibre intake. Try and leave the skin on your fruit where you can so you get extra fibre. Add prunes to your cereal in the morning if you do suffer from constipation. There is minimal fibre in fruit juice so you are better off to have the fruit itself rather than the fruit juice. A small glass of orange juice is like having two oranges, so you get more kilojoules and sugar yet you miss out on the filling effect from the fibre.
What fruits are best for me?
Aim to pick fruits that fill you up. To get the filling effect from fruit eat low glycaemic index (GI) fruits, as low GI helps to sustain energy levels and keeps blood sugar levels stable. Some fruits are high GI, such as watermelon and lychees. Moderate GI fruits include pineapple, pawpaw and other tropical fruits. Aim for low GI fruits such as apples, bananas, pears and oranges as a snack. If you do have the higher GI fruits combine them with lower GI foods. For example, you can add them to a fruit salad that contains lower GI fruits, or add them to dairy foods that are low GI, such as yoghurt or milk.
Are dried fruits good for me?
Most dried fruits are moderate to low GI, but are concentrated in sugars, so be careful and don't eat too many of these, especially if you are watching your weight. Dried fruit still has the fibre as ultimately it is just the fruit itself but dried. Yet, because it is dried (and appears to be smaller in portions) we can tend to overeat and blow out on our portions, so just be mindful of how much dried fruit you are having and keep it to a small handful. Like with any food of the five food groups, variety is the key. Choose different fruits in the day to get a variety of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.