Let’s Clear This Up: How Much Fruit Should You Eat In A Day?

Fructose is one confusing little nutrient. It’s the sugar found in fruit, something we’re always told to eat on the daily. Yet, at its core, fructose is still a sugar. Aren’t we supposed to avoid that stuff? Things get even more puzzling when high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) enters the picture. The dangers of HFCS, ranging from weight gain to type 2 diabetes, are certainly no secret. Many scientists even blame HFCS for the growing obesity epidemic.

Moreover, the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar each day. That’s enough to provide 350 calories! Most of this comes from food that’s processed, boxed, or pre-prepared. Sugar-sweetened drinks, such as soda, and breakfast cereals are perfect examples. So where does fructose fit in? If high-fructose corn syrup is so bad, should we steer clear of natural sources?1 2

Fructose
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Everything you need to know about fructose

Before diving into the science, let’s look at what fructose really is. Fructose is a simple sugar. In other words, it can’t be broken down any further. The American Society for Clinical Nutrition actually pegs it as a sign of rich nutrition in fruits.3

High-fructose corn syrup is a different story. It contains sucrose, a molecule made of two simple sugars: fructose and glucose. And unlike natural fructose, HFCS is extremely processed. Essentially, fructose in fruit is on its own. In HFCS, fructose is processed with glucose, giving it more flavor and calories. Now, it’s easy to see why fructose seems more harmful than it really is.4

Recommended Daily Fruit Intake

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According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, adults should have up to 2 cups of fruit each day. A little more or less is still pretty good. At first, this recommendation might not seem like much. But when you consider that 76% of Americans don’t meet this suggestion, every little bit counts. In fact, from 2007 to 2010, half of the country ate less than 1 cup of fruit each day. By these standards, most people could use a little more fruit!5 6

What Counts As One Cup Of Fruit?

A list of the average one cups of fruit

Don’t

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bother with the measuring cup. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 1 cup of fruit equals the following:7

  • 1 small or ½ large apple
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 medium wedge cantaloupe
  • 32 seedless grapes
  • 1 medium grapefruit
  • 1 large orange
  • 1 large peach
  • 2 canned peach halves
  • 1 medium pear
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 3 medium or 2 large plums
  • 8 large strawberries
  • 1 1-inch thick watermelon wedge
  • ½ cup dried fruit
  • 1 cup 100% orange, apple, grape, or grapefruit juice

Is There A Catch?

Excess fiber intake from fruit causes constipation and bloating

Actually, yes. But it has nothing to do with fructose, and everything to do with fiber. If you eat too much fiber too fast, constipation and bloating are sure to come. This is even more likely if you’re not used to high-fiber diets. It’s no exception with fruit, a food that’s famously rich in fiber.8

However,

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that doesn’t mean you should steer clear of fruit. Fiber is an essential nutrient that promotes regular bowel movements and controls blood sugar. To avoid tummy troubles, increase fiber intake slowly. Drink lots of water so the fiber has something to absorb.9

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