IS FRUIT GOOD FOR YOU?
‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away,’ is an old English proverb, intended to instill healthy eating habits. I don’t see how that would work. It does beg the question, ‘Are apples good for us?’ Followed by, ‘Is fruit good for you?’ Which leads me to ‘Which fruit is best for you?’ And why!
Let’s take a look at that.
Here’s another reason I found this topic interesting. When I was working out at the gym and mentioned to a friend that I love fruit and eat a lot of it, a trainer overheard. He said…
Maybe he meant that fruit has sugar?
Sugar stimulates the dopamine receptors in our brains, the same way addictive drugs do.
Studies have shown a link between sugar and dopamine.
Yes, fruit has sugar. But these amounts are low, especially relative to candy.
EVEN WITH THE SUGAR IN FRUIT, IS FRUIT GOOD FOR YOU?
I started researching. One of our boys showed me a cool chart on Reddit. At least I thought so, initially.
Passion fruit was at the top of the chart for reasons I couldn’t fathom. I decided I could do better.
MY STRUGGLES WITH EXCEL
After 8 hours, I trashed all my charts.
Kudos to the guy who published his.
GOOD FOR YOU?
Let’s first define what ‘good for you’ means! For the purpose of a science blog, we won’t go with satisfying or what tastes best. (for more on why we like the foods we do, see this post on the science behind acquired taste!)
We’ll go with which specific fruits provide the most essential vitamins and minerals per serving.
After all of that dizzying data, I wanted specifics.
ESSENTIAL VITAMINS AND MINERALS
What is so essential about them, anyway?
DOES AN APPLE A DAY KEEP THE DOCTOR AWAY?
I decided to break this down by nutrient, and evaluate five fruits that most of us see in any local grocery store.
And because of that old adage, I was curious about how well apples would do in the nutrient race!
VITAMIN A OR RETINOL
Vitamin A is a term for a group of fat-soluble compounds highly important for human health.
Also, THINK RETIN-A! Anti-wrinkle cream!
SEVERAL BENEFITS OF VITAMIN A
VITAMIN A CONTENT CHART FOR COMMON FRUITS
Here is my easy-to-read chart. As promised, I graphed five accessible fruits: oranges, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, and apples.
A medium sized orange has 408 mcg of vitamin A, which is over half of the 700 mcg requirement for an adult woman. (900 mcg for men)
Mangoes have over 100% the daily requirement. (I love mangos!) A cup of cantaloupe hits it way out of the park! (Apples didn’t fare well, with 67 mcg. they came in second last on this chart)
Cantaloupe helps answer the question ‘is fruit good for you’ with a yes.
B vitamins are too big a topic. I’m going to go over a few highlights. I’m not covering benefits so much as what can go wrong. This turns out, quite a bit, especially with B1 and B12.
A FEW BODY FUNCTIONS THAT GO OFF-KILTER WITH B VITAMINS
B VITAMIN CONTENT CHART FOR COMMON FRUITS
Bananas surprised me, beating out oranges, blueberries, and strawberries which are neck and neck. (We just watched the Kentucky Derby so I have horse analogies in my brain) Then I found…AVOCADO!
Avocados are fruit, and handily answer the question ‘is fruit good for you,’ with a yes. As I said, I’m not going to go into each B vitamin, but one avocado has about 25% of what you need in Bs.
The best news is that B vitamins are found in many foods, so with a balanced diet, it’s easy to check that box!
FOLATE AKA VITAMIN B9
I just broke my word about the Bs because here I am, talking about folate which has an alias. B9!
FOLIC ACID CONTENT CHART IN COMMON FRUITS
Oranges made a nice showing here, beating out bananas. I was pleasantly surprised by pomegranates!
Most of us don’t get enough folate in our diets, unfortunately. Women need 400 mcg/day. Even the mighty avocado only has about 30%.
If you’re planning to get a supplement, add folic acid to your list.
VITAMIN C aka ASCORBIC ACID
I’m unsure why these vitamins need two names.
VITAMIN C CONTENT CHART IN COMMON FRUITS
As expected, oranges made a sold showing. 90 mg is the recommended amount of vitamin C intake. (see my oh, so-easy-to-read chart below!) Strawberries surprised me a bit, coming in nose to nose with oranges.
But look at guava! Guava wins!
CALCIUM CONTENT CHART IN COMMON FRUITS
You can probably tell by now that I like an underdog. And it’s fun eat more unique foods if possible!
Kiwi placed second but those darn oranges won. One orange provides about 7% of the daily allowance for an adult. Not a lot, but this is a fruit post. 7% wins this round.
Notice apples? I can continue my apple bashing.
IRON aka Fe
Iron (Fe symbol) is part of the hemoglobin molecule, a protein which carries oxygen from our lungs throughout our bodies.
(I need a tutorial for using ‘preview’ too.)
You can see the Fe molecule is incorporated in the middle! Mega bonding.
IRON CONTENT CHART IN COMMON FRUITS
Dried figs provide almost 20% of the minimum daily requirement for iron.
My family thinks figs are too ugly to eat.
Yes, dried fruit is higher in sugar but they’re great for an after-school snack, or to satisfy those sugar cravings.
A lot better than Swedish fish. (I tell myself that every time I decide I need just one more fig!)
MAGNESIUM aka Mg
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body. It plays several important roles in the health of your body and brain.
MAGNESIUM CONTENT CHART IN COMMON FRUITS
It’s difficult to obtain our daily requirement of magnesium from food. In this case, a magnesium supplement is a good idea.
Recommended daily dose is about 400 mg. One serving of dried figs gets to about 25%.
You can see that I couldn’t resist…I included a non-fruit. DARK CHOCOLATE!! It’s very rich in magnesium, 1-ounce (28-gram) has 16% of the recommended intake.
Eat 4 ounces and you’re halfway there! HA!
Potassium’s symbol is K but it’s not vitamin K.
Yes, this is leading to more confusion but the guy who gave potassium its name…Sir Humphry Davy in 1807 … didn’t know about vitamin K. We could blame the vitamin K people, if you want?
POTASSIUM CONTENT CHART IN COMMON FRUITS
My mom always says, ‘take a bite of a banana for potassium.’ Well, Mom, this chart is for you!
All right, you can see that passion fruit did not beat bananas. Passion fruit is ahead of the other commoners.
Passion fruit has 20% of the recommended daily requirement of potassium! (A healthy adult should aim to consume 3,500–4,700 mg daily from foods.) Hurrah. Now if I could just find one to try it.
Have any of you eaten passion fruit? Quince won nothing in the vitamin war, alas.
And that’s a fresh apricot in the photo below but it was so pretty that I had to use it. The dried apricots are the real potassium winner. One serving has almost half of what most people need.
ZINC CONTENT CHART IN COMMON FRUITS
Avocadoes tied with pomegranates in the zinc race, so yet again, if you’re looking for a lower sugar alternative, avocados are your man.
Avocados win the Triple Crown. If you click on that link you’ll see that this doesn’t happen very often.
I wanted to include other fruits! I can add one of my personal favorites, blackberries! Even at 7% of the recommended zinc requirements, blackberries come in second. Raspberries get an honorable mention here at third. (I like them, too. Hey, it’s my post!)
No, I did not forget to input the apple data. They have ZERO % zinc.
Let’s talk about one last thing. Antioxidants.
Here’s a general rule of thumb. The darker the berry, the most likely it will have antioxidants!
ANTIOXIDANT CONTENT CHART IN COMMON FRUITS
In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have included bilberries. They make all the other hard-working fruits look bad. Bilberries are wild shrubs, native to Europe, but apparently can be cultivated. (If you’re an interested gardener, read more here)
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FRUIT?
Our oldest is a fan of kiwi, pineapple, and blackberries. Our youngest says it’s mangos or peaches. Our middle guy is steadfast with his apple choice, even after I shamed the heck out of them!
Louie shares our middle guy’s love for apples. (One guess as to who introduced Louie to apples!)
Fiber is included at the bequest of one of my yoga instructors. She was defending apples. That’s cool, but I was NOT about to make another excel spreadsheet. Here’s a chart from the University of Michigan:
Apples did not even win with our common fruit race, coming in after blueberries, which won for our common fruits. Surprisingly, raspberries won overall for fiber in fruit, even topping prunes!
For completeness, The American Heart Association recommends 25 to 30 grams a day of fiber from food, not supplements.
WHICH FRUIT IS BEST FOR YOU?
Which fruit is best for you? That depends on what you’re looking for in your diet.
I think we have answered the question; ‘is fruit good for you’ along with, ‘which specific fruits have the most vitamins and minerals,’ to maximize your choices.
That said, experts recommend filling half your plate with fruits and veggies. That’s 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies a day.
Vegetables, you say? We’ll save that for another post!
MODERATION AND COMMON SENSE!
Quick disclosure statement! This post isn’t meant as dietary advice. Eating forty figs to get to that 100% daily Mg number is plain silly. I wanted to share the vitamin and mineral content in fruits with you, so you can make smart choices.
Please consult with a dietitian if you have specific needs or underlying health conditions!
I’m curious! What is your favorite fruit?
Obviously different fruits will have different levels of sugar, and like in all things we can eat, moderation is always the key. That said, people with insulin issues or are at higher risk of developing an insulin issue, should be careful with what fruits and how much they eat. With my reactive hypoglycaemia, fruit is basically off the menu, not that I really liked fruit anyway. But I’m no expert, so I could be wrong on all this
Oh yes, everything in moderation is a good approach, but anyone with underlying health issues needs to take exception to the rule. Consulting with their doctor is always the best course of action. Thanks for pointing this out!
I cut two mangos today (they are so hard to serve) and thoroughly enjoyed them. But I rarely buy them. I have blueberries nearly every morning and a banana often in the middle of the night. I always have oranges and apples in the ‘frig.
I was surprised by many of the stats such as the amount of calcium an orange has.
My California grandson plans on having a summer fig stand. I’m sending him these stats. It might help his business.
A fig stand! I love fresh figs. Good luck to him. I agree, mangos are tough to cut and serve. Thanks, Amy!
Fantastic post, as children we are always taught that fruit is so important in an effort to get us to eat healthy- so it’s interesting to actually see the health benefits/down sides to fruit 🙂 I love some fruit, but I agree with the comments about moderation, for sure x
Very true. This wasn’t meant as dietary advice, but facts to use to one’s advantage when making choices! Thanks so much.
This was a fascinating read. I love healthy eating and I’m happy to see that there are so many wonderful benefits to eating fruit. I love all fruit but my favorite is probably watermelon.
Watermelon! It’s special imo, because it feels like summer and picnics! I’m so happy you found it fascinating! Thank you.
I could not stop reading this post. And laughing. I learned a TON. I am totally into fruits and vegetables and this confirmed what I have always believed–it sucks to be allergic to avocados.
Another excellent post.
Allergic to avocados? That does stink! You have tons of other options, though. I appreciate that you like my odd sense of humor. Thank you!
Great time to do a fruit article with everything coming in season soon. I love the beginning paragraph how you “pitted” one fruit against the other. Nothing else special to say other than great information and keep them coming. Mike
I’m glad you like my puns! Here’s to a great soft fruit season! Thanks.
This is really interesting to read! My favourite fruit is blueberries so I loved learning all of these facts xx
I like them, too! They did well in the fruit competition, too. A win win for both of us. Thank you!
Amazing research post. I love fruit and definitely
seasonal is the best..
I agree on all counts! Thanks.
This is such an informative post. Thanks so much for sharing all about it. My favorite fruit is probably watermelon because I just love a nice cold watermelon during the summer to cool down!
Watermelon = summer, without question! We’ll have it in the markets soon. Thank you!
I love apricots and nectarines. Louie looks adorable impersonating a butterfly!
I don’t blame you! I love nectarines and apricots, too. Louie wore that butterfly hat for the Kentucky Derby! He never did take flight, though. Thanks!
I learned a lot about fruits. Personally my favorite fruit is pin apples I love them.
Like Louie! I’m pleased that you picked up a few facts. Thanks!
I think, like everything, too much of something isn’t beneficial, everything in moderation. I’m happy to see that avocados and bananas scored so well though, they’re some of my favourites. Fascinating post, Sue, thank you!
How fortunate that you like the Triple Crown winner! I’m pleased that you found my post fascinating. Thank you, Lisa.
My favorites are banana and avocado. I have one each almost every day! I also like apples and I have started adding a frozen slice of orange into my water. It kinds of feels summery plus I love the scent.
Banana and avocado! I haven’t thought to put an orange slice in my water, though I often do with a lemon or lime. I love scents and the subtle flavor, too. Thanks!
Very interesting and informative. I love fruit so much, but don’t eat enough of it. So glad to hear avocados are high ranking, I love them in salads!
I love avocados, too. I buy a bag of them and take one or two out of the fridge to ripen each day, so I’ve always got one on hand. Thanks!
I thoroughly enjoyed this post, particularly for your loopy sense of humor. One of my favorite things to eat in a good papaya. I said a “good” one, because they vary in the following way: either they are ambrosia-like, or, they taste and smell pukey (even if fresh). I have never been able to find out what causes the less desirable ones to get that way. In any case, when they are good they are divine, and hard to beat for their nutritional value,
Thanks so funny, Marian! I’d hoped that papaya would have noteworthy nutrients so I could talk about this point! My dad loves them, yet I’ve always found that papayas smell like vomit. I can’t get near one. Interesting that you can eat some and not others. I’ll need to write a post about our olfactory senses and the interconnectedness of smell and taste! Thanks for sharing your insights!
Amazing post, your research and knowledge is very apparent! I don’t know much about the vitamins and acids in fruit, so it was really interesting to read.
Thank you so much! I’m happy that you found this interesting.
A great post. I love fruit, I try to eat as much of it in a day as possible as well as vegetables. I’m not massively keen on making my own smoothies, I prefer to cut fruit and ear it at my desk
Fruit at your desk! Sounds lovely. Thank you for stopping by!
This is such an amazing post! I eat fruit a lot, I have my favourite fruits, but this has reminded me to buy a couple of varieties of fruits this weekend!
Love, Amie ❤
The Curvaceous Vegan
How fun! I’m happy that my post has you branching out. Thanks.
I love fruit! I feel like the whole keto/atkins/low carb thing has given fruit a bad rep. Fruit is great but obviously you don’t eat 5 portions! ha.
This is the roundabout point I am hinting at. Fruit has gotten bashed by all the sure-fire ways to lose weight. Fruit has a place in our diets, too! It’s great when we’re craving something sweet. Thanks.
Wow, amazing post. So much research must have gone into this.
It’s great to see the varying benefits broken down like this.
I had no idea the darker the fruit meant the more antioxidants it contained. Thanks for sharing.
That’s exactly what I was going for with this post! I appreciate you saying so. Thank you so much.
Wow I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much about fruit in one go before! I love a kiwi. Kiwi and pineapple are definitely my favourites. Nice to see there’s so many benefits!
Interesting! Kiwi has a delicious tartness balancing the sweet, just like pineapple. Thanks so much.
So glad to see my regular avocado toast is not just tasty but ‘does the body good’ – lots of great research here! Thanks!
Avocado toast! Triple verification as a perfect snack choice. Thanks so much!
This is such an interesting topic. I’ve heard so many mixed messages when it comes to fruit. Its so helpful to see the nutritional side broken down in this way.
That’s why I decided to write this post! Now you can decide for yourself. Thanks so much!
Wow there was so much great info here. In the beginning I was a little nervous about where the post was heading, but I’m glad it didn’t say that it was bad because I love fruit. I was most surprised about cantaloupe. I’ll have to eat more of them and more avocado. Thanks for the helpful information!
~ Andrea | acaponeconnection.com
I love fruit too so I wanted to decrease the negativity. Cantaloupe surprised me as well. We’ll both need to pick up melons this fall! Thanks.
Thanks for this research. I have been trying to get my vitamins from foods rather than supplements, so this post really helps. I love most fruit, especially avocados, watermelon, and blueberries. Figs…..not so much.
It’s a tricky balance, isn’t it? With avocados and blueberries, you’re on your way with B vitamins and antioxidants. Figs seem to be a love them or hate them fruit. Maybe it’s the texture? Anyway, thanks!
I knew about folate in oranges. But I didn’t know about vitamin a in oranges and mangoes that was news!!!! My favorite fruit is mango. And yes guava does top vit c content. And also berries top fiber. These 2 I also knew. And no did I know about chocolate the dark. My favorite thing in the world. Though just know it’s kind of a superfood for its antioxidant but never dug deep. And enjoyed as always. Thanks for the info. 💖
Isa A. Blogger
You’re so welcome! I look forward to the day that I can try guava. In fact, I’m going to check at the local market this week. Thanks for the reminder. Enjoy that chocolate!
I was interested to learn that fruits like mango and cantaloupe can be good for the skin. Thank you for such valuable information and for all the work you have put in to find out!
You’re welcome. And thank you for taking the time to comment! I love that!
I like this post! Thank you for the note that fruit can’t replace other food. It’s an important and necessary part of our nutrition, but fruit alone is not enough to be healthy.
Unfortunate but true. We cannot live on fruit alone. I’m happy that you like my post, thanks!