Is Fruit Good For You?

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.

Which fruit is best for you?
You can only tell this is an apple from its shape. This did not stop me from investigating.

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…

‘Fruit is the worst thing for you! You shouldn’t eat it, ever!”

Anonymous trainer

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.

Swedish Fish are Good but not Good For you
However, I was talking about eating a cup of blueberries, not a bag of Swedish fish!
Essential vitamins and minerals
Would you choose these or those delicious fish?

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.

WHICH FRUIT IS BEST FOR YOU Passion_fruit_red
Passion fruit. Have you ever tried it?

MY STRUGGLES WITH EXCEL

The confusing chart received over 2K comments!
It's got gorgeous pastels w/ over 40 fruits, smashed into a graph with no units.
Okay, I was jealous.
This is a slice from the chart. (yes that's a pun.)
It’s difficult to read. It has a few inaccuracies.
We all make mistakes! It's okay, it's still a cool chart.
Passion Fruit and Quince topped the list.
I HAVE NEVER EATEN QUINCE!
This is quince. I could not have ID'ed this fruit in a line up.
Have you eaten quince?
I stretched my info into 3 charts.
It was still impossible to read, even with units.
So I converted it to a log scale, thinking it would differentiate the numbers.
This only made the data more confusing.
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After 8 hours, I trashed all my charts. 

Kudos to the guy who published his.

Best Day Ever...NOT for Louie or me
Not the best day ever. Louie agreed.

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.

Is Fruit Good for you_Louie butterfly imposter
Is it good for Louie to impersonate a butterfly? Not if he decides to leap off the roof!

ESSENTIAL VITAMINS AND MINERALS

What is so essential about them, anyway?

Essential nutrients are any food substance required for health or growth that is not synthesized in the body

We're sticking with humans today.

"Essential" is a buzz word for 'must be obtained through our diet.'

Definition here

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!

Does an apple a day keep the doctor away
Does an apple a day keep the doctor away?
Which fruit wins the vitamin and mineral race
Which horse is the apple?

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!

VItamin A structure Retinol
Vitamin A

SEVERAL BENEFITS OF VITAMIN A

Protects Your Eyes From Night Blindness
Prevents squamous metaplasia
That's skin cancer!
Essential for normal differentiation of epithelial cells into specialized tissues.
Such as cells in the pancreas & mucus cells to aid with infection
Used topically to prevent wrinkles and acne
Retinol is great for rapidly replaceable tissues.
Also helps relieve dry, scaly skin.
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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)

Vitamin A Content in common fruits Science Blog
CANTALOUPE WINS!

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

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.

B12 chemical structure_most complex
B 12 has a complex structure, the most complex vitamin structure, actually!

A FEW BODY FUNCTIONS THAT GO OFF-KILTER WITH B VITAMINS

If we don't have enough B1 (Thiamine) in our diets...
Brain and heart tissues are affected first! 
Cardiac function pretty much falls apart.
Cardiomyopathy
If you want to know more about cardiomyopathy, click here
We have memory loss.
Irreparable memory loss. (what?)
Our cells have an impaired ability to break down glucose for fuel.
They starve! Poor cells.
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Vitamin B12 deficiency is no joke, either.
B 12 is Cyanocobalamin.
DNA synthesis is affected.
This affects every cell in our bodies!
DNA is a molecule that contains the biological instructions needed for biological organisms to develop, survive, and reproduce.
Vitamin B12 is a treatment for CYANIDE POISONING!
Cyanide is one of the deadliest poisons in history.
Click Here to read more
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B VITAMIN CONTENT CHART FOR COMMON FRUITS

B Vitamins in common fruits
In the interest of time, I added the Bs together.

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!

Avocado and blueberry delicious combination
Winner!

FOLATE AKA VITAMIN B9

I just broke my word about the Bs because here I am, talking about folate which has an alias. B9!

Adequate folate intake is extremely important during periods of rapid growth
Such as pregnancy, infancy, and adolescence.
Fetal tissues are fast-growing!
Says captain obvious
Without adequate folate, DNA and RNA synthesis is affected.
BAD!
Anemias are common in folate deficiency.
Folates help with red blood cell production.
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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.

Folic acid in common fruits
Darn avocado is going for the Triple Crown.

VITAMIN C aka ASCORBIC ACID

I’m unsure why these vitamins need two names. 

Vitamin C is famous because of one word SCURVY!
All those poor sailors could have avoided losing their hair and teeth and bleeding all over the place.
I could type out half a dozen slides about this important vitamin
But I won't.
Vitamin C has its fingers everywhere.
COLLAGEN SYNTHESIS, IMMUNE SYSTEM, IRON UPTAKE, MEMORY, HBP
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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!

Which fruit is best for you? Make Sense of Science_ Guava
Guava for the win! (Have you eaten guava?)
Vitamin C in common Fruits ORANGES
I'm excited that oranges didn't win!

CALCIUM

216 bones in the human body
Calcium brings bones and teeth to mind!
Calcium does more than build strong bones
Without calcium, you could develop seizures
Calcium helps transmit nerve signals
No calcium = heart irregularities
How about twitching? That would not be fun.
Yes, calcium helps with muscle contraction & relaxation, including the heart!
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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.

Calcium content in common fruits
I didn't want oranges to win but they did.

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.

Hemoglobin molecule showing iron
My text addition was too much for my box size. My bad.
IRON = HEMOGLOBIN
I could probably stop right here!
ANEMIA STINKS
Iron helps our muscles store and use oxygen. Iron is also part of many other proteins and enzymes.
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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!)

Dried figs 20% iron requirement science blog
Ugly but delicious
Iron content in common fruits make sense of science
Apples lose.

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.

Romanian Deadlift
Magnesium is key for muscle function!
Magnesium is critical for muscle function.
Low magnesium causes muscle tetany
More on muscle tetany here. It's not pretty.
Magnesium helps move blood sugar into your muscles and dispose of lactate
It makes sense that Mg supplementation can boost exercise performance
One of our boys was getting muscle cramps when exercising. Same for me w a few yoga poses.
One week of taking a Mg supplement, both of us had ZERO muscle issues!
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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%.

Magnesium content in common fruits
Much as I like figs, I didn't want them to win again.

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!

Dark Chocolate Make Sense of Science
It wasn't easy to snap this pic w/o eating a square. Okay, I ate a square.

POTASSIUM

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 atomic symbol Make Sense Of Science
Don't blame Humphry Davy
Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids
Potassium helps control heart rate and blood pressure, countering the adverse effects of sodium.
Without potassium, we'll present with....
Heart irregularities and arrhythmias
Muscle cramps & weakness
to name a few symptoms
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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!

Potassium content in common fruits
Bananas didn't win.

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

ZINC is essential for the activity of 100+ enzymes.

We need it for wound healing, blood vessel walls, as a co-factor for cross-linking in the formation of collagen. COLLAGEN!

Without zinc, we have all sorts of awful body failures.

Wound healing, hair loss, immunity issues to name a few.
More on the magic of enzymes in this post!

ZINC CONTENT CHART IN COMMON FRUITS

Zinc content chart in common fruits
Avocados have done it again.

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.

ANTIOXIDANTS

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!

Essential vitamins and minerals_make sense of science
Gorgeous and full of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants!
The dark color of most berries is from a class of compounds called anthocyanidins.
This is a phytonutrient shown to aid in the process of neutralizing free radical damage in our cells.
Over time, the collagen matrix of our tissues and cells begins to deteriorate.
BOO!
Antioxidants help to keep this from happening, with a high capacity for free-radical neutralization.
Go anthrocyanidins!
Antioxidants have been shown to help prevent a number of long-term illnesses
Namely, heart disease, cancer, and an eye disorder called macular degeneration.
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant!
(for the record)
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ANTIOXIDANT CONTENT CHART IN COMMON FRUITS

Antioxidants in common fruits
Blueberries are our commoner superstar!

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)

Bilberry bush antioxidants
Bilberry Bush Native of Europe

If you'd like more info about the antioxidant content in food, I have just the pdf for you!

Link on the backside

138 pages of glorious antioxidant content info. An exhaustive list, not only of antioxidants in fruits, but all foods.

Click 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!

Scientists Discover New Species of Primate

Louie shares our middle guy’s love for apples. (One guess as to who introduced Louie to apples!)

Louie loves apples Is fruit good for you
Louie loves his apples slathered with peanut butter. Again, how did Louie develop this proclivity?

DARN FIBER

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: 

Are Fruits good for you? Fiber in fruits chart
I added this section to give apples a chance to win a category!

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! 

Raspberries have a lot of fiber.
Go Raspberries!

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!

Vitamin and mineral content in fruit science blog
Yes, fruit is good for you

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? 

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52 thoughts on “Is Fruit Good For You?”

  1. 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

    Reply
    • 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!

      Reply
  2. Hi Sue,
    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.

    Reply
  3. 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

    Reply
  4. 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.

    Reply
  5. 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.

    Reply
  6. 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

    Reply
  7. 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!

    Reply
  8. 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!

    Reply
  9. 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.

    Reply
  10. 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,

    Reply
    • 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!

      Reply
  11. 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.

    Reply
  12. 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

    Rosie

    Reply
  13. 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.

    Corinne x

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  14. 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.

    Reply
  15. 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.

    Reply
  16. 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

    Reply
  17. 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.

    Reply
    • 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!

      Reply
  18. 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
    https://bit.ly/39f9FN0

    Reply

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