One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to healthy eating is that you can eat as much fruit as you like. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news but while fruit is exceptionally healthy, it does contain kilojoules, which means that it is possible to eat too much fruit. So you do not over-do it, the key things to know is what types of fruit are best and how much and how often should you be eating it to make sure that you get the nutritional benefits that fruit provides without a kilojoule overload.
Fruit, depending on the type provides a wide range of different nutrients including Vitamin C, beta carotene, Vitamin K as well as carbohydrates for energy and dietary fibre. The average piece of fruit contains 300-500kJ which is roughly equivalent to a slice of bread. Some varieties of fruit have a higher glycaemic index than others, which means they are more rapidly digested but generally speaking the kilojoule load of fruit is relatively low so all fruit is a good food choice.
The two exceptions to this rule are when you consider dried fruit, and fruit juice. Both forms of fruit result in the energy content of the fruit being concentrated. For example, an average box of sultanas contains as much carbohydrate or sugar as two pieces of regular fruit. While juicing fruit, again results in you getting a much more concentrated source of energy, without the fibre and bulk that actually eating the fruit provides. For this reason, fresh fruit is always much better than any processed varieties.
From a weight control perspective, if you model out different diets to determine how much of each food group we need to not only satisfy our nutrient requirements but to avoid taking in too many kilojoules, the average Australian adult needs at most two to three pieces of fruit each day. Naturally this quantity can be increased for extremely active people, but if you consider that up to 60% of Australian adults are overweight, many of us need less food and two to three pieces of fruit is more than enough. The other thing to consider is that small pieces of fruit such as apricots, peaches and nectarines can be doubled in quantity for every large piece of regular fruit such as bananas or mangoes.
When it comes to choosing better different types of fruit, generally speaking the brighter and fresher the fruit, the better it will be for you as the nutrient content is likely to be greater. For this reason, seasonal varieties of red, orange, purple and green vegetables including mangoes, oranges, kiwi fruit, cherries, plums, peaches and nectarines are chock full of nutrition and should be enjoyed for the brief period they are available.
Fruit: Total kJ | Total carbohydrate (g)
Banana: 400 | 20
Mango: 500 | 25
2 peaches: 400 | 18
Cup of grapes: 450 | 25
1 cup strawberries: 140 | 5
Box of sultanas: 300 | 17
6 dried apricots: 400 | 19
250mls fruit juice: 400 | 19