You ask we answer! Today, we answer the question
How many fruits should I eat?
Well, many of us are quite confused about how much fruit is a healthy portion especially if you are trying to lose weight and you cannot be blamed for being confused. With all the information on the web and all the fitness and weight loss gurus out there, it is easy to get confused. The information is overwhelming I know.
You may have learned, have been told or have read that fruits are good for you, you need to eat 5 a day and that an apple a day, keeps the doctor away which is all good to some extent. Here’s what you should know about fruits though: Fruits are loaded with fruit sugar called fructose which is metabolized in the liver.
Eating too many fruits becomes a problem when the only sugar fructose found in fruits exceeds its limit. Your liver turns any excess sugar intake into triglycerides that get stored in fat cells throughout the body. The more sugar you eat, the more fat you store. Specifically, too much sugar, even from the fructose, can lead to a buildup of that visceral belly fat that has been linked to type 2 diabetes. If you’ve been wondering why that belly bulge, you just may not be pregnant….yet! (smile).
Fruits are good for you
Fruits are natures candy, they come in different forms, sizes, and taste and can really be good for your health. Research shows that a diet rich in fruits has been associated with reduced risk of diseases such as obesity, heart attacks, and strokes. However, you should keep in mind that too much of anything can be harmful, yes even fruits!
Certain fruits can raise blood sugar
Because most fruits are high in fruit sugar, this can be harmful if eaten in excess quantity especially those fruits that are high on the glycemic index (fruits that quickly raise blood sugar like mangoes, pineapples or dates) and eaten by people who have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Not all fruits are created the same
One way to know which fruit is best for you is to check the glycemic index (GI). The GI is a ranking of foods on a scale from 1 to 100, with their score indicating how quickly they raise blood sugar levels. Some fruits are low on the glycemic index i.e. they have little or no effect on your blood sugar compared to other. For example:
Low GI fruits (GI less than 55)
Medium-GI fruits (GI of 56 to 69)
- Honeydew melon
High-GI fruits (GI Index of 70 or greater)
Other fruits are higher in calories than others while some are richer in fiber (which great for digestion and weight loss) than others. So now to the question;
How many fruits should I eat?
Keep in mind that these are rough recommendations based on a 2000 kcal diet and a fairly active lifestyle. What this means is the daily fruit intake of younger kids, teens, adult, older citizens, and a very physically active person will vary based on sex, age, medical history, and activity level. That said, here is the generalized recommendation for fruit intake;
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends keeping fruits to two servings or 2 cups of fruits a day. You should definitely calculate your own daily fruit recommendation.
What does a serving or cup of fruit look like?
This is what I found out; a cup is not ANY cup you have at home. It is a standard American cup. You know those measuring cups for flour where 1 cup is written on it right? That’s a cup. I also found out that a serving is almost equivalent to a cup.
Here are a few tips on how to measure a cup or a serving of fruits:
Use a scale: generally, ~100 to ~150g of fruits is usually a serving size. The downside is you will have to use a scale every single day at every meal. Not practical! So if like me, you do not want the headache of mathematical calculations, skip to the next tip! 🙂
Use your palm: the easiest way to measure a serving size with maths. Fellow health researchers came up with the idea that your hand is a great tool to measure your portions. Read more on the famous ZIMBABWEAN HAND JIVE.
Use you an 18-inch plate: fill 1/4 of the plate with fruits to portion a serving. I call it MY AFRICAN PLATE an adaptation of the MY PLATE concept for portion control initiated by the USDA.
There are some exceptions
- A cup of fruit juice does not count as a serving because it is more concentrated, has more sugar and sometimes more calories and some of the fiber has been stripped off during the juicing process.
- When choosing dried fruits, half a cup is a serving size.
- Some fruits are larger than others so make sure you portion control fruits like pineapple, watermelon, pawpaw or any other large fruit right.
So there you go, I hope you have learned how much fruits you need and how to portion it right. Once you start paying attention to the fruits and the quantity you eat, you will realize that you have either been eating too much or too little.
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