Does Eating Fruit Make You Gain Weight?

The sugar in fruit is not going to make you fat like the sugar in, say, a cupcake.

Sugar can make great headlines when celebrities and trainers single it out as one of the key culprits in America's obesity crisis. Fruit—because it contains natural sugar—sometimes gets lumped in with foods like baked goods, candy, and sugary drinks. Not all sugar needs to be unnecessarily shunned, however.

The American Heart Association recommends getting four servings of fruit a day as part of a healthy eating strategy. That comes out to about one medium fruit the size of your first; half a cup of fresh, frozen, or canned fruit; or a quarter cup of dried fruit. Here are five reasons why you'll want to get your recommended daily intake of cherries, berries, melon, and other juicy gems.

Fruit Eaters Tend To Weigh Less

Fruits contain ample amounts of certain simple sugars, like glucose, fructose, sucrose, and others. These same sugars have also been known to cause obesity. However, it's wrong to conclude that fruits cause obesity. While this may seem contradictory, fruit actually has anti-obesity effects.

So instead of going for a cookie, reach for a crisp apple, a juicy peach, or a handful of fresh blueberries. Most fruits have fewer calories than baked goods and can be just as filling when eaten whole (instead of dried).

Fruit Is Packed With Water and Fiber

Apart from boasting impressive nutrients, whole fruits are high in water and fiber. The water and fiber are what make fresh fruits so filling. They also help make naturally occurring sugar in fruits less concentrated than the sugar in other sweet foods. Here are some examples:

Amount of sugar in foods
One cup of whole strawberries  7 grams sugar
One tablespoon of maple syrup  13 grams sugar
One tablespoon of honey  17 grams sugar
 17 gummy bears  21 grams sugar
12-ounce can of soda 30 grams sugar

And even in fruits with more sweetness per bite, the sugar is bundled with valuable protective substances. Mango, for example, has been shown to prevent or stop the growth of breast and colon cancer cells.

It Contains Awesome Antioxidants

If you want to find an excellent source of antioxidants, look no further than fruits and vegetables. These foods contain several antioxidants including vitamins C and E, selenium, and carotenoids.

While you can get antioxidants from supplements, you may not see the same benefits as you would if you were getting the same antioxidants from fruits and veggies. People who eat more veggies and fruits have lower risks of several diseases.

Supplements, however, don't seem to show a lower risk of developing disease. Also the antioxidants in supplements pose health concerns (the ones in foods do not). Supplements can have negative health effects when taken in high doses and may interact with medicines.

Healthcare providers will want to know if you're taking supplements. So make sure you share this information the next time you see a healthcare provider.

To get the fullest range of antioxidants from fruit, eat a wide variety of these colorful foods. Antioxidants vary from fruit to fruit. For example, berries and citrus fruits have high levels of vitamin C. Cherries, apricots, melons, and mangos are great sources of carotenoids. Grapes, cherries, berries, citrus, and apples also contain bioactive substances that offer additional health benefits.

To reap the rewards, the smartest strategy is to eat a wide variety of different types of fruit. Alternate the types of fruit you buy and the colors. Rather than munching on an apple every day, mix it up between berries, bananas, and other fruits.

Fruit Has Beauty Benefits

There's more good news about those antioxidants: The rewards of consuming a diet rich in fruits and veggies can be seen in your skin. The antioxidants in fruits and veggies can reduce your risk of cancers, including skin cancer, and protect your skin from damaging UV rays.

That's not all. There is also evidence that suggests fruit can help combat the effects of aging skin. Lipoic acid and other substances found in fruits and some foods may be able to counteract increased stiffness and reduced elasticity in our skin.

Provides Endurance-Boosting Energy Benefits

Consuming fruit pre-workout is a great way to fuel exercise and energize your cells. Research has found that antioxidant-rich compounds in fruits called polyphenols can boost exercise performance. The best performance was seen in people who got these compounds from several sources. Cherries, berries, and pomegranates seem to offer the most benefit.

Endurance athletes (long-distance runners, for example) are at a higher risk than average for hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and heart damage. Diets centered around fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods may offer safety and performance benefits by providing additional protection for heart and blood vessels.

A Quick Review

With so many health benefits, fruit is worth including in your daily diet. Fruits contain many antioxidants that can promote a healthy weight, prevent your skin from aging, and help protect against cancer and other diseases. Whole fruits also contain a bunch of water and fiber, which can help you feel full. Plus, fruit may also give you a spike in energy and boost your endurance.

That doesn't mean you should eat fruit in unlimited quantities, however. Like vegetables, fruits are packed with beneficial carbohydrates and fiber. Your daily intake should be based on your body's energy needs. Generally, about half of your plate should be filled with vegetables and fruits.

If you any questions or concerns about how you can incorporate more fruit into your diet, talk to a healthcare provider or dietician. These professionals can ensure you're getting the right amount of nutrients for your health goals.

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