Nutritional Value of Fruit
When we think of the nutritional value of fruit, we often worry about calories, glycemic index and sugar, but forget about other important properties.
Fruit is full of powerful antioxidants, fiber, water and phytochemicals, those compounds that you can only get from plants.
Learn more about the fruit nutritional value on this page in my list of fruits.
I'll share my secrets for buying the most nutrient-rich fruits for maximum health benefits!
• Some people need to be careful with fruit consumption and may not be able to tolerate any fruit in their diet. • Some fruits are high in calories, carbs and/or glycemic index (2). For weight loss, the fruit to vegetable ratio should be 1 serve of fruit for every 5 serves of vegetables (1).
Antioxidants are found in food and supplements. They neutralize free radicals which are harmful molecules that damage our cells and cause inflammation.
Antioxidant content is commonly measured as Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) (3). While there is some debate about the usefulness and accuracy of this measurement, it’s a convenient way to compare the nutritional values of fruits.
Some of the highest ORAC values are found in the following fruits (4), and generally, in fruits that are very brightly coloured.
Before you rush out and start eating loads of these fruits, remember the serving size for fruit is generally half a cup or one small piece of fruit; dried fruit serving sizes are small (e.g. see Date below). • Pomegranate: antioxidant content >11mmol/100g. One serve = ½ pomegranate
• Blueberry: antioxidant content >7.57mmol/100g. One serve = ½ cup
• Strawberry: antioxidant content >6.88mmol/100g. One serve = ½ cup halved berries
• Grapes: >1.5mmol/100g. One serve = 10 – 15 grapes
• Orange: >1.1mmol/100g. One serve = 1 medium orange
• Pineapple: >1.0mmol/100g. One serve = ½ cup cubes
• Date: >1.0mmol/100g. One serve = 1 - 2 dates (Medjool or Deglet noor)
Secret tip #1 - If you're going to enjoy fruit, buy fruits with very high antioxidant values and do the best thing by your body.
ORAC aside, let’s look at the nutritional value of fruits that you might eat regularly.
Secret tip #2 - Make these fruits part of your shopping list staples!
Now, keep reading for more specific detail on the nutritional value of fruits.
Apples are a major proportion of fruit supply in most Western countries.
One medium apple will deliver about 17% of your daily fiber needs and makes apples a ‘filling’ fruit.
The soluble fiber (pectin) and polyphenols in the apples together may lower cholesterol (3).
Secret tip #3 - To make the most of the nutritional value of apples, eat them raw with the skin on.
Fresh strawberries are full of vitamin C and fiber.
The bright red colour of strawberries means they’re full of powerful antioxidants that can help prevent cancers.
A cup of strawberries delivers about 140% of your daily vitamin C needs and about 12% of your daily fiber needs. In fact, strawberries have significantly more antioxidants than some other fruits (4).
Strawberries are very prone to fungal diseases and are often treated with fungicide. To minimize your health risks, be sure to buy
or wash them well in fresh water.
Nutritional value of a banana
Bananas are starchy and sweet – full of energy and perfect as a post-workout snack.
A medium banana delivers about 100 calories, plus 12% of your daily fiber needs.
Secret tip #4 - Cut the banana in half and enjoy half with 5 almonds, for a better balance of protein and carbs.
Bananas are lower in antioxidant value than more brightly coloured fruits (4). The nutritional value of this fruit comes mainly from the carbohydrate and fiber.
Nutritional value of grapes
Black and red grapes have powerful antioxidants in them by virtue of their brightly coloured skins.
Half a cup of grapes provides about 50 calories. The antioxidant power of grapes could enhance brain function and could improve memory (5)
Like strawberries, grapes are prone to fungal diseases so be sure to buy organic or wash well before eating – your grapes may have been sprayed with a fungicide.
Pomegranates are antioxidant powerhouses, containing up to 1000 times more antioxidants than some other fruits (4).
Juicing them removes much of the fiber and increases the calorie content, the nutritional value of pomegranate juice is very high.
The juice from half a fruit is a serve for one person.
Nutritional value of orange
Oranges are so rich in vitamin C and fiber that I consider them to be a superfood. Their antioxidant content is among the highest of all fruits (4). Enjoy them 3 to 5 times per week.
Secret tip #5 - Eat the whole orange rather than juice. You'll get more fiber and will feel more satisfied than if you had the juice alone.
Nutritional value of pineapple
Pineapples are delicious and sweet and rich in enzymes that help your digestive system.
Enjoy pineapple after a meal to help with digestion, and also enjoy the benefit of very high antioxidant content compared to many other fruits (4).
Nutritional value of dates
Dates are a fantastic source of fiber.
Just one date per day will deliver 6% of your daily fiber needs, but also a whopping 66 calories. They’re also a good source of antioxidants (4).
Secret tip #6 - If you’re dieting, go easy on the quantity.
(1) Dr John Berardi, Precision Nutrition www.precisionnutrition.com
(2) The Glycemic Index Database www.glycemicindex.com
(3) Aprikian, O., Duclos, V., Guyot, S., Besson, C., Manach, C., Bernalier, A., Morand, C,. Remesy, C. and Deminge, C. (2003). Apple pectin and a polyphenol-rich apple concentrate are more effective together than separately on cecal fermentations and plasma lipids in rats. Journal of Nutrition 133 (6), 1860-1865.
(4) Halvorsen, B.L., Holte, K., Myhrstad, M.C.W., Barikmo, I., Hvattum, E., Remberg, S.F., Wold, A-B., Haffner, K., Baugerod, H., Andersen, L.F., Moskaug, J.O, Jacobs, D. R. and Blohoff, R. (2002). A systematic screening of total antioxidants in dietary plants. Journal of Nutrition 132 (3), 461-471.
(5) Joseph, J.A., Shukitt-Hale, B and Willis, L.M. (2009). Grape juice, berries and walnuts affect brain aging and behavior. Journal of Nutrition 139 (9), 1813S-1817S