When you think about high-calorie junk foods, pizza and cake are more likely to come to mind than fresh apples and oranges. Raw, fresh fruit offers relatively few calories per serving and is more likely to provide you with nutritional benefits than facilitate weight gain, but eating fruit in baked goods and other indulgent dishes can add more pounds than healthy nutrients.
Some fruits have higher calorie values than others, but most make great snacks and meal additions because of their high fiber contents and very low fat and calorie counts. Those properties give them low energy density values, which are the best choices for healthy weight loss. According to the USDA's National Nutrient Database, a medium banana has about 105 calories, 0.4 grams of fat and 3 grams of fiber; a medium apple has 95 calories, 0.3 grams of fat and 4.4 grams of fiber; 1 cup of sliced strawberries has 53 calories, 0.5 grams of fat and 3.3 grams of fiber; and 1 cup of diced watermelon pieces has 46 calories, 0.25 grams of fat and 0.6 grams of fiber.
Whether or not you gain weight with fruit in your diet is related to a variety of factors. Chief among them is total calorie count. If you eat more calories than you burn on a regular basis, you will gain weight over time regardless of how much fruit you eat. Alternately, if you burn more calories than you consume, you'll lose weight.
Eating a banana and an apple every day may set you back about 200 calories, but the nutritional benefits those foods provide are significant. The USDA's ChooseMyPlate.gov states that eating more fruits can help prevent chronic health issues including diabetes, cancer, heart attack, high cholesterol, stroke, high blood pressure, bone loss and kidney stones. Eating fruit at the expense of items in other main food groups, however, can result in poor nutrition and nutrient deficiencies.
Even though fruit has healthy nutritional properties, it's not free of calories, especially when you eat a lot of it. "Fruit has almost three times the calories per serving as nonstarchy vegetables, so it is easier to consume too many fruit calories, which can interfere with weight loss," states Dr. Melina Jampolis, the physician nutrition specialist for CNN.com. To keep your weight in check and still enjoy a healthy, balanced diet that meets your nutritional needs, aim for eating about 2 cups of fruit per day along with servings of whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat or nonfat dairy and vegetables.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.