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What are the benefits of fruit in a healthy eating pattern?

Foods in the fruit food group offer a unique package of nutrients.

Fruits are a good source of vitamins and minerals, recognized for their role in preventing vitamin C and vitamin A deficiencies. People who incorporate fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy eating pattern have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. USDA's MyPlate encourages filling half of the plate with fruits and vegetables at mealtimes.

Fruits are an important part of a healthy eating pattern and the source of many vital nutrients, including potassium, folate (folic acid), and antioxidants including polyphenols. Fruit such as blueberries, cranberries, strawberries and citrus also contain phytochemicals that are being studied for their added health benefits.  

How Many Servings of Fruit Are Recommended? 

Daily Recommendation  
 AgeNo. of servings
Children2–8 years1–1.5 cups
Girls9–18 years
1.5 cups
Boys9–18 years
1.5–2 cups
Women19–30 years
2 cups
Women31+ years1.5 cups
Men19+ years2 cups

Essential Nutrients in Fruit

The nutrients in fruit are vital for overall health and maintenance of body systems. The benefits of these nutrients include:                             

  • Reduced risk of chronic disease: Eating a diet rich in fruit may reduce risk for stroke, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Improved heart health: The potassium in fruit can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Potassium may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.
  • Lower risk of neural tube defects: Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant and those in the first trimester of pregnancy need adequate folate. Folate helps prevent neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida. 
  • Protection against cell damage: An eating pattern where fruit is part of an overall healthy diet provides antioxidants that help repair damage done by free radicals and may protect against certain cancers. It may also have a positive impact on digestive health. Polyphenols are antioxidants that have been shown to alter gut microecology, or the proportion of healthy versus harmful bacteria. 

Find out more about the relationship of a healthy eating pattern and activity on overall health by visiting the Healthy Eating page. For online learning activities, check out the nutrition resources for online learning page. 


Why is it important to eat fruit? US Department of Agriculture ChooseMyPlate.gov website. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/eathealthy/fruits/fruits-nutrients-health. Accessed October 1, 2019. 
Benzie IF, Choi SW. Antioxidants in food: content, measurement, significance, action, cautions, caveats, and research needs. Adv Food Nutr Res. 2014;71:1-53. 
Parkar SG, Stevenson DE, Skinner MA. The potential influence of fruit polyphenols on colonic microflora and human gut health. Int J of Food Microbiol. 2008;124(3):295-298.