Fruit is an important part of a healthy diet. Dietary guidelines recommend consuming two to three servings of fresh fruit every day.
Fruit provides our bodies with many valuable nutrients that are often under-consumed including potassium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. In addition to being nutrient-dense, most fruits are low in total fat and calories, making them a great choice when you are trying to lose weight.
Do Fruits Help in Weight Loss?
Research has shown that long term consistent intake of fruit is associated with weight maintenance or modest amounts of weight loss (1). This may be because high fiber foods like fruit can increase the feeling of fullness when consumed as part of a meal or snack.
Diets high in fiber have been shown to help reduce body weight, body fat, and waist circumference over time (2).
All of the best diets for weight loss include regular consumption of fruit. Here are 10 of the best fruits that may help boost your chances of weight loss success.
Berries are nutritional superstars. They are naturally sweet, low in calories, and high in fiber.
One cup of blueberries contains 84 calories and 4 grams of fiber. This is 14% of the total recommended intake of 28 grams per day for a 2,000 calorie diet.
One cup of sliced strawberries contains just 54 calories and 3 grams of fiber. Strawberries are full of antioxidants and provide 114% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin C which can help strengthen your immune system.
The high fiber content of berries makes them a great snack. A small study compared a high sugar snack with a serving of mixed berries consisting of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries before a meal. The results showed that at their next meal the berry group ate significantly fewer calories than the group that consumed the sugary snack (3).
The health benefits of berries go beyond their contribution to weight loss. Regular intake of blueberries may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, improve cognitive function, lower blood pressure, and improve heart health. A more recent study found that consuming one cup of blueberries daily for six months improved blood vessel function and raised good cholesterol levels (4).
To take advantage of the benefits of fiber-rich berries add them to breakfast cereals and smoothies or simply eat them plain when you are craving a sweet snack.
Apples are another great high fiber snack that is low in calories. One medium apple has 95 calories and 4.4 grams of fiber. Two types of fiber are found in an apple; soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber mixes with water in the stomach and increases feelings of fullness and satisfaction after a meal. Insoluble fiber is not digested in the stomach but helps promote bowel health and regular bowel movements.
Eating more soluble fiber may help you lose belly fat. One study had participants increase their soluble fiber intake by 10 grams per day. When combined with an increase in physical activity, participants saw a 3.6% decrease in belly fat over a five year period (5).
Apple juice can be a tempting alternative to whole apples, but be careful. Research has shown that eating a whole apple before a meal reduces hunger pangs and lowers the total amount of food consumed with a subsequent meal. However, that same reduction was not seen with apple juice, even when fiber was added to the juice (6). It is always best to consume your fruit in its fresh, whole form.
One last tip with apples. Be sure to eat the peel. The majority of the nutrients and about one half of the fiber are found in the apple peel (7). This advice applies to fruit; eat the whole thing not just the peeled flesh.
Apples make a great mid-day snack plain or sliced and dipped in peanut butter. They can also be chopped and added to morning oatmeal, mixed with yogurt, or used to add crunch and flavor to a salad.
The old saying is that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. We may want to update that because it appears that a pear a day may keep the unwanted pounds away.
A retrospective analysis found that individuals who eat pears on a regular basis consume considerably more fiber each day compared to non-consumers (8). More importantly, pear eaters also were 35% less likely to be obese.
These benefits are likely due to the very high fiber content of pears. One medium pear contains has 101 calories, 5.5 grams of fiber, and 10% of the RDI of vitamin C. Like apples, pears contain a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber.
Dip fresh pear slices into lemon or orange juice to prevent them from browning. Ripe pears taste great mixed with yogurt, or try sprinkling a bit of cinnamon over pear slices then microwave or bake them until warm.
Grapefruit has a long history of being associated with weight loss dating back to the 1930’s. In fact, the grapefruit even has its own weight-loss diet.
The “grapefruit diet” combines calorie restriction with grapefruit intake before every meal. This diet lasts for a short period of time, generally 12-14 days. Like other short term fad diets, the grapefruit diet may result in initial weight loss but long term those unwanted pounds come right back.
Better to include grapefruit as part of your regular diet and aim for long term success. One half of a medium grapefruit provides 41 calories, 2 grams of fiber, and 59% of the RDI of vitamin C. Red and pink varieties also provide a source of vitamin A.
One word of caution. Grapefruit contains compounds that interact with certain medications. Always talk with your doctor or registered dietitian before adding grapefruit to your diet.
Bananas are the most popular fruit consumed in America. One medium ripe banana contains 105 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 10% of the RDI of potassium. Bananas are also an excellent source of vitamin B6, providing 25% of the RDI.
Green bananas are high in something known as resistant starch. It is called resistant starch because it is not digestible. Studies continue to investigate the potential health benefits of resistant starch. So far researchers have found it to be beneficial for gut health and potentially protective against colon cancer (9).
As bananas ripen the resistant starch converts to regular starch which is digestible by the body. The starch in ripe bananas behaves more like a typical carbohydrate found in rice and pasta. But, because of their high fiber content, bananas rate lower in the glycemic index meaning they do not raise blood sugar levels as quickly as other carbohydrate-containing foods like soft drinks or white bread.
Bananas are nutrient-dense, portable, and delicious. Eat one plain or slice a banana over a piece of whole-wheat toast and drizzle with a small amount of honey for a tasty breakfast treat.
Watermelon is more than just a yummy summertime treat. It is a great weight loss snack that is low in calories. Cut watermelon provides just 46 calories per cup. They are a great source of many antioxidants including beta carotene, lycopene, and 16% of the RDI of vitamin C.
Watermelon is about 90% water. However, most fruits and vegetables have high water content, not just watermelon. Adequate water intake is an important consideration for anyone trying to lose weight.
One study found that people who were not adequately hydrated were significantly more likely to be overweight (10). Eating enough healthy fruits and vegetables each day is a great way to increase your water intake.
Watermelon is a refreshing snack on a hot day. It can also be added to a fruit salad or mixed in with a smoothie.
Pineapple has received a lot of attention for its potential role in weight loss. A recent study in animals did show that pineapple juice helped increase fat breakdown and decrease fat storage (11). However, no studies have confirmed this effect in humans so more research is needed.
Pineapple should still be considered one of the top weight loss fruits. One cup of pineapple chunks contains 83 calories, 2 grams of dietary fiber, more than 100% of the RDI of vitamin C, and 67% of the RDI of manganese, an important antioxidant in our bodies.
Try adding pineapple to your breakfast smoothie, lunch salad or take advantage of their natural sweetness by adding some to a cup of cottage cheese or Greek yogurt.
Lemons are not often thought of as a go-to afternoon snack. However, lemon water is a great low-calorie beverage. The juice from half of a lemon adds only six total calories when squeezed into a glass of water.
In a recent study, two groups of individuals were given reduced-calorie meals. One half of the group was also told to drink two cups of water before the meal. After 12 weeks, the group that drank water before the meal reduced their calorie intake and lost significantly more weight than the group that only consumed the lower-calorie meal (12).
While this study was not specifically focused on lemon water it provides good evidence that drinking water before a meal can provide weight loss benefits. Drinking lemon water can be a great strategy to try.
9. Tart cherries
One cup of unsweetened tart cherry juice contains 130 calories. Tart cherry juice intake has been linked to several possible health benefits.
Studies have shown that tart cherry juice may reduce blood pressure (13). Promising results in animal studies suggest tart cherry juice may reduce body weight, belly fat, and blood cholesterol levels (14). More studies in humans are needed to confirm these results.
Tart cherry juice has also been linked to improved sleep quality (15). While often overlooked, sleep is an important factor in living a healthy lifestyle. Research has shown a link between poor sleep quality and weight gain (16).
In most research studies, participants consumed one to two cups of tart cherry juice per day. Many tart cherry juices are loaded with added sugar. These extra calories will most certainly not help you lose weight. Be sure to look for an unsweetened tart cherry juice at the grocery store if you choose to add it to your diet.
Technically avocados are classified as fruit. Avocados are interesting because unlike other fruits for weight loss listed here, they are very high in fat and low in carbohydrates.
One cup of chopped avocado contains 240 calories and a whopping 10 grams of fiber. Avocados are also an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals. One serving provides 35% of the RDI of vitamin K, 31% of the RDI of copper, 30% of the RDI of folate, 21% of the RDI of vitamin E, and 15% of the RDI for potassium. Avocados pack a serious nutritional punch.
Do not let the high calorie and fat content scare you away. One study found that there was no effect on weight loss efforts when participants consumed one full avocado per day over a period of six weeks (17).
Researchers have also found that avocado consumers tend to eat healthier diets overall and weigh less than those who do not eat avocados on a regular basis (18).
Try mixing chopped avocado with scrambled eggs or use it a replacement for butter on toast. You can also add avocado to a salad or make delicious dips for family parties.
Which Fruits Should Be Avoided For Weight Loss?
All fruits can be part of a weight loss diet. Instead of avoiding specific fruits to help you lose weight, focus on the quality of the fruit you consume. Fresh, whole fruit with the skin intact is best.
Fruit juices should be avoided as they provide added calories and sugar with none of the fiber. Also, stay away from fruits canned in syrup and dried fruit. Dried fruit has very low water content which concentrates the sugars and makes it much easier to over consume.
The Final Word
Fruit is an important part of a healthy diet and can play a role in any weight loss plan.
Be mindful of the calories in fruits and practice moderation. Limit yourself to two to three servings per day.
Eat a variety of fruit that is fresh, frozen, or canned in its own juices and try to incorporate a serving of each of the 10 best fruits for weight loss at least once per week with meals or snacks.
Remember that healthy eating is only part of a healthy lifestyle. In addition to eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, get lots of regular physical activity and get plenty of sleep to help reach your weight loss goals.