Fruits, for all practical purposes, are the most recognizable part of a plant. Most people associate them with sweetness, succulence and good health. Doctors paradoxically recommend a couple a day to keep their business away. They can be consumed raw, right off a branch or vine, or preserved into jams, squeezed into juices or processed into sweet supplements. 

Botanically speaking, fruits come from flowering plants or angiosperms. They are actually ripened ovaries and associated parts, and contain seeds which can disperse to grow into more fruit trees. These fruits are available in a number of varieties and colours, and although all fruits are sweet when they ripen, some are extremely sour when raw. Most fruits are seasonal, and it’s best to consume them while they are in season.

China is the world’s largest producer of fruits in the world, followed by India, Brazil, USA, Spain, Mexico, Italy and Indonesia. India ranks first in the production of bananas, papayas and mangoes, and is also known for exporting pomegranates, oranges and grapes. Here is everything you need to know about fruits, including their benefits and how to use them safely.

  1. Types of fruits
  2. Nutritional value of fruits
  3. Benefits of fruits
  4. How to use fruits in your diet
  5. Side effects of fruits
  6. Takeaways

Fruits come in many varieties and colours. They can be fleshy like tomatoes or dry like coconuts, as large as papayas and as tiny as berries. There are two ways in which fruits can be classified. Firstly, fruits can be either of the following:

  • Simple, or one flower that develops into a single fruit. Most fruits belong to this category, and include apples, peaches and cherries. 
  • Aggregate, or one flower that develops into many fruits that are clustered together. This includes strawberries, grapes and raspberries.
  • Multiple, or a single, large fruit developed from multiple flowers placed closely together. This category includes pineapples and mulberries.

Secondly, these varieties are further divided into multiple groups:

  • Achene - A small fruit with a dry, thin wall surrounding a single seed that nearly fills the pericarp, like strawberry, buttercup, etc.
  • Berry - A fleshy fruit with many seeds inside, berries can have a soft, hard or leathery skin, like kiwi, blueberry, cranberry, passion fruit, watermelon, papaya, grapes and banana.
  • Caryopisis - A small, dry fruit with a thin wall that’s suffused with the seed inside, like most grains including corn, rice, oats, barley, etc.
  • Drupe - A fleshy fruit with a hard pit inside, with the latter covering the seed completely. Peach, cherry, coconut, plum, mango, raspberries and mulberries are some varieties.
  • Legume - A dry fruit that is long, thin and has a number of seeds inside. Peas, peanuts and tamarind are some examples.
  • Nut - A dry fruit with a hard wall that contains a single seed, like chestnut, hazelnut, acorn and almonds.
  • Pome - A fleshy fruit with a cartilage-like structure that encloses the seeds, like apples, pears, quince and loquat.
  • Capsule - A dry woody fruit that opens when mature to release multiple seeds inside, like brazil nuts, poppy seeds, etc.

Fruits pack quite a punch of nutrients, and most of these are essential for your overall growth and development. According to the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) and the Healthy US-Style Eating Pattern, an adult is supposed to have 400 grams of fruits and vegetables in a day, with at least 2 cup-equivalents of fruits. The following nutrients can be derived from eating fruits:

  • Most fruits have a high concentration of water and dietary fiber, which makes them easy to digest and eating them can make you feel fuller for longer.
  • All fruits are high in Vitamin C and other vitamins, like folic acid, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, etc.
  • All fruits have high levels of natural sugars like sucrose and fructose.
  • Most fruits are rich in minerals like potassium.
  • All fruits are low in fat, sodium and calories, and almost all have no cholesterol at all.

Because of their rich nutrient content, fruits are extremely beneficial for health. The following are some of the benefits you can gain from including fruits in your regular diet.

Fruits help with weight loss

Not only are most fruits low in fat and calories, but they are also chock full of dietary fiber and water. Eating fruits can help you counter cravings, stay full for longer periods of time and provide essential carbohydrates and sugar to maintain energy levels. It’s for these reasons that fruits are considered to be an important part of every weight loss diet or plan.

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Fruits keep heart attacks at bay

Eating a diet that is low in sodium and fat is important if you are at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, and fruits are low in both these nutrients. Fruits also help maintain low cholesterol levels and are full of vitamins and antioxidants that improve blood circulation, and thereby reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Berries, avocados and tomatoes are particularly effective in this regard.

Fruits boost the immunity

Since fruits are bursting with essential vitamins and minerals like potassium, phosphorous, manganese, magnesium, calcium and iron, they can help fight infections, whether they are bacterial infections or viral infections. The antioxidants in fruits, like polyphenols and carotenoids, also give your overall immunity a boost - and this is especially true for seasonal fruits. For example, eating citrus fruits like oranges and lemons can keep the common cold away during the winter months.

(Read more: How to improve your immunity)

Fruits protect against cancer

There is no particular type of food group that can cure cancer, but including adequate amounts of fruit in your diet can help prevent some types of cancer. Because of their antioxidant  properties and high dietary fiber content, fruits are especially effective against colorectal cancer and lung cancer. Eating fruits rich in Vitamin C can reduce the risk of esophageal cancer, and those high in lycopene can protect against prostate cancer.

(Read more: Cancer diet)

Fruits reduce diabetes risk

Keeping your blood sugar range in check is very important for prediabetic and diabetic patients, and fruits can help with that. According to the American Diabetes Association, fruits are so rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber that they can help keep blood sugar levels in control, and especially help manage Type 2 diabetes.

(Read more: Diabetes diet)

Fruits lower cholesterol levels

No fat, no sodium and minimum calories indicate that fruits can keep high cholesterol issues at bay. The dietary fiber concentration in fruits helps reduce the risk of artery-clogging fats from sticking to the circulatory system. Many fruits are rich in sterols and stanols, which can prevent your body from absorbing cholesterol. So including fruits in your diet can lower cholesterol levels.

Fruits regulate blood pressure

An increased potassium intake is very important to keep high blood pressure levels in check, and a number of fruits are high in this mineral. This list of fruits includes bananas, apples, oranges, etc. What’s more, the lack of sodium, starch and saturated fats in fruits can also help lower blood pressure levels.

(Read more: Diet for high blood pressure)

Fruits aid digestion

The most important nutrient that regulates bowel movements to keep your digestive system working in top order is dietary fiber, and fruits have huge amounts of it. Eat enough fruits and you will be able to keep indigestion, nausea, diarrhea and constipation at bay. Most fruit skins also have high amounts of pectin, a soluble dietary fiber, which can further aid digestion.

Fruits fight signs of ageing

Nothing fights the signs of ageing as well as fruits rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Fruits like papaya reduces fine lines and wrinkles from forming on your skin, while others like blueberries are rich in antioxidants like anthocyanin, which can protect the skin from sunburn, stress and pollution. It’s no wonder then that most beauty products have fruit extracts; just imagine how beneficial eating fruits will be for your skin’s health.

Fruits lower risk of depression

A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2018 suggests that a high intake of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of depression. The research found that even a 100g increase in daily fruit intake can reduce the risk of depression by 3%. More and more studies are now establishing an empirical link like this between fruit intake and mental health, so it’s important to include them in your diet.

Fruits, when eaten in the right amounts, can benefit your overall health as well as help counter issues like weight gain, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. But do you know how to use fruits safely in your daily diet? Here are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • Most fruits might be available all-year round now, but it’s best to buy and eat fresh fruits while they are in season.
  • Canned and processed fruits can have higher levels of sugar, sodium and preservatives (fresh fruits can go bad faster). Avoid buying these products and opt for fresh, whole, seasonal fruits.
  • You must wash fruits thoroughly to get rid of pesticides and bacteria like E. Coli.
  • Do not peel whole fruits before eating them. The skin has vitamins and antioxidants that your body needs.
  • Cooking or baking fruits can reduce their nutritional value. Eat fruits raw as much as possible to ensure their nutrient quality.
  • Eating fruits after dinner is a bad idea. You can have them throughout the day, but avoid them after dinner to reduce the risk of indigestion. 
  • Eat fruits as a snack or at least 30 minutes before dinner to make sure you don’t overeat or overindulge during your meal.
  • Include fruits of as many colours and types as you can in your diet to maximise their benefits.

Despite the immense benefits you can get from fruits, there are some cases in which consuming them in excess can be harmful for your health. Here are a few side effects you need to keep in mind while including fruits in your diet.

  • If you suffer from gastrointestinal issues like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, etc. then you should avoid eating too many fruits. Fruits are rich in dietary fiber, which can inflame the intestines and aggravate your condition.
  • Too much fruit intake without proper meals during the day can cause bloating, gas, diarrhea and acidity.
  • If you suffer from fructose malabsorption - that is, if your body does not absorb the natural sugar of fruits well - then having too many fruits can cause bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, gas and diarrhea. 
  • You might assume that fruit juices are as beneficial as fresh, whole fruits but they are not. Fruit juices have less fiber and they concentrate the sucrose and fructose further. Drinking excessive amounts of fruit juices can raise your blood sugar, blood pressure and lead to digestive disorders.

Fruits are very good for your health and a necessity in your diet. They are sweet and tasty, and have high concentrations of water, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Eating 400g of fruits through four servings daily can give you immense health benefits, including sustainable weight loss, regulation of blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and can keep infections and certain cancers at bay. But if you suffer from gastrointestinal issues then it’s best to limit your fruit consumption. Make sure you buy and eat seasonal fruits to gain maximum benefits from them.


  1. APEDA [Internet]. Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority; Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India; Fresh fruits and vegetables
  2. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) [Internet]. US Department of Health and Human Services. Washington DC, USA; A Closer Look Inside Healthy Eating Patterns
  3. Sachdeva Sandeep et al. Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption: Challenges and Opportunities. Indian Journal of Community Medicine. 2013 Oct-Dec; 38(4): 192–197.
  4. Dreher ML. Whole Fruits and Fruit Fiber Emerging Health Effects. Nutrients. 2018 Nov 28;10(12):1833.
  5. Conner TS et al. Let them eat fruit! The effect of fruit and vegetable consumption on psychological well-being in young adults: A randomized controlled trial. PLoS One. 2017 Feb 3;12(2):e0171206.
  6. ChooseMyPlate: U.S. Department of Agriculture. [Internet]. USDA Center for Nutrition Policy & Promotion. Alexandria (VA), USA. Why is it important to eat fruit?
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