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As far as I can tell, there are two types of healthy eaters: those who love their veggies, and those who love their fruits. Of course, there’s a gray area here, in that you can obviously enjoy both leafy greens and slices of green apple. Still, I’m convinced: When it comes down to it, you’re either team veg or team fruit. Given the choice, I personally will always gravitate toward nature’s candy — apples, bananas, kiwi, mango, berries, the whole nine — but what’s the best time to eat fruit? Given that it’s (naturally) the sweetest food group, I could obviously consume this stuff all day every day and never get bored of it, so I need to know: Is there a hard limit I should be recognizing and cutting myself off at? Or am I free to graze on an apricot here, and a bunch of grapes there, up until the time I go to bed at night?
In all honesty, if apples and peanut butter isn’t at the top of your favorite snacking options, I’m just not sure we can be friends. Especially when I transitioned my diet to being primarily plant-based, fruits became even more of a staple in my meals. For me, it’s normal to eat a slice of banana on a piece of toast for breakfast, a berry smoothie for lunch, and if I’m craving something sweet after dinner but don’t want to indulge in something too heavy, I’ll reach for a handful of strawberries. It’s definitely better for your body to eat fruit in some capacity as opposed to avoiding this food group entirely, but as someone who eats servings on servings of the stuff, I was curious to find out if there's a specific time of day when adding these natural sweets to your meals would prove more beneficial for your body.
SO HOW MUCH FRUIT SHOULD YOU BE EATING IN A DAY, AND WHEN'S THE BEST TIME TO FIT THESE FOODS INTO YOUR MEALS?I’m willing to bet, at some point growing up, someone — your mom, dad, aunt, teacher — told you to eat your fruits and veggies, right? Well, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2018 State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables, y’all are either blatantly ignoring this useful piece of life advice, or you just aren’t a fan of fruit. These statistics show that only about 12 percent of adults in the United States are eating the recommended 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit daily per the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It’s a little better than the mere 9.3 percent owning up to eating enough veggies, but not by much, friends.
Considering how many different ways you can easily sneak fruit into your diet (smoothies, smoothie bowls, fruit salads, on sandwiches, on top of veggie salads — the options truly are endless, guys), I’m honestly surprised more of us aren’t eating enough of something that’s naturally bursting with flavor, not to mention so good for your body. But maybe it isn’t so much of an issue in terms of how to eat fruit that’s the issue; maybe you’re just genuinely unsure about when the best time is to fit them into your diet.
It’s a valid concern, especially when you consider how much sugar is in fruit, but natural sugars are different from the artificial sugars pumped into processed treats, and that’s important to keep in mind if sugar content is what’s keeping you from going for a banana before bed. In fact, according to Keri Glassman, founder of Nutritious Life and partner of Fairway Market, there’s little to no hard evidence to support there being a specific time of day that's best to eat fruit or consume the sugar in them. What really matters, she tells Elite Daily, is the kinds of fruits you're eating, and what you’re pairing them with.
THE BEST TIME TO EAT FRUIT IS ANY TIME, PERIOD, BUT YOU SHOULD BE MINDFUL OF WHAT FRUITS YOU'RE EATING AND THE FOODS YOU'RE EATING THEM WITH.
I know myself, and I’ll generally meet the bulk of my fruit servings for the day with a smoothie for breakfast. I’ll toss a few frozen berries and a banana into a blender with a splash of dairy-free milk, plus a dollop of peanut butter. It’s delicious, nutritious, super filling, and according to Jessica Rosen, a certified holistic health coach and co-founder of Raw Generation, one of the best ways to eat fruit: "The best time of day to eat fruit is when you have an empty stomach, so first thing in the morning is a good time to pack in your daily fruit intake," she tells Elite Daily.
The only thing you have to watch out for when going the smoothie route, Glassman adds, is your portions. Fruit smoothies can contain a lot of natural sugars, causing a quick spike in blood sugar that may leave you feeling hungry, fast, she explains. To ensure your meal keeps you satiated, Glassman tells Elite Daily, you should balance out the fruit with “veggies, protein, [and] healthy fats” to “slow the absorption of sugar.”
As for nighttime snacking, Glassman gives Elite Daily the go-ahead to indulge in fruit at night, but there's somewhat of a catch: It all depends on what exactly you're reaching for. "Some fruits may help you sleep — bananas (melatonin), tart cherries (melatonin), apricots (vitamin C)," she says. Plus, registered dietitian Jessica Cordin adds, stocking your fridge with fruit is a great way to to avoid unhealthy snacks when you’re hungry at night, because you'll already have "filled up on something delicious and nutritious," so there's no need to dig into that sleeve of Oreos — but, of course, if you're still craving that chocolate cookie and cream filling, I'm certainly not going to stop you.