We all know that we're supposed to be eating at least 5 portions of fresh fruit and veg a day, and according to a recent publication from University College London, 7 rather than 5 portions a day are needed to avoid all types of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
But despite the benefits of eating more plant produce, fruit intake is particularly controversial when headlines keep reminding us that sugar is our new health enemy number one. Does this mean we should be avoiding fruit as well?
When one compares the nutrient content of fruits versus vegetables, the slightly less sweet truth is that vegetables win hands down!
Iron: Iron is essential for the formation of red blood cells which transport oxygen in the blood. It also plays a role in the conversion of glucose to energy when we exercise and plays a role in protecting our immune system.
Vegetables provide a much richer source of iron than any fruits and contain less sugar.
Calcium: Most of us know that calcium is needed for bone health, but it also plays an important role in brain function and blood pressure control.
Most people rely on dairy as their main source but studies from Harvard university show that green leafy vegetables are in fact a healthier and better source of this mineral.
Vegetables also score in the vitamin arena - being top scorers in Folate (Spinach, kale and edamame) Vitamin C (Yellow and red peppers as well as broccoli) and Vitamin A (sweet potatoes, carrots and Kale).
But why is fruit proving so controversial?
According to the American Heart Association and the WHO we should be eating no more than 26g of added sugar a day (women) and 31g a day (men). Our current diets seem way out when you consider that on average we're eating around 59g a day!! Without considering any of the additional sugar in our diet, fruit in itself could be contributing to a large proportion of your daily sugar intake, when one banana delivers 20g of sugar, a medium sized apple or mango up to 15g. **
Juice may have all the nutrients of the fruit, but it has none of the fibre, and it doesn't fill you up the same way as eating the fruit itself would and provides a rush of fructose.
So should we curb our passion for fruit?
Moderating intake of high sugar fruits is particularly important if you have conditions such as diabetes or high blood triglycerides, as excessive sugar can worsen these conditions.
However, overall fruit isn't the enemy if eaten as part of our daily sugar allowance - providing us with fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and water.
If you would like to keep the doctor at bay, consider lower sugar alternatives such as cherries, raspberries and cranberries.
USDA Sugar Guidelines: http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/facts/usda-sugar-guidelines-ga.htm