Evidence Based

Fruits for Pregnant Women: According To Experts 

Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

Published at 00:05

There are several benefits to eating fruits during pregnancy. Photo: aslysun/shutterstock

Fruits are one of the main food groups to choose from for a balanced diet. Depending on your daily calorie needs, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans[1] recommend between 1 ½  to 2 ½ servings of fruit daily for a well-balanced diet. These choices should come primarily from fresh or frozen sources of fruit as opposed to processed due to the inherent nutritional makeup of the different forms that fruit comes in.

Cultural influences may determine what types of fruit, if any, are chosen in a pregnant woman’s diet. Stories about fruit and its relationship to pregnancy may also influence fruit choices.

Some fruits, such as pomegranates, have many health benefits for pregnant women and their babies. Other fruits, such as unripe papaya, should be avoided during pregnancy.

Read on to learn the benefits of fruits and the nutritional profiles of their various forms (i.e.fresh vs. processed).

Fruit Facts For Pregnancy

  • The Dietary Guidelines recommend between 1 ½ to 2 ½ servings of fruit daily for pregnancy, depending on caloric needs. Meeting these recommendations is associated with a reduced risk for a LBW infant.
  • Pregnant women should be wary of unripe papaya and pre-cut melons.
  • Fresh fruit consumption, but not juice, decreases the risk for gestational diabetes.
  • Those pregnant women at risk for gestational diabetes should avoid high-glycemic fruits such as very ripe bananas.
  • Maternal consumption of fruits high in vitamin C reduces the risk of childhood allergies.
  • Fresh fruits are nutrient-dense and lower in calories than canned, dried, or juiced.

Benefits of Eating Fruit During Pregnancy

Benefits of Eating Fruit During Pregnancy
Benefits of Eating Fruit During Pregnancy. Photo: StoryTime Studio/shutterstock

Research has identified specific health benefits of fruit consumption. These include

Improved Blood Glucose Management

Studies show an association between fruit[2] consumption and better blood glucose management and a decreased intake of fruits with the development of gestational diabetes mellitus. Other studies show that fresh fruit[3] consumption but not juice is associated[4] with a decreased risk of gestational diabetes.

 Pregnant women at risk for GDM should avoid high-glycemic-index fruits such as some varieties of dates, mangoes, pineapple, watermelon, and ripe bananas (glycemic index 85[5]). Juices have a glycemic index ranging from 41 to 50 and do not significantly affect[6] blood glucose. Low GI fruits contain less than a value of 56.

According to one study, the polyphenols present in fruit[7] are responsible for the reduced risk of GDM. Polyphenols are types of phytochemicals that are reduced by processing methods such as canning or juicing.

Reduced Risk Of Low-Infant Birth Weight

A 2020 study shows that fruit consumption is associated[8] with infant birth weight, and a reduced intake of fruits is associated with low birth weight infants. Mothers who ate fruit before and during pregnancy had higher birth weight infants.

Among low-income women[9], a dietary pattern including fruits, oils, and vegetables was associated with a lowered risk of preterm birth and small-for-gestational-age infants.

Decreased Incidence Of Childhood Allergies

Research shows a relationship between maternal intake[10] of fruits and the later development of childhood allergies perceived to be related to the vitamin C intake from this food group. The RDA for vitamin C in pregnancy[11] for women over 19 years of age is 85 mg.

Good Fruits For Pregnancy

While all fruits contain beneficial phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, some fruits stand out. Fruits that contain lutein[12], vitamin C, and folate and are rich in fiber are especially beneficial. Epidemiological studies show a high percentage of vitamin C[13] deficiency across all income strata and most pregnant women do not get enough dietary lutein, fiber, folate or vitamin C.

 Fruits that stand out nutritionally are:


Pomegranates are high in antioxidants, and studies have shown them to be excellent for placental health[14]. They are also rich in vitamin K, iron, vitamin C, folate, calcium, protein, and fiber. One whole pomegranate has 10 grams of fiber[15], 17.8 mg of vitamin C, 66.5 mcg folate, and 4 grams of protein. Having a low maternal blood folate level is an independent risk factor for pregnancy complications[16], so including fruits high in folate is wise.

Since most fruits have little protein, pomegranates are considered high in this macronutrient. 


This fruit contains healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and a significant amount of fiber, and it is a rich source of potassium and folate. However, due to its high-calorie content, portion control is recommended. One-third of an avocado is a serving size for one fruit.

One serving of avocado[17] has 3.5 grams of fiber, 80 calories, 60 mcg of folate, 1 gram of protein, 3.2 mg of vitamin C, 162 mg of potassium, and 103 mcg of lutein. Lutein is positively correlated with fetal intelligence[18] and offspring behavior after birth. Most pregnant women do not get enough dietary folate[19], fiber, vitamin C, or lutein.


One fresh orange[20] has 77 calories, 3.39 grams of fiber, 86.5 mg of vitamin C, 199 mg of lutein+zeaxanthan, 43.1 mcg of folate, and many phytochemicals, making it a low-calorie, nutrient-dense choice.

Stories About Fruit Consumption During Pregnancy

In some cultural circles, craving fruits during pregnancy means you are having a girl. There is no scientific truth to this myth.

Others say that eating pineapple and bananas can induce labor, but this is also untrue.
Fruits are avoided in certain cultures[21] due to traditions and taboos, thus creating micronutrient deficiencies and certain types of malnutrition.

Bad Fruits for Pregnancy

Unripe Papaya

Historical literature cites the progesterone-lowering effect[22] of unripe papaya, which may adversely affect fetal health. Unripe papaya contains higher levels of papain and latex; latex may induce allergic responses, and both may cause spasmodic contractions of the uterus, resulting in preterm labor or miscarriage. To tell if a papaya is ripe, look for a yellow fruit that is soft to the touch.

Pre-cut Melon

Pre-cut melon may be contaminated with bacteria that are risky for pregnant women to ingest. Avoid all pre-cut melons or fruits. When preparing melons or fruits at home, wash the skin thoroughly before cutting to avoid transferring bacteria from the fruit’s surface into the fleshy part of the fruit.

How Much Fruit Should I Eat While Pregnant?

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans[23], the number of recommended servings of fruit you should eat daily is based on your caloric allowance. Fruit can be fresh, frozen, canned in water or juice, or dried. It can also be enjoyed as 100% juice fortified with vitamin C.

Table 1. Fruit Serving Guidelines For Pregnant Women

Number of Calories Needed Per DayNumber of Fruit Servings in Cups or Equivalents
1,800 calories1 ½ servings
2,000 calories2 servings
2,200 calories2 servings
2,400 calories2 servings
2,600 calories2 servings
2,800 calories2 ½ servings

Serving Sizes For Fruits

A suggested serving size[24] for fruit is as follows:

  • One medium whole fruit.
  • 1 cup chopped or diced fruit.
  • 1 cup 100% fruit juice.*
  • ½ cup dried fruit.**
  • ⅓ of an avocado.
  • 1 cup canned fruit in water or 100% juice.*
  • Four to five dates.

*Avoid sweetened juice or juice drinks.

**Plain dried fruit that isn’t coated with sugar.

Types Of Fruit Choices

As mentioned above, fruit choices are canned, frozen, dried, or juices. These forms all have varying levels of nutrients and fiber. Most pregnant women do not get enough fiber and may suffer from pregnancy-induced constipation. 

The various fruit forms also have different glycemic indices or rates for raising blood sugar.

Fruits are abundantly rich in phytochemicals[25] – bioactive compounds such as polyphenols that may thwart obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Canning and processing of fruits degrade the amount of available phytochemicals[26], so eating fruit in its least processed state is the most nutritious way to consume your fruit.

Fresh, Canned, Dried, Frozen, Or Juice 

Dried fruit generally contains the most fiber. Frozen, fresh, or canned fruit all have similar fiber content. Lastly, juice has little to no fiber. The glycemic index or GI tends to be low for most fresh fruit and juice and medium for canned.

The daily value of fiber is 28 grams[27]. One fresh apple provides about 3.8 grams[28] of fiber, while one cup of apple juice[29] has only ½ grams.

The nutritional value and calories of the different types of fruits should be similar between serving sizes, but this is not the case. However, the nutritional profile of fresh and frozen fruits is similar as long as there is no added sugar.

For example, one cup of canned peaches in its juice[30] has 100 calories, 2.94 grams of fiber, and 6.96 grams of vitamin C. On the other hand, one cup of fresh peaches[31] has 71 calories, 2.32 grams of fiber, 6.16 mcg of folate, and 6.36 grams of vitamin C. Fresh peaches have fewer calories than canned and more folate and polyphenols.

Furthermore, a serving of dried peaches[32] has 141 calories, 6.5 grams of fiber, zero folate, and 3.84 grams of vitamin C. The calories are the highest in dried peaches, which have less vitamin C than fresh or canned, yet the GI is only 35[33]. One cup of apple juice fortified with vitamin C[34] has 114 calories, 95 mg of vitamin C, a GI of 50, and virtually no fiber. 

Juice is higher in calories than fresh or canned fruit and has more vitamin C due to its fortification. Dried fruit generally has the highest calories and fiber but the lowest vitamin C.


Fresh fruit tends to be nutrient-dense and lower in calories than other forms of fruit, often containing more folate and phytochemicals. The Dietary Guidelines recommends that pregnant women consume between 1 ½ and 2 ½ servings of fruits daily depending on their caloric needs. Fruits that pregnant women should avoid include unripe papayas and pre-cut melons.

Consuming fruits has several health benefits and should be included in a balanced diet for pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dates suitable for pregnancy?

Dates have an outstanding nutritional profile; if you choose dried dates, ensure they are unsweetened to reduce sugar intake. Despite having a glycemic index of 42-76[35], they may have a beneficial effect[36] on blood glucose.

Why are pre-cut melons or fruits risky for pregnant women and not other people?

Pregnant women are at higher risk for foodborne illnesses than the general population, which may harm the fetus and create disease in the mother.

Does eating fruit lead to a reduced risk for GDM?

For every 100 grams of fruit (juice excluded) eaten, there is a 3% reduction[37] in the risk of getting GDM.

Kathy Shattler, a Registered Dietitian for over 25 years, operates a Telehealth Clinic and freelances as a writer. Holding a Master’s in Human Nutrition from Michigan State University, her expertise spans clinical nutrition and public health. Recognized as a pioneer in her field, Kathy continually pursues excellence in integrative medicine public health education, and her writing endeavors.


MANA adheres to strict sourcing guidelines, avoids most tertiary sources, and uses only professional resources updated to contain accurate and current information. We majorly rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research from reputable medical associations. For more information regarding our editorial process, please refer to the provided resources.

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