The health benefits of fruit are significantly better than fruity desserts—and you can eat more. Pictured: fruit and fruity desserts
Photo: John Walsh/Consumer Reports, Food Styling: Michelle Gatton

A juicy peach, a bowlful of berries, and a slice of cool watermelon are a few of summer’s greatest pleasures. And when you indulge, you’re also doing your body a favor. Fruit is packed with nutrients and antioxidants that help fight inflammation and protect against a variety of diseases. People who eat fruit are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and other conditions, studies suggest. And you don’t need to be concerned about the sugar in fruit—it’s not the added kind that nutritionists say to cut back on.  

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But here’s the rub—if it seems like fruit’s health halo may apply to fruit desserts like pie, pops, and parfaits, that’s not the case. Even if they contain some fruit, they typically contain added sugars, too, and don't supply the fiber and other nutrients that you get from fresh or frozen fruit.

“On top of all the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants you get from eating fruit,” says Amy Keating, RD, a CR nutritionist, “its fiber helps keep you full and slows the release of the fruit’s sugar into your bloodstream."

That may help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and contribute to a healthier weight. Multiple studies have shown that people who eat fruit tend to weigh less, and one study of almost a half-million people in China found that eating fruit daily was linked to a 12 percent reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Increased fiber intake is also associated with lowered cholesterol, while potassium has been shown to lower blood pressure.

Another bonus: Making fresh fruit your dessert means you can eat a lot more of it! To help you see just how much healthy summer goodness fruit delivers compared with fruit desserts, we calculated 100-calorie portions of six pairings so you can decide for yourself how you want to spend your calories this summer