Like many questions about nutrition, addressing whether eating fruit is good for you depends on how much you’re eating. It also depends on your personal health issues.
Fruit Is Nutritious
Fruit contains a wide assortment of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that support good health. You’ve probably heard of eating fruit to get more Vitamin C, but there’s much more nutrition in fruit. It also contains micronutrients known as phytochemicals which seem to play a role in fighting disease and aging. Eating a wide variety of fruits is recommended (“eat the rainbow”) but…
Too Much Fruit Can Be Unhealthy
At the same time, fruit (and fruit juice) contains fructose, a type of sugar that can damage your health, if taken in large quantities. Fruit juice contains even higher concentrations of fructose than the fruit itself does. Even regular table sugar is half fructose.
Too much fructose, especially in the form of HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup), a common ingredient in many processed foods, can overload the pancreas, trigger metabolic resistance and cause cells to store too much fat and become insulin resistant.
Most slim people can handle eating quite a lot of fruit, but if you’re overweight, paying attention to your fruit intake is a good idea, because your fructose enzymes are probably at an unhealthy level.
Long Term Fruitarian Diets Can Be Dangerous
All-fruit (fruitarian) diets can be particularly dangerous for some people, particularly over long periods. Eating only fruit deprives you of certain nutrients, such as protein, which are needed for healthy muscles. Even a short term fruit-only cleanse can trigger health issues in some people.
When Ashton Kutcher was preparing for the Steve Jobs film, he tried following Jobs’ all-fruit diet and ended up in the hospital.
“I went to the hospital like two days before we started shooting the movie. I was like doubled over in pain. My pancreas levels were completely out of whack.”
– Ashton Kutcher
Eating Fruit In The Amount Right For You
The average serving of fruit contains 5 to 10 grams of fructose, but this varies widely among different varieties of fruit. For example, a plum contains only 2 grams, where a cup of watermelon contains 24 grams of fructose.
If you’re overweight, you should aim to limit yourself to one or two servings of fruit per day. This of course can vary depending on the type of fruit you’re consuming, as well as how much fructose is in the rest of your diet.
Take A Fructose Break
A smart move if you’re overweight, insulin resistant, or pre-diabetic is to take a complete break from fructose for a couple of weeks, to allow your fructose enzymes to return to normal function. This will help correct metabolic issues, and probably reduce your blood pressure too.
If you choose to do a fructose fast, you need to be vigilant to completely avoid fructose, and that can be challenging since it hides in almost every form of sugar. A fructose break involves:
- No sugar
- No fruit juice
- No pop, energy drinks or other sweetened beverages
- No fruit
- No processed foods containing sugar
- No condiments containing forms of sugar
Be sure to eat lots of vegetables, and you won’t miss out on critical vitamins or nutrients.
Once you’ve passed the two week period, you can resume eating a serving of fruit (or even two) daily. Try to continue to avoid fruit juices, sugary drinks and sugar in processed foods.
Eating fruit is good for most people, in reasonable amounts, as long as your intake of fructose from other sources is under control.