Is Fruit Really Bad?
I hear this a lot…fruit is loaded with sugar so you shouldn’t eat it.
I also hear this a lot as well…fruit is natural sugar so it’s perfectly fine to consume.
Both are actually correct. Confusing, right? I know. Many people are confused about whether fruit is bad for you or if fruit is good for you. Without further ado, I give you the fructose paradox.
Fruit contains polyphenols.
Polyphenols are super potent nutrients that help combat disease in the body. A common polyphenol that most are familiar with is resveratrol. Polyphenols are found in abundance in fruits, tea, and coffee. There are polyphenols in vegetables, soy, and legumes as well. Because polyphenols are not well metabolized, daily intake is important to maintain adequate serum levels (1).
Fruits also contain fiber.
We need to consume between 25 and 35 grams of fiber daily. Fiber helps keep the bowels happy, slow digestion, and maintain adequate cholesterol levels in the body. An apple contains about 4g of fiber. A cup of raspberries contains about 8g of fiber.
Fruits provide us with energy.
Ever felt a little low on gas and had a piece of fruit and felt better in no time? That’s because fruit is a great source of energy. I always recommend it as a pre-workout pick me up if you’re feeling a little sluggish before the gym.
Fructose is needed to utilize the storage form of energy in the liver.
When we consume carbs, the body breaks them down to glucose, use what it needs to create energy at that time, and stores the rest in the muscles and liver. In periods of fasting or when we’ve gone too long between meals, the body will use the stored glucose, called glycogen at this point, to keep energy levels up. We need fructose to make this happen.
(Side Note: There are people that have a fructose intolerance meaning the body can’t actually break down the fructose so it ferments in the GI tract creating some issues.)
Fruit consumption, along with vegetable consumption, is perfectly fine for a diabetic.
Yes…you read that correctly. In fact, a systemic review (a study that reviews all studies available and combines the conclusion) found diabetics that consumed fruits and vegetables had a reduction in fasting glucose, a reduction in post-prandial glucose, a reduction in insulin resistance, and a reduction in their A1c levels (2) This, my friends, is a good thing. I had a client that came to me with elevated A1c and they were afraid to consume fruit because of what that person read on the internet. I convinced them with studies that fruit was fine. Guess what? They consumed the fruit as part of a balanced diet and their A1c returned to normal.
Fructose, unlike glucose, is processed in the liver.
For something that has not really taken good care of themselves over the years, may develop something called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. You see, fructose can raise triglyceride levels. So, if someone has a really good diet AND has elevated triglycerides, I may have them cut back on the fruit a bit.
Not really a bad, but I’ll list it here…fruit can raise cravings for sugar.
I find that sugar cravings reduce immensely when refined foods and sugar are removed from the diet. However, for me, I find that I will still crave something sweet from time to time. When I remove fruit from the equation, all my sugar cravings are gone. I’ve also removed fruit if I was trying to slim down for a special event.
That’s is folks!
Fruit is perfectly fine in moderation. Additionally, vegetable consumption should always exceed fruit consumption.
Also, sugar is not sugar is not sugar. High fructose corn-syrup (HFCS) is not the same as fructose from fruit. Sucrose (aka table sugar) is not the same as fructose in fruit.
Here are my fruit guidelines:
1. Consume more vegetables than fruit.
2. Stick to 2-3 servings for fruit per day.
3. Consume low sugar fruits the most and reserve high sugar fruits for moderate eating.
Tell me in the comments below what your favorite fruit is and how you like to eat it!
Manach, C., Scalbert, A., Morand, C., Rémésy, C., & Jiménez, L. (2004). Polyphenols: food sources and bioavailability. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 79(5), 727–747. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/79.5.727(1)
Wallace, I. R., McEvoy, C. T., Hunter, S. J., Hamill, L. L., Ennis, C. N., Bell, P. M., … McKinley, M. C. (2013). Dose-Response Effect of Fruit and Vegetables on Insulin Resistance in People at High Risk of Cardiovascular Disease. Diabetes Care, 36(12), 3888. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc13-0718(2)