The inconvenient truth about eating more fruit to be healthy

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The inconvenient truth about eating more fruit for health

grape shooting fat at a man eating grapes

Standard dietary guidelines encourage eating 5 fruits & veg a day. But fruit is full of sugar and sugar is BAD… so a high fruit diet is ? Also bad !

Countless studies show, people who eat more fruits and vegetables live long and prosper. They’re natural, full of anti-oxidants etc. etc. etc. Standard dietary advice encourages us to eat   FIVE fruits and vegetables every day.

The eating fruit is relatively easy, but broccoli, cauliflower and kale…. can be an acquired taste.  So for many people, the 5 fruits and vegetables looks more like 5 fruits.

Does it matter ?

Biologically speaking fruits are not vegetables

Despite being lumped together in the 5 a day – fruits and vegetables are not the same thing.

Biologically speaking fruits develop from flowers and have seeds, whereas vegetables are PLANT BODIES and as such have no seeds.  Of course, there are exceptions.  Biologically speaking tomatoes and squashes are fruits, but we classify them as culinary vegetables.

Maize is another odd ball.

It’s a biological fruit, when you eat it on the cob, it’s a considered to be a vegetable but officially it is a grain.  For the record a grain is the harvested seed of a grass.

Is this just semantics ? 

No.  Because fruits and vegetables are also chemically speaking different….

The sugar that dominates in culinary vegetables, when they have sugar, which for the most part, only happens  when the plant body is found underground i.e. THE ROOT VEGETABLES………… is glucose. While culinary fruits are typically FULL OF SUGAR !  The sugar they’re full of is fructose.X-ray looking at sugar composition of pineapple and potatoe

Now at a quick glance, the two sugars look the same.

Our tongues don’t compute that they are different but our liver’s do.  And fructose has a BAD REPUTATION !  A really BAD REPUTATION !

Fruits come with fiber

But, no worries…when Mother Nature packages fructose in fruit, she adds fiber.  The fiber, makes accessing this sugar a wee bit, problematic, because WE don’t come with the set of enzymes, that can chop this up and assimilate.

Enzyme trying to cut away fibre with house scissors

We have to rely on our gut flora to do the job.

The question is……… is the fiber story, along with the significant differences in how the fructose is processed,  enough to compensate for the fact that fruits are FULL OF SUGAR.

Visit the fructose library page to learn more about how fructose is processed.

In the end – it all works out ?

Well this is what we are told….

Fruit is full of sugar.

Sugar is BAD, BUT fruit is GOOD.


There is definitely something NOT quite RIGHT with this story,  but it is the standard rhetoric.  Okay, okay – we’re not being told to eat 5 fruits and no vegetables, but if you one of those people who “HATE VEGETABLES”, but you are doing your very best to follow THE GUIDELINES, then there is a good chance you are focusing on EATING MORE FRUIT.

Is eating more fruit  serving you or hurting you ?

This is what a group of researchers based in Iran dared to ask.   The team  took metabolically compromised individuals and put them on either a high fruit diet or a low fruit diet.  Now the peeps they studied were NOT diabetic, the metabolic problem of CONCERN was fatty liver.

BAD fatty liver.

unhappy liver experiencing fatty liver

Because milder versions of this problem are difficult to quantify, to be included in the study, the person needed to have grade 2 or 3 MAFLD i.e. the origin of the problem needed to be metabolic.  Other causes were deliberately excluded, so were morbidly obese people.

Fruit dieting

They signed up 32 men and 40 women, the average age was 46.25 ± 9.8 years, to the study and issued INSTRUCTIONS :

  • The high fruit dieters were told to eat 4 or more servings of fruit a day.
  • The low fruit dieters were told to cap their fruit consumption to no more than 2.

The participants were encouraged to carry on their lives AS NORMAL and not to make changes to exercise routines or medicine/supplement regimen.

After 6 months of fruit dieting

Along the way, the team checked in with the participants to ensure they were following the instructions. There were some delinquents, who had to be booted out the study. But when all was said and done, the fruit eaters averaged 6.96 ± 0.61 servings of fruit per day, while the low fruit dieters ate on average 1.65 ± 0.47 servings.

The team noted that adding/subtracting fruit to the diet, changed the overall dietary patterns.

  • The BIG fruit eaters ate less sugar.
  • And the low fruit eaters ate more vegetables.

But, EVERYONE ate more in terms of calories. Eish ! And if you’re wondering……….. yes, those extra calories did show up on the hips of the high fruit eaters, but………… the low fruit eaters got a free pass. Seriously.

table showing weight gain and loss on high and low fruit diet

They ate more calories and managed to lose weight. The big fruit eaters were on average  7kg heavy while the lite fruit eaters were on average 6.5 kg lighter.

The same pattern was seen in the parameters of liver health, the results are shown below.

table showing change in health parameters on high and low fruit diet

Heavy fruit eaters saw their numbers worsen, while the lite fruit eaters saw their numbers improve. Similar patterns were seen for other metabolic parameters – for example both fasting insulin and fasting glucose levels improved.

Too much fruit eating makes you fat

Skeptics might dismiss the differences in body chemistry – simply attributing them to the increased weight.  Yes,  the fatter you are, the more likely you are to have ALL THE OTHER body chemistry troubles.

But the point is………… are fatter.

Thus a LOT OF FRUIT, when you’re metabolic challenged is NOT A HEALTH MOVE. Don’t be dubed by the NATURAL full of anti-oxidants etc. etc. etc.

Sugar is sugar.

FRUIT is not a free pass to health !

Especially when you’re metabolically fragile.  You need to be careful, you just don’t have as much wiggle room as someone whose metabolism ROCKS.

Follow the guidelines TO THE LETTER

When it comes to the eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day for better health, err on the side of culinary vegetables, not fruit.

Prioritize vegetables when eating 5 a day

And whilst you are at it – strive to obey the RULE OF THIRDS every time you eat.

Breakfast, dinner and all the in-betweens.

Applying the rule of thirds

If you are just starting out on your health journey, I suggest you take a reductionist approach.  Start with the premise that fruits, like bread and pasta, are carbs.

Treat FRUIT as you would any other carb.

With caution.

Keep the grams of carbs in the meal you’re eating to around a third i.e. make sure there is a significant amount of protein and fat, in what you are eating.

It’s not 100 % true

I realize that all carbs are not equal, neither are all fats equal, but it is too complicated to worry about this, on the first pass.

Yes there are nuisances.

For example apples have a magic ingredient that make them SAFER to eat – but you do need to time it right to get the benefit.

If you’re glucose intolerant ALWAYS carry an apple with you for EMERGENCIES

And when it comes to eating carbs timing matters.  Eating them earlier in the day and at the end of a meal will improve their processing.

Ready to fix your BODY CHEMISTRY ?

Fixing your BODY CHEMISTRY doesn’t always require extreme approaches.  It’s easier than you think, if you know how. If you’re ready to start this journey and want a little help and support along the way, join the BETTER BODY CHEMISTRY community THE RULE OF THIRDS WORKSHOP, that will show you how to actually apply the concept to your life.

Further reading

ordering a salad off the menu

The semantics of dieting can easily lead to dieting faux pas

You’re currently “ON DIET”, to be safe, you order a salad. But you may not be acting as virtuously as you think because a salad is not always a salad.

fructose upsetting the liver

What happens when the fructose in your sugar treat, “gets” away

From your small intestine, because you ate too much, too quickly – your liver has to deal with it. Now, it can, but fructose is unbalanced, so it’s not easy

small intestine eating fructose

Too much fructose, whatever form it’s in, makes you fat

Small amounts of fructose aren’t a problem. In fact, they’re a treat, but large amounts of fructose are a metabolic CRISIS.


Want to discover more ways to create BETTER BODY CHEMISTRY ?