Is it possible to eat too much fruit? Well, as with most other foods when it comes to good health, too much of anything can be harmful. For example, technically speaking, you can die from consuming too much water too quickly.
Fruit, however, is another story, and there seems to be an ongoing debate within the health and wellness community regarding fruit, its sugar content, and if there is a threshold amount that we should be limiting ourselves to on a daily basis.
When it comes to health, food manufacturers and many health advocates fail to differentiate between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars like high fructose corn syrup that’s added to most of our “food” products. Most of the sugar contained in our foods are not actually sugar in its natural form like it is from whole fruit.
Added sugars have been shown to have detrimental effects on our health and to be highly addictive, it triggers the pleasure centers in our brain that cocaine and heroin do as well. Perhaps this is why kids go completely crazy when they don’t get it? It’s vital to realize that candy, pop, some juices and a number of other products do not contain sugar in its natural form, but instead sugar that’s been extracted from its natural package and added.
The sad truth is, many ‘health professionals’ and modern fad diets like paleo have been warring against fruit, touting it as a carbohydrate similar to potatoes and rice, this could not be further from the truth.
We all know that sugar isn’t a health food. But does that mean we should avoid fruit? Doesn’t fruit have sugar?? (Update of a previous post
For most people, the main sources of added sugars are sucrose (table sugar) & high-fructose corn syrup. In the US, half of all added sugar intake comes from sugar-sweetened beverages (eg sodas, bottled teas, & sports drinks).
Added sugars have been linked to numerous health risks including coronary heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular mortality, fatty liver, obesity, & type 2 diabetes. It is abundantly clear that we should limit added sugar in our diets. The American Heart Association recommends a daily upper limit of 6 tsp/25g for women & 9 tsp/37.5g for men.
IN CONTRAST, whole fruit is actually one of the most healthful things you can eat. Fruit does contain fructose, a type of sugar. But when you eat a piece of fruit, the fructose comes packaged with fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, potassium, & other phytonutrients. These nutrients work together to reduce inflammation, prevent DNA damage, & improve vascular & immune function — slashing your risk of disease. Fructose eaten in the form of whole fruit has very different effects than eating isolated fructose and other added sugars. – Michelle McMacken is an internal medicine physician, Assistant Professor of Medicine, NYU School of Medicine (source)
The Truth About Fruit
So, should we be restricting our fruit intake? Do we have to worry about the sugar found inside of fruit like we have to worry about all of the other sugar that’s been linked to a variety of physical and mental illness?
The SugarScience team makes some great points that we must be aware of,
Fructose is the sugar that makes fruit taste sweet. For most people, there’s nothing wrong with eating fructose in its natural state, in fruit.
But today, manufacturers extract and concentrate the fructose from corn, beets and sugarcane, removing the fiber and nutrients in the process. Getting frequent, high doses of fructose throughout the day, without fiber to slow it down, is more than our bodies were designed to handle. (source)
Another very important fact.
Nearly all added sugars contain significant amounts of fructose.3 Typical formulations of high-fructose corn syrup contain upwards of 50% fructose, depending on processing methods. Table sugar and even sweeteners that sound healthy, like organic cane sugar, are 50% fructose.
According to them, small amounts of fructose, meted out slowly, are not a problem for your liver. It’s not a quick does, you are chewing, and there is fibre that goes hand in hand with the sugar. The fibre, as the SugarScience team points out, slows down it’s processing in the gut.
But when we consume large amounts of fructose in added sugar, particularly in liquid form on an empty stomach, it slams the liver with more than it can handle…It’s only when we frequently consume large quantities, in concentrated form, that fructose becomes a health hazard. (SugarScience)
One study many health professionals like to point to that would have us leaning towards, no, looked at people with type two diabetes. Some health professionals tend to restrict the amount of fruit they recommend because they’re worried about the sugar content within the fruit, but the research speaks differently.
The study put type 2 diabetics into two groups, one of them eat a minimum of two pieces of fruit a day while the other ate no more than two pieces. There were no positive effects of weight changes in the group who reduced their fruit intake…
Not to mention the fact that various fruits are responsible for a cascade of positive health effects within the body, like killing cancer.
New, emerging literature has shown that low-dose fructose from whole, natural foods may actually benefit blood sugar control. So having a piece of fruit with each meal could lower, not raise the blood sugar response. But what about fructose toxicity? The threshold for toxicity of fructose may be around 50 grams. The problem is, that that’s how much fructose the average adult consumes in one day. That means that half of all adults are likely above the threshold for fructose toxicity, and adolescents currently average 75 grams.
Is that the limit for added sugars or for all fructose? If we don’t want more than 50 grams and there’s about ten grams in a piece of fruit, should we limit our fruit consumption to five pieces a day? According to the Harvard Health Letter: “The nutritional problems of fructose and sugar come when they are added to foods. Fruit, on the other hand, is beneficial in almost any amount.” –Dr. Michael Greger
One study even took seventeen people who were made to eat 20 servings of fruit a day. This would seem to be a very high dose of fructose for anybody, way above normal which equated at about 200 grams per day per person, which would be equivalent to 8 cans of Soda. Now remember, in that soda, it wouldn’t be sugar in its natural form, but artificial, genetically modified high fructose corn syrup.
The study found zero adverse effects and instead showed potential benefits. There were no harmful indications when weight, blood pressure, insulin and lipid levels were measured after three to six months on this regimen.
This is interesting because we know that if these same people were asked to drink the equivalent in the form of pop, there would be a completely different, healthy devastating result…
Fresh fruit promotes good health and is an excellent source of calories. So when it comes to nature’s candy, feel free to enjoy it in abundance.
In his video, If Fructose is Bad, What About Fruit, Dr. Michael Greger, MD, explains why he believes what he does. He gives an example of how adding berries to our beliefs can actually lessen the effects of high glycemic foods
In my video If Fructose is Bad, What About Fruit?, I explored how adding berries to our meals can actually blunt the detrimental effects of high glycemic foods, but how many berries? He brings up a study out of Finland, which was conducted to determine the minimum level of blueberry consumption at which a consumer may realistically expect to receive antioxidant benefits after eating blueberries with a sugary breakfast cereal.
So, if your main source of sugar is from fruit, not added sugar and not high fructose corn syrup, I wouldn’t be too worried. The more the merrier, in my opinion, you just have to listen to your body and really feel out what’s right for you. Fruit is an excellent source of nutrients, fiber and more. And again, the literature shows a huge decrease in several diseases, including cancer, meanwhile, the information on over-consumption doesn’t really seem to be worrisome at all. But that’s just my opinion. The information showing that sugar from fruit can have harmful effects doesn’t really seem to be as strong as the information which shows the exact opposite.
Don’t forget to make it ORGANIC!