Can fruits make you sick? Pros and cons of eating fruits.

Eating at least 5 pieces of fruit a day has been almost synonymous with a healthy diet. But are fruits always the healthiest choice? 

Recently with the concerns about the amount of sugar we consume and rising trends of low-carb diets many people started to lower or cut off their fruit consumption due to high content of fructose. Also, many fruits contain high amounts of pesticides linked to cancer and other diseases.

We wonder, are fruits really healthy for everyone or should we watch out? Can fruits even make you sick? Here are some of the pros and cons of eating fruits. 

 

Is sugar from fruit threatening your health?

Fructose is a sugar found naturally in fruits, fruit juices, some vegetables and honey. Fructose is also a basic component in table sugar (sucrose), and high-fructose corn syrup is used to sweeten many processed foods and beverages.

But in addition to fructose, fruits also contain a lot of fiber, water, vitamins and minerals.

When you eat the whole fruit, it takes a while to eat and digest, so the fructose in it is absorbed much slower vs. a bottle of Coke. Plus, fruit is very filling.  Many studies confirmed fruit consumption contributes to weight loss  as well as reduced the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancers.

However health benefits are linked mainly to whole fruits –  even with 100% fruit juice it’s easy to consume too much sugar too quickly, and a lot of nutrients are lost in the process of juicing and removal of fruit fiber. A smoothie made in a blender is better than a pure fruit juice as it contains most of the original fiber – however, it still has the disadvantage of a a lot of sugar hitting your system very quickly.

 

Our tips:

  • Select fruits with more potassium often, such as bananas, prunes, dried peaches and apricots, oranges
  • If you are trying to lose weight, check fructose content in different fruits as it can vary greatly  – for example try to eat more apricots and strawberries (less than 1 g fructose per 100 g fruits) vs. grapes (8 g) and especially dry fruit
  • Vary your fruit choices. Fruits differ in nutrient content
  • Go for a natural 100% fruit juice or a smoothy and consider them an occasional treat rather than a basis of your diet (recommended maximum is  8-ounce glass per day — or 4 ounces if you’re limiting calories or sugars)

 

 

What about GMO and pesticides?

Obviously use of pesticides and GMO is a valid concern for anybody consuming a lot of fruits and vegetables. While there is still a lot of debate and not enough studies to make clear conclusions about potential harmful effects of GMOs, it is clear that use of synthetic pesticides can have a negative impact on health, especially when consumed in large quantities and on regular basis. Buying organic is your safest bet, but can be very costly. To help you balance buying organic and conventional for different types of fruit , The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes an annual list of so called “Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen” fruits and veggies with the lowest and highest % of pesticides.

 

 

Is a fruit based diet healthy?

Raw food diet and its extreme “fruitarian” version have been gaining popularity over the past years in our world of global warming and an increasing need to ‘get back to nature’. Similar to a raw vegan diet, a fruitarian only eats fruits, a few types of seeds and nuts, and a very limited selection of vegetables.  There are several pros and cons to a fruitarian diet.

As fruits are naturally high in fiber, it contributes to healthy bowel function, helps lower blood cholesterol levels and helps control blood sugar levels by making you absorb sugar more slowly. The fruitarian diet is also rich in vitamins A, C, E and K and many of the B vitamins. A fruitarian diet will also provide all of the minerals you need provided you consume leafy vegetables and avocados, which contain zinc.

However, fruits do not contain vitamins D, B-12, thiamin or niacin. B-12 is only available in meat and is essential for red blood cell production. Vitamin D is produced naturally with sunlight, but people who live in colder climates must get it through diet or supplements.  Thiamin and niacin are both responsible for energy production and are only available in animal products, dried beans and grains, which are excluded from the fruitarian diet (except for the peanuts).  If you do not eat foods that contain these vitamins, you must get them through supplementation or  fortified products, to avoid a risk of developing  anemia, weak bones or other dangerous conditions.

Can I suffer from fructose intolerance?

While most of healthy people benefits from fruit consumption, a few have a fructose malabsorption disorder. Since the digestive system does not absorb fructose properly, it can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and gas. Onset of these symptoms can occur in any age. Some people may also experience symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, brain fog, mood changes and constipation.In some cases, fructose malabsorption may be caused by several diseases which cause an intestinal damage, e.g. celiac disease.

Fructose malabsorption (FM) may also be seen with celiac disease or NCGS and should be considered in these patients who are already on a gluten free diet, yet have ongoing symptoms.Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)- an unfortunate co-factor for some celiac and NCGS patient- also shares symptoms with fructose malabsorption.
 Recent research is indicating a large percentage of IBS patients may actually have fructose malabsorption and will see improvement of symptoms on a low fructose. People who have fructose intolerance should limit high-fructose foods, such as juices, apples, grapes, watermelon, asparagus, peas and zucchini. Some lower fructose foods — such as bananas, blueberries, strawberries, carrots, avocados, green beans and lettuce — may be tolerated in limited quantities with meals. 
To find out what type of foods work best for you individually, consult one of our holistic nutritionists at Heartgrain.com 
 
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August 28, 2017