Is Fruit Good or Bad For Your Health? The Sweet Truth

"Eat more fruits and vegetables."

If I had a dime for every time I heard that recommendation, I'd be a rich man today.

Everyone knows that fruits are healthy... they are the default "health foods."

They come from plants... they're real, whole foods and humans have been eating them for a long time.

Most of them are also very convenient... some people call them "nature's fast food" because they are so easily portable and easy to prepare.

On the surface, they seem like the perfect food.

However... many people have challenged the belief about the health effects of fruit in the past few years.

The main reason is that fruit is relatively high in sugar compared to other whole foods.

"Sugar" is Bad... But it Depends on The Context

There is a lot of evidence that added sugar is harmful (123).

This includes table sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup, which are both about half glucose, half fructose.

The main reason they are harmful, is because of the negative metabolic effects of fructosewhen consumed in large amounts.

I'm not going to get into the details, but you can read more about the harmful effects of added sugars here.

Many people now believe that because added sugars are bad, the same must apply to fruits, which also contain fructose.

However... this is completely wrong, because fructose is only harmful in large amounts and it is almost impossible to overeat fructose by eating fruit.

Fruit Also Has Fiber, Water and Significant Chewing Resistance

Eating whole fruit, it is almost impossible to consume enough fructose to cause harm.

Fruits are loaded with fiber, water and have significant chewing resistance.

For this reason, most fruits (like apples) take a while to eat and digest, meaning that the fructose hits the liver slowly.

Plus, fruit is incredibly fulfilling. Most people will feel satisfied after one large apple, which contains 23 grams of sugar, 13 of which are fructose (4).

Compare that to a 16oz bottle of Coke... which contains 52 grams of sugar, 30 of which are fructose (5).

A single apple would make you feel quite full, automatically making you eat less of other foods. However, a bottle of soda has remarkably poor effects on satiety and people don't compensate for the sugar in sodas by eating less of other foods (6).

When fructose hits your liver fast and in large amounts (soda and a candy bar) then that can have disastrous consequences... but when it hits your liver slowly and in small amounts (an apple) then your body can easily take care of the fructose.

Also, let's not forget the evolutionary argument... humans and pre-humans have been eating fruit for millions of years. The human body is well adapted to the small amounts of fructose found in nature.

Whereas large amounts of added sugar are harmful to most people, the same can NOT be said for fruit. Period.

Fruits Contain Lots of Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants

Of course, fruits are more than just watery bags of fructose.

There are lots of nutrients in them that are important for health. This includes fiber, vitamins, minerals, as well as a plethora of antioxidants and phytonutrients.

Fiber, especially soluble fiber, has many benefits. This includes reduced cholesterol levels, slowed absorption of carbohydrates and increased satiety. Plus there are many studies showing that soluble fiber can contribute to weight loss (78910).

Fruits tend to be high in several vitamins and minerals... especially Vitamin C, Potassium and Folate, which many people don't get enough of.

Of course, "fruit" is an entire food group. There are dozens (or hundreds) of different fruits found in nature and the nutrient composition can vary greatly between the different types of fruit.

It makes sense that if you want to maximize the health effects, then focus on the fruit with the greatest amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals compared to the sugar and calorie content.

It is also a good idea to switch things up and eat a variety of fruits, because different fruits contain different nutrients.

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