The Benefits of a Fruit Intensive Diet

The Benefits of a Fruit Intensive Diet

It is widely accepted that before the industrial revolution and the advent of modern food preserving technologies that food was generally healthier.  In today’s society, we are bombarded with countless food choices at grocery stores and restaurants, as well as nearly any forms of media.  We can scarcely flip open our laptops or start browsing on the internet before we are reminded of the health benefits of low carb, foods that cure cancer, or the evils of diet soda.  And to make matters worse, many self-proclaimed health experts tote their latest health advice as superior to all others.  But through information and media, how can we decide options that improve our health and which are just noise?

One simple method used to provide clarity is to look back at how our ancestors ate.  Because unlike us they had fewer options and less social media.  This concept was popularized with the paleo and ancestral diets.  However, the only problem with these diets is that they are based on speculation.  We cannot truly know how our Paleolithic ancestors ate but can make some relatively safe assumptions based on paleontological research.  The fact remains, however, that our ancestors too had choices in their dietary habits, albeit fewer choices than what we have today, and our dietary advice is based on the best guess.

Another method and perhaps one that is more reliable is to look at the modern-day version of our Paleolithic ancestors, other primates.  Our Paleolithic ancestors would have eaten more or less like primates do today.  Not only is the genetic makeup of primates similar to humans, so is the gastrointestinal systems.  It is easy to get caught up in the dietary fads like “Bulletproof Coffee” because it is considered paleo, but it is highly unlikely our ancestors dumped globs of fat into their coffee before running off to start their day.  It is much more likely they did what primates do, which is to forage a nearby tuber or reach for some low hanging fruit.  In fact, if we look at the dietary habits of primates today, we find that their diet consists mostly of fruit.  Unlike the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommendation of only five fruits per day, most primates eat five fruits per hour with total daily consumption of nearly 50 servings of fruit per day.

It is worth considering this when picking a diet that is both natural to the way our bodies are designed to eat and one that emphasizes a diet in raw sources of food such as fresh fruit.  There is a diet similar to the way primates today eat called the “fruitarian” diet.  The fruitarian diet is a vegan diet based solely on fruits. Vegetables classified botanically as fruits (avocado, tomatoes) are commonly included in fruitarian diets; all other vegetables, grains, beans and animal products are excluded.  The diet is very restrictive but can be modified slightly to create very nutrition and unsung version of the diet.

The drawbacks to the fruitarian diet alone are the limited supply of protein and fat.  Fruit alone also tends to be lower in calories which means that long-term a fruit only diet can lead to malnourishment.  However, if we emulate a diet similar to modern day primates, we need to only add in a small amount of protein and fat from vegan sources such as nuts and seeds, then we have a complete and nutritious diet.

Arguments against fruit often attack fructose, the sugar molecule in fruit, as a terrible thing.  Some claim that fructose is directly inducing fat storage, it is more toxic to the liver than alcohol and is correlated with diabetes.  However, the majority of these assertions have no scientific evidence to support these positions.  The research commonly cited to support these claims often required the participants to consume fructose in nearly impossibly and unnaturally high levels to achieve negative effects by consuming fructose exact in highly concentrated amounts. So, the main takeaway is that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with fructose as long as it is consumed in naturally occurring sources, such as fruit.

It cannot be understated; there are countless benefits to incorporating fruit as a large part of your overall diet.  While the composition of the fruit varies, fruits of similar colors tend to have similar health benefits, because antioxidants or other biomolecules in the fruit provide both.  Some benefits fruits of similar colors include:

  1. Black/blue/dark purple fruits such as blackberries, blueberries, cherries, dark grapes, prunes, and plums – These fruits contain biomolecules such as the highly regarded resveratrol and other antioxidants which prevent and fight cancer.
  2. Orange/red/pink fruits such as strawberries, red peppers, oranges, and grapefruit – These fruits tend to be higher in Vitamin C.  In the body Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen and helps to keep our skin, hair, nails, teeth, and immune system healthy.
  3. Tropical fruits such as mangos, oranges, citrus fruits, pomegranate, guava, and kiwis – Fruits in this category are relatively high in the essential nutrient, folate.  Folate is important in the production of red blood cells.  It is also important in the development of the spinal cord in fetal development, which is why it is important for pregnant mothers to have adequate folic acid in the diet.
  4. Bananas, guavas, melons, mangos, and cantaloupe – These fruits are exceptionally high in potassium which is important in heart function, the pH balance of the body, and prevent muscle cramping.

The naturally high fruit fiber pectin, when included as a large serving in each meal will help you stay fuller longer. The pectin in fruit will also help lower the fats in your blood like cholesterol and improve your heart health. By eating a large percentage of fruit in your overall diet, you will experience some weight loss.  The weight loss is because you will be consuming fewer calories overall because of the fiber and because fruit tends to be lower in calories.  The fact that you will be consuming fewer calories is especially true when compared to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines, which encourage much higher calorie foods like grains, animal fats, oils, and dairy products.

Not only is fruit enjoyable to eat, but there are also some clear benefits for making fruit a larger percentage of your overall diet.  Fruit can safely be incorporated into a diet to as much as 75% of your total daily intake without malnourishment.  When combined and balanced out with nuts, legumes, and seeds to incorporate protein and omega-3’s, and you can expect to lose weight while maintaining a highly nutritious lifestyle.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply