Should you REALLY be watching your fruit intake?

You’re heard it your whole life…or at least most of your life…eat your fruits and veggies. But was that always the case?  Were we always told to eat BOTH fruit and veggies?

You want that afternoon pick me up and spot the bowl of grapes on the counter.  You take a few handfuls and realize you’re still hungry or more hungry than you were an hour before and wonder if grapes are a good snack after all.  But they’re just fruit, right?

Gary Fettke, MD, gave a brilliant talk on fruit and fructose, detailing the history of the effect of fructose on our health. The dangers of all sugars, particularly fructose and high fructose corn syrup are clearly known but have you considered that fruit is actually in the mix of danger?

Jo Robinson, author of Eating on the Wild Side outlines the history of fruit and vegetables and the differences between wild and local produce versus modern produce.  If you are interested in learning more about how to pick out produce AND the way to prepare it to maximize your nutrient intake, this book is beyond valuable.

What is modern fruit?  The sweet fruit we see at our grocery store every day is considered modern fruit versus the seasonal fruits that only come around once a year.  The bananas and apples in your grocery store are modern fruit.  They are full of sugar which may adversely affect your health.  How can this be?

Fructose is metabolized different from glucose in that it goes straight to the liver versus glucose which is used by all the cells of your body.  Fruit is made into alcohol in the liver and too much alcohol in the liver causes damage, which can ultimately lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cirrhosis.  In addition, fructose increases uric acid in the bloodstream, something you want to avoid since it can lead to gout.

And for those of you trying to lose weight, fructose is a leptin inhibitor.  Leptin is the hormone that lowers your appetite so if you’re consuming too much fructose from any source it lowers satiety and drives hunger.

The recommended amount of fructose per day is less than 14 grams. The average American take is approximately 50-60 grams per day from all sources. One cup of grapes has approximately 12 grams of fructose or the recommended limit per day.  Since fructose is an ingredient in most packaged foods, condiments and beverages you may be taking in more fructose that you realize.

If you want more information on the history of fruit and fructose Dr. Fettke’s 30 minute video is well worth your time.

If you consume fruit, eat seasonal from farmer’s markets and limit to 1 piece per day or fruits lower in fructose.  Wild and seasonal fruit has less fructose and 50-100x more phytochemicals and antioxidants than modern fruit. Consider ways to increase your intake of vegetables and salads to lower your risk of disease. You’ll maximize your nutrient intake, increase fiber and lower your risk of insulin resistance, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, gout and fatty liver.

The next time you hear the slogan “eat your fruits and veggies” consider shortening that to “eat your veggies.”  It may be a learning curve but in 10 years your health and waistline will thank you.