"Eat more fruits and vegetables."
This is probably the most common health recommendation in the world.
Everyone knows that fruits are healthy, they are real and whole foods.
Most of them are also very convenient. Some people call them "nature fast food" because they are very easy to carry and prepare.
However, fruits are relatively high in sugar compared to other whole foods.
For this reason, you may wonder if they are truly healthy after all. This article sheds some light on the subject.
A large body of evidence has shown that excessive consumption of added sugar is harmful (1, 2, 3).
This includes table sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup, which is about half the glucose, half the fructose.
One reason why excessive consumption of sugar is harmful is the negative metabolic effect of fructose when consumed in large quantities.
Many people now believe that, as the added sugars are bad, the same should apply to fruits, which also contain fructose.
However, this is an error. Fructose is only harmful in large quantities, and it is almost impossible to overeat it by eating fruit.
Summary Evidence suggests that fructose can cause damage when consumed in excess. However, there is not enough fructose in the fruit to cause concern.
The fruit also contains fiber, water and significant resistance to chewing
Eating whole fruit, it is almost impossible to consume enough fructose to cause damage.
The fruits are loaded with fiber, water and have an important resistance to chewing.
For this reason, most fruits (such as apples) take a while to eat and digest, which means that fructose hits the liver slowly.
In addition, the fruit is incredibly abundant. Most people will feel satisfied after eating a large apple, which contains 23 grams of sugar, 13 of which are fructose (4).
Compare that to a 16-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola, which contains 52 grams of sugar, 30 of which are fructose and have no nutritional value (5).
A single apple would make you feel quite full and less inclined to eat more. On the contrary, a soda bottle has a remarkably poor satiety and people do not compensate for sugar by eating less food (6).
When fructose reaches your liver quickly and in large quantities, as is the case when drinking sodas, it can have adverse health effects over time.
However, when you hit your liver slowly and in small amounts, as is the case when you eat an apple, your body is well adapted to easily metabolize fructose.
While consuming large amounts of added sugar is detrimental to most people, the same does not apply to fruits.
Summary Whole fruits take time to chew and digest. Because of this, it feels fuller and your body can easily tolerate small amounts of fructose.
Fruits contain a lot of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
Of course, fruits are more than bags of watery fructose.
There are many nutrients in them that are important for health. This includes fiber, vitamins and minerals, as well as a large amount of antioxidants and other plant compounds.
Fiber, especially soluble fiber, has many benefits, including reduced cholesterol levels, slow absorption of carbohydrates and increased satiety. In addition, studies have shown that soluble fiber can help you lose weight (7, 8, 9, 10).
In addition, fruits tend to be high in several vitamins and minerals that many people do not consume, such as vitamin C, potassium and folate.
Of course, "fruit" is a complete food group. There are thousands of different edible fruits found in nature, and their nutrient compositions can vary a lot.
Therefore, if you want to maximize the health effects of fruits, focus on those that are rich in nutrients. Try the fruits with more skin.
The skin of fruits is usually very rich in antioxidants and fiber. This is the reason why berries, which have a greater amount of skin, gram per gram, are often considered healthier than larger fruits.
It is also a good idea to change things and eat a variety of fruits because different fruits contain different nutrients.
Summary Fruits contain large amounts of important nutrients, which include fiber, vitamins, minerals and various antioxidants and plant compounds.
Most studies show health benefits
Several observational studies have shown that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of contracting various diseases.
Many of the studies combine fruits and vegetables, while some only look at fruits.
A review of nine studies found that each daily serving of fruit consumed reduces the risk of heart disease by 7% (11).
In addition, a study that included 9,665 adults in the US UU He found that a high intake of fruits and vegetables was associated with a 46% lower risk of diabetes in women, but there were no differences in men (12).
In addition, a study that analyzed fruits and vegetables separately found that vegetables were associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer, but this did not apply to fruits (13).
Many other studies have shown that eating fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of heart attack and stroke, the two leading causes of death in Western countries (14, 15).
One study analyzed how different types of fruit affect the risk of type 2 diabetes. Those who consumed most of the grapes, apples and cranberries had the lowest risk, and blueberries had the strongest effect (16).
However, one problem with observational studies is that they can not prove that the associations they detect are direct causal relationships.
People who eat most fruits tend to be more health conscious, less likely to smoke and more likely to exercise.
That said, some randomized controlled trials (experiments on real humans) have shown that increased fruit consumption can lower blood pressure, reduce oxidative stress and improve glycemic control in diabetics (17, 18).
In general, it seems clear from the data that fruits have significant health benefits.
Summary There is abundant evidence showing that high fruit consumption is associated with a lower risk of serious diseases such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Eating fruit can help you lose weight
It is often forgotten that fruits are incredibly plentiful.
Because of its fiber and water content and the extensive chewing involved in eating them, fruits are very satiating.
The satiety index is a measure of how much different foods contribute to feelings of fullness.
Fruits such as apples and oranges are among the highest rated foods tested, even more than those of meat and eggs (19).
This means that if you increase the intake of apples or oranges, you will probably feel so full that you will automatically eat less of other foods.
There is also an interesting study that shows how fruits can contribute to weight loss (20).
In this six-month study, nine men ate a diet consisting only of fruit (82% of calories) and nuts (18% of calories).
Not in vain, these men lost significant amounts of weight. Those who were overweight lost even more than those who had a healthy weight.
In general, given the strong effects that fruits can have on satiety, it seems beneficial to replace other foods, especially junk foods, with fruits to help you lose weight in the long term.
Summary Fruits like apples and oranges are among the most abundant foods you can eat. Eating more of them should lead to an automatic reduction of caloric intake and, ultimately, to weight loss.
When to avoid fruit
Although the fruit is healthy for most people, there are some reasons why others may need to avoid it.
One is intolerance. For example, eating fruit can cause digestive symptoms in people with intolerance to FODMAP.
The other reason is to be on a very low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet. The main objective of these diets is to reduce the intake of carbohydrates sufficiently for the brain to start using mainly ketone bodies as fuel instead of glucose.
For this to happen, it is necessary to restrict carbohydrates to less than 50 grams per day, sometimes up to 20 to 30 grams.
Since a single piece of fruit can contain more than 20 grams of carbohydrates, it is obvious that fruits are not suitable for a diet of this type. Even a single piece of fruit per day could easily get you out of ketosis.
Summary The main reasons for avoiding fruits include a relevant intolerance or being on a very low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet.
Fruit juices and dried fruits are always a bad idea
Although whole fruits are very healthy for most people, the same can not be said for juices and dried fruits.
Many of the fruit juices on the market are not even "real" fruit juices. They consist of water mixed with some type of concentrate and a lot of added sugar.
But even if you get 100% real fruit juice, it's still a bad idea.
There is a lot of sugar in the fruit juice, almost as much as a sugary drink.
However, there is no resistance to chewing and fiber to decrease consumption, which makes it very easy to ingest a large amount of sugar in a short period of time.
Similarly, dried fruits are very high in sugar, and it is easy to eat large amounts of them.
The shakes are somewhere in the middle. If you put all the fruit in the blender, it is much better than drinking fruit juice. Still, eating all the fruit is better.
Summary Although eating whole fruits is very healthy, the same is not necessarily true for fruit juice and dried fruits. Both are high in sugar and easy to overeat.
The bottom line
The fruit is healthy for most people.
While excessive consumption of sugar can be harmful, this does not apply to whole fruits. Rather, they are "real" foods, rich in nutrients and satisfying satisfactorily.
If you can tolerate fruits and are not on a low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet, of course, eat fruits.
Try to eat more whole fruits as part of a healthy diet based on real foods to enjoy their health benefits.