Our parents always told us to make sure we ate plenty of fruit, but now that we know how terrible sugar is, some of us have began to question that age old advice. I definitely did. I used to meticulously restrict my fruit intake to make sure I didn’t exceed my allowable daily sugar intake. But now, I eat fruit whenever (and wherever and however) I want. And I am not ashamed.
So let’s back up a little bit. The war on sugar began in 2008 with Michael Pollan, but the fear of fruit didn’t come until three years later when Richard Ludwig published “The Toxic Truth about Sugar.”
He claimed sugar causes a wide variety of chronic diseases and was as deadly as tobacco. Ludwig discussed how the liver can only handle so much fructose. After that, the fructose turns to dangerous fat that keeps our body from functioning properly.
Even though he focused on processed sugars, people began to wonder. Fruit contains fructose. So if fructose from processed sugars is so dangerous then why wouldn’t fructose from fruit be dangerous too?
People began asking if they were eating too much fruit. In response, article after article encouraged sticking to the USDA’s recommendation of two to four servings per day. They warned that going over that recommendation meant eating too much fructose, which could cause diseases like Type II Diabetes.
However, these recommendations are theories based on how we metabolize fructose. Studies that actually look at the effects of sugar on the body don’t look at the impact of eating too much fruit. For that reason, the World Health Organization itself recognizes that natural sugars do not need to be limited.
WHO’s daily recommendation for sugar “does not refer to the sugars in fresh fruits and vegetables … because there is no reported evidence of adverse effects of consuming these sugars.”
In fact, research found that eating “too much” fruit could be beneficial. In the study, the group that ate the most fruits and vegetables (a whopping 63 servings per day) actually had the lowest cholesterol of all participants. It may have been a short study, but it provides preliminary evidence that more fruit doesn’t necessarily mean more fat.
Of course, balance is key. If any food entirely dominates your diet, well then you’re going to miss out on some key nutrients. But even if I eat 500 calories of fruit per day (about three times the recommends amount), that only accounts for about one fourth of my daily calories. Since over half of my calories should come from carbs, I see no issue with that amount of fruit. It leaves plenty of room for other vegetables, grains, proteins, and fats.
People also say to avoid consuming too much fruit because it might make you bloated or constipated. I’m a big advocate for listening to your own body. I know how I feel after eating a massive bowl of grapes. I know how I feel after eating a massive slice of cake. I may love the cake, but my body definitely prefers the grapes. When eating a lot of grapes starts making me feel gross, I’ll scale it back.
The most extreme nutritionists out there will tell me I’m addicted to sugar. Some would even recommend that I give up sugar entirely so that I don’t crave it in any form, fruit or otherwise. But, at the end of the day, I just don’t have the time, desire, or need to entirely eliminate sugar.
Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist. I took biology in high school, and that was it. But I dove into a lot of research on this topic over several of years, and I have yet to find convincing evidence that my “excessive” consumption of fruit is bad for me. Until that happens, I can and will defend my love for fruit.
Right now, I am the epitome of health and see no reason to change my dietary habits that show no signs of harming my body. So, if I’m going to eat a ton of sugar, at least it comes from fruit and not soda. Therefore, I will continue to proudly and unapologetically binge on fruit.