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Eating Too Much Fruit Can Be Bad For Your Health
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Jul 31, 2004
Many of us have come to believe that eating healthier means eating lots of fruits and vegetables. While fruits and vegetables are much better for you than refined foods like cookies and chips, my experiences and research have led me to believe that too much fruit can be harmful to your health.
A lot of the fruit that is grown today is much higher in sugar than they would be in a natural environment. Have you ever tasted a wild blueberry? How about a wild apple? On their own, they are delicious, but you may be surprised to discover that they aren't nearly as sweet as modern day varieties. Over thousands of years, humans have been able to make fruits larger and sweeter than their wild predecessors through hybridization.
But sugar from fruit is natural, so you should be able to eat as much as you want, right? This question is best asked of fruitarians - people who eat nothing but raw fruits. It is not uncommon for a strict fruitarian to eat five bananas and five dates for breakfast, one large canteloupe for lunch, and five large peaches for dinner.
Some fruitarians take a more balanced approach and eat lots of less sweet, seed-bearing fruits like tomatoes and zuchinni. They also eat plenty of greens like romaine lettuce.
Regardless of which approach is taken, I have not met a single strict fruitarian of more than two years who didn't have significant health challenges. The most common challenges are dental decay, osteoporosis, wasting of muscle tissue, inability to maintain a healthy weight, chronic fatigue, skin problems, thinning hair, weakening nails, and excessive irritability.
Some of these problems are the result of nutritional deficiencies. The most common deficiencies that I know of in this population are vitamins B12, A*, D, zinc, and certain essential fatty acids.
Another problem with a high fruit diet is that it can lead to problems involving the hormones that regulate your blood sugar; insulin, glucagon, and growth hormone. A chronic imbalance of these hormones is a sure way to develop cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The encouraging news is that when you eat fruits in moderation, they can contribute to excellent overall health and fitness. Here is a list of some of my favorite, healthy fruits:
1. Berries - Be sure that they are wild or organic, as commercially grown berries are heavily coated with pesticides. Berries tend to put less stress on your blood sugar - regulating mechanisms than other fruits, and provide loads of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals which protect you against disease. Frozen wild blueberries are available year-round in almost any grocery store.
2. Avocado - An excellent source of raw fat, which is essential for healing and maintenance of health. Avocados are also an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The fatty acids found in avocados provide excellent fuel for energy. A good avocado has a rich, creamy texture and a rich green color towards the outer part of its flesh.
3. Figs - If you haven't tried a fresh black or green fig, you are missing out on one of the most minerally dense fruits there is. Fresh figs are superior to dried figs, as the drying process creates an unhealthy concentration of the natural sugars in figs. If you are going to eat dried figs, strive to eat only a few per day. Figs are particularly high in potassium, calcium, and iron.
4. Pomegranates - If you could choose only one fruit to get into your blood and provide super protection against free radical damage and chronic disease, pomegranates would be a great choice. By weight, they have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants among all fruits.
5. Apples - Like all of the fruits listed above, apples are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. From a practical viewpoint, apples are one of the most affordable healthy fruits to eat on a regular basis.
If you want to eat super sweet fruits like bananas, grapes, and ripe persimmons, you may want to eat them with some dark green lettuce, celery sticks, and avocado, as the mineral density in these green foods will help to dampen the unhealthy effect that super sweet fruits have on your insulin levels.
I recommend staying away from fruit juices most of the time, as their concentrated sugars contribute to health problems related to too much insulin production.
* While it is true that vitamin A can be made from beta carotene, which is found in lots of fruits and vegetables, many people are unable to make enough vitamin A for their daily needs from beta carotene alone. Effective conversion of beta carotene to vitamin A depends on a number of factors, like a healthy gall bladder, sufficient dietary fat, and a healthy thyroid gland. Sufficient intake and absorption of vitamin A is essential to a number of processes, including building and maintaining healthy mucosal linings throughout your body, enhancing your immune system, and supporting your vision.
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