Is it possible to eat too much fruit…
By Karen Kwan
Every morning as I throw a pile of fruit into my blender, or eat peach after peach in the summer, I have this nagging thought: is it possible to eat too much fruit, even though fruit is bursting with vitamin and minerals and antioxidants?
After all, research studies have shown numerous health benefits of a diet high in fruit. It’s been linked to lowering blood pressure, reducing risk of heart disease and diabetes, and decreasing inflammation. It’s also been found to prevent certain types of cancer; a research study published in the Journal of Epidemiology in 2017, conducted with a large population group in Japan, revealed a low incidence of cancer among people who ate or drank citrus juice several times a week compared to those who consumed them two times a week or less.
But then, on the other hand, remember that Steve Jobs was known to be a fruitarian, and following that same strict diet landed Ashton Kutcher in the hospital in incredible pain with pancreatic problems.
To start, there are a lot of health benefits when it comes to most fruit. They’re high in vitamins and minerals, plus fibre when you eat whole fruit, notes Hamilton-based registered dietitian Michelle Jaelin. “And most people don’t eat enough fruit or fibre,” she adds. Too much fibre in your diet, though, and you may find yourself making more trips to the washroom. Take note of how many servings of fruit you are eating. One serving of fruit is about a half cup, or one medium fruit – about the size of your fist. “It’s not a huge concern to me unless you are eating more than 10 servings of fruit per day and are noticing frequent trips to the bathroom – more than three bowel movements a day.”
There are also the natural sugars in fruit to be considered. So how to make your fruit snack better for you? “For balanced blood sugars, pair it with protein, such as a small handful of nuts or three to four cubes of cheese,” recommends Jaelin. And keep an eye on your overall calorie intake; if you’re eating a decent diet of three meals a day, two to three snacks per day would be ideal.
The same goes for your all-fruit smoothies– balance what you put in them. “A smoothie should be balanced with different foods and supplements for different nutrients,” says Jaelin. She suggests adding ingredients such as leafy greens, silken tofu and Greek yogurt.
Keep in mind, too, that as with everything in life, variety is best. So even though it’s tempting to eat pint after pint of strawberries in the summer and go to town on a box of clementines in the winter, indulge in what’s in season, of course, but mix it up. “Eating a variety of different fruit gives you an abundance of nutrients, minerals and fibre for your gut health,” says Jaelin.
Ultimately, though, look more to the number of fruit servings you’re having a day: five to eight servings is ideal.
KAREN KWAN is a freelance health, travel and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter at @healthswellness and on Instagram at @healthandswellness.