Lifting the ban on “forbidden” fruit

On Tuesday, I told you about the new FDA campaign attacking fresh fruits that grow on trees and bushes. It’s another bad example of misinformed government overreach. Today, I want to dispel another myth about eating fresh fruit.

If you have Type II diabetes, chances are, your doctor has warned you against eating too much fresh fruit. Many so-called experts will tell you it contains too much sugar.

But this is nonsense.

Your body’s metabolism sees fruit sugar differently than it does sucrose (table sugar). And it certainly sees the sugar in fruit differently than it does the modern-day disaster of high-fructose corn syrup.

I’ve said it many times before, if you can find a food in nature, your body can handle it. Such is the case with eggs. And meat. And, yes, fresh fruit, even in diabetes.

New research follows this line of thinking…

Danish researchers recently studied fruit intake among newly diagnosed Type II diabetics. They wanted to see if eating more fruit would impair glycemic (blood sugar) control. And whether limiting fruit would improve glycemic control.

For the study, researchers in Denmark recruited 63 newly diagnosed Type II diabetics. The patients had not yet received any “nutritional counseling.” So, this minimized the chances of the patients already receiving any of the typical misinformation about nutrition from so-called dieticians and nutritionists.

The researchers split the patients into two groups. They advised the first group to eat no more than two pieces of fruit a day. They encouraged the second group to eat   two or more pieces of fruit a day.

One piece of fruit was defined as the amount that contains about 10 g of carbohydrates. For example, an entire apple (100 g), half a banana (50 g), or an entire orange (125 g). They also instructed the men and women to eat whole, fresh fruits, but to avoid dried fruits and fruit juices.

To keep track of their dietary intake, the participants maintained a food diary. They completed this each day during the study. As I have often said, this method is a much better way to assess food intake. Asking people to remember what they ate years before, or even 24 hours before, is far less accurate.

During the study, the men and women made some real changes to their diets. Over three months, the high-intake fruit group increased their fruit consumption on average from 194 g/day to 319 g/day. The low-intake group decreased their intake from 186 g/day to 135 g/day.

After three months, the researchers found three major differences between the two groups.

First, the patients in the high fruit-intake group experienced significant decreases in glycosylated hemoglobin (Hb A 1C). This is a long-term measure of blood glucose. And their numbers dropped from 6.74 to 6.26 percent.

Secondly, they lost about 2 kg (about 4 lbs.).

Third, they trimmed their waistlines by about 4 cm.

According to the study’s lead author, “We conclude that advice to restrict fruit intake as part of standard [treatment] in overweight adults with newly diagnosed Type II diabetes mellitus does not improve glycemic control, body weight, or waist circumference.”

And he added, “Considering the many possible beneficial effects of fruit, we recommend that fruit intake should not be restricted in Type II diabetes patients.”

Experts usually advise patients with Type II diabetes to eat more fiber-rich vegetables. And this is sound advice.

But many health professionals (which, as we know, are not the same as nutrition experts) express concerns about fruit’s high natural sugar content. And they tell diabetic patients to avoid eating too many fruits.

These concerns were wholly “made up.” No actual scientific evidence has ever shown that eating fresh fruit has any negative health consequence. In fact, high fruit intake has been consistently proven to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and many cancers.

Amazingly, in the midst of all the medical myth-information, I believe this is the first actual clinical trial to examine this widespread medical myth. The real culprits are the “empty” sucrose calories found in baked goods. And the processed foods and beverages made with “high-fructose corn syrup.” Not the natural sugar found in fresh fruit. Eating fresh whole fruit grants you many nutrients and healthy fiber, in a natural biological matrix. Whether you have diabetes or not.

You can count on your body and metabolism to know a good food when it sees it. And eats it.

So, your mother was right after all–an apple a day does help keep the doctor away. Now we just have to keep the FDA away from our apples.


1. Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:29