With summer on the horizon, we can all look forward to the abundance of in-season fruits appearing at supermarkets and farmers markets across the nation. There is no question that fruit is an important part of a healthy diet with a vast amount of energy producing nutrients. However, too much of any good thing can also have negative consequences, as was the case for Ashton Kutcher who was following a fruitarian diet in preparation for his role as Steve Jobs in the upcoming film, Jobs. Knowing how much fruit to eat and which fruits you should always buy organic are important topics for both fruit lovers and health advocates.
Fruits are full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytonutrients and fiber. Fruits contain a natural form of sugar called fructose, which provides the body with energy when consumed in moderation. Fruit digests very quickly when eaten alone which is why those who recommend proper food combining always suggest that fruit be eaten either 30 minutes before consuming other foods or 2 hours afterwards. This prevents foods from getting stuck in the digestive system where they can begin to ferment and cause discomfort or further health problems.
Since fruit is a food that grows naturally on our planet, many interpret this to mean that there are no limits to the amount of fruit we can enjoy and benefit from. There is even a group within the vegan community who refer to themselves as fruitarians, claiming that fruits are the only food we need to survive and flourish as human beings. Although some fruitarians also consume vegetable fruits such as cucumbers, tomatoes and avocados as well as small amounts of nuts, seeds and grains, the extremists don’t stray from the all fruit diet. Many health experts feel that this dietary approach can be dangerous, which is why it’s important to understand how the overconsumption of fructose impacts the body.
Most recently, Ashton Kutcher showed up in the media for having gone to the hospital after consuming an all fruit diet for one month. Blood tests indicated that his pancreas enzyme levels were potentially disrupted by the diet. His reason for experimenting with the diet was in preparation for his movie role portraying the recent Steve Jobs who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer a few years back. Jobs was an avid supporter of the fruitarian diet during periods of his adult life, although there is no way to determine what ultimately led to his cancer. What we do know is that a high fructose diet can negatively impact the function of the pancreas, the organ that releases the hormone insulin and is responsible for blood sugar regulation. Additionally, cells use fructose to make the DNA they need for cell division, which speeds up the proliferation and growth of cancer.
In addition to the risks associated with the pancreas, too much fructose (or any sugar for that matter) can contribute to obesity, diabetes, cancer and other high sugar related health problems. Even though natural fruits alone won’t likely make you fat, a lot of fruits combined with the vast amount of high fructose corn syrup being consumed in packaged food products will surely be detrimental to long-term health. A high fruit diet may also make it difficult to meet nutrient requirements, if you’re not consuming adequate plant-based protein (flax, Spirulina, quinoa/grains, nuts, seeds, beans, etc.). Additionally, as I’ve written about in previous posts, anyone on a vegetarian or vegan diet needs to monitor their Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin D levels.
As a final point for fruit lovers, it’s important to reduce pesticide exposure by purchasing organic fruits for those ranked to be the most contaminated by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). These include apples, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes, and blueberries. Usually fruits that have a removable skin (such as bananas, melons, pineapple, etc.) are alright to purchase non-organic if budgetary reasons are of concern.
 Haupt, A. (2013, February 7). Ashton kutcher's fruitarian diet: what went wrong. Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2013/02/07/ashton-kutchers-fruitarian-diet-what-went-wrong
 Daniel, K. (2012, January 19). iVegetarian: the high fructose diet of steve jobs. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/naughty-nutrition/201201/ivegetarian-the-high-fructose-diet-steve-jobs?page=3
 Mercola, J. (2010, April 20). "This addictive commonly used food feeds cancer cells, triggers weight gain, and promotes premature aging." Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/04/20/sugar-dangers.aspx
 (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/
Published On: March 27, 2013