Can fruit be unhealthy? And which fruit should you avoid?
We all know fruit is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It contains essential vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber. Moreover, because it is very high in water (especially watermelon and grapes), it helps us stay hydrated throughout the day.
While there is no such thing as an unhealthy fruit, there are a few things you want to keep in mind when you eat fruit. For example, fruit like mangoes and cherries are very high in sugar; acid fruit can ruin your teeth and should not be mixed with sweet fruit; and you should avoid eating fruit after your main meals.
Since we were little we have been told to eat more fruit to be healthier, and in general it’s true. However it is possible to eat too much of it, or eat it at the wrong time, and experience nasty side effects such as stomach pains.
In this article we are going to have a look at the potential risks of eating fruit, as well as how you can avoid them. Keep reading or skip to the summary at the end if you don’t have time…
Fruit can be very high in sugar
Dates would be at the top of the list here — their sugar content can be as high as 80 percent — however we won’t count them as they are usually served dried rather than fresh.
- Cherries can contain up to 13 percent sugar, which is pretty high. Strawberries and blueberries, for instance, contain only about 5 percent of sugar. Plus, because cherries are so sweet, they can be quite addictive, and it can be easy to overeat them.
- Mangoes contain up to 14 percent sugar. This tropical fruit is delicious, and it’s often used in smoothies and raw juices, however a single mango can contain more sugar than a candy bar (though fruit will always be healthier than processed food).
- Grapes contain up to 17 percent sugar and, just like cherries, it can be hard to stop eating them once you start, so it’s always better to prepare a portion rather than eating them straight from the container.
- Bananas can contain up to 13 percent sugar. Unripe bananas contain less sugar but should be avoided as they can cause bloating or stomach pains. As for the potassium content, it’s only a good thing (you would need to eat over a hundred bananas in one sitting to overdose on potassium).
Now, does high sugar content always translate to unhealthy? Not necessarily, especially because sugar from fruit is different from that of processed food.
For one, fruit contains a lot of fiber, which slows down sugar absorption. It also provides your body with vitamins, minerals, and water — three elements that are essential to your health, and can’t be found in any processed food.
But most importantly, fruit does not contain excessive amounts of calories, salt, fat, preservatives, or harmful chemicals. So unless you have diabetes or any other condition (or follow an extremely low carb diet for whatever reason), you shouldn’t worry too much about the sugar content of fruit as long as you don’t overeat it.
Citrus fruit such as lemon can actually ruin your teeth and make them more vulnerable to cavities by eroding the enamel. So if you drink lemon water, or any other acidic fruit juice, make sure you use a straw to prevent tooth damage.
Also, do not brush your teeth after consuming lemon or orange juice. Even if you rinse with water, your teeth will be more vulnerable because of the acid. So it is recommended to either brush before drinking the juice, or wait for at least thirty minutes (that’s roughly the time it takes your teeth to remineralize).
Though citrus fruit is good for the immune system, heart health, and even your skin, some studies have suggested that there may be a link between acidic fruit — especially oranges — and cancer. It is still not clear whether the studies are 100 percent accurate, however some experts have said that those who have cancer should avoid citrus fruits.
You should also avoid citrus fruit if you suffer from GERD or acid reflux. Because citrus fruit is so acidic, it can make your symptoms a lot worse, especially when it’s consumed on an empty stomach.
When digestion is optimized, nutrients from food can be assimilated properly, and the whole digestive process is easier and smoother. Conversely, combining the wrong foods may lead to poor digestion and, in turn, nasty side effects such as bloating and brain fog.
Because fruit is one of the fastest digesting foods, you want to consume it before your meals. If you consume it after a meal, it will interfere with the digestive process.
Ideally you want to eat fruit alone — for example, shortly after you wake up, or as a snack — so you can maximize the absorption of vitamins and minerals.
If you are eating melons, then you must eat them alone as their high water content (90 percent or more) would disrupt digestion, even if you eat them before a meal. Melons digest extremely fast and should always be consumed alone.
Another recommendation is to avoid eating different types of fruit together, specifically sweet and acid, as it would be harder for your body to properly digest both at the same time. So for example, you shouldn’t eat lemons and bananas together, or pineapple and figs.
Most unhealthy fruit: summary
There is no such thing as unhealthy fruits, however you do want to follow a few rules when you consume fruit. To recap:
- Don’t eat too many cherries, mangoes, grapes, or bananas if you want to limit your sugar intake
- Drink lemon water with a straw to avoid enamel erosion; when you consume acid fruit, rinse with water and wait at least thirty minutes to brush your teeth
- Avoid eating citrus fruit, especially on an empty stomach, if you suffer from GERD or acid reflux
- Eat melons alone (they are very high in water and get digested super fast); try and eat all other fruits either alone or before your main meals
- Don’t mix sweet and acid fruit together: your body cannot properly digest both at the same time
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