Fruit contains many useful chemicals and compounds that provide great benefit to our health and fitness. Antioxidants are right near the top of the list when it comes to benefits. Most fruit is full of antioxidants (some more than others) and this is good news. Antioxidants help protect your body, your cells and even your DNA from oxidative damage that could occur at anytime. We have many waste products flying around our systems in our bodies and these can do damage. Antioxidants help protect us from the damage until we can expel the waste products. Fruit is also full of vitamins and minerals. These have great health benefits and are in fact vital to our survival. Without adequate vitamin and mineral intake you will eventually succumb to some disease or other due to your body not being able to function properly. For these reasons we would suggest moderate fruit intake is a good choice.
On the other side of the argument for fruit being good or bad lies something called 'fructose'. For those of you that don't know what it is, it's a form of sugar that is found in pretty much all fruits. It's similar to glucose ('normal' sugar) in it's make up but varies significantly when it comes to impacts on your body. When you eat fructose you'll get an increase in triglycerides in your blood, your liver has to work extra hard to metabolise it and uric levels in your body will rise (can lead to gout and heart disease). Basically when eating fruit high in fructose you'll give your body a big hit of fruit sugar which it then needs to work hard to get rid of.
Fructose has been shown to help cancer cells proliferate and damage your pancreas in particular. Studies over recent years have shown that cancer cells actually 'prefer' to use fructose as a fuel rather than glucose. The impact has also been shown to be greater in pancreatic cells - a double whammy as pancreatic cancer is considered one of the 'worst'. Without going into further detail it's already obvious this isn't a good thing!
Before you all stop eating fruit please read on to get our summary!
Moderate fruit intake is good for you, absolutely. High intake could have impacts on your health and fitness, where as very high intake can lead to cancer and pancreatic failure. The key, as with so many things in life, is balance. If you eat decent quality, whole fruit and veg as part of a balanced diet (meat, fish, nuts, seeds, dairy, fruit and veg) then you've got nothing to worry about. If you eat a lot of refined / processed food or 'healthy' fruit juices and smoothies then you could be heading for trouble. Processed food generally has higher sugar content, lots of which will be fructose. Fruit juices and smoothies give you a hit of 3 or 4 pieces of fruit worth of fructose in one glass - great if it's the vitamins and minerals, not great in terms of fructose consumption.
What would our advice be? Keep eating fruit and veg (more veg than fruit) and you'll be fine. Reduce processed food intake. Reduce intake of fruit juices and smoothies (or similar drinks). At home we still buy good quality fruit juice but we will dilute it 1 part juice to 5 or 6 parts water, reducing the hit of sugar your body takes (and it lasts longer!).
We hope that's been interesting and insightful! Let us know your thoughts.