How much fruit should I eat?
it is in fruit and vegetables), but our biochemistry is not designed for high fructose consumption – throughout evolutionary history we predominantly only consumed it when fruits were ripe seasonally.
There is a big difference between consuming fructose from processed foods (table sugar is 50 per cent fructose) and consuming some fructose from a piece of fruit, which also provides many other health-promoting nutrients (unless you have a medical malabsorption syndrome).
There is also a difference between choosing fresh fruit, and fruit juice or dried fruit. It is very easy to over-consume fructose when you drink fruit juice. For example, a glass of orange juice is equal to about four oranges, but not many people would eat four whole oranges in one sitting.
You also don’t get the fibre that is naturally present in whole fruit when you drink juice, and fibre helps us to feel full. While fibre is present in dried fruit, this is a more concentrated source of fructose that can easily be overconsumed – just picture the volume of 20 grapes versus 20 sultanas. Or three dried apricots versus three whole apricots.
The Ministry of Health recommends two serves of fruit per day for adults, with a serve being equal to one medium piece of fruit (such as an apple or banana), two small pieces of fruit (such as two small plums) or half a cup of fresh fruit salad.
In my experience, two pieces of fruit per day is a good amount for most people who tolerate fruit well. However, I see more and more people who don’t tolerate fruit well. One in three adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) malabsorb fructose (the sugar in fruit). Fructose malabsorption can cause symptoms such as bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain and changes to bowel motions (diarrhoea or constipation). It can be diagnosed using hydrogen/ methane breath-testing or tolerance can be tested via an
Yet I also see many people who aren’t fructose intolerant but they seem to digest fruit much better when they only consume it in the morning on an empty stomach.
While there is no known scientific mechanism for this, I have seen this work for many people over my almost 20 years in clinical practice. So if you find you experience digestive symptoms when you consume fruit, you may like to try this to see if it works for you.
Always listen to your body and do what nourishes you. If you don’t tolerate fruit well, amp up your vegetable intake as vegetables also contain fibre, vitamins, minerals and plenty of wonderful antioxidants.