Ep. #988: Says You! Fruit Isn’t as Healthy as People Claim

Hello, and welcome to Muscle For Life. I am Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today for another installment in my c u series of episodes where I address something that someone disagrees with me on. So what I do is every couple of months over on Instagram, At Muscle for Life Fitness, if you wanna follow me, I will make a post asking for people to share things that they think I’m wrong about in the comments, and then I go through all of the comments and pick a handful of them that I haven’t already spoken or written about ad nauseum.

And bringing them over here on the podcast and talk about them. And so in today’s episode, I’m gonna talk about eating fruit. And the claim that I am addressing specifically is that modern fruit. Is a problem that modern fruit is very different from the fruit that we were eating thousands of years ago.

Modern fruit is larger, more sugary, and now we’re also eating a lot of different types of fruit that we weren’t eating previously, and that ultimately all of this fruit eating is contributing to obesity and other types of disease. Before we get to it, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, please do check out my Sports Nutrition Company Legion, which just released a new product.

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And even better body composition. No kidding. And if you want to find out how that works, head over to by legion.com, b y legion.com/bio B I O M E and check it out. Okay, so let me start this discussion by saying that I’m a little bit surprised that there are quite a few credentialed experts out there working very hard to convince people that they are fat and unhealthy because they eat too much fruit.

We humans have been eating fruit for. Thousands of years. Obesity is a modern epidemic. I think that the sugar in apples is not the problem. But anyway, here we are. And many people believe that they should not. Eat bananas if they want to lose weight. But instead they should put gobs of butter in their coffee every morning and add MCT oil to every meal.

And so I am going to try to set the record straight here, at least on the fruit eating, we could talk about Bulletproof Coffee or c t oil. Later. So as I mentioned, we humans have been eating fruit for thousands of years, and we have been selectively breeding fruit for at least hundreds, if not thousands of years, to increase yield, to improve the taste, to improve the appearance, to make the crops more resistant to pests and so forth.

And yes, the fruit that you find in grocery stores is not the same. That grew on trees in the distant past, but of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that modern fruit is worse for us than ancient fruit. Now, there is a specific claim that’s made about modern fruit though, and that is the amount of sugar.

Many people believe that our medling in fruit has drastically increased the amount of sugar in the fruit. And the size of the fruit. So much so that modern fruit is now unhealthy. For example, Dr. Ken Berry said in 2018 that modern fruit has been bred to contain 100 times more sugar than ancient varieties, and therefore modern fruit is not a healthy snack.

Now, he didn’t provide any evidence for this claim, but he’s a doctor, so he must know what he’s talking about. In reality, there is very little evidence that modern fruit contains a lot more sugar than ancient fruit. But unfortunately, there’s also little evidence that it is not the case. And so that makes it hard to debunk because then the self-styled expert or thought leader or guru can say that they are ahead of the science, so to speak, that they are in the trenches, they are working with patients, they are seeing.

That will eventually make their way into the scientific literature. And while that can be true, because it certainly does happen, science does begin with observations, theories, conclusions, and the cogs of academic science move slowly, so to speak. There can be a long period of time between the initial observations, theories, conclusions.

And the publication of scientific trials that bear them out. And so then when you, as a layman hear a credentialed expert make a claim that is not supported by scientific research, but also is not contradicted by scientific research, and when it sounds like they know what they’re talking about and when they’re saying that scientific research just hasn’t been able to address this yet, it can be hard to know whether you should.

What they’re saying is true or not, whether you should assume that they are being truthful or not. And so we do have a bit of this going on with the modern fruit dilemma, but we can also gain a lot of insight by looking at wild fruits, which are undomesticated fruits found in sparsely populated areas of the world.

Since these fruits have never been selectively bred, they give us an idea of what fruit is like naturally before humans started to tinker with it. And contrary to what some people are saying about modern fruit being oversized compared to a domesticated fruit across the board there are many African wild fruits, including the jungle, so and soursop that are larger than.

Modern fruits. According to the book, Lost Crop of Africa, Jungle Sos and Soursops are almost as long as a person’s forearm and as thick as a leg, and they typically weigh between nine and 13 pounds. That’s a lot of fruit, and my point with that is fruit isn’t necessarily large because of human intervention.

Now, that’s not to say that all undomesticated fruit is. Than modern fruit or vice versa. It just varies from fruit to fruit. But to say that humans did not eat large fruit until recently is patently wrong, and as for the sugar content of fruit, there’s evidence that at least in some fruits, it doesn’t seem to have changed.

Much at all. Consider a study published in the South African Journal of Nutrition that showed that between 78 and 92% of the calories in wild fruit, such as the wild plum, wild apricot, and monkey orange come from carbs, mainly sugar, which is consistent with the amount of carbs and sugar in modern fruits such as papaya, strawberries, and can.

Now, some people will bring up fiber at this point in the discussion. They will say the sugar content hasn’t changed very much, but it’s the fiber content. Modern fruit has less fiber on average than ancient fruit, and that changes how our body processes the sugar. More fiber is better, less fiber is worse for sugar processing, but that does not appear to be true either.

The same study showed that wild fruit and modern fruit contain. Very similar amounts of fiber. Another claim is regarding fructose, which is a natural sugar found in fruits. And specifically the claim is that the total sugar content has not changed, but modern fruit contains more fructose than ancient fruit, and that then is claimed to contribute to different health conditions like metabolic syndrome, type two diabetes, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic.

Liver disease and others. And by the way, research shows that fructose in fruit almost certainly does not contribute to any of those problems as opposed to fructose in processed foods that contain high fructose corn syrups. You have to differentiate the fructose in natural foods in an apple. Versus the fructose in candy or soda.

But anyway, coming back to this fructose in fruit claim, a study published in food chemistry shows that typically around 50% of the sugar in wild fruits from Southeast Asia, including the star apple, Bengal qui, and hog plum is. Glucose and the remaining 50% is split between fructose and sucrose, and there is usually more fructose than sucrose.

That is very similar to what scientists have seen in studies on modern fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, and bananas. That said, there are examples of wild fruits that have very different carbohydrate compositions than their modern. Fruit equivalence and vice versa. Sometimes it’s the wild fruit that contains a lot more fructose.

Sometimes it’s the modern fruit that does sometimes one contains a lot more glucose than the other. Sometimes the variation is in the sucrose content. And so my point here is there does not appear to be a pattern of higher fructose in modern fruit. And even if that were true, that doesn’t necessarily mean modern fruit is worse for us, that it’s more dangerous than wild fruit.

Now as to the argument that we, modern humans eat more fruit in a wider variety of fruit than our ancient ancestors. There is some validity to that’s reasonable, but our habits probably have not changed as much as some people think. So the main. Point that some people try to make here is that we used to eat comparatively little fruit in the past because we had no way to keep the fruit fresh.

And that means a lot of it would spoil and go to waste. And the only way we could really eat fruit then was to get whatever was in season. And while that is true to an extent, it ignores the fact that many wild fruits stay edible for months after they ripen and others sun dry on the plant, making them last longer and making them fine to eat later.

So it’s probably wrong to assume that we didn’t eat fruit year round because we had to pick. Eat it within a couple of weeks or it would go to waste. And again, this line of argumentation assumes that eating more fruit than we once did, or eating a wider variety of fruit than we once did is bad for us.

And that is not an established fact. I would say the weight of the scientific evidence is against. And so even if we are eating more fruit now than we used to, and even if we are eating a wider variety of fruit, we are eating more types of fruit now than we used to. Who cares? So eat your fruit. I recommend two to three servings per day and four to six servings of vegetables per day.

Eat the fruit that you like. Make sure you understand energy balance, Understand the importance of calories in and calories. Regulating your calories based on your body composition goals and needs. Understand macronutrient, balance, how those calories break down into protein, carbs, and fat, and why that matters.

And just try to be consistent. Try to be good enough. Most of the time with your diet, if we wanna put a number to it and make a game out of it, let’s say 80% consistency, that’s the target. So 24 out. 30 days are more or less on target. Your calories are more or less where they should be. You are getting enough protein, and on those remaining six days, just try not to go too overboard.

Try not to eat 5,000 calories a day on the remaining six days. And lastly, you gotta stay patient. Because if you are on a weight loss journey, remember that it took more than 30 days to gain that fat that you wanna lose. And so it is also going to take more than 30 days to lose it. I hope you liked this episode.

I hope you found it helpful. And if you did subscribe to the show because. It makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes, and it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you.

And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have. Ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share. Shoot me an email, mike muscle for life.com, muscle f o r life.com and let me know what I could do better or just what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.

I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you.