CARDIOLOGY, PRIMARY CARE AND NUTRITION

Why does fruit get a bad rap?

I often connect with my audience when I relate that growing up I never ate fruit that was not in a pie. We laugh and it amazes me each time that I say it because it is so absurd. Now,  I eat fruit at all three meals and mainly fruit at breakfast. My audience always identifies with my former self for the most part. I recently returned from a visit to my home state of West Virginia where I was speaking for  the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition.  We went to the grocery store immediately to buy fruit for our hotel room. We even found golden mangos! We bought pears, berries, and bananas as well. In the hotel in the corner of the breakfast area there were some oranges sitting alone and we snagged a few of those as well. They were not peeled or presented with the other traditional breakfast items but were off in the corner more as a decoration. But they were the most nutritious item offered.
In the Marriott,  where the meeting was held,  there was a complete absence of fruit both days. It was a large  hotel with large ballrooms and multiple dinnng areas. No fruit. The meeting organizer had requested locally sourced apples and pears holding to the locally sourced theme of the meeting, but the hotel forgot. That said it was never corrected. They did not forget the cheesecake,  although I was told that was a mistake as well. However, it was not rejected by the attendees. Did I mention it was the annual dietetics conference? How can they expect their patients to say no if they don’t say no? We will save that discussion for another time.
Let’s focus on fruit shall we. It is hydrating and sweet. It is loaded with anti-oxidants and phytonutrients as well as vitamins and minerals. Many artificial products that people love mimic the flavor. Cherry flavor, lemon flavor, or with a hint of lime,  are actually positive marketing points for artificial flavors, but we ignore the real thing. It is not Coke. The real thing is whole fruit. It is lifesaving. In fact,  the taste buds for sweet sits at the tip of our tongues. Our muscles prefer to run on glucose and fruit provides a clean easily processed source. Yet people often fear the sugar in fruit. This is ironic in that they do not fear the sugar in cookies, frappuccinos, muffins,  and cake. I have yet to see an overweight or diabetic fruitarian (a person that eats mainly fruit). The reality is most processed baked goods and deserts contain more fat than sugar. People with diabetes are cautioned not to eat sugar so they avoid fruits but snack on sugar and fat containing treats.  Few say no to  a piece of birthday cake but easily stay away from those grapes.
We are a product of mass marketing. There are no commercials to eat more fruit. There are rarely displays in the supermarket to sample fruit. It is placed on the shelves with it’s cover on protecting it and the delicious smell from being detected. It is perceived as hard to eat. It is often picked before it is is fully ripe and when eaten too soon,  it gets a bad rap for lack of sweeteness. Fruit is less than 10% fat so there is not the greasy mouth feel that comes with pastries. We have been so sensitized in eating soft foods that chewing fruit is seen as work. Fruit is not subsidized so it is seen as more expensive. But if you add the price of a bottle of multivitamins to the cost of a pastry to account for the missing nutrients, then fruit is a real bargain. In addition that multivitamin has never been shown to have the benefits of real food. If you add the health benefits of one piece of fruit, then it is a real bargain.
So how do we change the perception of fruit? How does it get top billing? We need to look to the marketing pros. Present fruit in an appetizing way. Get a variety of fruits and slice them with an artistic flare giving them the gratitude that they deserve for their abundance of health benefits. If you served a piece of cake upside down on a plate and stirred it up, it would not be near as appetizing. If you smash those cookies in the bag so they are crumbs less people would make the effort to eat them.
Presentation is everything. Try a new fruit. Ask your produce person about fruits that you may not be familiar with such as when they are ripe and best served. Make a point to eat fruit after each meal. Slice the apple or pear. Wash grapes and place in a bowl on the counter. Notice the color and complexity of the flesh when sliced. Fruit is a miracle of nature and beats any processed food for nutrients and satisfying sweetness. Aim to eat at lest four servings a day which is a whole apple or a cup of berries. Eat fruit, it is what’s for health.

2 Comments
  1. Reply
    Maureen

    Just starting my WFPB journey and I too am cautious about fruit! I gave up sugar years ago and am not even tempted, ever.

    But, the last paragraph confused me. “Aim to eat at least four servings a day which is a whole apple or a cup of berries.” Are you saying that four servings equals one apple or a cup of berries? Or, are you saying that a single serving equals a whole apple or a cup of berries.

    I apologize for my over literate brain!

    Thank you for your inspiration!

    • Reply
      Dr. Dulaney

      The example is that a serving is One Apple or about a cup of berries. Four servings minimal! You will never be hurt by eating whole fruit. If you would like assistance in your transition, consider joining one of our online programs where you can work with a registered dietitian-nutritionist and a physician.

Leave a Reply to Maureen Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *