Should you limit your fruit consumption?

boy picking fruitA paleo friend recently informed me, after observing my kitchen counter overflowing with sweet fruit, that a banana has as much sugar as a Snicker’s candy bar.   I wasn’t sure what reaction he was looking for, but I sensed my lack of concern was a disappointment.

Do people really equate a piece of fruit with a candy bar?  Are we really so misinformed about nutrition and what we should be eating that we believe any sensational headline or ridiculous “fact” we hear?

First of all, a Snickers bar has 27g of sugar.  A banana has 14.  So 2 bananas have the equivalent sugar of one Snickers.  Devil is in the details, I guess.

But let’s address the real difference between the sugar in a Snicker’s and the sugar in a banana.  Because they aren’t the same.  Added sugar, or industrial sugar is different from fruit sugar.  Don’t get me started on those crazy people that believe a calorie is a calorie and all are equal.  Really? Eating a candy bar and eating a piece of fruit, I’m hoping, is clearly not an equivalent action.

So here is the difference between a manufactured food and a natural food.  Fortunately, good old Mother Nature did a bang up job of creating the perfect food in regards to the combination of nutrients in fruit.  While Snickers and bananas both have sugar,  one is added and one is not.  Bananas come with natural fructose,  along with fiber and antioxidants.  Snickers come with artificial flavor, corn syrup and lactose.

Fiber is a super important and very overlooked nutrient.   It’s also one that less than 3% of Americans obtain the recommended minimum amount.  Less than 3 %.  Not to mention no one, not one person, has ever asked me if I get enough fiber on a raw vegan diet.

If only people were as concerned about fiber as they are about their precious protein.  Imagine!

But I digress.

Fruit and vegetables in their whole, raw food form, contain the most fiber.  Animal products contain no to little fiber and processed foods typically have the fiber processed right the heck out of them.  Like when they turn brown rice into white rice.  So it’s pretty, and white.

The bottom line is that eating fruit, even the mass quantities that I eat in a day, has no negative effects from high amounts of fruit sugar.  In fact,  researchers noted possible benefits.  Limiting your fruit consumption based on it’s sugar content makes no sense at all.

Study participants eating 20 servings of fruit a day for a few weeks and 44 servings of vegetables showed “no adverse effects on weight or blood pressure or triglycerides and an astounding 38 point drop in LDL cholesterol.”  20 servings of fruit is about 17 more than most people average in a day.

My fiber intake on a typical day is 350% of the recommended amount.  My sugar intake is 357 g, or about 13 Snicker’s bars worth.

My kitchen countertop remains filled with fresh, ripe, organic fruits that are bursting with fructose and fiber.  Not a candy bar is in sight.




Why I don’t supplement with protein on a raw vegan diet.

  1. It’s remarkably easy to get sufficient protein with whole, unprocessed fruits and vegetables.  Sure, it’s not a gritty powder that tastes terrible and is ridiculously expensive, but fruit contains 3-9% of calories from protein.  Leafy greens provide another great source, with spinach being around 40% protein. A daily fruitscombination of fruits and leafy greens with sufficient calories for your activity level will net you plenty of protein.  My daily diet of mostly fruit with a large salad of tender leafy greens typically contains between 40-45g of protein and about 2,500 calories.  For my body weight of 121 lbs, this is well within daily requirements.  A supplement with protein on a raw vegan diet would only serve as excess.
  2. Protein supplements are ridiculously expensive.  Unless you just really like to spend money on things you don’t need that taste kind of gross, why buy it?  Prices range anywhere from $2-$4 per money treeserving for popular varieties of quality vegan/organic protein like this one or this one.  Taking the mid range of $3, that’s $90 per month or $1080 per year. For Something You Don’t Need, that’s a bit pricey, isn’t it?
  3. The purity of your protein supplement is questionable. A 2010 Consumer Reports study indicated unsafe amounts of toxic compounds in several tested protein supplements: “The amounttoxic of lead in a single daily serving of eight out of the 15 protein supplements they tested would require that the products carry a warning in California under their prop 65 law for toxin-containing substances.”    Are you hoping your protein supplement isn’t one of the 8 that contain toxins like arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury?
  4. It’s a highly processed product.  No matter what brand you choose, protein powder is produced in a factory and is far, far protein powderremoved from it’s original source.  A fine white powder, even mixed into a juice or smoothie, just doesn’t seem consistent with a healthy plant-based, whole foods diet. It’s easy enough to imagine your body processing and digesting an orange or a banana, but not so much a mysterious powdery substance with a shelf life of 2 years.
  5. Marketing vs. facts.  The supplement industry actively promotes the fear that a vegan diet needs supplementation with protein.  They have a marketing budget of gazillions of dollars which they use to convince athletes as well as sedentary vegans that protein supplementation is necessary for a healthy diet and athletic performance.  Only, it’s not.  Sadly, fruits and vegetables have near zero for their marketing budget and sell products with much less profit margin.  So aside from an occasional advertisement in the form of this adorable billboard for California avocados, you’re not likely to avocado billboardsee much promotion of the very foods that not only provide protein, but 100’s of other important nutrients as well.

So stick with fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables.  Eat enough calories for your daily needs.  Save your money.  Don’t give in to the hype that you need additional protein supplementation because you’re a vegan.   Or a raw vegan.

You have everything that you need.