I know we've had numerous threads about fruit-consumption, fructose in our modern fruits, old fruits and their tastes versus our modern day fruits, etc.
This morning I came across this very interesting post from Minger: http://rawfoodsos.com/2011/05/31/wild-and-ancient-fruit/
I'm sure it'll make its way across the paleosphere and we'll hear some interesting tidbits.
I thought I'd post it here as we seem to have our own semi-fruit-phobia on these boards. I include myself - I eat no fruit. Zero. I simply would rather get my carbohydrate from starch because I enjoy the flavor of tubers and squashes more.
Will this article change your fruit-eating or fruit-avoiding habits?
If it does nothing else, this article should serve to kill the idea that humans evolved to seasonally fatten on fruits. GG Minger.
It seems that the paleo community is still catching up to itself in some ways. Most of the visible paleo gurus have settled on an exclusionary approach (don't eat modern stuff) or a very broad inclusionary approach (eat real food). A lot of the speculative memes and heuristics spawned during the early days of paleo's popularity surge are still dying out.
I think the more people look into paleo, the more it becomes obvious that optimum seeking via tinkering with what you do eat is far less supportable with the available evidence than the opposite behavior - avoiding the worst of the food supply/not hurting yourself. They're very different approaches in practice, though the end result might sometimes look the same.
About all you can say is avoid excess fructose, excess seed oils and gluten grains. We've managed to generate a lot of blogs and forums and whatnot around something which is, in the end, remarkably simple.
I think fruit has gotten a bad rap in the Paleosphere and much of it is unwarranted based on the idea that excess fructose causes a myriad of health issues. Well, it has already been displayed correctly in multiple studies that excess fructose does indeed cause a host of issues. But in the same way that CMast pointed out in his post about the differences between eating purified fructose and fructose from honey, I truly believe there's a big difference between consuming fructose from taking a bite of a strawberry or a handful of blueberries or even a juicy melon versus getting the identical amount of actual fructose from guzzling a dr pepper. I'm not saying that the fructose itself is different, but I do believe that the package it comes in makes a difference in what your body will chose to do with it.
As I said in a different thread from earlier today, I eat fruit daily. I like to get a wide variety. I think I primarily do this because I enjoy it, not exactly because I feel the need for more calories per se. But when I want some kind of a sweet treat, I'll slice a banana in half, grab a spoonful of raw honey, and maybe a spoonful of almond macadamia nut butter. I have used fruit and natural whole foods as a direct replacement for the manmade garbage that I used to allow myself to ingest. If you have a broken or damaged metabolic condition, you'll obviously have to adjust for that in your fruit consumption, but for those who are fit and eat a nutrient dense diet, eating fruit can be a wonderful part of the equation. It is for me.
I'm not sure she's licensed to make her final claim:
If evolutionary history is your only basis for avoiding it, though, it might be time for a paradigm shift.
I'll never forget that observation from the guest post on KGH's blog that came out right around the time of his January "comeback." It's from Professor Gumby, who spent some time with the San, and apparently long enough for them to stop trying to impress him:
iii) Except in the context of “This is good to eat, try it!” I do not recall ever seeing my guides eat fruit. This was bizarre to me at the time as some were quite delicious and I would partake of them whenever encountered.
Now I'm not making a claim that this one guy's observation trumps everyone else's research on this topic. It's just that this story opens up a possibility that we perhaps do not consider as much as we should. And that possibility is: Maybe the presence of huge, juicy fruits in our evolutionary past tells us nothing about what we are best adapted to eat because we didn't like eating them. Why is that so strange? Maybe an H-G avoided eating fruit because it's just not a very satisfying food. If you want to eat a meal and get full, fruit may not be your best option.
I'm certainly open to the possibility that I avoid carbohydrate unmixed with fat because of some metabolic damage or other that I've sustained, and that I would otherwise be very happy spending a day eating mostly fruit -- other people do this, I know. But I think we should also recognize that logically speaking we can't immediately move from "there was lots of fruit around" to "H-Gs would have eaten that fruit" -- with the implication that they didn't have our wild and crazy scruples about eating it. Maybe they shared our entirely reasonable scruples: fruit is a fun thing to eat on the side, but that doesn't mean it's food in the same way that meat and fat are. Even though paleo H-Gs were not counting calories, that doesn't mean we should think of them as mindless eating machines. They had tastes and moods and ideals about food just like we do.
The tricky thing about fruit is that our loss of the fourth phase of endogenous vitamin C production occurred at a time concurrent with heavy fruit intake. This clearly offset the unfortunate effects of this loss. I've seen a lot of paleo types claim that you get plenty of vitamin C from liver and meat (I guess they eat both raw) and that vitamin C from fruits etc. is unnecessary. Incidentally, I've also seen a lot of paleo types say that they've gotten bleeding gums. Clearly, vitamin C is needed as an antiscorbutic as well as it's many other functions.
Now, even if we accept that fruit contains compounds that are beneficial for human health, we should also accept that they contain a poison in the form of fructose. A mistake that is often made is assuming that because ancestral humans did a particular thing, it must then be optimal for humans under any circumstances. Our environment, and specifically our constant abundance of food, has given us an "out" as it were with regard to fructose. If an individual has a marginal caloric status, then that fructose could make the difference between thriving and wasting away. I dunno about you guys, but I never have a problem getting enough calories to the point where fruit needs to make up the difference. The same could be said about the consumption of honey. For them it's a net benefit, but that's not the case for us.
The author's reference to the sugar ratio of berries is odd, since it's not the ratio but the dose that we are interested in. Raspberries have very little fructose, but quite a lot of fiber, vitamin C, and manganese. I enjoy eating them and don't feel as though doing so is an act of asceticism.
I'm principally concerned with optimal health and longevity, not eating enough to stay alive for the near future as my ancestors likely were. Contemporary HGs or anatomically modern humans of the past didn't need to worry about something like glycation because the odds of that being the deciding factor between living and dying would have been highly unlikely. Who knows, for me it may come down to that. If I don't feel like I'm missing out by not eating super-sweet fruit, and I'm getting the nutrition elsewhere, then I don't see the problem. I know that fructose from fruit can be metabolically damaging because I've experienced it in the past. I've seen my TGs drop dramatically as my fructose intake has decreased and as much of a cliche as this is, I've never felt better. I've found starch to be far superior for peri-workout nutrition compared to fruit.
I suppose I'd have to see a more compelling argument either that fructose is somehow healthy, or at least completely not harmful, or that there is a substantial amount of nutrition that I'm missing out on by only eating berries. If I were really addicted to sweet tastes and this came down to a quality of life issue, then I suppose it would be worth it, but I'm really not sitting here fidgeting thinking about eating pears.
i just commented on the article on facebook, so ill just cut and paste what i wrote there.
"GREAT article! ive always been pretty skeptical of that argument that paleolithic fruits were tiny and not-sweet. ive foraged for wild fruit my whole life, and NEVER found that to be the case! labor-intensive absolutely but bitter? never (unless its toxic!). i avoid eating fruit in high quantities since i would like to lose weight, but at this time of year i eat wild fruit at least once a day and spend hours preserving wild berries for winter. i even risked grizzly attack high up in glacier national park in montana at sunset to gorge on wild huckleberries! DELICIOUS. and wild maine blueberries? its what august tastes like. they dont compare to the grocery store blueberries that are about 3X the size and mealy and taste only vaguely reminiscent of blueberry. a good friend in hawaii has a jaboticaba tree in her yard and i actually have her make jelly form them and send me a few jars every time the tree fruits! it tastes like rich dark berry flavor, almost chocolaty. you can feel the micronutrients coursing through your veins! there is certainly a tendency in the paleo movement towards zealotry. i very highly recommend hank shaws new book, "hunt gather, cook: finding the forgotten feast""
Just like the "paleo fruits were small and bitter" argument demonstrates absolutely nothing and is one big ol' assumption backed by nothing, so is the assumption that it is a good idea to eat fruits with large amounts of sugar since it WAS there in the paleolithic. I eat fruit, I will not be changing my intake and I don't think that paleo speculation is good for anything except a hypothesis. It doesn't follow that because there was not something in the paleolithic period, or that there was, that we are particularly well-adapted to either scenario, that is a completely invalid assumption because it assumes that whatever happened in the paleolithic period was indeed the best for health and that there in fact was health-oriented adaptation, which we have no way of knowing due to confounding factors in the health of hunter-gatherers. Indeed I did once believe that paleo fruits were small and bitter and fibrous and had little fructose, but I still ate fruit anyway because it is a huge and unfounded assumption that we would not be adapted to any particular quantities of a nutrient based upon evolutionary history, there is no way to know that. We may hypothesize that certain types of foods are generally needed because we may have lost the ability to produce certain compounds in our own bodies, and we may hypothesize that some foods we are poorly adapted to genetically (although we need to acknowledge memetic adaptation) but to say that the prevalence of a particular nutrient in the bulk of our evolution tells us anything about the degree to which we are adapted to it with regards to a health focus? Absurd, a non sequitur if there ever was one.
I like Denise's writing but half of her articles aren't worth reading because they use epidemiology and speculation and are dealing entirely within the realm of the hypothesis and not the reality of things. Perhaps she is just giving those who treat these things as actual avenues of evidence something to think about, good on her then?
Fruits>Grains, demonstrably so, do we have some people who need to eat more carbs? Yes. Good then! Berries are always a good idea.
Please research scurvy, people.
In contradistinction to the vast majority of animals (excluding higher primates, some fish, some birds, and guinea pigs), the human body cannot produce its own Vitamin C. This occurred due to a genetic mutation in primates more than 50 million years ago. Usually such a detrimental mutation would have resulted in death...from scurvy. However, primates chugged along because their diet, in tropical Africa, was rich in Vitamin C-containing citrus fruits.
Human ancestors eventually left the jungles, and were weaned off their fruit diets, not aware that they have to consciously consume Vitamin C to survive. Hence, scurvy probably became more widespread. And life was miserable until we found all this out within the last century or two.
While fruit is clearly not the only source of Vitamin C, it is the source that kept our "ancestors" alive and thriving. Not sure what narrative is more "paleo" than that.
Maybe if my metabolism weren't demented by 26 years of SAD and I were instead a crossfitting hardbody I'd consider adding some sweet fruit back in my life but until then, I'll save the reenactment for someone else and go with what's working.
Won't change my consumption one bit! I already eat a fair amount of berries because I love them and they don't have tons of fructose, and avoid any but small portions of most other fruits because they give me indigestion.