Wild and Ancient Fruit: Is it Really Small, Bitter, and Low in Sugar?

31 05 2011

Given the recent blog-o-drama about carbs in the human diet (for instance, here and here), this seems like a fine time to blog about a sweet subject dear to my heart: fruit! More specifically, I want to take a closer look at some common beliefs about wild fruit, and how it differs from the store-bought stuff most of us have access to.

For those looking at evolution for clues about the optimal human diet, fruit is often regarded with suspicion. On one hand, few foods are “intended” for consumption in the way fruit is: In a lovely act of symbiosis, plants offer nourishment to the animal kingdom in trade for seed dispersal. But on the other hand—the one purpled with blackberry stains—we humans are famous for playing Food God, turning once-healthy things into gross abominations. For hundreds (and in some cases, thousands) of years, we’ve been selectively breeding certain fruits to become bigger, prettier, easier to eat, and easier to transport thousands of miles away from their mothering trees. As a result, the waxed apples and seedless watermelons lining store aisles are a far cry from their wild ancestors.

And for the health minded, this is a predicament. How can we reconcile this year-round supply of modern fruit with the wild stuff we encountered in the past?

Especially in the paleo/ancestral diet communities, statements like these tend to be widely accepted in a common sense, no-reference-needed sort of way:

  • “Fruits in the Paleolithic would have been tart and smaller, and you may want to limit modern fruit because of this.” (From here)
  • “The problem is that the fruits our paleo ancestors ate no longer exist. While they had mostly bitter fruit, we’ve bred ours over the past 200 years to be extremely sweet and sugary. It’s thus become something akin to candy plus a mediocre multivitamin.” (From here)
  • “Bear in mind that the fruits that paleolithic man ate, while still being, say, apples, bore almost no resemblance to today’s apples. Modern fruit is bred to be HUGE and sweet. Most fruits are packed with a particularly bad sugar, fructose…”(From here)
  • “Fruits have been selectively bread to contain massive amounts of sugar compared to how they used to be. Eating a bunch of tropical fruit is not in the spirit of Paleo.” (From here)

At first glance, that all seems logical enough. Virtually all the food we have available today—from plant and animal kingdoms alike—has been selectively bred for both flavor and ease of eating, and fruit is certainly no exception. It seems reasonable to conclude that, apart from the rare batch of honey or seasonal berry bushes popping up outside, humans didn’t get much exposure to sugar during our evolution, and modern fruits are completely unlike anything we encountered in the past.

But are these assumptions truly accurate? Let’s take a look at the facts.

(Note: This isn’t a post about how much fruit we should or shouldn’t be eating, or how much fruit we’ve eaten in the past, or how many apples it’ll take to turn your liver into a ready-to-explode fructose grenade. Those are some hot issues, and I’m not sure they can be reasonably addressed with current research (for instance, there are virtually no studies on the effects of fruit-derived fructose in healthy humans, and quantifying historical fruit consumption is extremely difficult). My intent here is to shed light on some of the myths surrounding wild and ancestral fruit, since some of the most common beliefs are also the most inaccurate.)

Wild fruit: small, bitter, and low in sugar?

Contrary to popular belief, wild fruit—including the stuff we would’ve had access to during our evolution—is not necessarily any of the above. In fact, it can be bigger, tastier, and sweeter than anything you’ll ever find in the aisles of your grocery store.

Fruit is decidedly sparser once you get out of the tropics, but considering we were stationed in Africa until about 50,000 years ago, the flora of a backyard in Michigan might not be a great reflection of the plant life we encountered for the majority of our evolution. As a result, comparisons of cold-climate fruits to their wild ancestors (for instance, a Red Delicious versus a crab apple) tend to be misleading, and tropical fruits may offer more insight. Although we’ll probably never get a clear picture of the exact fruits available to early humans, we can look at the wild fruits growing today to get an idea of what nature is capable of producing on its own.

There’s a great book called “Lost Crops of Africa” (readable online) that has a brilliant section on wild fruit. The authors start by describing the vastness of Africa’s wild fruit supply:

Most of Africa’s edible native fruits are wild. One compilation lists over 1000 different species from 85 botanical families and even that assessment is probably incomplete. Among all those fruit-bearing plants, many of the individual specimens growing within Africa are sheltered and protected, some are even carefully tended, but few have been selected to bring out their best qualities, let alone deliberately cultivated or maintained through generations. They remain untamed. … Africa’s wild-fruit wealth is essentially unknown to science.

So what kinds of “wild fruits” are we talking about here? Let’s take a look at some.

Monkey orange: a tasty fruit enjoyed by more than just primates. Photo by Douglas Boldt of boldt.us.

Nope, that’s not a cross between brains and canned peaches: It’s a monkey orange, a wild species native to Africa. Far from small, these fruits can weigh up to 2.5 pounds each—but untouched by the sweet-seeking hands of humans, is their flavor bitter and unpalatable? Quite the opposite:

In organoleptic taste tests, people were requested to compare the monkey orange fruit with familiar fruits; the most common answers were, orange, banana, and apricot, and all possible combinations among them. The fruits emit a delicate aroma reminiscent of the spice clove. … Over 90% of the panel claimed that it was very tasty.

Nom nom nom. Moving on:

Junglesop: a giant, ugly ball of deliciousness. Photo from SkyfieldTropical.com.

Junglesop. Photo from Lost Crops of Africa: Volume III: Fruits.

Next up, we have the truly wondrous junglesop—a wild member of the same “sop” family that gives us cherimoyas, soursops, sweetsops, sugar apples, and other uber-sweet delicacies common in the tropics. If any uncultivated fruit can blast the “wild fruit is tiny” myth, it’s this sucker: Junglesops average 15 inches in length and weigh around 12 pounds each, with some of the larger fruits clocking in at 30 pounds or more. (Yes, these fruits are even heavier than your obese cat.) And folks lucky enough to live in the junglesop’s native regions seem quite fond of it:

It is so well liked in the regions where it occurs, that for example, in the Central African Republic, some people pay up more than one day’s salary for a single large fruit. A fruit of this size is several meals worth of food. In addition to being an important and widely liked fruit in equatorial Africa, it is also a very important staple for wildlife, especially primates.

Indeed, part of the reason the junglesop hasn’t been messed with by humans is because it does so darn well growing on its own. These fruits pop up like weeds in their homeland (West and Central Africa), and reach their enormous size without any human intervention. Looks like we should give nature more credit for making megafruits without our help.

Other wild fruits in this family are equally scrumptious:

One, the African custard apple, has been called “the best indigenous fruit in most parts of tropical Africa.” Another, the junglesop, produces probably the biggest fruits in the whole family—as long as a person’s forearm and as thick as a person’s thigh. A third—perhaps the strangest of all—“hangs like a bunch of sausages,” each fruit a bright scarlet link. At least two more produce small tasty fruits that make people’s mouths water at just the remembrance from a long-ago childhood. And this group includes a tangy fruit borne on a plant so strange that it barely rises above ground level.

African custard apple, mentioned above: scent of a pineapple, taste of an apricot.

You get the picture. And here are some more:

Soursop. Image from KaieteurNewsOnline.com.

Inside of a soursop. Photo from MedicoNews.com.

The soursop is an often-gigantic fruit of the Annona family that grows wild, but is now being increasingly cultivated in the tropics due to its awesome flavor. I’ve had the pleasure of trying these monsters in Hawaii, and they taste vaguely like the sour-apple gummy snacks I devoured in my youth. (I’ve also heard them described as a mixture of strawberry and pineapple.) The inside is moist, creamy white, and full of seeds. One of the few wild fruits with a documented nutrition profile, they’re decidedly high in sugar (30 grams per 150-calorie serving).

Canistel, also known as egg fruit. Photo from MarketManila.com.

This fruit is as delicious as it is beautiful. The canistel—also called an “egg fruit”—is rich and dense, tasting like a cross between pumpkin pie and sweet potato. The name comes from its texture, which is a bit crumbly and resembles cooked egg yolk. Although bigger, prettier strains are being grown commercially these days (after being introduced to other parts of the world in the mid 1920s), the canistel still grows wild in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and El Salvador, where it retains its distinctive flavor. With 37 grams of sugar per 100-gram portion, this is another fruit that’s naturally sweet without human help.

Masuku fruit. Photo by Douglas Boldt of boldt.us.

Those are masukus, another wild fruit renowned for their sweet, delicious flavor. They might not be as visually pleasant as the store-bought fruit we’re used to seeing, but they’re highly sought after throughout Africa due to their taste.

Gingerbread plums. Image from “Lost Crops of Africa.”

Gingerbread plums are a wild African fruit with sweet, crunchy flesh reminiscent of strawberries. They’re considered one of the yummiest wild foods in Malawi. When they’re in season, many communities rely on gingerbread plums as a dietary staple, according to “Lost Crops of Africa.”

Pedalai. Photo from SkyfieldTropical.com.

A distant relative of jackfruit (a giant that tastes like Juicyfruit gum), pedalai is a softball-sized wild fruit from Southeast Asia with soft, sweet white pegs of flesh inside.

Jaboticaba, or Brazilian grape tree. Photo from OddityCentral.com.

An open jaboticaba. Photo by Jacob Katel of the Miami New Times.

Contrary to what it may seem, this wacky looking tree isn’t sprouting purple marbles: It’s a jaboticaba, AKA a Brazilian grape tree. This plant produces sweet, big, grape-flavored fruits that grow directly on the trunk—an evolutionary maneuver allowing non-climbing creatures to pick the fruits and disperse the seeds.

Bacupari.

And this is a bacupari—a wild-growing fruit native to South America, with a very sweet, slightly acidic flavor.

Abiu. Photo from CloudForest.com.

Abiu, the Amazon-native wild fruit pictured above, is said to be pretty tasty: Their “delicious flavour is reminiscent of crème caramel and it is sometimes used to flavour ice cream and make other desserts,” according to Daleys Fruit Nursery.

So there you have it: just a small sampling of the many wild fruits that can be sweet, flavorful, and (sometimes) doggone big without us humans breeding them for centuries. Interestingly, one reason wild fruits have a reputation for being more sour than cultivated kinds isn’t because they have less sugar, but because they have more vitamin C, which imparts an acidic flavor. According to a paper about wild fruits in South Africa that I’ll be discussing in the next section:

The composition of these [wild] fruits does not appear to differ much from the better-known domestic fruits except in so far as their vitamin C content is substantially higher than that of domestic fruits. The high vitamin-C content of the wild fruits must undoubtedly contribute to their characteristic acidity.

Nutrient profile of wild fruit

A common belief about wild fruit is that it’s generally lower in sugar and digestible carbohydrates than our modern varieties. Although most of the world’s wild fruits are relatively unstudied (making it difficult to analyze this claim), we do have information on some of ‘em. For instance, a paper published decades ago in the South African Journal of Nutrition, called “The nutrient composition of some edible wild fruits found in the Tansvaal” (PDF), documents the nutrient breakdowns of some of southern Africa’s most popular wild fruits. Here’s a table from the paper:

Wondering why the protein, fat, and carbohydrate percentages look so funny and don’t add up to 100? These measurements are based on dry weight rather than caloric yield like we’re used to seeing—so those are just the relative weights of each macronutrient, with moisture and ash (basically a measurement of mineral content) making up the rest. You can still get a sense of which macronutrient dominates in each type of fruit by looking at that chart, but to make it easier, I went ahead and converted those numbers into “percent of total calories” for all the fruits and graphed ‘em. This is using only non-fiber carbohydrate so we don’t inflate these figures with indigestible carbs (we’ll cover fiber a bit further down). The first monkey orange values are for the flesh surrounding the seeds; the second values are for the flesh on the inside of the shell.

These puppies range from 78 to 92% of calories from carbohydrates. How does that measure up with some of the fruits more likely to find their way onto our kitchen counters? Let’s compare:

Pretty consistent, right? The biggest difference is that some wild fruits are a bit higher in protein than cultivated varieties, but in general, the macronutrient breakdowns are pretty similar. With the exception of durian (and avocado, which I didn’t graph), cultivated fruits—including berries—tend to hover around 85 to 95% of calories from carbohydrate. (Unfortunately, the data set for wild fruit doesn’t tell us how much of the carbohydrate content was from sugar versus starch, so this comparison is still incomplete.)

It’s quite possible that the macronutrient breakdown of wild fruits is more diverse than indicated by the sample above, but studies from other geographical locations offer similar data. For instance, a paper on Australian Aboriginal plant foods found that indigenous fruits had a similar or higher carbohydrate content compared to domestic fruits.

Fiber

So what about the claim that wild fruits are much higher in fiber than cultivated varieties? Going back to the data set above, let’s look at the ratio between fiber and total carbohydrate in various fruits. These ratios can be read as “1 part fiber for every X parts total carbohydrate”—so the lower the second number, the greater the relative fiber content of that fruit.

Fiber:total carbohydrate ratio in wild fruits

  • Wild plum: 1:6
  • Marula fruit: 1:15
  • Wild apricot: 1:42
  • Monkey orange, flesh around seeds: 1:4
  • Monkey orange, flesh around shell: 1:4
  • Amatungulu: 1:11
  • Baobab: 1:10
  • Sour plum: 1:17
  • Red gherkin: 1:11

Fiber:total carbohydrate ratio in cultivated fruits

  • Papaya: 1:6
  • Guava: 1:3
  • Strawberries: 1:4
  • Cantaloupe: 1:10
  • Oranges, Valencia: 1:5
  • Apricots: 1:6
  • Grapefruit: 1:7
  • Pear: 1:5
  • Banana: 1:9
  • Grapes, American: 1:20
  • Nectarines: 1:6
  • Peaches: 1:7
  • Blueberries: 1:6
  • Honeydew melons: 1:12

Basically, we have quite a bit of fiber variation among both wild and cultivated species. Of the wild fruits listed in the paper above, the fiber-to-total-carb ratio ranges from 1:4 for monkey oranges to a whopping 1:42 for wild apricots (meaning the monkey orange has a decent amount of fiber, while the wild apricot has relatively little). Similarly, the sampling of cultivated fruits here range from 1:3 for guava to 1:20 for American grapes. At least from this data, it seems that wild fruit isn’t universally higher in fiber than cultivated varieties, at least not when we look at the edible portion of the fruit.

The fructose factor

If you’ve been keeping up with the latest health news, you’ve probably noticed fructose stealing the spotlight as a potential factor in obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver, metabolic syndrome, and other health woes (for instance, see Robert Lustig’s “Sugar: The Bitter Truth“). Although most of the finger-pointing has been at high-fructose corn syrup and other refined sweeteners, fruit has also taken a whooping because of its natural fructose content. Modern fruit, in particular, has been accused of being higher in fructose than ancestral and wild strains and thus less healthy than it was in the days of yore. In my frequent internet lurks, I often see unreferenced advice to limit fruit consumption to berries, which are supposedly lower in fructose than other varieties of fruit.

But is there truly a significant difference in fructose between wild and cultivated fruits?

Once again, wild fruits are terribly understudied in terms of nutrients (especially sugar composition), but we do have a few resources out there to mine for clues. One is the paper “Phytochemicals, vitamin C and sugar content of Thai wild fruits” published in Food Chemistry in 2011. This article has a nice breakdown of the sugars in 19 wild fruits from Southeast Asia. I’ve graphed them out below.* If you’re not a botany buff, don’t worry about the gibberish-esque Latin names: Just look at the pie charts to get a visual feel for what sugars are abundant in some wild species.

*For the fruits that had a listing for both “ripe” and “raw” (not ripe), I only graphed the “ripe” data.

(Note: Maltose and galactose made up a minor portion of the sugars in some of these fruits, but for the sake of keeping things simple, I’m only graphing the three major sugars—sucrose, glucose, and fructose. And since sucrose cleaves into equal parts fructose and glucose in your body, all the blue pie slices below could be viewed as contributing half fructose and half glucose.)

If there’s any pattern here, it’s that most of these fruits are comprised of at least half glucose and a hefty dose of fructose—but three are actually sucrose-dominated, so there aren’t any set-in-stone rules regarding sugar distribution in wild fruits. Likewise, human-bred fruits are all across the board in terms of sugar. Berries (both wild and cultivated) tend to be about half fructose with only minimal amounts of sucrose, while other commercial fruits contain more sucrose and proportionately less fructose and glucose. Take a look at some common varieties as an example:

Whether you’re looking at straight-up fructose or fructose derived metabolically from sucrose, there’s really no basis for the claim that wild fruit is lower in fructose than cultivated varieties—at least in terms of sugar breakdown. After digestion, both wild and cultivated fruits seem to yield about 50% fructose.

Seasonality

Although many wild fruits do have a limited harvesting period, this doesn’t mean early humans would only have access to fruit for only a few weeks or months per year (as is sometimes stated). Particularly in tropical climates, different plant species tend to bear fruit at different times annually—and even plants of the same genus or species can have staggered fruiting periods within the same region. Although a single fruit might not have been available year-round, different species would certainly provide access to fruit beyond a single season.

On top of that, some species remain edible for months after they ripen, and others naturally sun-dry on the plant, making them easy to store for later consumption. For example:

  • The monkey orange, mentioned earlier: “These three special monkey orange trees are widely enjoyed and have the amazing capacity to stay edible in tropical heat for months after maturity.”
  • Sand apples can be easily dried and formed into a long-lasting “cake.”
  • Australian aborigines dry a number of desert fruits to eat throughout the year, including the raisins Solanurn centrale and S. ellipticurn and the bush tomato.

On the flip side

Despite all of the above, there are some notable differences between wild fruits and cultivated ones:

  • The ratio of pulp vs. inedible stuff. Wild fruits tend to have thicker peels and bigger seeds, strings, rinds, cores, and other gnarly bits relative to the amount of edible flesh they yield. Even when sugar composition doesn’t differ dramatically between the edible parts of wild versus cultivated species, a single wild fruit will generally provide a lot less edible material than a cultivated fruit of the same size. This is one area where humans have definitely left our signature in fruit breeding: We like our cultivated fruits to be seedless (or at least low in ‘em), easy to bite into, easy to peel, and abundant in edible flesh. Due to their extra roughage (and sometimes-scary exteriors), wild fruits can be more of a challenge to eat. (This doesn’t just apply to sweet fruits, either: See my earlier post on wild avocados.)
  • Water content. Interestingly, wild fruits are often calorically denser than cultivated fruits due to their lower water content. Whereas humans seem fond of fruits with a juice-dribbling-down-your-chin effect, wild fruits are sometimes (but not always) dry, crumbly, crunchy, mushy, and otherwise non-juicy. The higher water content of cultivated fruits makes them appear relatively lower in protein and fat than wild varieties (as primate-diet-expert Katharine Milton points out in many of her publications), even though this isn’t usually the case when viewed from a calorie perspective.
  • Fruiting cycles. On an individual-species basis, the fruiting cycles of wild versus cultivated fruit tend to be very different. In the wild, plants can have variable fruiting periods depending on climate, season, rainfall, and even the specific year (some plants are biennial, bearing most of their fruit once every two years), leading to inconsistent fruit yields. Farmers, on the other hand, may deliberately control or extend fruiting periods so that a particular fruit stays in season longer or hits the grocery store shelves earlier than nature dictates.
  • Dangerous natural substances. Although most cultivated fruit is pretty safe from a toxicity perspective, wild fruits—especially under-ripe ones—can contain an array of natural toxins causing everything from an upset stomach to death. Alkaloids, tannins, cyanogenic glycoside (which turns into cyanide), and a variety of other compounds can exist in some types of wild fruit, making it imperative to know which parts are safe to eat. These substances can also make some types of wild fruit difficult to eat in large quantities without feeling queasy.
  • Flavor variability. Because flavor is influenced by soil quality (among other things), wild fruits of a single species can sometimes vary tremendously in taste. The junglesop, for instance, can span a wide range of flavors—not all of them pleasant. According to Lost Crops of Africa: “In some varieties [the junglesop flesh] is deliciously sweet and very good to the taste; in others, it can be not only sour but downright awful. Just how mature the fruit was when picked can affect the sweetness, but genetics also plays a part, and locals know individual trees that are always sweet and others that are always sour.”
  • Micronutrients. Some wild fruits are far more nutritious than the conventionally-grown ones we throw into our shopping carts, although the vitamin and mineral content of wild fruit fluctuates almost as much as flavor. I initially planned to write a separate section on this subject, but the papers I found were so inconsistent (some showing high levels of certain micronutrients in wild fruits, others showing low levels compared to cultivated fruit) that it seems impossible to say anything definitive.

In addition, if you rounded up every single wild fruit species in the world (not just ones preferred by primates with somewhat-similar digestive anatomy to ours), the majority likely would be small and unpalatable. Wild sweet fruits are a favored minority. This isn’t necessarily a blow against fruit, though. You could also argue that if you rounded up every animal, every vegetable, or every seed in the world, the majority would be small and unpalatable. Across the board, humans have distinct preferences within each food category, such a for sweeter fruit, fattier meat, and less-bitter vegetables.

Take-home points

If you’re in brain-burnout mode and didn’t absorb all that (I can empathize!), here’s the Reader’s Digest version of this post.

  • Although not all wild fruits are as big and sweet as our modern cultivars, at least some are, and certain varieties even surpass our deliberately-bred fruits in size and flavor. Nature—especially with selection pressure from other fruit-eating creatures—is perfectly capable of producing sweet (and sometimes massive) fruits without human intervention. It seems unlikely that early humans only ever encountered berries or other “small, bitter” fruits, and avoiding sweeter fruits on the basis of evolutionary history may be misguided.
  • Based on the limited research we have, wild fruits aren’t considerably different from cultivated fruit in terms of carbohydrate content, fructose content, or fiber content. Both wild and cultivated fruit seem to average around 90% of calories from carbohydrates, and have a sugar composition that yields roughly equal parts glucose and fructose. And both wild and cultivated fruit can be relatively high or low in fiber.
  • Although berries are often lauded as being lower in fructose compared to other fruits, from a calorie/energy standpoint, this just ain’t true!
  • Early humans may very well have had access to fruit for most or even all of the year. The fruiting seasons we witness in cooler climates—with most fruit appearing in the summer—doesn’t necessarily apply to our evolutionary homeland closer to the equator.

I blame the “wild fruit is bitter and small” belief on our woeful state of food education. Most people can name more types of candy than they can of fruit, even though there are literally thousands of edible varieties across the globe—a great many of them wild. With the exception of raw foodists, well-traveled gourmands, and anyone who hangs out at Asian markets, most people’s concept of “fruit” is limited to the standard grocery store staples, with little idea of what else is out there.

Again, this post is only intended to be descriptive, not prescriptive. Fruit is a regular part of my own diet, but I also believe dietary context and individual health history plays a big role in how people react to nature’s proverbial candy. If you avoid modern fruit on the basis that only “small, bitter, fibrous” fruit was available in the past though, it might be time for a paradigm shift.

Nutrition information in this post was taken from the USDA Nutrient Database and Fruits of Warm Climates by Julia Morton.


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524 responses

31 05 2011
Darrin

Amen! Since Paleo diets are almost universally pro-meat and pro-fat, they have been in cahoots with low-carb diets since they popped onto the scene. This has led most of us to have a knee-jerk reaction that anything high in carbs must certainly not be “Paleo,” and always try to find ways to reason around this. I find it particularly interesting that most of the starches and fruits found in the tropics (where humans spent the bulk of our evolution) are quite high in carbs relative to those outside of them.

31 05 2011
Ben

Wow, this was really informative, thank you! Also, I definitely got some fruit-envy seeing a lot new wild species I’d never heard of before. Thanks again.

31 05 2011
Liz GT

Love this post! I’ve been wondering about this for a while, and I really appreciate all the work that you put into researching all these fruits and putting to rest the myth about “paleo” fruit. Nice job!

31 05 2011
Jini Patel Thompson

Ooooo, would LOVE you to do an article about the big bad fructose thing. Seems to me people are throwing natural fructose out with the high-fructose corn syrup. Here’s a little something to get you going:

Because fructose must be changed to glucose in the liver in order to be utilized by the body, blood glucose levels do not rise as rapidly after fructose consumption compared to other simple sugars or even complex carbohydrates. For example, the glycemic load calculation for 10 grams of fructose is only 2. In comparison, the glycemic load for a slice of bread is 10, an apple is 7, and a cup of white rice is 26.

Fructose is not transported directly into the bloodstream after digestion and absorption, but is converted into glycogen in the liver where it is stored and used for energy at a later time. A recent trial demonstrated that no increase is seen in blood glucose after ingestion of fructose at 15 grams or less. This lowered glycemic response with fructose ingestion appeared to be most effective in those individuals who had the poorest glucose tolerance profiles. In non-diabetic individuals, fructose consumption results in little to no discernible rise in blood insulin levels.

References:

Ensminger AH, Ensminger ME, Konlande JE, et al. Foods and Nutrition Encyclopedia .Clovis, CA : Pegas Press; 1983.
Mann JI. Simple sugars and diabetes. DiabetMed 1987;4(2):135-39.
Uusitupa MIJ. Fructose in the diabetic diet. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59(3 Suppl):S753-S57.
Shi X, Schedl HP, Summers RM, et at. Fructose transport mechanisms in humans. Gastroenterology 1997;113(4):1171-79.
Moore MC, Cherrington AD, Mann SL, et at. Acute & fructose administration decreases the glycemic response to an oral glucose tolerance test in normal adults. J Clm Endocrinol Metab 2000;85(12):4515-19.
Nuttall FQ, Khan MA, Gannon MC. Peripheral glucose appearance rate following fructose ingestion in normal subjects. Metabolism 2000;49(12):1565-71
Moore MC, Mann SL, Davis SN, et at. Acute fructose administration improves oral glucose tolerance in adults with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2001;24(11):1882-87
Osei K, Bossetti B. Dietary fructose as a natural sweetener in poorly controlled type 2 diabetes: a 12-month crossover study of effects on glucose, lipoprotein and apolipoprotein metabolism. Diabet Med 1989;6(6):506-11.
Daly ME, Vale C, Walker M, et al. Dietary carbohydrates and insulin sensitivity: a review ofthe evidence and clinical implications. Am J Clin Nutr 1997;66(5):1072-85.
Dr. Michael T. Murray’s Natural Facts Newsletter 2/3/2004

31 05 2011
neisy

Hey Jini, thanks for the references. I’ll be writing a post on fructose pretty soon. Although there are some legitimate concerns about consuming massive amounts of refined fructose (due to the way it’s metabolized compared to other sugars), a lot of the research has been misrepresented or misquoted, including the stuff from the Lustig lecture I linked to in the post. I’ve yet to see any of the problems associated with HFCS linked to fructose in whole foods.

Keep an eye on Chris Masterjohn’s blog too (http://blog.cholesterol-and-health.com/), as he’s written some great stuff on fructose and I believe will be posting more about it in the future. :)

31 05 2011
Chris Masterjohn

Thanks for taking this on, Denise. In addition to the points you mention, there’s no particular reason to think that humans were necessarily eating all the fiber in wild fruits, even if we were to suppose that they were in fact higher in fiber. Melissa recently did a series on fiber, and pointed out that the Hadza chew some carbohydrate-rich foods and spit the fiber out:

http://huntgatherlove.com/content/human-colon-evolution-part-2-fiber-follies

Failing to account for that led to an initial massive overestimation of fiber intake.

Humans have, as you note, focused a lot of breeding energy on breeding less toxic varieties. In the Andes, the natives bred less toxic potatoes so they could just peel the less bitter varieties instead of peeling them, freeze drying them, stomping the heck out of them, and leaching them in running water for days. The modern varieties are probably more nutritious simply because they require less processing. In the US, we’ve bred even less toxic potatoes and thus no one has gotten potato poisoning for decades.

While I agree nutrient loss is an important issue, I sense some anti-humanism in this idea that if humans bred something to be different, it is somehow intrinsically bad compared to the wild version. I also think there is a tendency in some circles to think, “well if egg yolks aren’t killing us, it must be the strawberries.”

The Kitavans eat 10% of their energy intake as fruit, coming to 400 grams by weight or 220 calories per day. If you ate this as modern strawberries, you could eat 55 medium ones and get 391 mg of vitamin C. Regardless of the pitfalls of modern commercial fruit, that’s a heck of a lot of vitamin C and most people don’t get anywhere near it, probably to the detriment of their health.

Chris

31 05 2011
neisy

Great points, Chris! And that’s a fantastic series by Melissa!

4 06 2011
Morten

“In the US, we’ve bred even less toxic potatoes and thus no one has gotten potato poisoning for decades.” Actually, you have bred at least one more toxic potato, Snowden. As you can see from Stephen’s chart in this post http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/09/potatoes-and-human-health-part-ii.html Snowden contains a high level of glycoalkaloids. “But I’ve never even heard of Snowden” I hear you cry. That’s because it’s main advantage is improved refrigeration. Nobody is going to pay for that at a farmer’s market. But it is useful for potato chips and other factory products which means that it was the 8th most popular potato crop in 1993, 3-4 years after it was released.

11 06 2011
Chris Masterjohn

Hi Morten,

Thank you for bringing that nuance to my attention. I think my point remains the same, though — I didn’t mean that everything that humans do to plants is an improvement; I meant that humans do many things to plants that are improvements, and thus we should not assume that when a plant changes in response to selective breeding that this change is bad. I think potatoes are a good example, because they are overwhelmingly much less toxic than their wild counterparts, and to my knowledge what I said about acute potato poisoning is correct.

Chris

11 06 2011
Padraig

No Chris Masterjon, every time you breed different foods you are tampering with nature just as much as if you were cooking food.

The ideas of “toxins” and “nutrients” are extremely simplistic. How do you define a “toxin”? Everything is a toxin if given in high enough quantities. The idea of “breeding out” the toxins in a food is a joke. Nutrients are just parts of foods that humans can make use of, but you don’t know if there is too much or too little, they could be out of balance. For example, cooking tomatoes helps the availability of lycopene, but there is no reason to suggest than humans would ever make use of this extra lycopene, it would probably just disrupt the balance of the food. This is why the idea of “nutrients” is dangerous.

Shocking to find pro-breeding and pro-artificial selection among supposed raw foodists IMO.

11 06 2011
Chris Masterjohn

Hi Padraig,

Thanks for your comments. I don’t think I ever claimed anywhere to be a raw foodist. I’ve eaten plenty of raw food, including muscle meat, liver, heart, milk, fruits, and vegetables, but I’ve never avoided cooked food so I doubt I’ve ever been able to qualify as a raw foodist.

Here’s some information about how potatoes have been traditionally eaten among natives of the Andes:

=======
http://www.ed.psu.edu/icik/2004Proceedings/section2-zorn-lieberman-withpics.pdf

“Freeze-dried but Always Peeled: Anthropological Approaches
to Food Proces s ing, Preparat ion, and Consumpt ion of the
Andean Potato”
=======

The more bitter varieties were extensively processed to render them safe and palatable. The varieties bred to have fewer toxins do not require such extensive processing.

Chris

17 06 2011
Jack

Chris,

Where did you get the 10 % from? My belief was that the Kitavans consume around 50-60 E% fruits daily, with the remainder being mostly cooked tubers and some fish/meat. One source gave this as typically one cooked meal per day, at sunset, mostly grazing on easily available fruit/veg/leftovers throughout the day. I’d be interested in your source. Most of my Kitavan info comes from Lindeberg (his Swedish works) plus some random web links.

17 06 2011
Chris Masterjohn

Hi Jack,

I got it from table 1 of this reference:

Lindeberg S, et al. Age relations of cardiovascular risk factors in a traditional Melanesian society: the Kitava Study. Amer J Clin Nutr. 1997;66:845-52.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8077891

If you have conflicting information, I would like to see it.

Thanks,
Chris

15 01 2012
Food Scientist

The Kitivans eat only once a day (about 8pm). It is also forbidden to eat fruit unless a person is doing physical work. This means Kitivans have one brief insulin spike and rely on fat metabolism to provide energy for the next 22 hours or so.

31 05 2011
Jack Goldmaker

Quite a wonderful article, but aren’t you forgetting one thing? The sweetness of the fruit would not be used for eating, but for making alcohol! The first story I ever heard of, while not Paleo, was, of course the original version of The Garden of Eden story according to the late Rabbi and Physicist Aryeh Kaplan who in his book ‘The Living Torah’ he and other sages proved that it was NOT the Apple in the Garden of Eden, but that the story was, in actuality, about how women had discovered wine from the collection of grapes. Women were the gatherers, whilst men were hunting. One day someone put some fruit in a container that caused it to ferment, and the subsequent story was created about the side effects from drinking it.

Have you any information on other primitive cultures and how they ferment their foods into alcohol? It seems that every early branch of mankind has some sort of historic drink or tonic that they used for special events.

28 10 2011
Leo

Sorry to disappoint, but there is nowhere in any text that says exactly what the fruit of life was in the garden of Eden. Our culture suggests its an apple, because that’s one of the most familiar fruits to us. Just look at the fruits that most people in the western world have never even heard of. There are thousands of possibilites. It could even be a fruit that went extinct long ago.

28 10 2011
Chris Masterjohn

Just for good measure, I’ll disappoint a little further: is it really so obvious that the author of Genesis intended the passage to be read to indicate that a literal fruit was eaten? The reason no record is left of “which fruit” it was is because in attempt to over-literalize the passage we’ve assumed that what the author left us — that it was the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil — is an insufficient description, and it must be some “other” fruit that is either extant or was nevertheless eaten for its caloric value at some point and has since gone extinct. In other words we obtain this literalization by reading much more into the passage than is straightforwardly there. What we can at least say is that if what was eaten was indeed a literal fruit bearing seeds and substantial caloric value in its flesh, the author considered this so utterly besides the point as to ignore this aspect of the fruit and instead emphasize completely different aspects of the story as the meaningful ones.

Chris

28 10 2011
Padraig

“the author considered this so utterly besides the point as to ignore this aspect of the fruit and instead emphasize completely different aspects of the story as the meaningful ones.”

Not really. The point is that it was a fruit, and fruit was prominently mentioned. The reason it wasn’t a specific fruit is because there are so many fruits that could be used there, singling out one wouldn’t be appropriate.

29 10 2011
Chris Masterjohn

Hi Padraig,

I agree with you in the sense that fruit is part of the setting, so we can infer that fruit was in use and meaningful to the audience this was intended for at the time. Likewise if we see bread, fish, or money featured in stories from another culture and era we would conclude that these people knew of bread, fish, or money, and considered them important. But we wouldn’t conclude that a story is necessarily “about” any of these things just because they feature prominently as part of the setting.

So I think if we are trying to analyze the first few chapters of Genesis as another culture in another era trying to infer whether people considered fruit important when and where these chapters were written, then yes, we could read this and conclude that fruit was important.

But that has no bearing on the literality of the fruit. In statements like “you shall know them by their fruits,” or “the fruits of the spirit,” or “this discussion does not seem fruitful,” fruit features prominently, but no one would suggest that fruit is meant literally.

Chris

31 05 2011
Jon Harting

Excellent article.

I would have liked to of seen a comparison of a wild-type fruit to a cultivar. For example, how does a Gala apple compare to a crabapple? Also, I would think if some wild-type fruits, like the ones you mention, are already sweet and accessible then there wasn’t as much motivation to selectively breed them to become sweeter like with the apple.

31 05 2011
neisy

Thanks Jon! Apart from the commercial vs. wild berries I graphed in the fructose section, I couldn’t find much data on the wild versions of modern cultivars. Even crabapples don’t have documented fructose, fiber, or total sugar values (only total carbohydrates — at least that’s all I was able to dig up). Most of the wild fruits with more data don’t resemble any of the fruits we have in stores.

Very true about sweet wild-type fruits not being subject to selective breeding. In those cases, the focus of any breeding efforts would be to make them easier to transport, perhaps less seedy, etc.

13 06 2011
Jessica Evans

In this NY Times article, Michael Pollan discusses the wild ancestors of our domestic apple…and they aren’t crabapples, that’s for sure! What they are is immensely, incredibly variable. Every tree is unique. http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/breaking-ground-the-call-of-the-wild-apple/

31 05 2011
Erick

This shows how absurd claims are from some raw food gurus who instill fear of adequate calories from fruits, yet leave you wondering what to eat. Brian Clement from Hippocrates Health Institute says modern fruit is 30 times as sweet as fruit just 100 years ago!

http://www.hippocrateshealthlifestyle.com/688/sugar-and-cancer-hippocrates-center-how-does-that-work/
“Listen to Brian as he talks about the history of the hybridization of fruit, making it today 30 times sweeter than it was just 100 years ago. He also mentions that 95% of people had no access to processed sugar. Ironically, this has turned around with the poorest people consuming the most sugar.”

LOL so If I eat one banana today that is almost as many calories as eating 30 bananas one hundred years ago? Does NASA know about this? Could be useful!

P.S. Little known fact: Brian Clement’s full name is Brian Clementine. He had the “tine” removed, as he didn’t want to be reminded of the scary clementine fruit when people addressed him.

31 05 2011
el-bo

>>”P.S. Little known fact: Brian Clement’s full name is Brian Clementine. He had the “tine” removed, as he didn’t want to be reminded of the scary clementine fruit when people addressed him.”

hahahahahahahaha :) hilarious (if true)

another great little study from our fave blogger (she-who-does-not-exist)

good to see you back….those monkey oranges look incredible :)

31 05 2011
Heather Mamatey

El-bo! I found a wonderful quote of yours from the comments section on Richard Nikoley’s blog post about my 30 day paleo trial, and I incorporated it into one of my posts:

http://www.my-healthy-eating-secrets.com/paleo-diet-trial-day-13.html

31 05 2011
neisy

Too funny about his last name (unless that was a joke that went over my head ;)!

The “modern fruit is 30 times as sweet as fruit just 100 years ago” claim is a hoot. Which fruit? How are we quantifying “sweet”? The Hippocrates Health Institute has some interesting ideas, but I’ve noticed that very few of their claims (whether about diet or their success rate with patients) are ever backed up with evidence.

31 05 2011
Dagens länktips « Jämfört med livsångest så är dödsångest rena rama semestern

[...] …handlar om dåtida och nutida frukt och myterna som omgärdar dem. [...]

31 05 2011
Suzanne

Thanks, Denise. This is very interesting, and has caused me to re-evaluate some of my ideas.
I’m South African, and I have eaten wild fruits, including the monkey orange. It’s an acquired taste, as there are overtones of what we call paraffin and USA-ers call kerosene. The photo above is like a bushveld monkey orange on steroids; I’ve never seen one so syrupy-looking; those I’ve chewed on (and I do mean chewed!) were much paler inside and rather stringy. However, this was in highveld regions, so the fruits I encountered were probably water-deprived. Marulas also take a while to get used to; again, some are better than others, so terroir, as you pointed out, is always a factor. The seeds, however, are delicious, although they take a lot of work and rather fine motor control to break loose from the nutlet. Other wild fruits, like the bokdrolletjie, are quite tasty at first bite, but thin-fleshed, and soon highly astringent. I’ve chewed various acacia pods; some are better than others, but all can be nauseating. Baobab fruits are very sharp in flavour, and the pounded pulp used to be used as a drink, mixed with water and sugar, rather like lemonade. Afrikaners call it the kremetart boom. Kremetart is cream-of-tartar. The juice can be used as a raising agent, in conjunction with an alkali!

Regarding fibre content: chimpanzees have a behaviour called “wadging.” They chew up a wad of fibrous material, then press it between the lips and teeth, working it vigorously to extract as much liquid as possible before discarding the residue. This paper, on lip muscle differences between humans and chimpanzees, is interesting. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2631558/
Richard Wrangham (“Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human” fame), while carrying out field studies of primates, tried eating what they ate, including the indigenous fruits, figuring that he is also a primate. He didn’t like most of them.
http://www.gourmet.com/foodpolitics/2009/08/richard-wrangham
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/wrangham/wrangham_index.html

I know I have some references to the nutritional values of South African wild fruits buried somewhere in my old files, but as I haven’t looked at any of this for 12 years, it could take some time for me to excavate them. In the meantime, I know the FAO has some useful material, as does the Botanical Institute in Pretoria. I ran a quick search on the FAO site, and came up with this: http://www.fao.org/corp/google_result/en/?cx=018170620143701104933%3Aqq82jsfba7w&q=southern+africa+nutritional+value+wild+fruits&x=0&y=0&
cof=FORID%3A9&siteurl=www.fao.org%252F#1141. Perhaps the FAO could provide some of the papers cited.

This is the homepage of the South African National Biodiversity Institute; http://www.sanbi.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=frontpage&Itemid=1. I always found the staff to be very helpful. Dr. Inez Verdoorn, a South African botanist, did some work on the nutritional value of wild fruits, with a view to developing them as orchard varieties.

I’m an anthropology major student; while my personal interest is Late Bronze Age Adriatic Island Bridge, I’m also very interested in hominin evolution. It’s generally thought that a major factor driving hominin evolution was climate change, which greatly reduced the forest while favouring savannah. Our ancestors, for whatever reason – whether outcompeted by other primates who kept the good territory; or whether possession of a more generalized gut allowed exploitation of edge niches – moved out of the forest. Intelligence of a species according to one of my professors, is strongly associated with the difficulty of food-getting!

Once out of the central African forests, hominins would have likely not had fruit as a dietary staple, until such time as dispersing groups of modern humans moved into new forest zones. I think it’s important to note that while we, as a species, retain the highly generalized gut, not all of us, as individuals, thrive on particular food groups. My own (bad) experience led to my discovery that I am hypoglycaemic, which limits me to small amounts of lower-sugar fruits, and launched me into endless study of diet/nutrition/health interactions.

3 06 2011
kem

“Catching Fire” made me think about a lot of things human. I think he makes a good point that wild fuit isn’t very attractive to humans after losing our big guts and jaws.

7 06 2011
Suzanne

I’ve been reading around this for a while; apparently something happened at the stage of Homo erectus. I undertook an Honours project on the human eye, still to be published, which clearly identified measurable, and dramatic changes in the cranial and optic regions of the skull. There was a mutation at this time in the muscle fibres of the jaw, which produced much smaller myomeres with less strength, and is associated with our fragile cheekbones. I lined up a bunch of skulls, of non-human primates, early hominins, archaic and modern humans, and pennies dropped with long clangs! Without the corseting effect of the powerful muscles, the skull plates around and above the eyes didn’t fuse as they had before. There is controversy, of course, about this effect, mostly based on sagittal crests, but seeing female primates have minimal sagittal crests while still possessing the mighty muscles, it seems a moot point. Males have huge sagittal crests, to which are attached muscles of the back of the neck and shoulders, so they can puff themselves up to look bigger during male-male combat. It’s likely that we lost most of our hair at this time, and probably started talking to some extent. There is even some evidence for altruism at this time; Walker and Shipman describe a H. erectus specimen showing severe vitamin A poisoning. This individual lived for some time before death, evidenced by ossification of the blood clots formed by the ripping of the periosteal tissues, and could have done so only if provisioned and given water by somebody/ies else. It”s all fascinating, and I regret having only one brain and one lifetime!

3 06 2011
neisy

Thanks for all the info and links, Suzanne! I’ll check them out.

I can definitely see how wild fruits would be an acquired taste (ditto for a lot of wild meats). Even if sugar content isn’t wildly different, there seem to be other compounds in wild fruits that give them more “character” and can be off-putting at first (durian comes to mind).

“I think it’s important to note that while we, as a species, retain the highly generalized gut, not all of us, as individuals, thrive on particular food groups.” — I very much agree! Good luck with your anthropology studies :)

26 09 2013
softweyr

I’ve eaten jackrabbit, harvested from the northern Utah/southern Idaho desert, and it would very much be an acquired taste. No amount of salt or onions could erase the flavor of sage or the stringiness of the meat. The wilderness survival courses I survived as a young man gave me a deep appreciation for those who created a lot of the foods we eat today. Now if we could get food scientists to focus on nutrient density, as opposed to crop yield, we’ll be ready for the next millenium.

31 05 2011
jenny

This is the first time i have read this blog and I would like to thank you for all of the information and the time and effort that you have taken to write this article. I found it veryclear, informative and interesting. I will be looking forward to more articles
Thank You

31 05 2011
Tom

Cool article.

You’re pretty smart for a professional sock-puppeter.
:-)

31 05 2011
Al

I no longer believe that my ancestors evolved in the tropics, nor that they were ever in Africa:

http://www.erectuswalksamongst.us

7 06 2011
David I

From “Erectus Walks Amongst Us”:

“The author is a retired patent attorney who lives on a small wildlife refuge on an island in upstate of New York. A perpetual student, he has degrees in math (BS), law (JD), economics (MA), physics (BA), and chemistry (BA). He is an amateur composer (www.whiskeyrebellion.us) and has written books on Austrian economics (www.purelogic.us), natural rights (www.naturalrights.us), and anarchy (www.anarchism.net/steppes.htm).”

Wow. A positive festival of crackpot opinions.

I’m in love with crackpot opinions one at at time, but a crockpot full of crackpots migh be too much to digest…

4 08 2011
Clint

I disagree that music composition, Austrian economics, natural rights, and anarchism are “crackpot” ideas. Just the opposite, actually.

I’m sure many think eating raw whole foods is a crackpot idea as well.

27 08 2011
carlos

That was just racist

31 05 2011
BobT

What a great article. I love it. Stay by the phone though ’cause Harley “Durianrider” Johnstone should be calling soon to ask you out.

20 10 2012
Pablo

Actually, he plagiarized her article :/

31 05 2011
David

Superb post; I’ll re-read to enjoy it again. Reminds me of a New Yorker profile of David Karp, aka the Fruit Detective, published in 2002, I believe, and available in the online archive. Truly, the world’s bounty of fantastic fruit exceeds our imagination. Man, am I hungry now.

31 05 2011
Chris Sturdy

This post is very informative and cuts nicely to the heart of the issue. Think I’ll go have a banana to celebrate.

31 05 2011
Heather Mamatey

This is SUCH a timely article. I also took on the Fruit Phobic monster running rampant in paleo land on my website, where I am doing a 30 day trial of paleo eating that incorporates plenty of fresh fruit:

http://www.my-healthy-eating-secrets.com/paleo-diet-trial-day-16.html

Thank you, Denise, for printing this. I will definitely be linking to it from my site. Enjoy a big ol’ soursop for me!

31 05 2011
sebastiaan_d

Really great post! Very thoroughly. Strengthens my belief that anything edible that doesn’t come out of a factory (or from a ‘wrong’ farm) is actually a natural food source and thus good for you. It’s all about balance & amounts. I think our ancestors even used grains, but there’s no logic in using it in the amounts we’re used to nowadays. It’s too intensive to gather it. So small amount work and used as such won’t harm. We’ve all become way too anxious when it comes to food. We don’t trust nature anymore, we trust society, science and industry and that’s a stupid thing to do… Nature created stuff as is, because that worked out best. Why would we have to ‘improve’ everything?

17 11 2011
Socrates

Sebastian, one of the fundamentals of our being human is making foods better for us by ‘culturing’ them whether by selective breeding, various refinement practices which minimize anti-nutrient factors such as eliminating parts of the food, cooking, and fermentation.

17 11 2011
Padraig

“Sebastian, one of the fundamentals of our being human is making foods better for us by ‘culturing’ them whether by selective breeding,”

You say “being human” with this kind of veneer of superiority. Do you feel proud to be a human? Do you consider humans to be above all other life forms and if so why?

It is not “one of the fundamentals of our being human” anyway, only 10,000 years ago did we begin to cultivate and select for crops in a systematic manner. On the other hand, we did select for crops by simply choosing them and eating them before that, just like all the other animals do.

One of the fundamentals of our being human. So it must be good, right? I think that you have a fundamental error in your logic, when you try to argue that just because humans do something it must be right just because humans did it and not other animals.

“various refinement practices which minimize anti-nutrient factors such as eliminating parts of the food, cooking, and fermentation.”

Nothing a human has ever done or will ever do to any food has brought it to a better state than it would be fresh from nature, that is an absolute fact.

Reading that bizarre last part again, I think you’re actually fabricating nonsense and trying to sound like you know something when you don’t actually have an absolute clue.

31 05 2011
Jaquen

Denise,

This might interest you, just popped up on my “pubmed: diet” RSS:

“The effect of two energy-restricted diets, a low-fructose diet versus a moderate natural fructose diet, on weight loss and metabolic syndrome parameters: a randomized controlled trial.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21621801

Haven’t read the full text, but sounds like the natural fructose group fared better.

31 05 2011
neisy

Fascinating! Thanks for this. I’ll have to dig up the full text and take a look.

31 05 2011
Lorna

Ah, fruit!

After many experiments with food – not all of them health driven, I’m just food-curious – I’m currently enjoying a truely local, seasonal diet spurred on by some reprinted 1940′s rationing recipes.

I’m having a lot of fun with it, but (here in the UK) I’ve been eating rhubarb, bramley and sultanas since Christmas (obviously with other food groups). Stawberries have just arrived – hooray!

My point, I truely don’t know – and have currently given up trying – how to eat a predominately raw diet in a temperate climate.

I have a choice between shipping in flavourless salad foods from countries who are selling their watertable (or having it stolen from them by multi-nationals), and eating root veg and seaweed for eight months of the year. I just can’t face raw brassicas (or rhubarb!)

Raw food sites, magazines and books stress how important it is to always eat local, seasonal food and then pack every recipe with avocados, tomatoes, cucumber etc. We’ve only just started to get local tomatoes and cucumber in the shops this month and as for local avocados, I’m probably the wrong side of London for them ;0)

Loved this article though, and if I’m ever in China Town, I do grab a local durian or two!

31 05 2011
Sue

Very interesting blog post, Denise. What’s in season there in Hawaii?

31 05 2011
Bodhi

Thank you for shooting a hole in the paleo fruit myth. Finally someone actually did some research on ancient fruit instead of regurgitating the fruit myth. The paleo sphere was starting to bash fruit instead of HFCS.

31 05 2011
Connecting Dots: Fruit is Real Food; Eat It | Free The Animal

[...] over the last few days I was quickly led to yet another Denise Minger masterpiece: Wild and Ancient Fruit: Is it Really Small, Bitter, and Low in Sugar? Uh, in a 4-letter word, fuck [...]

31 05 2011
Monte Diaz

There is a gold mine of information yet to be discovered (and exploited) about wild fruits and vegetables. Anything to further the discussion does a lot more for the community than most. As always, great article.

Your perspective and the topics you choose to write about when you are in your comfort zone are both fascinating and enlightening. I mean, we all like epic public debunkings, of which you’ve given us a few of, but posts about wild vs domesticated avocados or wild fruits are what really get me excited. :)

Monte

31 05 2011
nick becker

if there’s any crossover here forgive me, but im going to repost what i said in response to this article on facebook…

seems weird that no fruits that you can actually find yourself in the US are mentioned here. Most wild fruits don’t ship very well, and even if they could there is no infrastructure for cultivation or market for exporting, thus you’re never going to eat any of these unless you travel to these countries. The article would have more practical value for the reader if simply had a picture of a paw paw and told you when and how to harvest it! It is, however, pretty effective “wierd-food porn” and i would also love to try all of these!

ps – just read about the author and forgive you for not mentioning paw paws as you’re out on the west coast, but still, there are wild fruits there as well, though probably few that looks as crazy as the jaboticaba

31 05 2011
joyce

Wow, this is really eye opening.

I have noticed a strong northern European or North American bias when it comes to gauging natural foods- we assume the fruit we see in the wild here is the same as what we would have seen elsewhere in the world. Thank you for shedding more light on this belief.

One question if you don’t mind. You have mentioned you eat a considerable amount of fruit- have you ever tried a low carb diet or a diet based on starch rather than fruit, to see how they compare? I admit I still have reservations about any more than a trace amount of fructose consumption and it seems a starch based diet would fare better than a fruit based one, in terms of higher carb diets.

1 06 2011
neisy

Thanks Joyce.

I did an “n = 1″ low/no-fruit paleo experiment for about seven weeks this year while traveling (partially out of convenience, partially out of curiosity). The first five weeks were high fat/low carb; the last two I played around with more carbs because my biking endurance was lagging too much.

The only changes I noticed were ones I didn’t consider favorable — bad taste in my mouth, oilier skin and hair, needing a bit more sleep than usual, major drop in energy/endurance (which perhaps would have improved if I stuck with it longer and became fat adapted). No change in body composition, no worsening or improvement of any health issues (mostly because I didn’t have any to begin with). There were a few days when I woke up with some pain/stiffness in the elbow I broke a few years ago, which I hadn’t experienced before. The perks were mainly about taste (ie, I tried bone marrow for the first time, ate some delicious animal parts I’d never had before, etc.) and convenience (could feel full on a much smaller volume of food). Overall, I didn’t feel there were enough pros to make low-fruit worth continuing for me.

I *did* notice that fruit feels much different (in a bad way) in the context of a high-fat diet than in the lower-fat diet I usually eat. I can easily see how someone adding fruit into a low-carb diet would feel awful and perhaps gain weight from it. My own experience is that fruit feels a lot better as a carb source than starches, but that’s just a subjective statement and I realize others have had the opposite experience.

1 06 2011
neisy

Oops — sorry to comment subscribers that got a few stray sentences at the end of that!

Also wanted to add that this particular experiment had too many variables to track the effects of fruit/no fruit. I was also eating more meat, cooked food, animal fat, seasonings, etc. than usual.

1 06 2011
Heather Mamatey

This is really interesting, Denise. Thanks for posting this info.

2 06 2011
Heather Mamatey

In fact, I like what you gotta say here so much that I decided to incorporate it into Day 18 of my fruit-friendly paleo trial:

http://www.my-healthy-eating-secrets.com/paleo-diet-trial-day-18.html

Would love to hear more from you about what exactly you experienced on your high fat/low fruit adventure.

6 06 2011
Warren Dew

Good post, thanks. It kind of confirms what had to be true: the relevant fruit coevolved as primate food, so our liking for a sweet taste must match something that was available. I’m also pleased to see a little debunking of the ‘fructose is evil’ meme; yes, it’s implicated in nonalcoholic fatty liver, but by the same light, it isn’t implicated in insulin related illnesses to the same degree glucose is.

I think the reason many paleo sources seem to be skeptical of fruit has to do with use of the paleo diet for weight loss. Weight loss on paleo does seem to require limiting fruit intake for most women, albeit not most men. Paleolithic peoples likely wouldn’t have gotten fat in the first place, though, so they wouldn’t have needed to lose weight.

Finally, I’d note that “we were stationed in Africa until 50,000 years ago” isn’t really accurate. There have been genetic analyses of modern humans indicating that perhaps 5% of our genes root in Europe hundreds of thousands of years ago and as much as 20% root in Asia around a million years ago. The European contribution has been confirmed through genetic comparisons of neanderthal fossil DNA with modern human DNA. Even the recent African exodus was likely more than 50,000 years ago according to some recent data.

Of course, with respect to fruit, parts of Asia are also tropical, and you also provide some data on wild forms of European fruit, so the details of human ancestry don’t really change your overall point. Given how you’re a stickler for accuracy, though, this may be something worth being careful about.

2 06 2011
cliff

“My own experience is that fruit feels a lot better as a carb source than starches”

Why?

2 06 2011
Grok

I would bet if you quizzed a group of people who’ve tried a high-carb raw diet, you’d find a lot of this.

Fruit gives you a lighter, cleaner, energizing feel. Possibly in part due to fruit being less easily overeaten (for various reasons). After living on the fruit cals/carbs for a while, the switch back to starches give you that “I want to eat in front of the TV and chill on the couch” feel. A less motivated/comfort food feeling. Drop in a load of fat with that and you have a Thanksgiving dinner “carbo coma” reenactment ;)

3 06 2011
cliff

Your version of starches is cheese pizza. I’m talking about tubers.

3 06 2011
Grok

Oh those! That’s what starch is? I have 10lbs of Okinawan sweet potatoes on my counter 8 feet away, a pot of Kabocha squash soup in the fridge, sushi and Surgeonfish over rice for dinner the other night. I wouldn’t know a thing about eating starch.

I had some pizzas spanning 80-113 days ago as part of a 4HB experiment, and 332 days ago before that celebrating the 4th of July. That’s 33 days short of a year in case you can’t count that high. You wan’t pictures of them? None of them were cheese, sorry to dissapoint. Thanks for knowing my versions though, it shows you’re paying attention.

3 06 2011
Alex

I recently experimented with eating one small sweetpotato, three times per week, on gym days, to better fuel my workouts. The result was overall increased appetite and several weeks of undesired 2lbs/wk weight gain. Fruit doesn’t have that effect on me.

3 06 2011
Grok

Alex I did an experiment also (vegetarian starch based), but before/after every meal was gym day (kettlebell mostly). I don’t remember the exact stats of hand, but I believe it was 24lbs in 28 days gain. Not at all saying that was all muscle. My goal weight was 200lbs. The increased appetite (from starch) had me eating more and more with each day. The steadily increasing calories form starches were making me lazier and the workouts started tapering off. Fat started in.

Although not the most nutritious option, if I was to pick a cooked starch for only energy reasons, I’m pretty sure my preference would be rice.

I love sweet potatoes. In my experience if they’re used in a restricted quantity (ie..diet plan/protocol/rationing) like you were doing, I think they can be a fine way to replenish glycogen and feel good. Emotionally, I’m tired of restricting. Fruit doesn’t require restriction and other than maybe a full belly, you still feel good.

6 06 2011
cliff

Sounds lke your fucked

Bananas make you blast but sweet potatoes with the same xact nutritient compostition makes you want to overeat and sleep?

because its cooked??LOLOLOLOL

31 05 2011
donat

I have been wondering about this for a long time but largely from the opposite perspective that most people’s comments take. Mine is something like this: If you eat paleo to get away from SAD, that’s an eminently reasonable idea. So with the usual caveats, as Denise demonstrates, fruit looks like a part of this package. But if you eat paleo for increasing adult healthspan, that seems to me more questionable. Selection is for reproductive survival not for healthspan. So if our ancestors ate a lot of carbs and fructose, that must be good for reproductive survival. Less clear if it is good for postreproductive healthspan. This way of eating (like high protein) might well accentuate (cellular) growth instead of repair (as seems necessary for reproductive survival in a competitive environment).

31 05 2011
Roy Mankovitz

Great post.

I cover this topic (fully referenced) in some depth in my books “The Original Diet,” and “The Wellness Project.” Another factor I considered is our “bitter’ taste buds, likely a survival tool to discourage us from ingesting bitter substances, leading me to conclude that nature intended us to eat whole raw ripe, non-bitter fruit. The seeds in ripened fruit are at the ideal growth point for survival.

Roy Mankovitz, Director
http://www.MontecitoWellness.com
A research organization

31 05 2011
Isaac Rivera

Very interesting article. However, lacking fossil record for most of this tropical fruit (many of which I myself love and grew up with as a child in Puerto Rico) we do not really know how it has evolved in, say, the last one million years. And so, we do not know what was available to tropical humans. We do agree, however, that fruit’s sweetness is an evolutionary trick to reward animals for disseminating its seed and spreading the species. This makes Nature itself work on a system of selective breeding. Naturally, the sweetest, most attractive fruit will be the one to get the most attention from fruit-eating animals. So, IMHO, the evolutionary destiny of all fruit is to be a ball of sugar. I have studied wine-making here in Spain. Grapes take only a few weeks to ripen their seeds. Until that point the fruit is not very pleasant at all to eat. But, after that point, the fruit just keeps concentrating sugar, becoming more and more sweet. In other words, ever offering more reward to the spreader of the seed. So, in this light, the only problem with human’s selectively breeding fruit is one of speed, and not of the selection process itself.

31 05 2011
Paleo Vegan Primal Veggie

Some so-called “paleos” are just as, if not more so fanatical, cultish and misinformed as their vegan counterparts.

This blog topic has been on my mind ever since I came across my first so-called “paleo” foodie (who, oddly enough, does not even hunt!)

3 06 2011
pixel

thats sad. what i liked about this bunch was that only dogma is the evil of cupcakes (mmm… cupcakes) and people discussed what worked for them and otherwise based on self experimentation and science. the common sense, math, biology and chemistry kind that get picked apart with math and logic so we can all do better.

7 06 2011
Padraig

PALEO MAN DID NOT EVER HUNT IF TIMES WERE GOOD.

Paleo man like ALL THE OTHER GREAT APES YOU CAN SEE TODAY, only really hunted in the unusual times that there was little fruit around. That was the only time when they ever hunted. When times were bad.

If you consider that paleo man hunted every day or every week then you know nothing about paleo man. There is no evidence or reason to suggest that they did. Paleo man was by and large a frugivore… just like all of the other great apes.

17 11 2011
Socrates

Padraig, your comments are just your wishful thinking. Primitive peoples that have been documented over the past 200 years or so are well known to be omnivores by choice. Frugivorous diet is not adequate for thriving as humans. Having fruit in the diet is great though, as a part of the diet.

17 11 2011
Xogenesis

Fructarians muking about in their little sandbox. No science, no citations, no sensible acceptance of evolutionary reality. Every time I happen back on this stagnant blog comment fantasyland I feel sorry for Denise. Will all you whackos go find some other place to perch. You are drowning the grown up dialog that should be here. Nobody of any stature is coming around as long as these mosquitoes are pouncing on anything that moves.

17 11 2011
Padraig

You wouldn’t know science if it came and hit you over the head, neither would a lot of these so-called scientists with their lousy idiotic excuse for science that is roundly condemned by many within the same scientific community.

21 12 2011
SkyKing

Here’s some science for ya: If you don’t eat any protein or fats….YOU WILL DIE!!! If you don’t eat any carbs …you will STILL live!!! You’re body will convert protein to whatever glucose it needs and you will thrive on ketones for energy.

I wonder how those Eskimos were able to survive all these hundreds of thousands of years without eating any
fruits..?! Hmmmm….

21 12 2011
Grok

Except they do it fruits.

4 01 2014
adora721

“You’re body will convert protein to whatever glucose it needs and you will thrive on ketones for energy.”

You acknowledge that the body “needs” glucose, so why get it through a more biologically complicated process (ketones) instead of going the direct route by eating sugars?

The sugar, ribose, is in the DNA molecule in your body. The brain runs only on glucose. When you need parenteral nutrition in the hospital, they give you a glucose drip (not a steak drip). You only need 9-10 amino acids from foods, which are available from plants, your body makes all the rest. According to this study (http://www.utexas.edu/pharmacy/divisions/pharmaco/rounds/02-04-11.pdf) , you need 3.2% linoleic acid to prevent EFA deficiency. According to this study (http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/clinical/departments/medicine/divisions/digestive-health/nutrition-support-team/nutrition-articles/McCrayArticle2011.pdf), you only need 2-4% of total calories as linoleic acid to provide EFA.

I’m not a “one diet fits all people” believer. I think our genetic differences can make one diet better or worse for an individual. I don’t wag my finger at those who succeed quite well on Paleo, but I do take offense when Paleo adherents try to tell everyone that their way is the only way and I don’t think high-carbers should do that to the Paleo crowd either.

If you want to do low-carb, limit or omit sugars and starches. High fat diets combined with eating sugars trap those sugars in the blood, which creates a plethora of health problems – hyperglycemia, high triglycerides, insulin resistance, etc. If you want to eat high-carb, then limit daily fat percentage to 15% or less. If you are clinically healthy on the diet of your choice, then stick with it, but respect that someone else may have a different view and experience.

All carbohydrate foods contain some protein and fat, just not a lot. It would be nearly impossible to eat a carbohydrate that is pure carbohydrate with zero fat and zero protein, so telling someone they will die if they only eat carbs is stretching your point and untrue. All I say is eat to your health, whatever works for you.

4 01 2014
Padraig

“You acknowledge that the body “needs” glucose, so why get it through a more biologically complicated process (ketones) instead of going the direct route by eating sugars?”

I think it’s because these so-called paleo people have the mindset that they must torture themselves and their bodies to become thin. They have no understanding or concept of working with their bodies, but rather want to work against it and flog it. For them anything that makes their body work harder is a good thing, while in fact all these extra steps put the body under strain and damage it, that is why protein is known as a dirty fuel.

“I’m not a “one diet fits all people” believer. I think our genetic differences can make one diet better or worse for an individual. I don’t wag my finger at those who succeed quite well on Paleo, but I do take offense when Paleo adherents try to tell everyone that their way is the only way and I don’t think high-carbers should do that to the Paleo crowd either.”

The truth is that the only people who “succeed” on the so-called paleo diet are obese people with pre-diabetes and whose blood sugar is so messed up that they apparently cannot tolerate simple carbs anymore. It’s a terrible state to be in. By the way “succeeding” for so-called paleo people generally means they’re still actually overweight. I’ve seen forums and pictures of people who’ve succeeded on the so-called paleo diet and they’re actually hilarious because they’re all fat people who are still fat. The remainder of people who do well on the so-called paleo diet are only doing so because they’re cutting out modern carbs like biscuits and bread. The so-called paleo people are a joke who don’t know the first thing about nutrition, diet and especially not what our early ancestors actually ate. If they did they would know that man is clearly a frugivore except when fresh fruit is not available which it was for 99.9% of our evolution.

What makes me annoyed is that the so-called paleo people are committing a terrible fraud and a scam by claiming that their high carb diet is somehow blessed by evolution when man evolved to eat as much fruit as he possibly could eat. I’m also annoyed at non-paleo people such as people on the 80/10/10 diet and the people who actually study evolution etc. for not calling out the so-called paleo people more. The name “paleo” is a lie and not many people seem to be calling them out on it.

So-called paleo advocates are liars, they don’t know anything. Their so-called experts have no evidence this is what man ate during the vast majority of the paleolithic era. People who eat “low carbs” can only possibly benefit if they already have extreme blood sugar problems and are eating nothing like our paleo ancestors would have eaten. Nobody would care if the so-called “paleos” called themselves something else, but their claim that they’re eating the paleo way is outrageous. Everyone else is poisoning themselves by eating a large amount of proteins, and what’s sad is that it may appear to work because they’re giving up the modern processed foods, and it’s all based on clear lies, deceit and early ideas of evolution such as “Man the Hunter” that have long been discredited.

4 01 2014
Warren Dew

adora721, you have a few factual errors there. In particular, the brain does not only run on glucose; this is a myth perpetuated by people who think that cells can only run on glucose and triglycerides. In fact, the brain can metabolize ketones just fine, which is one of the advantages of ketosis.

Paleo works for everyone who tries it. Padraig may consider my 140 pounds at 5’10″ to be fat, but no one else would. Some people can also tolerate some nonpaleo diets, but I’ve seen no stories of such diets restoring people to health once they’ve been hit with the various problems that everyone in our modern society gets in middle age.

10 05 2014
Bris Vegas

All plants contain protein and fat. In fact you can get sufficient protein and fatby eating nothing but a variety of fruits.

Eskimos have lived in the Arctic for less than 4000 years. They ate any berries they ould find.

31 05 2011
DanD

Your mention of Red Delicious apples and Michigan backyards reminded me of something you and your younger readers may not know. Fifty years ago, the Red Delicious apples my uncle grew in Michigan were indeed delicious. They were sweeter and had a more complex flavor than the dreck one finds in stores these days. Many store-bought fruits suffer from a recent emphasis on storing and shipping well.
Now, living in Florida, I’m lucky to be able to grow a few of the fruits you mention, as well as some large, delicious mangos that are nothing like the wild mangos they were developed from over the last 5000 years.

1 06 2011
Sue

I too remember those wonderful Red Delicious apples from Michigan as well as the Macintosh and Jonathan. You’re right, the varieties we have now bear little resemblance to what was grown back then. This takes me back to my youth–I’m Denise’s mom–she won’t know what they tasted like, but I do remember what wonderful cider they made.

2 06 2011
DanD

Macintosh are still my favorite, though the ones that reach Florida aren’t as good as fresh-picked.

2 06 2011
DanD

You must be very proud of Denise. She is doing a great service.

2 06 2011
Sue

Words can’t describe how proud her dad and I are of her.

1 06 2011
LaurenR

Thank you for this well researched article…as usual excellent and thorough.

1 06 2011
Andrew Bartran

You might be mistaken in thinking that these “wild” fruits are not the product of millennia of human meddling, that they would be familiar to humans older than 12,000 years or so. I don’t mean any of this in the spirit of quibbling over definitions of paleo. In fact I only say this because I just read 1491 by Charles Mann, and I can’t speak to specific examples. Yet. :)

But a lot of anthropologists and ethnohistorians believe that we vastly underestimated the extent to which early Americans transformed their environment. I imagine the same applies to other places where societies have very old practices and relationships bearing on the environment. The Amazon in particular is shot through with ancient orchards. There the tastiest, most nutrient rich fruits were selectively cultivated for their broad nutrient spectrum and caloric density. This form of agriculture supported large populations per acre. A familiar pattern of early nutritional exploitation, played by maize in Mesoamerica, grain in Sumer, potatoes in the Andes.

1 06 2011
Grok

So either way… they were likely a major part of our past. Especially if they were found important enough to go out of our way to cultivate. Farming’s never been easy. Nobody did it for fun :)

People need to keep in mind that these fruits are less than a handful of thousands and thousands. Perhaps even more undiscovered. It doesn’t really matter if these were the exact fruits we were consuming, only that nature can produce them (or something similar). Sweeter bigger ones may have been lost in climate change patterns. We’ll probably never know.

1 06 2011
CrossFit Peachtree | CrossFit in Buckhead | CrossFit in Atlanta | CrossFit in Midtown | Personal Training Atlanta | Atlanta Strength and Conditioning Coach | CrossFit Football in Atlanta | Atlanta Speed and Agility Training

[...] over the last few days I was quickly led to yet another Denise Minger masterpiece: Wild and Ancient Fruit: Is it Really Small, Bitter, and Low in Sugar? Uh, in a 4-letter word, fuck [...]

1 06 2011
Jack Goldmaker

Erik reminded me of something in his post about sugar content. What about mineral and vitamin content? I have been spending a lot of time with Herbalists and they all claim that the herbs grown today are not one tenth as powerful in strength as the herbs that were grown by Hippocrates. Years and years of depletion of minerals from the crops of old have ravaged our soils, so even if the fruit was not as sweet, it was chock full of minerals unlike todays fruits and veggies which have sucked up all the nutrients again and again to have only a meager amount of vitamins and minerals in them. Some herbalists have gone so far as to tell me that none of the soil in North America contains much mineral content due to the huge turnover of crops.

1 06 2011
JeffreyD

Jack: People say a lot of things. Herbalists are a bunch of hippies who have an anti-modernity streak to them. Their beliefs are generally derived from vague philosophical concepts rather than reality, which is why if you get sick you don’t go to an herbalist. Logically, if the soil was really that depleted, the plants wouldn’t grow, or at the least it would be possible to make herbs/plants with ten times the concentration simply by growing them in properly fertilized soil.

1 06 2011
Monte Diaz

@Jeff
You’re right, people do say a lot of things. My sister thought she saw a dragon once. May aunt told me she ran over big foot in the 70s while driving on the back roads of Oregon…all that being said though…

The soil really is depleted and you can grow fruits and veggies (and people) with significantly more nutrition in them just by properly amending the soil. This process is not done commercially because it is cost prohibitive. The main soil amendments in a industrial growing facility are going to be N-P-K and a few other trace minerals. Optimal soil will have 60+ trace minerals in it. This affects plant nutrition via many pathways such as creating stronger micro organism ecosystems in the soil to digest nutrients for the plant.

I’ve interned on farms that have grown produce in this manner and I can say without a doubt that most grocery store versions are like plastic mock-ups in comparison.

10 05 2014
Bris Vegas

All ‘industrial’ agricuklture optmises soil nutrition. Plants only use a handful of minerals so virtually all the 60 trace minerals are redundant.. Many trace minerals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic are totally undesirable.

1 06 2011
Paleo Vegan Primal Veggie

“which is why if you get sick you don’t go to an herbalist. ”

Speak for yourself.

3 06 2011
pixel

animals are part of the equation. if you dont want depleted soil, bring them back. a herd of ruminants can do wonders for the lands. http://www.savoryinstitute.com/

10 05 2014
Bris Vegas

Savory has been totally discredited. His methods actually reduce soil fertility, reduce yields and increase disease.

Ruminants only increase soil fertility in a closed system where no animals are removed and their remains are reycled into the soil after they die.

1 06 2011
Tarek

Great post! The “fructose phobia” that has been spreading around the health community needs to stop. Much in the same way that the nutrients found in multivitamins are less bioavailable than their natural counterparts, perhaps fructose from HFCS is not metabolized in the same manner as fructose from fruit. Just a thought! :]

10 05 2014
Bris Vegas

Fructose is only a problem if you’re a rodent. Rats turn about 30% of fructose into fat.

Humans convert over 98.5% of fructose into glucose and glycogen. Only 1.5% is turned into fat.

HFCS is not used outside the USA. However obesity is a global problem. So it is absurd to blame HFCS.

1 06 2011
seand

Love it! Thanks for sharing.

1 06 2011
1 06 2011
Lurker

I like the comparisons here, and the oft-spouted dogma it questions…but while I’m content to accept that modern wild fruit can be just as sweet as commercially bred species, I wouln’t extrapolate into the past too far.

As others have mentioned, humans tend to go for larger/sweeter fruit, whether in modern western cultures of otherwise. Historically, this would have given the sweeter fruit bearers an advantage – both from having their seeds spread better, and because humans tend to protect good food sources (whereas a tree bearing ‘inferior’ fruit might well be cut down for firewood). It’s just conjecture on my part, but if human preference has remained reasonably consistent through the ages, it seems fair to suppose that all the fruits our species conumes have been influenced (if not outright cultivated) towards sweetness.

Then again, I’ve had a lifelong preference for small, sour berries, so maybe human diversity would rule that theory out!

11 06 2011
bigjeff

I think you’ve missed the point slightly. The post is in regards to whether or not modern, sweet fruit counts as “paleo”. Your post supports this idea, as of course humans would have been a part of the natural selection process – we are not separate from evolution.

The argument on the paleo side is that modern apples, oranges, pears, etc. bear little resemblance to the fruit eaten by paleolithic man 12,000+ years ago. The majority of the change is supposed to have occurred in the last 1,000 years or less (which would make such fruit extremely neolithic), with the advent of better fruit cultivation techniques. Referencing a post above, some claim that fruit even 100 years ago had only 1/30′th the sweetness of modern varieties. This is clearly a misunderstanding of reality, as there are a huge number of fruits that are every bit as sweet as the commonly available cultivated fruits, yet have never been actively cultivated by man.

With regards to protecting and spreading wild fruits that taste good, that’s exactly what the fruiting plant wants, and why it evolved a sweat, fleshy covering for its seeds.

11 06 2011
Padraig

“The argument on the paleo side is that modern apples, oranges, pears, etc. bear little resemblance to the fruit eaten by paleolithic man 12,000+ years ago. ”

Pardon me for jumping in but I object to terming these people “paleos” or following a “paleo diet”. Nobody knows what paleo humans ate, but it almost certainly contained a very high amount of fruit when fruit was available, just like all the other great apes do.

I just don’t understand why on earth people of that school of thought should get the term “paleo”, as if they are the only ones who want to eat what our ancestors ate and who believe we’re evolved for those foods.

11 06 2011
Padraig

But I totally agree with you in general. And I sometimes use terms myself that I don’t agree should be the terms used to converse.

12 06 2011
Warren Dew

I think the argument that modern fruit don’t count as “paleo” is a minority position in the paleo community. It’s certainly not the consensus.

2 06 2011
Glenn Whitney

Great post – many thanks.
I think a lot of Paleo folks are focused on weight loss and generally “leaning” out.
At the risk of over-simplifying: If you’re insulin resistent and obese, regular and substantial fruit consumption *is* probably problematic…

2 06 2011
christinaaurelius

Yay! I love fruit! I loved the pictures in here and it’s nice to know that I am not the only one who doesn’t want to forgo all fruit in hopes of gaining health. Thanks for the post. Now, it’s time to track down some of these interesting fruits to try.

2 06 2011
T. AKA Ricky Raw

WOW, that’s what I call an indepth post. I’m going to have to print this up and really delve into it. Much appreciated for helping debunk some myths.

2 06 2011
Al

>> where I am doing a 30 day trial of paleo eating that incorporates plenty of
>> fresh fruit

which will prove nothing. You can FAST for 30 days and do fine; might even come out with better “numbers”. Then someone would start blogging about a calorie-free diet as the next new thing.

2 06 2011
Chris Masterjohn

Al,

Knowledge comes in small pieces. If you reject knowing something small because it isn’t big enough to have solved all the world’s riddles, then you’ll have to reject all knowledge. If not knowing enough is so bad, refusing to know anything must be worse. A more reasonable approach might be to recognize the limitations of each piece of knowledge, but be grateful to know a little more, and meanwhile to do what one thinks is probably best, while admitting what one doesn’t know.

Chris

3 06 2011
Monte Diaz

Best reply ever?

But then again, what do I know? :P

17 06 2011
Chris Masterjohn

Haha, thanks Monte. :)

5 06 2011
Al

Chris,

I welcome every tiny little peice of valid evidence. An n=1 30-day trial is not a valid peice of evidence.

That guy out in (?) colorado got his 15-minutes of fame with his 30 (or was it 60) day diet of 100% junk food. do you feel that there’s a gain of dietary knowledge from it?

pre-modern fruit was optimized to help spread seeds; modern fruit is optimized to increase the incomes of orchardists and supermarkets. Nothing immoral about that; but it’s not a very good reason to eat lots of fruits.

5 06 2011
Padraig

Nothing immoral about that? Are you mad?

Nothing immoral about permanently shaping the genes of foods for supermarket chains and depriving people of natural foods that we’re evolved for forever?

How can you sit there and seriously say that this food is not the food that we inherited from the earth or the best food for us, but the supermarkets took it from us and there is nothing immoral about that. Artificial selection is extremely unethical and immoral.

You really think there’s “nothing unethical” about these people coming in and raping your food beyond repair? Come ON. Have some RESPECT for yourself and all of our descendants.

5 06 2011
Al

@Padraig

there is not a constitutional right, nor a human right, to receive a happy love life on a silver platter. You have to get it by the sweat of your own brow.

there is not a constitutional right, nor a human right, to receive a striking public image fom correctly-tailored clothes. you are required to arrange that by yourself.

Similarly, there is not a constitutional right, nor a human right, to have antiquarian fruitstuffs presented to you. You have to make your own arrangements.

As Mr Justice Brandeis noted: “Freedom of the Press is reserved – for those who own one”.

Odd that the people who whine the loudest about the prevalence of imperfect food…. are the people who have never put a kilo of fruit on sale.

When you start pissing and moaning about the city-folk dog lovers who selectively breed animals to their liking, is when i’ll pay attention to a claim that it’s the farmers have caused our food problem by selectively breeding plants.

5 06 2011
Padraig

Al, I don’t give a shit about your “a constitutional right”. I have ZERO respect for YOU or any judges that allow this type of thing. Go **** yourself. But you should not expect that if you try and mess with food that other people will stand idly by and let you.

NOTHING could be more important than the irreversible genetic make-up on planet earth. I believe that the people who create GMOs should be executed. The legal system and I parted ways a long, long time ago.

8 06 2011
Monte Diaz

It sounds like you parted with a lot of things quite a while ago. lol.

17 11 2011
Socrates

Padraig,
You’re off kilter. Relax. Don’t take things too seriously, appropriately.

21 01 2013
Chancery Stone

Padraig, why are you utterly unable to disagree with anyone in this discussion, and I imagine any other anywhere else, without calling them names?

Whatever your diet is, you don’t wat enough calming foods.

21 01 2013
Chancery Stone

Sorry, that should have been “eat enough calming foods”. I obviously eat too many…

22 01 2013
Padraig

I didn’t call him any name Chancery Stone. Get it right.

Excuse me for getting a bit agitated over the irreversible end of natural food forever forced by these other individuals.

Why would I censor my true feelings? Why would I? That in itself would just be idiocy.

22 01 2013
Chancery Stone

I didn’t say you called “him” names, I said you were unable to disagree with anyone without name-calling. Now, I am happy to go through all your posts and give you a list of your many insults, but why tell you what you already know?

As to why you should “censor your true feelings”, I would never suggest you do. What I suggest you do is learn to temper how you express them. Believe it or not, people will listen to reason far more if you don’t call them idiots. They are also far more likely to listen to someone who is not drama-queening end of the world disasters and who sounds as if he breathes occasionally.

You are not the only person on here with strong beliefs and feelings, but you are the only one who imagines screaming invective at others proves it.

22 01 2013
Padraig

“I didn’t say you called “him” names, I said you were unable to disagree with anyone without name-calling. Now, I am happy to go through all your posts and give you a list of your many insults, but why tell you what you already know?”

You said I was unable to disagree with anyone without calling them names. However I disagreed with him without calling him names. So your statement was wrong, and by continuing to try to “defend” yourself, you are only going in the wrong direction.

22 01 2013
Chancery Stone

Nope, I am absolutely in the right direction, since the level of your disagreement alters the level of your insult.

22 01 2013
Xogenesis

Just ignore the fat blivet. You should see a picture of this sad being

11 06 2011
Chris Masterjohn

Hi Al,

Yes, I think in both cases there is a gain in knowledge. The knowledge we gain from the potato diet experience is that, at least in some people, such a diet for such a period of time is consistent with the health parameters observed. It’s a very small piece of knowledge, but it’s a piece of knowledge.

The basic problem you have with “n=1″ is a lack of control. For example maybe you try some dietary change from March to May and your health improves, but the improvement is due to increasing vitamin D status because of the change in season. What you’d want for definitive evidence about an individuals response is to repeat the trial relative to a control diet several times in random order. Then n is no longer one because it refers to the number of trials and not the number of individuals.

So again it is not a definitive demonstration of cause and effect, but it is a small piece of information that is worthwhile, especially when one considers the extreme difficulty of performing the type of self-experiment I outlined above for each piece of dietary knowledge one is interested in.

Chris

2 06 2011
Rob

Fruit is amazing! No matter how sweet, never feel guilty about eating fruit. A natural, whole food that tastes so good could not be bad for you. It was by nature to enjoy. I’m sure you are aware of the 80/10/10 diet. While it is definitely not for everyone, people who live the right lifestyle and get the right amount of exercise can/will thrive on a diet comprised of almost all fruit.

See: “durianriders” on YouTube.

2 06 2011
Sam

Wow, this article caused me to rethink my own position. Thanks!

I do think some of the fruit-phobia one finds in the low-carb and paleo communities to be somewhat understandable. Here’s a few thoughts.

Conventional wisdom says we should eat several servings of these foods because they are healthful and may help prevent disease, but as authors like Barry Groves, Gary Taubes, and Zoe Harcombe have argued, there’s really no evidence behind these claims. The vitamin/mineral content of fatty animal products is usually far greater and much more bioavailable. And we know that hunter-gatherers, when ecologically possible, ate as much animal products as possible. The same was not true of fruits. And while it may be true that our paleolithic ancestors living near the equator ate more fruit than the paleo community generally admits, we should also keep in mind that it was nutrient-dense animal foods that helped us grow large brains and reduce the size of our digestive systems. In light of these facts, it makes fruit seem more superfluous rather than essential. So I think a push-back on the five-a-day mania is quite sensible in this respect.

I personally am on a very limited budget, am trying to slim out after a decade-plus of being overweight, and don’t really crave fruits or miss them. As such, I focus on getting more bang for my buck with nutrient-dense animal foods rather than nutrient-poor, inessential fruits, wild, domesticated, or otherwise. Does this make sense?

So maybe paleolithic fruits were sweeter and larger than we might of previously assumed. This doesn’t really change the fact that they weren’t particularly prized in hunter-gatherer diets. Nor does putting them aside along with other inessential gustatory pleasures while trying to lose weight or avoid unnecessary expenses seem unreasonable or detrimental to health.

Maybe we should consider them more like sweet potatoes or other tubers: real food, but not really something we should consider as essential to the diet. This is certainly more enlightened than the view that all modern fruits are frankenfood, especially given the evidence Denise marshals here.

I’d be curious to hear what others thought.

3 06 2011
Grok

Sam, there are more unfounded claims in this comment than one can shake a stick at. The article is not about human evolution and we’ve all done it at some point, so I’ll give you a break. But no, it didn’t make sense.

16 06 2011
Txominin

I think you made sense. Sure, you make a lot of claims, but who doesn’t? The bottom line with Paleo diet is that, unfortunately, it is based more on “logic” and “guess work” than on science. This is true about other diets, of course.

15 11 2012
Pablo

I don’t know that an species that needs vitamin C to get anad stay healthy could “evolve” without that vitamin, do you know animal products don’t have much of it if any? Only one point against all this nonsense about human beeing as the supreme hunter (another obviousness).

We aren’t natural animal products eaters. It is so obvious that the explanation about why some people do well some time (no longevity cultures based on meat) must be seeked on another variables apart from the diet. The same about why some people do bad on a hig fruit diet.

The big picture is the important thing.
I can imagine various medical reasons for both cases, connected by a recent and very negative “healthy” practice.

very good article that can illuminate diverse questions.

10 05 2014
Bris Vegas

Barry Groves, Gary Taubes, and Zoe Harcombe are not experts in nutrition. Bary Groves ‘PhD’ was a piece of worthless mail order paper.

Paleo nutrition is pseudoscince written by people who have no real expertise in either anthropology or nutrition. Real anthropologists will tell you that most genuine paleolithic people ate a vast array of plants and obtained most of their calories from plant sources.

Fruit contains hundreds of important phyto nutrients and fibre. Fibre is essential to maintain a healthy gut microbiota.

Seasonal fruits are amongst the cheapest and most nutritious foods available.

3 06 2011
Heather Mamatey

Oh jeez, here I go again, more Denise love:

http://www.my-healthy-eating-secrets.com/paleo-diet-trial-day-19.html

3 06 2011
CB

Heather, while you have worthwhile ideas about fruit, your consistent drama at the beginning of every article undermines your credibility. For instance the attacks against various paleo forum communities, likening them to your former vegan community are unwarranted, not that you will agree nor stop to consider why it is so. The same community values highly Denise, Chris Masterjohn, Richard Nik. etc blogs because they present serious discussion without drama, emotion, straw arguments. In other words, they have a good approach. Based on their reasoned approaches and discussions of fruit those communities will seriously consider what they have to say.

4 06 2011
Heather Mamatey

Thanks for your feedback. I agree with Grok about not hijacking the thread about Denise’s article for unrelated discussion, so any further comments you are welcome to fill out a comment form on my website.

I don’t care whether or not the fundamentalist faction of the paleo community (the die hard, true blue low carb fanatics) are fans of my trial. It seems like you think you speak for this segment of the community, so perhaps you can spread the word: I couldn’t care less, folks.

I am not writing for you. I am writing for those who your fundamentalist hard-line stance causes so much stress and havoc for. There are hard-liners in every diet camp, not just paleo, and they can do a lot of damage. Shining a light on this pattern and empowering health seekers to stop taking advice from the fundamentalists when it repeatedly proves to not work for them, is my intent. In general, bullies don’t like having their bad behavior under scrutiny and their belief system challenged.

Masterjohn and Minger bring the science. This is their contribution to the conversation, and you’re right, they’re awesome. If you want science, they bring it for you in spades. Rather, I am interested in people, in how we think, how we operate, and why on earth every diet camp has its faction of fanatics, who treat diet like a cultish religion.

And now, back to Denise’s article…

17 11 2011
Socrates

CB, I definitely side with Heather on the dramatic points of contention. And, btw, Denise certainly writes in the ‘drama’ realms too, quite obviously and clearly.
‘Fundamentalists’ in any diet ‘camp’ are wack.
Basic rules: “No rules, just right, no diet”. Jeet Kun Do.
Just do what works for you(all of you), and realize it will vary throughout your life in order to be at your best at any given time. And differently with different people. Life is dynamic. Live it.

3 06 2011
3 06 2011
Running links for your enjoyment | The Running Bran

[...] Wild and Ancient Fruit: Is it Really Small, Bitter, and Low … [Raw Food SOS] – A great discussion on whether fruit was part of the real paleo diet. Seems I can continue eating my bananas for the time being You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. [...]

3 06 2011
Miki

Some here who attack Paleo really do not understand the concept. We are talking safety. If it was not eaten by you ancestors in large quantities it would be safer for you to be careful with the particular item. See Suzanne’s comment above. It is the most professional comment here. Fruits may be godsend to some people but not for others. Just be careful with large quantities of fruits. Our genes are probably getting adjusted to fruits as we speak,

7 06 2011
David I

The great and persistant problems being:

1) We really have no idea what our remote ancestors ate, and

2) Genetic change in relatively isolated populations is far more rapid than most Paleo theorists realize.

3 06 2011
Charlie

Sweet fruits in great quantities probably are ok if you spend all day gathering them and you do it only on just some season of the year. Not the same as walking everyday to the refrigerator to fill you up with fruit, that for sure not a good idea. With all the modern metabolic problems from sugar abuse, eating a lot of modern modified sugary fruits is just asking for trouble for the great majority of the population.

10 05 2014
Bris Vegas

Humans evolved from fruit eating apes. We have tens of millions of years of evolutionary adaptations to eating fruit. Humans (unlike rats) convert fructose to glucose and glycogen rather than fat. We do not get fatty liver disease, elevated triglycerides or any other serious problem from eating whole fruit. Even Robert Lustig admits you can safely eat as much whole fruit as you like.

The reality is that most people who eat a fruit based diet are very slender. Some frutarians eat more than 50 pieces of fruit a day without a problem.

3 06 2011
Heather Mamatey

“With all the modern metabolic problems from sugar abuse, eating a lot of modern modified sugary fruits is just asking for trouble…”

Charlie, it sounds like you didn’t actually read Denise’s post. The modern metabolic problems from sugar abuse are from refined sugar and refined carbohydrates, not fresh fruit. You certainly don’t see swarms of people across America pulling out of the Krispy Kreme, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart parking lots and heading home to gorge themselves on oranges and apples. Many people on the SAD diet go weeks without fresh fruit (I know I did when I ate that way).

Part of Denise’s article introduces evidence that, in fact, modern fruits aren’t so different from wild fruits, and that wild fruits, contrary to what has become the accepted notion in certain health circles, aren’t exclusively low in sugar. Nature, Denise is trying to show us, is perfectly capable of creating very sweet fruit. So, in eating modern fruit, you’re not eating something that’s different in any significant way from its wild relatives:

“The biggest difference is that some wild fruits are a bit higher in protein than cultivated varieties, but in general, the macronutrient breakdowns are pretty similar.”

Equating fresh fruit with refined table sugar is, to me, bizarre, but others really seem to believe it.

3 06 2011
Charlie

I read the post, you didn’t understand my comment. Eating fruits today is very different from what our ancestors did. Depending on how old you were before eating paleo or low carb, our metabolic damage is much different also. Extrapolating behavior for every modern human just because ancient fruits were as sweet as today is not wise in my book.

3 06 2011
Heather Mamatey

“Eating fruits today is very different from what our ancestors did.”

Then yes, I guess I don’t understand the point you are hoping to make, because one of the main accomplishments of the article is to show that the modern fruits we find in grocery stores today are not different (in terms of macronutrient breakdown) from the wild fruits that our paleo ancestors ate.

Therefore, eating fruits today is NOT actually very different from what our ancestors did, which led me to guess that you didn’t actually read the article.

Are you saying that you disagree with Denise’s conclusions?

15 11 2012
astursunwukung

I am agree about metabolic damage, but the first reason aren’t refined sugars (wich play a roled, of course).

3 06 2011
Charlie

So is ok to eat any amount of sweet fruit everyday because the fruit has the same sweetness that they had. Because our paleo ancestors had their refrigerators full of fruits year around and they didn’t need to walk miles and miles gathering them when available and carrying water to wash them down. The amount of metabolic damage from our modern diet of sodas, cake, etc. since infancy was the same in our paleo ancestors. They had the same type of stress and exercise required for survival in their daily life as we do. Ok

4 06 2011
Grok

Charlie, you fail to grasp a few simple concepts. Have you ever even seen fruit? Who fills refrigerators full of fruit? Most fruits grow in tropical or sunny environments. Thousands of lbs of produce at the farmers market yesterday, and I didn’t see one refrigerator. Refrigeration not required buddy ;) Walk into any fruit eaters house and this is abundantly clear. You throw up your insides for days like when you leave your grass-fed steak out on the counter.

The body is pretty good at healing itself. Hence the idea behind even eating a paleo diet (healing the gut and other metabolic disorders) or many other highly praised practices by some people like “juice fasting” etc…

The article was not even about evolutionary biology. It was a comparison piece. Go cheerlead the low-carb dribble somewhere else.

6 06 2011
cliff

Fruit eaters don;t need refrigerators but they have to dedicate the majority of there life to actually getting ripe fruit. Its pretty insane the trouble you have to go through to make sure you always have enough fruit.

5 06 2012
Nicolas

What trouble? Just buy enough fruit beforehand, or, if you’re a human or primate living in tropical regions, map out the forest and dominate the areas of interest en masse. Catching animals, as well as breeding cattle, seems rather time-consuming as well.

5 06 2012
Padraig

Most people don’t produce their own meat or eat it. I agree with him about being a fruitarian in this day and age being very time-consuming. That’s part of the problem.

12 02 2013
greg

‘the body is pretty good at healing itself’….not always;when gut flora is damaged by anti-biotics,colon flushing for colonoscopy,etc,the only process demonstrated to restore healthy colon bacteria balance is faecal bacteriotherapy.

3 06 2011
Heather Mamatey

I hear what you’re saying, thank you for explaining in more detail.

Personally, I don’t understand why the focus in the low carb community is always on areas of the world that have long winters to justify not eating fruit, and no acknowledgment of the other areas where (one would assume) paleo ancestors had access to year round fruits and vegetables. From the literature I’ve read, you would think our ancestors all hailed from Siberia, where we only had access to small amounts of berries a few months of the year. Sure, some parts of the world lacked access to fruits, but not all of them.

I also (and this is just my opinion) believe that healthy, active humans can digest fruit just fine, no problem, the exception being those who eat an extremely high fat diet. As Denise shared in an earlier comment, she personally experienced the gross feeling that eating fruit on a high fat diet gives. I keep being exposed to the argument that the extremely high fat diet is the way we are supposed to eat, all humans everywhere, and I personally don’t agree with that.

4 06 2011
CB

The problems you talk about on a high fat diet (denise as well) sounds like carb flu because you wouldn’t go the necessary period (at least 2 weeks) to convert your body to paleo/primal.

4 06 2011
Grok

Actually CB that’s not what it is as all. I’ll write about it in the future. Not going to hijack Denise’s thread about a topic unrelated to the article.

I’ll agree Heather probably didn’t get past the carb-flu, but not the case for Denise. “…first five weeks were high fat/low carb…”.

4 06 2011
Suzanne

Heather, our hominin ancestors DID evolve in low-fruit areas. Whatever the reason, when the ancestral group split, the group that became chimpanzees and bonobos stayed in the forest, and the group that became us was pushed out onto the savanna and forest edge. Even in the forest, there isn’t a fruit cornucopia all year round! In Gombe, which is pretty well equatorial tropics, there are five months in every year with little fruit available. Gorillas, which are hind-gut fermenters, make do with leaves; chimpanzees increase their meat-eating behaviours. There’s a fascinating book called “The Evolution of the Human Diet: The Known, The Unknown, and the Unknowable” edited by Peter S. Ungar. This is a compendium of papers presented at a conference on evolution of human diets in 2003. It’s really worth the reading. By the way, gorillas lose their ability to digest fibre after some time in captivity, possibly because they no longer have access to termites and the grubs of wood-boring beetles whose fibre-digesting bacteria would replenish the gorillas’ stock.

There are very few parts of the world where fruit is abundant all year round, and none of them are zones where humans evolved. These areas were colonized by anatomically modern humans not all that many thousands of years ago. http://www.physorg.com/news171286860.html. If you’re of European descent, your ancestors moved from Africa to a Europe considerably colder than today, with little fruit of any kind because the land was mostly covered with dense forest of pines and oaks. http://www.esd.ornl.gov/projects/qen/nercEUROPE.html

Many people whose diets are based on fruit are not eating either locally or seasonally available fruit. They’re gathering a heaped basket of fruits from around the world, eating strawberries and bananas in the middle of winter, and oranges in spring, for instance. This is definitely not a paleo behaviour, regardless of the sugar levels of modern fruits compared with those of ancient varieties!

Humans, as a species, have a highly generalized gut. We can (as a species, it’s very different at individual level) eat just about anything – as long as it’s not too high in fibre. Unlike the gorilla, or even the chimpanzee, we don’t have a large colon with multiple sacculations. In comparison with these nearest relatives, we have a small intestine three times the size, in absolute terms, and a large intestine only one-third the size.

Fat was definitely important in our evolution; brains, tongue, and marrow were resources not available to other animals, but get-at-able by hominins wielding hammerstones and (later) flake tools. These resources are rich in fat, and their utilization is connected with a large jump in brain size – not surprising, given how much fat is in the brain!

Some people obviously thrive as vegans, some do well as fruitarians, others maintain excellent health on high-fat diets. Others don’t. The recent discovery of distinct enterotypes promises to throw a lot of light onto this phenomenon of varying ability to digest particular food groups. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21508958

I think that one day we’ll all be typed at birth for food as well as for blood group…

4 06 2011
Heather Mamatey

“Some people obviously thrive as vegans, some do well as fruitarians, others maintain excellent health on high-fat diets.”

I absolutely agree with this, and I can’t begin to speculate why this is. Fascinating what you say about the possibility of being typed at birth for food in the future. This sure will save people a great deal of time, energy and stress in trying to find which style of eating works best for them.

I know that, for me, some combination of high fruit and supplementing with high quality proteins & fats works well. And yet, there are those who passionately believe we are not supposed to eat meat, and yet others who passionately believe fruit should be strictly limited and controlled.

Thanks for sharing some of your research. I often read the exact opposite when I was hanging with the 80-10-10, raw fruitarian camp, and I do believe that people use science to justify whatever their particular eating style is, and each side vehemently believes theirs is “the truth.”

Would actually love to see Doug Graham (the crown prince of the fruitarians) explain why, anthropologically speaking, we are all “supposed” to be fruit eaters. He has all the research and theory in the world to back himself up on this. I, of course, no longer endorse that theory. But boy would that be an interesting debate to witness!

These days, I encourage people to experiment for themselves to find out which style of eating they thrive on.

6 06 2011
cliff

“He has all the research and theory in the world to back himself up on this”

Doug only has lies, his book is just a bunch of huge assumptions and guesses without any science to back it up. He claims at one point that primates eat 80/10.10, based on what? Who knows…

6 06 2011
el-bo

this sh1t again

you’ve spent the last few years alternating between 811 and anything your big brother decides is the diet ‘de jour’, and each time you change from 811 you go on a troll/slag fest against 811 and doug graham

you had a fake profile on gi2mr, as larry david, so you could do all the trolling and cussing you wanted, against 811..then, what ?? 5 months ago, you delete that profile, run back to 30bad to give it another go, and asking for support

then your brother decides it’s healthier to mainline potatoes and inject refined sugar into your eyeballs (maybe it is), so you drop 811 (’cause it’s inconvenient) and resume chatting sh1t about 811 and insulting doug graham…you’ve even et up a new fake profile, as ‘occy’ on gi2mr just so you can spread your sh1t (so, next time you decide to go all fruit, you can just slip away and no one on 30bad will be any the wiser)

why burn your bridges like that ?? if it doesn’t work out for you, that’s cool, but all this crap ??

as for science to back things up ?? you’re always asking for citations, studies and proof from anyone who dares write anything without, yet i’m assuming you still believe in god and cherish the bible….where are your proof and citations now ??

6 06 2011
Grok

El-bo buddy… once again a “thank you” for saving me some time :)

8 06 2011
cliff

Keenan isn’t my big brother, I’m older :)

My diet is currently 75/15/10 so I’m pretty close to 811. Where do you see me hating on the macro nutrient ratio??

I guess I’m considered a troll if I state facts about doug grahams lies?

I never went back to all fruit, I tried incorporating back to close to 811 rv but never went back to it and gave it up after a week or 2 when my health started to decline again. I came back to 30bad cus I figured I could get more support from people who actually do a high carb(basic high carb forums don;t exist unfortunately) diet but I was very wrong lol.

I’m always looking for science because I actually do research instead of taking someones word for it. Maybe you should try it sometime. I still believe in god and cherish the bible? lol? Pretty classic, I never “cherished the bible”, whatever the fuck that means. I didn’t know I had to be atheist if I wanted real info and not just anecdotes.

Its pretty classic that you have to attack me because I said your boyfriend doug graham is a liar.

Get a life.

9 06 2011
el-bo

hmmm

“lying” would mean knowing something to be true, but offering the opposite (like you making a profile with a false name, claiming you live in australia)

i also think that some of graham’s claims are sketchy, at best, but i have no interest in dogma or gurus, so i can be as choosy as i want….far from idolising him, i just haven’t found someone whose recommendations have worked out better for me…but please feel free to mock my experience (in the same way as you did grok’s), after all, you’re the scientific one

and are you the only one here who doesn’t know what to
expect from 30bad in the way of support

>>I’m always looking for science because I actually do research instead of taking someones word for it.

how unique of you…..i don’t take people’s word, either…most people i have come into contact don’t either, they try it out for themselves

>>I didn’t know I had to be atheist if I wanted real info and not just anecdotes.

well, strictly speaking, the absolute faith in something that cannot be proven and based on scripture (aka ‘something you have read in a book) kinda negates your efforts to develop scientific and truthful enquiry, IMO…

i happen to believe the bible to be one of the biggest lies, but obviously you are blinded to that…that’s cool

i’m not opposed to you having your beliefs, except for the zeal and condescension that you have used against others for also believing things that they have read…everyone starts in the same vain

i didn’t attack you, just your behaviour…

perhaps you should provide some proof that doug graham is wilfully pedalling lies, against his better knowledge (which is a lot different to exposing his knowledge as being incomplete or just, plain, wrong

either way, this is the last comment from me, to you…..

10 06 2011
hi

Couldn’t get anymore retarded with this post. I’ll be sure to get on proving that DG is liar lol.

I mock you and grok because your both raw magical thinking retards.

8 06 2011
Healthy

@Elbo

Someone asks you for proof of an 801010 claim and you try to destroy his credibility based on assumptions and exaggerations. Classic 801010 psycho, or we should probably just call it pulling a durianrider.

9 06 2011
el-bo

no one asked ~ME, anything

i don’t assume anything of him, apart from the fact that he seemed to be the younger brother (makes sense now :o)

i didn’t exaggerate – played it down, actually

>>Classic 801010 psycho

feel free to assume and exaggerate

call it what you want, i’m off

16 06 2011
Txomin

Great comment, very informative and stimulating. Thank you.

10 05 2014
Bris Vegas

Humans are apes. We have standard ape teeth and standard ape gut full of standard ape bacteria. We evolved to eat plants. [Chimpanzees eat a trivial 3Kg of meat per year.]

Humans have no specific adaptations to eating meat. Don’t bother mentioning lactose tolerance because all mammal infants are lactose tolerant. Being tolerant to lactose (a carbohydrate) doesn’t mean you can safely consume large quantities of dairy fats and proteins.

4 06 2011
Padraig

“So is ok to eat any amount of sweet fruit everyday because the fruit has the same sweetness that they had. Because our paleo ancestors had their refrigerators full of fruits year around and they didn’t need to walk miles and miles gathering them when available and carrying water to wash them down. The amount of metabolic damage from our modern diet of sodas, cake, etc. since infancy was the same in our paleo ancestors. They had the same type of stress and exercise required for survival in their daily life as we do. Ok”

Hi. You are retarded. Never post on the internet again. Thx.

4 06 2011
Monte Diaz

lol.

4 06 2011
Grok

The comment everyone wanted to leave ;)

4 06 2011
Padraig

:-)

If it’s not too late, and pardon me if I say something you disagree with now, I would also like to register my disagreement with Suzanne about how “even in the forest, there isn’t a fruit cornucopia all year round!”. In fact in tropical Africa where humans evolved there IS a fruit “cornucopia” all year round. There is no time of the year that plenty of fruit isn’t available.

People have often laughed at my “ideas of a fruitarian utopia” because they do not know just how much fresh, delicious, sweet, beautiful fruit there is where we evolved all year around. Even in Ireland where I live, even on the ditches on the sides of roads, the amount of blackberries that come out in Autumn is incredible. You could pick at least $500 worth of them… but unfortunately you cannot eat them because the ditches are generally sprayed to try to stop them from growing!!!

http://www.thebookingcompany.net/botswana/plants-botswana/sycamore-fig-tree

“The feast of figs it produces all year round is a source of food for all the savanna inhabitants from monkeys in the branches to impala and warthog eating the fallen fruit on the ground.”

The fruit stretches as far as your eyes can see. But you would never eat too much, this eating too much is a concept created by insulin resistance brought on by processed foods. There is no such thing as “eating too much” in nature, just like there isn’t such a thing as breathing too much here, it’s just something that is unheard of. I find it sad that one of the very small percentage of people who has read a type of book like that and is interested in this sort of thing still clings to this myth of humans not having had fruit almost all the time in the Savanna. We did, only very rarely was there ever a shortage.

The reason people cling to other ideas is because they want to cling to the idea that we’re somehow “superior” or “better” to other animals. The truth is that other animals that haven’t been harassed or hurt by humans are doing vastly better than us.

6 06 2011
cliff

You’ve never ever been to a tropical rainforest in your life yet you can state with certainty that they are a cornucopia full of fruit because blackberries grow in autumn where you live

/FACEPALM

6 06 2011
cliff

don’t even get me started on the problems with actually getting enough ripe fruit to have a legitimate meal in the wild….

6 06 2011
Padraig

cliff, I can’t talk with you because you are so dim and ignorant that I just am not on the same level as you.

Of course I can tell you things about something without having actually “been” there. In fact the vast majority of facts that you know are of things where you haven’t been physically there yourself.

Of course it is not just “because” blackberries grow here a lot. That was just an example I was giving. Your idea that this is the only reason I was saying this is just fabricated in your own head!

5 06 2011
Al

>> The truth is that other animals that haven’t been harassed or hurt by humans are doing vastly better than us

Name two species of animals that have succeeded in reducing human populations by destroying the human eco-niche?

Name one?

So which non-human species is above us in the pecking order of earthly existence?

15 11 2012
astursunwukung

bacteria will survive us for long, and they really posses the Earth and life is possibly thanks to them. They are better adapted to survive than us.

10 05 2014
Bris Vegas

Hundreds of pathogenic virus and bacteria species kill millions of us every year.

5 06 2011
Padraig

>> Name two species of animals that have succeeded in reducing human populations by destroying the human eco-niche?

It’s pretty much only humans destroy the what you call “eco-niches” of other species. Are you seriously suggesting that destroying another species’ “eco-niche” is a good thing?

>> So which non-human species is above us in the pecking order of earthly existence?

There is no such thing as “pecking order of earthly existence”. But if you want me to say what species should survive before humans?

I believe all of them. If I could release a virus that would destroy the entire human race I would instantly do it. The human race is the only threat to all life on planet earth. We should realize that coming out of Africa was a terrible mistake and abort mission.

5 06 2011
M.

>> If I could release a virus that would destroy the entire human race I would instantly do it. The human race is the only threat to all life on planet earth. We should realize that coming out of Africa was a terrible mistake and abort mission.

Telling everybody that you want to murder them and their loved ones is probably not the best way to win friends and influence people…

5 06 2011
Padraig

“Telling everybody that you want to murder them and their loved ones is probably not the best way to win friends and influence people…”

I do not want to “win friends and influence people”, I want some form of life that is remotely like ours to survive into the future. Our relatives the great apes for instance, I want them to survive. I am interested in putting out the truth, not trying to win friends or to “persuade” people. I believe in being as truthful and honest as I can, not trying to get “around” people because that in itself is putting up a false impression and not being completely open and honest.

5 06 2011
Padraig

“Telling everybody that you want to murder them and their loved ones is probably not the best way to win friends and influence people…”

I do not want to “win friends and influence people”, I want some form of life that is remotely like ours to survive into the future. Our relatives the other great apes for instance, I want them to survive. I am interested in putting out the truth, not trying to win friends or to “persuade” people. I believe in being as truthful and honest as I can, not trying to get “around” people because that in itself is putting up a false impression and not being completely open and honest.

6 06 2011
M.

>> I believe in being as truthful and honest as I can…

Yes, being truthful and honest puts you on a higher moral standing than others who dream of murdering my children…

6 06 2011
Padraig

M. You are incorrect. I don’t “dream of killing” your children. Why try and twist things, why lie by omission?

7 06 2011
M.

>> If I could release a virus that would destroy the entire human race I would instantly do it

How would that not involve murdering my children?

And if it is not “dreaming,” then is “fantasizing” a more correct word choice? Fantasizing about murdering children?

7 06 2011
Padraig

It would involve murdering your children, yes. However the “fantasizing” part is incorrect.

Also you are lying by omission by focusing on your children. You should say that I would really love to murder all humans, which is what I said myself. Giving my explanation for it would also help.

All you did was deliberately try to snip and twist whatever I was saying to make it sound worse.

Now leave me alone, I’m not going to speak to you again. You are too ****ing dim and retarded. The reason I try to speak to people like you at all is because unfortunately you hold some power over the way the world is heading and I am trying to get these things through your thick skulls.

16 06 2011
Txomin

You are ill, my friend.

5 06 2011
Al

>> Are you seriously suggesting that destroying another species’ “eco-niche” is a good thing?

I am seriously suggesting it. We could start by extinct-ifying the mosquito which carries malaria.

>> There is no such thing as “pecking order of earthly existence”.

Gosh, the wildlife-preservation NGO’s seem to think otherwise. Or rather, they’ve been scamming a nice comfortable income level by soliciting donations based on that story-line. I guess it’s a lot less work than, you know, actually producing and delivering kilos of fruit to hungry people.

>> The human race is the only threat to all life on planet earth. We should realize that coming out of Africa was a terrible mistake and abort mission

Perhaps your ancestors came out of Africa; mine did not.

There are several excellent resources on the Internet which will instruct you on how to rid Gaia of your destructive presence. Doctor Kevorkian left behind a strong legacy.

Or, you could just start a cattle-rustling spree in Texas. Rest assured, your rotting bones will quickly be enriching the soil, thus helping all the other species for whom you evince such concern.

5 06 2011
Padraig

You’ve lost me now Al, I see nothing but:

1) turning my question to you about destroying an eco-niche showing superiority (my chosen words were “a good thing”) into a different type of question altogether with no relevance to what my question was obviously asking.

2) aligning me with people I know nothing of. Nonetheless the wildlife-preservation people are meant to be preserving eco-niches and not hurting them. I suppose you have your own crazy theory on how you can semantically twist “eco-niche” it into meaning something else, I do not want to hear it.

3) All of our ancestors came from Africa, this is undisputed.

4) I am not interested in your allegorical or sarcastic references. I don’t find them amusing.

So I will have to now excuse myself from this discussion.

5 06 2011
Padraig

Oops, your harsh words for wildlife preservation experts was indeed due to the remark: >> There is no such thing as “pecking order of earthly existence”. and not due to my question about whether or not destroying an eco-system was a good thing. However you DID take that question wrongly in exactly the way I said in your first point, but not to do with wildlife preservation NGOs.

I am not aware of any wildlife preservation “scam” to do with “pecking order” in the way that the expression is commonly used. “pecking order” is a term used within a group of the same species, it has nothing to do with anything we’re saying. I really don’t want to get into a semantics argument about this, but humans are not more “worthy” to be on the earth than any other species.

You don’t happen to be a crazy, religious, bible-thumping person do you? You sound a bit like that with your ranting about how humans are at the top of the “pecking order” and elite among species of animals.

8 06 2011
Wise

@Pad

“If I could release a virus that would destroy the entire human race I would instantly do it.”

psypsypsypsypsycho!!!

5 06 2011
Thoughts & Links: Canucks, Food Pyramid, High-Fat, Park Gyms, and Fruit

[...] Orange Photo from Raw Food SOS, by Douglas Boldt of [...]

6 06 2011
Al

>> humans are at the top of the “pecking order” and elite among species of animals

I have no interest in ethical theories. I am in favor of evidence-based hypothesizing. I asked you to mention even one example of a non-human species which has managed to “push out” humans from an area. You cannot mention even one. I offer this as de facto evidence that – humans are at the top of the pecking order.

> All of our ancestors came from Africa, this is undisputed

perhaps in blackberry-laden ditches in Ireland that is true. In my internet, that is not true. Reference:

http://www.erectuswalksamongst.us

I presume you won’t endorse his conclusions, but I also presume that you wont present any counter-evidence.

6 06 2011
cliff

owned?

6 06 2011
Padraig

“owned?”

What are you 10?

8 06 2011
Wiz

“I presume you won’t endorse his conclusions, but I also presume that you wont present any counter-evidence.”

They’ll probably just reply to the first person who agrees with you. Oh wait too late. I’m sure they’re working on a reply to you once they finish all their blackberries yum I love electronics nomnomnom

8 06 2011
Monte Diaz

Viruses.

Owned?

6 06 2011
Liz GT

Wow, comments on this post have really turned into a hate-fest! Those of you who feel the need to curse, disparage others’ beliefs, and launch vicious personal attacks need to examine your own values as well as your mental health (and get your B12 levels checked – irrational outbursts are a symptom of B12 deficiency!). Be appropriate, polite, and adult, please. Intelligent disagreement is enlightening and fun; hate mongering is not. Your vitriol only makes you look foolish; it does nothing to lend credence to your arguments and analysis of the discussion.

6 06 2011
Padraig

“Wow, comments on this post have really turned into a hate-fest! Those of you who feel the need to curse, disparage others’ beliefs, and launch vicious personal attacks need to examine your own values as well as your mental health (and get your B12 levels checked – irrational outbursts are a symptom of B12 deficiency!). Be appropriate, polite, and adult, please. Intelligent disagreement is enlightening and fun; hate mongering is not. Your vitriol only makes you look foolish; it does nothing to lend credence to your arguments and analysis of the discussion.”

Liz, I find what you are suggesting to be heretical to my own belief system. I am opposed to any curtailing of free expression.

If a person feels hate or anger, then who are you to say that they shouldn’t feel hate or anger? These are natural feelings that naturally solve many problems and work situations out. It’s when you try and censor or curtail these natural feelings, a virtual lobotomy, that is when some of the most heinous abuses start.

6 06 2011
Amit

My wife and I are paleo and never understood the resistance towards fruit. We eat fruit everyday and at times have eat as much as 5-6 pieces per day. Still lost weight and felt great!

That being said some people are fructose sensitive and swear that if they start eating fruit their weight loss stops. So there’s some genetic variability there.

Anyhow I LOVE fruit and tubers and never intend to give it up, regardless of what some paleo guru says.

10 05 2014
Bris Vegas

The weight loss stops because they don’t account for the extra calories in the fruit. If you eat more fruit you have to eat less of something else to maintain a constant calorie intake.

6 06 2011
Padraig

I agree with you 100% Amit, I couldn’t agree with you more. I think there are unscrupulous individuals who hijacked the word “paleo” to try to make out like it’s mainly protein which is a LIE.

The fact is that paleo man almost NEVER ate meat or any type of protein. The vast majority of the food of all of the other great apes is fruit and leaves. I think they eat insects most of the time, that is all.

Figs, figs, figs. The LIES of some of these people who call themselves “paleos” are so outrageous!!!

About weight loss stopping? The weight loss has to stop some time or you would die. If a person is fat and undergoing weight loss, then they haven’t even reached a stable weight yet on whatever diet they’re on so can hardly make claims about it. It ony takes a few months to reach a stable weight.

8 06 2011
Wiz

You think a lot of shit that some dumb dumb told you.

7 06 2011
David I

Wow, that’s a massive series of assertions with no evidence whatsoever!

The evidence about what our ancestors ate is not only limited, but also radically conflicting. Anyone–the Paleo “almost nothing but meat” crowd–and you are just spouting religion.

The only thing I’m sure of is that we are omnivores.

Incidentally, both chimps and orangutans eat a lot of animal protein–and would probably eat more if they could get it. (Have you heard that orangutans fish, and actually use a primitive version of a spear?)

Incidentally, I’m a vegetarian, so I’m not saying this just because it conforms to my belief system. I’m saying it because I don’t think there is any evidence to support your view.

10 05 2014
Bris Vegas

Chimpanzees and orangutans actually eat a tiny (2% of calories) amount of animal protein. Many chimps never eat meat. Chimps normally only eat insects during the dry season when fruit is hard to find.

10 05 2014
Padraig

Exactly. David I doesn’t know anything himself and is full of shit. You can tell by how he writes his posts.

7 06 2011
Warren Dew

Half a dozen pieces of fruit a day is still a minority of calories.

As David says, there’s very limited data about diet in the paleolithic, especialy beyond 100,000 years ago. Some of that data says we ate meat, though, including hippos and crocodiles:

http://johnhawks.net/weblog/reviews/archaeology/lower/braun-fwjj20-2010.html
http://www.pnas.org/content/107/22/10002.full

7 06 2011
Padraig

“Incidentally, both chimps and orangutans eat a lot of animal protein–and would probably eat more if they could get it. (Have you heard that orangutans fish, and actually use a primitive version of a spear?)”

I repeat: Only a small fraction of their diet is animal protein. For Orangutans it’s less than 10%.

I respect your speculative post David but in fact it’s the exact opposite to your assertion that they would eat more if they could get it. In fact chimps have been often seen throwing away fresh monkey meat that they just caught in favour of fruit. The reason they hunt and then throw away the meat it thought to be to give them experience to hunt for if/when they do reach a shortage.

The animal protein they do eat is mainly from insects. They eat some fish also. And you know I’m not AGAINST meat at all per se. But some of these paleo guys think that you should eat ALL animal meat. THAT is the “religion” here. I think that it’s allegorical for them. They love the story of it, the idea of it.

Also, as even any remotely informed paleo proponent will tell you: this factory meat that you buy is loaded with hormones, injections, the amount of stuff in it is ridiculous. I do eat animal protein regularly, but not every single day and certainly not something crazy like 90% every day. Fanaticism on either side is bad… but you’d do far better to be a fanatical fruitarian who watches his b12 and calcium than a fanatical “zero carb” person!!!!

8 06 2011
Wiz

“but you’d do far better to be a fanatical fruitarian who watches his b12 and calcium than a fanatical “zero carb” person!!!!”

Or neither

7 06 2011
Gérer la dissonance cognitive en nutrition « Clair et Lipide

[...] jours : Denise Minger (oui encore elle) publie sur son blog un long et superbe article documenté sur les fruits sauvages. Sur mon article Paléopportunisme, je tenais un certain discours sur les fruits. Bon bah, quelques [...]

8 06 2011
squatsandveggies

Incredible conversation is going on in here, except for the occasional insulting, which is totally not cool.

I recently got into a debate with a so-called expert. I actually recommended someone to eat more fruits and vegetables and limit stuff like nuts and seeds (her background information told the story that she tends to overeat them). And right after that this “expert” started calling me by names and telling me that I should try to gain knowledge rather than speak out of my ass. When I asked him why fruits were bad, he told me that fructose is harmful. When I asked him to show me studies that show that fruit is bad, not HFCS, which we already is bad. He linked me to several studies that showed that crystalized fructose is harmful.

I definitely appreciate this blog post from Denise, it gives a very objective point of view on this discussion. I feel that I need to share my own experience here too: It seems that fruit doesn’t really affect my body composition much, but it’s true that I am physically very active as well. However, I tend to notice that fruit doesn’t satisfy me much. It’s sweet, so I tend to want more sweetness. It doesn’t fill me up, so I tend to have a bigger appetite as the day goes on. In general, I think fruit is probably not something that I should go crazy on. Can anyone explain why I have these experiences? Is it really the sugar and fructose that increase appetite and cravings for more sugar? (It’s especially very ripe bananas that seem to increase desire for sweetness, sour apples don’t seem to have much of an effect on that.)

8 06 2011
Warren Dew

Firstly, fruit really tends to have few calories for its size and weight; it’s mostly water, so to live on it you would have to eat a lot of it.

Also, the glucose in fruit – not the fructose – triggers a stronger insulin response than protein or fat. This drives glucose out of the blood and into tissue – muscle if you’ve been exercising to replenish glycogen stores there, then into the liver to replenish glycogen reserves in the liver if they are low and to be processed by the liver into fats, and also along with fat in the bloodstream into fat tissue to be used as the glycerine caps of triglycerides. Whichever is happening, it clears the bloodstream rather quickly, so your appetite recovers rather quickly.

Good sources for this kind of information are Dr. Eades’ blog and Gary Taubes’ books, such as “Why We Get Fat”.

Personally, I find that I stabilize at a weight about 10 pounds higher when I eat substantial amounts of fruit as compared to low or no fruit. That may be mostly glycogen stores and the associated water. I have a stable weight in the healthy range either way, but fruit intake does affect me in that predictable way.

26 07 2011
ME

Good information. There seems to be a significant misunderstanding of biochemistry by many of the posters here and a misunderstanding of what the original post actually says.

Science tells us that fructose is about 10 times more reactive in forming arterial plaque than glucose. We know that consuming more than about 130 g of carbs a day stops ketosis. We know there are many biological benefits to ketosis. We know that it takes about 100 g of protein a day to have sufficient luceine to build muscle mass. We know that increased carbohydrate intake is associated with increased triglyceride levels.

The reality that contemporary fruits aren’t much different from traditional fruits tells us nothing about whether or not eating those fruits promotes health or not.

26 07 2011
Warren Dew

I agree regarding ketosis.

I would note that while fructose is 10 times more reactive than glucose for a given concentration, a given amount of dietary fructose intake results in a 1000 times lower blood concentration than for glucose. Unlike glucose, fructose is processed immediately by the liver, rather than circulating in the bloodstream as glucose does.

From a practical standpoint, to the extent that the sugar in fruit is bad, it’s the glucose, not the fructose, that is the issue.

26 07 2011
ME

How is the fructose transported to the liver in the first place?

26 07 2011
Warren Dew

There is part of the circulatory system called the hepatic portal system that transports nutrients from the digestive system directly to the liver. This allows the liver to remove most of the fructose from circulation immediately, without it ever reaching the heart or the rest of the body. That’s what maintains fructose in the bloodstream to safe levels, 1000 times lower than for glucose.

26 07 2011
ME

Thanks. I learned something new today.

However, doesn’t that imply that the liver absorbs and metabolizes fructose as quickly as possible, resulting in excessive triglyceride production given sufficient fructose intake?

26 07 2011
Warren Dew

It implies rapid metabolism to glucose or fatty acids, I believe. Glucose might then be stored in the liver as glycogen, or the fatty acids as triglycerides, or either of those might be released to the bloodstream as the body needed the energy.

Excessive storage as triglycerides without adequate release would be nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which you discuss in your response to Padraig’s comment immediately below. As I mention there, I don’t think that’s a big risk in a diet with adequate choline from animal foods to support release of the fat from the liver. I certainly don’t recommend a fruitarian diet, though.

27 07 2011
ME

Doesn’t this imply that fructose is potentially damaging to the human body? i.e. the hepatic portal system allows the liver to filter potentially damaging substances (toxins) from the blood before they circulate to the rest of the body. The liver clearly does this with fructose.

27 07 2011
Warren Dew

It implies that in higher concentrations, fructose would be damaging. That’s true for lots of substances; in higher concentrations, glucose would be damaging, which is why the body has an insulin mechanism to keep its levels under control.

I’m not arguing that excessive sugar is not damaging; I think it is. I’m just saying that the currently popular focus on fructose to the exception of other sugars like glucose is misplaced. At the levels that the human body actually permits, glucose appears to be responsible for more types and greater amounts of damage.

10 05 2014
Bris Vegas

Humans convert 98-99% of fructose to glucose and glycogen.

The only situation where ketosis is known to beneficial is in treating some rare types of seizures in children.

Nitrogen balance studies show that male athletes can maintain muscle mass on only 30-40g of potein per day.

10 05 2014
Padraig

In fact humans convert about 50% of protein to glucose also in high protein meals. So the idea you’ll keep your blood sugar low by eating proteins is just nonsense.

Ketosis is what happens when your body fails to find glucose it needs for energy and directly breaks down fats instead for it as one of the last resorts before cannibalising organs. It’s an extremely toxic condition normally only seen in people in starvation or undergoing acute renal failure. The idea gained popularity with fat people when they realized that the body is very inefficient at directly using these fats for energy, therefore they can eat a lot more and will not become fat. The amount of irreversible damage these people are doing to their bodies so they can eat more defies belief.

15 11 2012
astursunwukung

I suggest you to check your variety, I have experienced what you say and I can stay 100% raw hig fruit (vegan) with greens when I have a variety that ensures to me all the RDAs of essential aminoacids.
With only bananas, dates and lettuce, it is imposible. One needs great amounts of mangos, spinach (the softer ones, otherwise it is better to cooked it), mamey, black sapote, figs, berries, carrot juice, etc.
When I cannot have a minimal variety, I eat tubers, legumes, rice…

8 06 2011
Padraig

“However, I tend to notice that fruit doesn’t satisfy me much. It’s sweet, so I tend to want more sweetness. It doesn’t fill me up, so I tend to have a bigger appetite as the day goes on. In general, I think fruit is probably not something that I should go crazy on. Can anyone explain why I have these experiences? Is it really the sugar and fructose that increase appetite and cravings for more sugar? (It’s especially very ripe bananas that seem to increase desire for sweetness, sour apples don’t seem to have much of an effect on that.”

The reason is that you have to eat loads and loads and LOADS of fruit to maintain even 140lbs. I will accept the criticism that eating mainly fruit is time-consuming.

I believe this is a huge reason why people find it so hard to live on fruit… you have to eat so much that it’s coming out your ears. You have to be busting open with fruit or you don’t have enough. Think of the amount of vitamins, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and other nutrients you’re getting this way compared to your bread and meat and two veg way. It’s a JOKE is what it is. And people wonder why they are fat.

I don’t believe for a second that anyone is fatter on fruit. They are cheating, or they are juicing their fruit or doing something else. Fruit fills you up. You have to eat plenty, especially at the start because your body is malnourished of these nutrients!!! Once your blood sugar gets back to normal (if it can after years of processed foods), you will be thinner than you could ever have dreamed of being otherwise. I defy anyone to go on just fruits for a month and not lose heaps of weight even if they try to keep eating and try to prove me wrong.

This business about fructose being bad is TEST TUBE NONSENSE! It has to do with idiot experiments they’ve done with test tubes (maybe you’ll one or two done with giving diabetic mice HFCS). It is all a complete joke.

I have no doubt that this person who liked nuts thought themselves an expert, this is because of the amount of misinformation out there. I think it’s wrong of you to say that it’s “totally not cool” not to insult people, as I’ve tried to explain insulting people is a natural and logical process and expression leading to development of the discussion when communicating. The people who try to cut down expression are doing a terrible disservice.

26 07 2011
ME

Do you understand how fructose is metabolized? Have you heard of “non-alcoholic fatty liver disease”? Fructose is not a fuel that can be directly used by the human body, it must be metabolized by the liver first. Do you understand that nearly every other substance that can only be metabolized by the liver is referred to as a “toxin”? Do you understand that fructose metabolism by the liver is unregulated unlike glucose and lactose metabolism and that it results in triglyceride production once the liver’s glycogen stores are full?

Fructose can cause all sorts of metabolic problems, but what matters is the amount of fructose being consumed.

26 07 2011
Warren Dew

Minor correction: the liver has receptors to absorb fructose; uptake isn’t unregulated in the sense that alcohol uptake, for example, is.

Agreed about how fructose needs to be processed by the liver before being utilized by the body. The evidence I’ve seen is that nonalcoholic fatty liver can be cleared by adequate choline, but it does seem to be a problem with diets very high in fructose and low in animal foods.

26 07 2011
Padraig

“Fructose can cause all sorts of metabolic problems, but what matters is the amount of fructose being consumed.”

Yes, and even if you eat just fruit containing the highest percentage of fructose you won’t be anywhere close the the level at where it could be the slightest bit bad for you.

As to the person who says fruit doesn’t fill them up: This is 100% because you are so used to the ridiculous amount of sugar and carbohydrate in foodstuffs such as bread. Your blood sugar is huge. This is why just fruit doesn’t satisfy you at first… because you are not used to eating so much of it and you are not used to ending up with a very, very low level of blood sugar.

Man, I think I’m starting to go demented from explaining this sugar thing so much over and over. Fruit contains a high percentage of sugar… yes…. but the amount of sugar there is EXTREMELY LOW compared to eating for example two potatoes and a serving of carrots. The effect on blood sugar is only positive, because it does not go into a trough. Low carb foods such as peanuts can also cause quite a bad blood sugar spike because at least half of the protein is simply converted into glucose very quickly. However of course it is nothing like what ice cream, cake or white bread will do to you.

26 07 2011
ME

“Yes, and even if you eat just fruit containing the highest percentage of fructose you won’t be anywhere close the the level at where it could be the slightest bit bad for you.”

Lets say you get 1500 kcal/day from fruit carbohydrates, of which 30% is fructose. So, 112 g. fructose and 262 g. glucose. You are arguing that 112 g/ fructose per day is not associated with any adverse health effects? The literature disagrees with you.

26 07 2011
Padraig

“Lets say you get 1500 kcal/day from fruit carbohydrates, of which 30% is fructose. So, 112 g. fructose and 262 g. glucose. You are arguing that 112 g/ fructose per day is not associated with any adverse health effects? The literature disagrees with you.”

Are you serious? Well then it’s a wonder I’m not dead because I was eating all my food from just fruit for quite a while, and adding in coffee, green tea and environmental toxins to the mix also and yet I was feeling incredibly good!!!

Show me where the literature says that. Show me anything that says anything like that. Show me anything that doesn’t involve diabetes or High Fructose Corn Syrup or any of that nonsense. If you cannot then I maintain you are a liar, if you can then I’ll humbly apologize and thank you hugely for helping me. I’ll be waiting.

26 07 2011
ME

Well, here is one literature review where they state the following:

“It has been considered that moderate fructose consumption of ≤50g/day or ~10% of energy has no deleterious effect on lipid and glucose control and of ≤100g/day does not influence body weight. No fully relevant data account for a direct link between moderate dietary fructose intake and health risk markers.”

Which means > 50 g/day fructose consumption has been shown to elevate triglyceride levels in healthy subjects. The relevant studies are cited in the article.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2991323/

You may choose to dismiss the conclusions since the fructose source wasn’t fruit. I’ll maintain that it doesn’t matter what the source is once the nutrients pass the intestinal barrier. I’m also not suggesting that eating > 100 g/fructose a day is going to kill you immediately, but I think it does have long term health effects, since elevated triglycerides are associated with increased risks of CVD.

26 07 2011
Padraig

ME, you are so full of ****.

THAT IS *100% NOT A VALID CONCLUSION FROM THE PIECE YOU JUST QUOTED.

ALL THEY ARE SAYING IS THAT THEY KNOW FOR A FACT THAT UNDER THAT LEVEL IS DEFINITELY SAFE. THIS DOES

******NOT******

MEAN THAT OVER THAT LEVEL IT “HAS BEEN SHOWN” TO BE UNSAFE.

Please cop on. That is obviously not something that can be concluded by that statement.

The link says:

“Certainly high fructose consumption can induce insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemia, hypertriglyceridemia, and hypertension in animal models. There is no evidence for similar effects in humans at realistic consumption.”

And another thing: Cardiovascular disease is of no concern whatsoever to people who eat just fruit because people do not get cardiovascular disease on such diets.

And another thing: Car

26 07 2011
ME

Can you actually read? I stated “Which means > 50 g/day fructose consumption has been shown to elevate triglyceride levels in healthy subjects.” That is exactly what the article implies and what the *studies* conclude. Notice that their definition of “moderate intake” is less than 50 g of fructose per day.

You clearly did not read any of the referenced studies did you? There are six referenced clinical studies on healthy subjects which those conclusions were based on. If you would like to ignore them go right ahead.

By the way, can you provide references to any clinical studies on fruitarian diets? I can not find any, so if you can not reference anything then all of your opinions are pure speculation.

26 07 2011
Heather

High fructose corn syrup and fresh whole fruit are not the same thing. Sorry, but no dice. One is a nutritional wasteland, as it has been stripped of absolutely everything, the other is a completely natural, whole food. Fresh fruit contains fiber. The purpose of the fiber is to slow down the absorption of fructose to a level that the body can easily handle.

In my experience, anyone telling you that fresh fruit is dangerous or to be avoided is a ninkempoop.

Equating HFCS with fresh fruit makes about as much sense as equating the trans fats found in junk food with the wholesome, nutrient dense fats found in real foods like salmon or coconut.

There is as much misinformation and fearmongering about fruit in the paleo community as there is about cholesterol and saturated fat in the rest of the health community.

26 07 2011
ME

Again, I ask for clinical or published studies to back up claims that consumption of lots of fruit ( > 100 g/fructose per day) does not have adverse health effects. I am not equating HFCS to fruit. I am equating daily fructose consumption from fruit to daily fructose consumption from whatever source. The cited studies are on “chronic” fructose consumption not “acute” effects.

The clinical studies which have been done directly compare the effect of chronic fructose vs glucose consumption on plasma lipids (among other things), and the studies all show that fructose consumption significantly increases triglycerides starting at relatively moderate levels of fructose intake (> 50 g/ day) as compared to the equivalent amount of glucose.

27 07 2011
ME

My reply doesn’t seem to be threaded correctly. Look below.

Also, if no one can come up with any relevant fruitarian clinical studies, how about at least citing some biological pathways whereby fructose intake from fruit != fructose intake from other sources. Other than the speed of digestion, which I can agree with, but which is mostly irrelevant for chronic consumption effects at moderate intake levels.

27 07 2011
Heather

ME, I think, since you are the one making these claims about fruit consumption, you need to be the one to come up with the proof to back up your claims.

Studies on HFCS generally have the study participants consume HFCS in the form of very unhealthy foods, such as sodas and processed yogurts loaded with refined sugar and artificial fruit. Of course these foods have a deleterious effect on those consuming them – this is common sense.

If you honestly believe that such studies “prove” that fresh, whole fruit is bad for you, then I’m not sure what to say. You are entitled to your beliefs, but trying to pass them off here as scientifically backed is not going to fly. If for some reason fruit doesn’t agree with you, or you just don’t like the way it tastes, well, don’t eat it.

I’m sharing an interesting page here for anyone who happens to be reading this of some folks who are absolutely thriving on high fruit diets (of course, if what ME says is true, these people should have one foot in the grave. Interestingly, they appear to be doing quite well):

http://www.loving-it-raw.com/fruit-nutrition-facts.html

27 07 2011
Padraig

Exactly Heather. It would be like me saying that red coloured food is bad. When asked for a reference I show a study showing red meat is bad. Then when told that is about red meat I say: “Please provide evidence that red foods are okay to eat”. Totally ridiculous.

27 07 2011
ME

Again, another responder who has not read any of the cited studies, is placing words in my mouth, and is unable to cite any clinical studies or refer to biological pathways.

All of the clinical nutrition studies that I have seen (and cited earlier) indicate that > 50 g/day of fructose consumption result in various adverse health markers. This appears to be the only clinical research that we have available regarding “high” fructose consumption, in whatever form. I am extrapolating this data to include fructose from fruit, it appears that many would simply claim that it doesn’t apply, without any scientific basis for that opinion.

If you are consuming less than 50 g fructose a day, fine. If you are consuming more than 50 g/day then there is cause for concern based on the available clinical study data. If fruitarians are “doing well” and have the blood work, longevity, athletic performance, lack of chronic diseases, etc. to back up their ideas, then great. However, this appears to be unbacked by any clinical scientific research and there are known nutrient deficiencies with a true “all fruit” diet.

27 07 2011
ME

Let me rephrase my conclusion: there is cause for concern based on the available clinical study data AND the known biochemical pathways.

No one here has proved anything otherwise, either by citing clinical research or explaining alternative pathways and hormonal effects of fruit derived fructose vs any other form of fructose.

9 06 2011
MonaVie

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9 06 2011
Suzanne

There’s been something nagging at the back of my mind since I read this well-written piece, and it finally popped into focus this morning. It’s the “we were stationed in Africa till 50,000 years ago.” The thing is, the whole of Africa is not a great big fruit-dripping jungle, and even the parts that are jungle have a dry season. At Gombe, this is 5 months of the year. During this period, there is little fruit, and the chimpanzees make up for the loss by intensifying their meat eating. While meat-eating over the year may provide only 3-5% of total diet, meat becomes a much higher percentage of total daily intake during August and September. There is a male chimpanzee called Frodo who, I have read, is almost totally responsible for bringing the local red colobus population to the edge of extinction. http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~stanford/chimphunt.html
Then, there is cautious consensus among paleoanthropologists that at the time that hominins started on the road to human, it was during a worldwide climate perturbation so that it became colder, drier, and more seasonal than earlier in the Miocene. The forest was shrinking. It seems that our early ancestors moved out of the forest, for yet-unknown reasons. It may have been that we were outcompeted by other primates, or that we were better able to exploit the edge niches of the forest, and even venture into the opening savanna regions. This effect has been jokingly called the East Side story – ancesters of Homo on the east side of the Rift Valley, other primates to the west. Of course nothing is ever as clear-cut as this, as shown by the fossil known as Toumai, and it didn’t happen overnight either.
My point here is that our Holocene world is not much like the Miocene, Pliocene and Pleistocene worlds. Also, the fruits of the South American Holocene forest were not available to hominins. I feel a project coming on…to find out more about the fruits currently available in Gombe! http://www.gorp.com/parks-guide/travel-ta-gombe-stream-national-park-sidwcmdev_053627.html
Now, this doesn’t mean that humans can’t eat fruit; demonstrably, we can, and for some of us it’s a very useful part of the diet.
I cast my lot in with those who believe that humans did NOT stop evolving when we stood up straight, almost hairless, started talking with full modern capacity, and strode forth to conquer the globe. I don’t think that we can overlook the local forces (mosaic evolution), and almost certainly there was a two-way flow of hominins and other animals between Africa and Eurasia. Resident groups of H. erectus could have bred with other early Homo; Chinese palaeontologists have been saying for more than half a century that there is a strong H. erectus presence in the Chinese genome, implying continuity and local evolution. http://www.pnas.org/content/95/20/11501.full. Given last year’s identification of 4% of the European genome as Neandertal by Svante Paabo’s lab at the Max Planck Institute, this is possible.
So what I’m getting at is that there is no reason to squabble about what our ancestors ate during the Miocene when it’s obvious that, as a species, we’re capable of rapid smallscale evolution. Lactase persistence appears to have evolved only around 7500 years ago in Central Europe, and only around 3000 years ago in Africa.

9 06 2011
Padraig

“Also, the fruits of the South American Holocene forest were not available to hominins.”

I know, this is why I love to get figs most of all, and then try and choose oranges, mangos, bananas, melons rather than cucumbers, tomatoes etc. I’m not an expert in it myself as it’s hard to find data on it sometimes.

Despite some rational and intelligent discussion at times your post goes in and out of outrageous nonsense that has no relation with reality such as: “Now this doesn’t mean humans can’t eat fruit”. Even just the IDEA that you would even feel the need to say that, as if… god I don’t even want to think about the thought process that went into making that statement.

Guess what? Fruits existed during the ice ages also. They had to or they wouldn’t be there today. The whole diet of creatures didn’t just change and then flip back again at the end of the ice age. These changes in climate are really a lot less dramatic than they might seem, there weren’t glaciers forming in Africa. The last ice age which you are referring to was a mini-ice age, not a mega one, it was just a few degrees celsius of a difference.

This stuff about cold/warm climates can be interesting and a real, rational point… .a very, very rare thing from the anti-fruit crowd.

9 06 2011
Suzanne

I don’t see why my statement that humans can eat fruit should have raised such ire and led to such rudeness about my thought process. There is nothing illogical in my saying that despite not having evolved from early ancestor to modern Homo on a fruit-rich diet, we demonstrably can eat fruit. We can eat a lot of foods we didn’t have during our evolutionary process; we can eat and thrive on foods not available to us during the Paleolithic; and we can eat and thrive on foods not available to us even a couple of centuries ago.

Your assertion that fruits existed during the ice ages or they would not be here now does not mean that fruits were abundant across the entire globe, or that the varieties we now eat existed during the ice ages. I get the impression you’re talking about the mediaeval period Little Ice Age of the 1600s rather the great glaciations covering much of high latitude Earth up to roughly 10,000 years ago. If so, it’s instructive to note that during the Little Ice Age, even with such a small difference in average temperatures, in England and parties were held on the foot-thick ice.

Many fruits we now take for granted were once highly local, as well as very different to their current forms, and have been both heavily modified and spread by human action in the last few thousand years. There’s a whole fascinating field of research right here; for example, peaches are native to eastern China, were developed from the parent variety of small, sour fruits between 10,000 and 9,000 years ago, reached India in the 6th century BC, and were introduced as orchard plants in southern Italy in 65 B.C. Even during mediaeval times, peaches were a great luxury in northern Europe, where peaches will not grow. Only the wealthy ate peaches. The Spanish brought peaches to the Americas some 500-600 years ago.

Even a small difference in heat makes a huge difference in what grows where. I live in San Francisco, in a part that funnels fog. I can’t grow figs, or tomatoes, or oranges, or cucumbers; the soil is too cold to reliably germinate carrot seeds unless I create a local greenhouse effect with a sheet of clear plastic – yet a short distance away, in the Mission district, where the average temperatures are not much above those of my zone, people can and do grow these; some people even grow bananas! A rise in sea temperature of less than one degree Celsius can make huge changes in the biota of that area; this has been well documented in the Monterey Bay region of the United States, for instance.

During the last glacial maxima, the European ice-free refuges were the Iberian, Italian, and Balkan peninsulas, and they were definitely not tropical, and not laden with fruit. Pollens from soil cores, lake varves, and offshore sediments show a very high presence of pine and oak forest. It’s belabouring the point, but there is not a whole lot of fruit in pine and oak forests. Much of the Adriatic basin was dryland – (it only started to fill at the end of the last glacial maximum, 12,000-10,000 years ago, and the sea only reached its head around 6000 years ago. Not a bad result for a small change in average temperature of Earth!

16 06 2011
Txomin

Please ignore Padraig. Your comments are very interesting.

10 05 2014
Bris Vegas

Humans evolved in the tropics – not northern Europe. The vast majority of humans still live in the tropics and subtropics.

9 06 2011
Suzanne

Eek! My reference to the Little Ice Age should read that the Thames River froze over, and parties were held on foot-thick ice.

9 06 2011
Padraig

“I don’t see why my statement that humans can eat fruit should have raised such ire and led to such rudeness about my thought process. There is nothing illogical in my saying that despite not having evolved from early ancestor to modern Homo on a fruit-rich diet, we demonstrably can eat fruit.”

I agree with the statement, but deny the premise of the statement. This can be a difficult thing to try to argue, when a person makes an implicit claim as if it’s a known fact when it’s anything but known. A person reading that might assume that it was something that would be agreed by all here. It is difficult to point out these things, and that is why some people online under-handedly highly suggest things like this and cast them as “known” but are technically right in what they say. Now you know that many people here and elsewhere would not go along with that idea that we’re not evolved to eat fruit, nevermind treating it as a known thing. So that is why I expressed heated dissent.

“We can eat a lot of foods we didn’t have during our evolutionary process; we can eat and thrive on foods not available to us during the Paleolithic; and we can eat and thrive on foods not available to us even a couple of centuries ago.”

But Suzanne, all of these fruits have been co-evolving with other animals who we once shared an evolutionary line with. There are many monkeys living in South America, I think this is why there are many fruits there that do humans a lot of good also. While they may not be the exact foods, they are often quite similar. I deny that humans will thrives on them as well as on a fruit-only diet. For example even raw grains cause blood sugar to go through the roof. Foods like that would really only make you “thrive” compared to even worse food and then later in life you’d feel the effects. Remember that many people “thrive” on ice-cream, factory farmed beef, bread, beer and with a few fruit and vegetables a week!!!

“Your assertion that fruits existed during the ice ages or they would not be here now does not mean that fruits were abundant across the entire globe, or that the varieties we now eat existed during the ice ages. I get the impression you’re talking about the mediaeval period Little Ice Age of the 1600s rather the great glaciations covering much of high latitude Earth up to roughly 10,000 years ago. If so, it’s instructive to note that during the Little Ice Age, even with such a small difference in average temperatures, in England and parties were held on the foot-thick ice.”

I think you are right about the Ice Ages, the last Ice Age was a proper Ice Age. Some people consider we are still in that Ice Age. However in the heart of Africa there wasn’t ice around, it’s europe where the glaciers and ice really were. But I’ll certainly add it to my thinking a bit from now on.

“Many fruits we now take for granted were once highly local, as well as very different to their current forms, and have been both heavily modified and spread by human action in the last few thousand years. There’s a whole fascinating field of research right here; for example, peaches are native to eastern China, were developed from the parent variety of small, sour fruits between 10,000 and 9,000 years ago, reached India in the 6th century BC, and were introduced as orchard plants in southern Italy in 65 B.C. Even during mediaeval times, peaches were a great luxury in northern Europe, where peaches will not grow. Only the wealthy ate peaches. The Spanish brought peaches to the Americas some 500-600 years ago.”

I know. And this was all a terrible, terrible mistake. It should never have happened. I’ll agree with you on that… if we mess up fruit enough then it definitely won’t be the optimal food anymore, of course this goes for all foods. This is why it’s worth fighting against GM foods for example at all costs.

However, your bringing in of “sour fruits” that you’re doing there can lead certain people to consider that ALL natural, wild fruit is sour, as of course we know and Denise has shown is not the case. I have little doubt that a fruit could be artificially selected like that, however that is not always the case.

In fact, I like sour as much as I like sweet. The idea of liking sweet things more is more like a deranged knock-on from the age of refined sugar. For example I like white grapefruit (that has less sugar in it and is less sweet) much better than orange grapefruit and so do many others. But sugar and sweetness has nothing to do with it. Fruits evolve in order to make themselves good enough to be eaten. Especially sour fruits have evolved for a different animal to humans. Especially sweet fruits are not liked by humans either I would imagine… honey is the only thing that comes to mind now. But I’m really, really sick of people’s stupid hang-ups and misconceptions about sweetness and sugar.

************************************************************************************
The more you like eating a fruit or any food, provided it is in a perfectly natural state, the better it is for you. Anything else is an absolute evolutionary impossibility.
************************************************************************************

“Even a small difference in heat makes a huge difference in what grows where. I live in San Francisco, in a part that funnels fog. I can’t grow figs, or tomatoes, or oranges, or cucumbers; the soil is too cold to reliably germinate carrot seeds unless I create a local greenhouse effect with a sheet of clear plastic – yet a short distance away, in the Mission district, where the average temperatures are not much above those of my zone, people can and do grow these; some people even grow bananas! A rise in sea temperature of less than one degree Celsius can make huge changes in the biota of that area; this has been well documented in the Monterey Bay region of the United States, for instance.

During the last glacial maxima, the European ice-free refuges were the Iberian, Italian, and Balkan peninsulas, and they were definitely not tropical, and not laden with fruit. Pollens from soil cores, lake varves, and offshore sediments show a very high presence of pine and oak forest. It’s belabouring the point, but there is not a whole lot of fruit in pine and oak forests. Much of the Adriatic basin was dryland – (it only started to fill at the end of the last glacial maximum, 12,000-10,000 years ago, and the sea only reached its head around 6000 years ago. Not a bad result for a small change in average temperature of Earth!”

Alright, but I can’t really see why these details and examples are that important. We do know there was substantial fruit around.

You know, I’ve often wondered what happened that was “the beginning of the end”. The incident that disrupted everything in nature, that caused it to go on its pathological and self-destroying course that it’s now on. I’ve always thought of it as the coming out of Africa. Maybe in fact it was the last Ice Age that caused it.

11 06 2011
Suzanne

My point, Padraig, is that the devil is in the details…to say sweepingly that global annual temperatures were “merely” x degrees lower overlooks the plain fact that local variations may be much greater, hence my example of the San Francisco microclimates within a mile of each other. Even in the Mission district, only people who have a good southern exposure and some form of windbreak can grow bananas; within a few hundred yards,facing east, it’ll be too cold. There’s a saying that a statistician is a person who will tell you that if you have one foot in the freezer and the other in a hot oven, on average you’re perfectly comfortable! In the same way, it’s easy to say that the San Andreas fault has moved x inches per century over the last y thousand years. This gives the impression that it’s been a steady, gradual, imperceptible happening – yet it is easily provable that there have calamitous rips of many feet in a few seconds, followed by little discernible movement for centuries.

Your point is taken that Central Africa was not recently (within the last few million years) covered with ice. BUT Central Africa was colder and drier than it has been through the last couple of hundred thousand years. Even today, when the region is warmer and wetter, there is a dry season. For five months of the year at Gombe, there is little fruit, and during these months chimpanzees go on hunting rampages. This is relevant only in that if there isn’t enough fruit year-round to support chimpanzees, there wouldn’t be enough for humans unless they farmed it, which is why there are fruit plantations in central Africa, and also accounts for plantation-raiding by chimpanzees!

Also, in my earlier post, I made the point that none of the climate changes happened overnight, which means dietary shifts happened over considerable periods of time, and I also pointed out that while there is cautious consensus on many points, there are always outliers, like Toumai, from Chad, which test the hypotheses.

Now, this is important: this colder, drier Miocene climate was contemporaneaous with the last glacial maximum of Eurasia. Hence, global seas were up to 360 feet lower because so much water was locked up in the great ice sheets. There was dry land passage, in both directions, available to animals of many species, including early hominins. The Mediterranean Sea was much smaller than it is now; it started to fill in the early Miocene, when tectonic movement dropped the Gibraltar Sill and let the Atlantic in. It really is intriguing to see the Homo erectus findspots on a map. It is even more intriguing that Homo erectus probably survived until some 38,000 years ago, in the same time period as lingering Neandertals and incoming anatomically modern humans. Counting the Flores hobbit and the recent find of Denisova man, it seems very likely that there were five species of human extant at the same time. Again, I diverge from the strict line of fruit, but let’s bear in mind that over most of Eurasia there was little fruit available, what little there was was seasonal, it wasn’t abundant (as with today’s remnant boreal forests), and likely it was not as sweet as those varieties we have bred to suit ourselves over the last few thousand years. I know this annoyed you last time, but I still hold that this doesn’t mean that humans shouldn’t eat fruit!

We almost certainly are still in an ice age – hence the term “last glacial maximum.” We’re probably in an interstadium, and the ice will likely return when Earth wobbles a minute fraction of a degree more than currently, or we reach the next stage of a Milankovitch cycle, or the solar wind changes, or any of the many other variables controlling global climate changes.

Monkeys in the South American jungle are not a good comparison with Homo; for one thing, they’re in a completely different infraorder, being Platyrrhini while the Old World monkeys, Cecopithecoidea, and the apes and us, Hominioidea, fall into Catarrhini. The split in the ancestral lineage is much further back than for chimpanzees and humans. While all primates have variations on the same basic dental plan, and the same basic body plan, the differences are more than cosmetic! So it makes no difference to human evolution that some monkeys and fruit co-evolved in southern America, or even that chimpanzees and fruit co-evolved in central Africa. Humans followed a different evolutionary path.

If you follow the southward movement of early hominins, you’ll see that they followed the line of the Great Rift. All the great known sites, from Olduvai through Makapansgat, Gladysvale, Swartkrans, Sterkfontein, Taung, lie along here like beads on a string. This is where the water lay, and this was an ice-free zone. On the highveld near Pretoria, you can see glacial grooving on rocks; the central plateau of South Africa was ground flat by ice (periplanation). So what fruit there was would have been growing in these wetter, ice-free areas, and it would have been seasonal.

I agree, it seems very weird and even wrong that some people do apparently thrive on the Standard American Diet. However, given the hypervariability of humans, it’s not impossible!. Not everybody who devours fast food becomes obese, diabetic, or develops heart disease, and some people who never allow soda to touch their lips or ever look longingly at a burger or doughnut drop dead of massive heart attacks while out on their daily run. My own story is too long for a post already too long; cut to the essentials, my healthy high-fruit, high-veggie, high-whole-grain, high legume, ovolactovegetarian diet nearly killed me, and that’s not an exaggeration. I’m hypoglycaemic, gluten-sensitive, legume-intolerant. My biochemistry, not my morals or my intelligence, failed on this diet. While you may thrive on fruit, I’m restricted to small amounts of lower glycaemic index varieties. I don’t doubt that you, and Denise, and probably many other people, thrive on a high-fruit diet. It just means that we, apparently polar opposites, belong to a species with an amazing gut! That gut, as much as our brain and our specialized feet, accounts for the success of Homo.

Just for interest: there’s now an argument that Homo erectus may have evolved in Eurasia and migrated into Africa! http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110606/full/news.2011.350.html

11 06 2011
Padraig

“My point, Padraig, is that the devil is in the details…to say sweepingly that global annual temperatures were “merely” x degrees lower overlooks the plain fact that local variations may be much greater, ”

Yeah, but in Africa where humans evolved the temperatures were not severely cold. They were ample for fruit to grow and prosper as far as I’m concerned.

“Your point is taken that Central Africa was not recently (within the last few million years) covered with ice. BUT Central Africa was colder and drier than it has been through the last couple of hundred thousand years. Even today, when the region is warmer and wetter, there is a dry season. For five months of the year at Gombe, there is little fruit, and during these months chimpanzees go on hunting rampages.”

It’s more correct to say that fruit is more sparsely populated at some times during the year.

I believe the reason for this is because chimpanzees have been pushed into smaller and smaller terroritories by humans… (sometimes removed from their natural habitat altogether but that is another subject). Who knows how much territory humans have eroded over the years, or maybe they have upset the ecological balance such that there is less fruit available. I know this last sentence is more or less unfalsifiable, however that doesn’t mean it’s not plausible. Frankly I just don’t really believe that there was so little fruit around. BUT, I do have an open mind to it after you brought the Ice Age phenomenon to my attention.

“This is relevant only in that if there isn’t enough fruit year-round to support chimpanzees, there wouldn’t be enough for humans unless they farmed it, which is why there are fruit plantations in central Africa, and also accounts for plantation-raiding by chimpanzees!”

There would be in there were 70,000 rather than 7 billion humans. I believe there would be plenty. I’m sorry, I’m afraid there’s no budging me on this issue. :)

“Also, in my earlier post, I made the point that none of the climate changes happened overnight, which means dietary shifts happened over considerable periods of time, and I also pointed out that while there is cautious consensus on many points, there are always outliers, like Toumai, from Chad, which test the hypotheses.

Now, this is important: this colder, drier Miocene climate was contemporaneaous with the last glacial maximum of Eurasia. Hence, global seas were up to 360 feet lower because so much water was locked up in the great ice sheets. There was dry land passage, in both directions, available to animals of many species, including early hominins. The Mediterranean Sea was much smaller than it is now; it started to fill in the early Miocene, when tectonic movement dropped the Gibraltar Sill and let the Atlantic in. It really is intriguing to see the Homo erectus findspots on a map. It is even more intriguing that Homo erectus probably survived until some 38,000 years ago, in the same time period as lingering Neandertals and incoming anatomically modern humans. Counting the Flores hobbit and the recent find of Denisova man, it seems very likely that there were five species of human extant at the same time. Again, I diverge from the strict line of fruit, but let’s bear in mind that over most of Eurasia there was little fruit available, what little there was was seasonal, it wasn’t abundant (as with today’s remnant boreal forests), and likely it was not as sweet as those varieties we have bred to suit ourselves over the last few thousand years. I know this annoyed you last time, but I still hold that this doesn’t mean that humans shouldn’t eat fruit!”

I know that as soon as we came out of Africa all bets are off. But I would argue that in the 70,000 years since we left, that we couldn’t have evolved much. I know others think differently to that, I don’t.

“We almost certainly are still in an ice age – hence the term “last glacial maximum.” We’re probably in an interstadium, and the ice will likely return when Earth wobbles a minute fraction of a degree more than currently, or we reach the next stage of a Milankovitch cycle, or the solar wind changes, or any of the many other variables controlling global climate changes.”

I agree.

“Monkeys in the South American jungle are not a good comparison with Homo; for one thing, they’re in a completely different infraorder, being Platyrrhini while the Old World monkeys, Cecopithecoidea, and the apes and us, Hominioidea, fall into Catarrhini. The split in the ancestral lineage is much further back than for chimpanzees and humans. While all primates have variations on the same basic dental plan, and the same basic body plan, the differences are more than cosmetic! So it makes no difference to human evolution that some monkeys and fruit co-evolved in southern America, or even that chimpanzees and fruit co-evolved in central Africa. Humans followed a different evolutionary path.”

I have read lots of books on this subject and know all of this already. I just haven’t read books Ice Ages as it never seemed important (and kind of boring). But I did not reach your conclusions, so with all due respect I wonder if I should trust you on when you say something other things also. We shared an evolutionary line with them not so long ago in evolutionary terms. This is why they look like us, they have similar teeth and intestines. It totally makes a difference, don’t contradict me because you don’t understand what I’m saying…. what I’m saying is a truism and not an opinion. The new world monkeys shared an evolutionary ancestor with us and co-evolved with the fruit in South America now. So it makes a difference. Whether it is a lot or a little you can decide for yourself but it did happen.

“If you follow the southward movement of early hominins, you’ll see that they followed the line of the Great Rift. All the great known sites, from Olduvai through Makapansgat, Gladysvale, Swartkrans, Sterkfontein, Taung, lie along here like beads on a string. This is where the water lay, and this was an ice-free zone. On the highveld near Pretoria, you can see glacial grooving on rocks; the central plateau of South Africa was ground flat by ice (periplanation). So what fruit there was would have been growing in these wetter, ice-free areas, and it would have been seasonal.”

I don’t regard any of this as good evidence. Anything could have happened in that time. We have to be really cautious before jumping to conclusions like that. I’m not aware of any “southward movement by the early hominems”.

“I agree, it seems very weird and even wrong that some people do apparently thrive on the Standard American Diet. However, given the hypervariability of humans, it’s not impossible!. Not everybody who devours fast food becomes obese, diabetic, or develops heart disease, and some people who never allow soda to touch their lips or ever look longingly at a burger or doughnut drop dead of massive heart attacks while out on their daily run. My own story is too long for a post already too long; cut to the essentials, my healthy high-fruit, high-veggie, high-whole-grain, high legume, ovolactovegetarian diet nearly killed me, and that’s not an exaggeration. I’m hypoglycaemic, gluten-sensitive, legume-intolerant. My biochemistry, not my morals or my intelligence, failed on this diet. While you may thrive on fruit, I’m restricted to small amounts of lower glycaemic index varieties. I don’t doubt that you, and Denise, and probably many other people, thrive on a high-fruit diet. It just means that we, apparently polar opposites, belong to a species with an amazing gut! That gut, as much as our brain and our specialized feet, accounts for the success of Homo.”

Success of homo or of homo sapien? All of the others of the homo genus died out. Anyway, I would hardly call homo sapiens a success considering we are destroying the planet, destroying ourselves, and the only animals not doing better than us are the ones who have been hurt or harassed by us.

“Just for interest: there’s now an argument that Homo erectus may have evolved in Eurasia and migrated into Africa! http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110606/full/news.2011.350.html

I don’t believe any of that for a second, almost nobody thinks there’s a chance of it being right.

9 06 2011
DurianRiderFan

Fruit reverses the disease meat promotes.

10 11 2011
George Henderson

I would agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong.

12 06 2011
Jane

Suzanne,

You’re giving us a lot of interesting information, and I am very intrigued by your own story.

‘ .. my healthy high-fruit, high-veggie, high-whole-grain, high legume, ovolactovegetarian diet nearly killed me, and that’s not an exaggeration. I’m hypoglycaemic, gluten-sensitive, legume-intolerant.’

These symptoms suggest deficiencies, but this diet isn’t expected to produce any. Could I ask you please, were you eating nothing but whole foods, or were there some refined foods as well?

12 06 2011
Padraig

“These symptoms suggest deficiencies, but this diet isn’t expected to produce any.”

I think there are people with hypoglycaemia as a chronic condition. Some people are definitely gluten-sensitive. “legume-intolerant” sounds a bit more suspicious lol.

But yeah I figured she is being a bit dramatic. I don’t like it when people confabulate or get allegorical about diet. To be honest, I think Denise can get this way a bit sometimes, I don’t like it when she says one thing and then clealy does another… even though it’s intentional and innocent, I wish she would be more serious. Nothing could be more serious than diet. Some of this drama stuff is a bit too cute for me.

12 06 2011
Warren Dew

There are plenty of people who are genuinely allergic to gluten, and many more that have some level of intolerance. The same goes for peanuts and other legumes. I don’t think her symptoms suggest a deficiency at all – rather, low level allergies or inflammation from lectins in whole grains and legumes.

Neither of those has anything to do with fruit, of course, though hypoglycemia could be related to sugar intake.

12 06 2011
Txomin

Extremely useful, Denise. Thank you very much.

13 06 2011
Jane

Padraig,

Yes indeed, hypoglycaemia can be a chronic condition. This is why I am so interested in Suzanne’s experience. I hope it didn’t sound as if I thought she was being dramatic. I greatly appreciate the information she has given us, some of which I did not know. I also greatly appreciate the information Denise gives us, and I have a very high opinion of her science.

Suzanne’s liver should be producing all the glucose she needs, and it isn’t. Why not? The most obvious explanation is that it doesn’t have all the tools and raw materials it needs. To make glucose the liver needs various vitamins and minerals, and especially manganese. Modern diets are low in manganese, because animal products don’t have much and white flour/rice/sugar have very little or none. The best sources are arguably whole grains and legumes, and these are precisely the food items Suzanne cannot tolerate. I’m sure you will agree, this is a very intriguing problem.

13 06 2011
Jane

Warren Dew,

‘I don’t think her symptoms suggest a deficiency at all – rather, low level allergies or inflammation from lectins in whole grains and legumes.’

So what do you think causes low level allergies and inflammation? Lectins are only toxic in the presence of deficiencies. The body has intricate systems for dealing with these things, which cannot function without vitamins and minerals.

13 06 2011
Heather Mamatey

The body does not “need” whole grains and legumes. For the vast, vast majority of our history, we did not eat these things. They were not a part of the paleolithic diet. We are told by the food pyramid crowd that these things are health foods, but many of us find out otherwise when our bodies cannot digest them and continued consumption leads to health problems, especially when the person consumes them in place of healthful, nutrient-dense animal products, fresh fruits and vegetables.

My health improved so, so much when I cut out whole grains and legumes.

15 06 2011
Padraig

Well, Jane didn’t say you need them, just that they can be healthy. I cautiously believe it, but try to eat all fruit anyway.

But Heather, I find it so interesting that people say things like: “oh you raw foodists and your craaaazzy and dangerous diet, such out-there and whacky diets!!!!!”…. uh… hello? Our diet is the NORMAL DIET!!!! Our diet IS the normal diet, it’s the MODERN diet that is crazy and unnatural. Just because they have been eating bread for centuries doesn’t make it good.

I don’t like to bring this up again (sorry), but it’s like how Suzanne mentioned about almost dying because of her diet. I think it’s a bit ridiculous and misleading. Like as if adding burgers and chips and milk and bread and not caring at all about a diet is magically going to make the diet “normal” again, fill in the vital nutrients that you missed. If you were going to die on a really good diet, you’d die far sooner on a diet that has those things added.

10 11 2011
George Henderson

“Lectins are only toxic in the presence of deficiencies”
Let me guess; deficiency of manganese would be one of these?
Obviously no-one has ever stuck you with a ricin-tipped umbrella.
Lectins are toxins.
Once I accidentally took a sip of water that a single sweet pea flower had been sitting in.
A few minutes later I was vomiting god-knows what from my lungs.
Like when you vomit bile, but my lungs and mucus membranes were also being wrung out for some reason. For hours and hours.
Lectins can be serious stuff.

16 06 2011
Fruit this time of year | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page

[...] fructose does not make you any fatter than whole food fat. The bitter truth about fructose alarmismWild and Ancient Fruit: Is it Really Small, Bitter, and Low in Sugar? http://www.tarekkasmi.com http://www.facebook.com/tarekkasmiofficial Reply With Quote [...]

16 06 2011
Jane

Heather,

There is increasing evidence that early humans did in fact eat grains, and this is relevant to Denise’s post because strictly speaking, grains are fruits. They can even be eaten raw, if they’re soaked and sprouted.

‘The role of starchy plants in early hominin diets and when the culinary processing of starches began have been difficult to track archaeologically. Seed collecting is conventionally perceived to have been an irrelevant activity among the Pleistocene foragers of southern Africa, on the grounds of both technological difficulty in the processing of grains and the belief that roots, fruits, and nuts, not cereals, were the basis for subsistence for the past 100,000 years and further back in time. A large assemblage of starch granules has been retrieved from the surfaces of Middle
Stone Age stone tools from Mozambique, showing that early Homo sapiens relied on grass seeds starting at least 105,000 years ago, including those of sorghum grasses.’
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/326/5960/1680.full

16 06 2011
Heather Mamatey

My understanding has always been that, if grains were eaten at all by early humans, they were consumed as an inferior starvation food.

16 06 2011
Padraig

“There is increasing evidence that early humans did in fact eat grains, ”

Maybe when they had nothing else to eat. This doesn’t say much. Orangutans eat bark if food gets scarce enough.

It is only the blink of an evolutionary eye between early humans and modern humans anyway. Maybe they just started to make the same mistakes we’re making.

19 06 2011
Jane

There are many misunderstandings about grains.

The so-called toxins were not put in the grain to stop animals from eating it. They have perfectly reasonable functions in the germinating plant. Lectins probably bind and store plant hormones so they can be released when they’re needed and not before. Phytate stores phosphorus and metals. Gluten stores amino acids, and especially glutamate, which is an important intermediate in metabolic pathways.

All these ‘toxins’ get broken down during germination, and they can be broken down by our own digestive processes, provided the co-factors are present for the enzymes that do the breakdown. These co-factors are the vitamins and minerals that get removed when the grain is refined.

19 06 2011
Padraig

Jane, I suggest you stop trying to analyze it.

Why do you think that you know about what’s in grains? What makes you think you do? You do not. You may know have simple representations of properties about them, but you don’t have an absolute clue of what they mean. Nobody in the world does. It it nonsense and pseudoscience to think anything can be gained from that type of discussion. Just stop pretending you have a clue when you do not.

I agree with you that the word “toxins” is wrong and is a faddist terminology. Nobody knows what a “toxin” is. It’s dumb. People need to wise up quickly about this. The same with the word “nutrient” except insofar as how it’s sometimes used to describe for example fresh food. This sort of stupidity could destroy us all when they say they will genetically engineer food to make it “more nutritious”. There is no such thing as “more nutritious”, just what we are evolved for.

People need to stop pretending they know when they do not. The reason we should not eat grains is because we are not evolved to eat them, end of story. They don’t “fit” with our evolutionary make-up. Trying to make an analysis on it based on stupidly simplified structures you’ve taken out of food is absolute nonsense and is literally insane.

People think: “I wrote down words, I know the words…. I must know about it”… when they do not have any idea how it works. Nobody knows how any of it works. And EVEN IF THEY DID…. all they would find it that the more evolved we are for eating some food the better it is for it. Durrrrrr………

20 06 2011
Jane

I should perhaps explain, in case anyone besides Padraig is reading this, that the information in my previous post was based on many years of full-time study of the scientific literature. I am a scientist myself, with a PhD in developmental biology.

That does not necessarily mean I know what I’m talking about, of course.

20 06 2011
Beth

Hi, Jane,

Do you have any sources you could share on vitamins and minerals acting with lectins? Probably not something PhD level but something detailed enough for an intelligent health nerd? For instance, which deficiencies do you link with lectins being problematic?

I currently don’t eat any grains due to gluten and lectins and numerous low-level conditions have unexpectedly cleared up as a result–no placebo effects here, skin issues and sinuses and loads of other little stuff–and I used to eat only whole grains, so it wasn’t a problem of refinement. But I do understand the ideas behind soaking and fermenting and sprouting grains, which mitigates some of the problematic lectins. I’ve considered soaking and sprouting non-gluten grains. Can you provide any information on how lectins can be handled by the body in a way that’s not harmful?

I agree completely that “toxins” and “nutrients” are almost meaningless words at this point, and can be applied wherever you want to non-specifically scare people into thinking they need to avoid certain foods (usually meat) or eat a lot of others (usually veggies) without providing much actual information.

9 04 2012
Yuri

Too true!

21 06 2011
Will Cloud

Wow. Pretty whacky bunch of hair splitting to read down to this point in the comments. Lot’s of wildly divergent takes on the truth. In the last 50 years the health of the nation has plummeted by the rise of non-infectious diseases. Fruit probably isn’t the culprit. Move on.
I have a layman’s question about the sugar content shown in Denise’s writeup. Sucrose is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose. If sucrose is shown separately on the graphs does that mean the occurrence of the three sugars is separate in the fruit? Should our final accounting be done in the digested ratios of glucose and fructose after sucrose is reduced to the other two?
The evolutionary argument is that fructose as fattener was selected to provide survival for those needing fat to make it through the colder off season that began around 18 million years ago. 100 species of great ape resolved (extinctly so) down to 5 that would digest fructose the way we do. So now in our moon-landing success of a species we have enough fructose around for most of 7 billion people to OD on it if they choose. It will certainly help the choice if you effectively market to a population that a healthy diet excludes much fat and sugar is OK as a replacement. The paleo people seem reasonable enough if they have an accurate idea of what we evolved eating over the past few million years. Do they? Well that’s where they need to confine themselves.

21 06 2011
Padraig

“The evolutionary argument is that fructose as fattener was selected to provide survival for those needing fat to make it through the colder off season that began around 18 million years ago. ”

No, fructose has nothing to do with fattening. Fool.

21 06 2011
Will Cloud

Haha Padraig. Saying fructose has nothing to do with fattening is equivalent to saying food has nothing to do with fattening. It just comes down to bad character then eh mister Padraig? Or maybe you think Fructose is one of those new zero calorie sweeteners. You lose on basic logic here. And for the nastiness you need to go to your room until you can play nice.
I appeal to the readers of this blog. You know it only takes a few sharks in a feeding frenzy to spoil the whole thing for all of us. They pack the comments with endless verbage and snap and bite at anything and everybody that gets near them. I will be sure to ignore this commenter. I have a lot better to do than spend time wading through this nastiness. Neisy, maybe it’s time to start editing. Or maybe not. I’m outa here.

21 06 2011
Jane

Hi Beth,

There’s no source I can think of that will tell you what you want to know, sorry. Basically lectins shouldn’t be a problem because they’re normally taken inside gut cells and degraded. Gut cells need all the usual vitamins and minerals, and especially magnesium and manganese because these activate the enzyme that makes glutamine, which gut cells use for energy. When lectins are taken up and degraded, they’d need manganese especially, because some of the enzymes involved in degradation can only be activated by manganese, at least in vitro.

Manganese seems to be the missing link in explanations of modern disease. Nobody pays much attention to it, but it seems to do a lot of really important
things. It’s taken me 30 years to dig it all out of the literature.

21 06 2011
Jane

Will Cloud,

I’m loving this duel between you and Padraig. Please don’t go. I’d say the score is 2-0 to you right now.

21 06 2011
Padraig

Okay Jane, you’ve just lost every shred of credibility you had with me. Fructose fattening, my god. Of all the most ignorant faddist dummy diet crackpot theories fructose causing blood sugar problems has to be up there with the worst.

But fructose FATTENING? That’s not even the fad science. According to the fad science theory, fructose causes insulin resistance and thus can over time make you fat. It has nothing to do with the fructose ITSELF being fattening. It’s a well-documented fact that calories are pretty much the only thing that will make you fat or thin.

21 06 2011
Padraig

“According to the fad science theory, fructose causes insulin resistance and thus can over time make you fat.”

When I say this I mean make you fat by eating more. They theorize things like this from studying mice and noticing that if they give them a diet full of HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) that they develop these conditions.

The amounts of fructose found in fruit are 100s or 1000s of times small than the amounts required for this to happen. Fructose is a good thing and I believe anyone who thinks otherwise is just stupid and does not believe in evolution.

22 06 2011
Jane

Padraig,

Actually I think you are right. But so is Will Cloud, if you read what he says carefully.

The thing about fructose is that it can cause copper deficiency. Look up ‘fructose copper deficiency’ and you will find all the bad stuff that comes from that.

22 06 2011
Padraig

Jane, as you are no doubt aware copper deficiency is rare and rarely critical in modern times. On the other hand many people suffer from copper overload, especially if it comes in their water. In fact I think I read that most critical copper deficiency in modern times comes from overdosing on zinc. I take zinc supplements and as much fructose as I can and am not worried about copper deficiency.

I get really emotional about food because I know that GM foods will cross and destroy natural food forever. If people were educated properly, if they knew how it worked, what is blindingly obvious is that what we’re evolved for is what we should eat. It’s so frustrating. They think they can just randomly mess with stuff and say “this causes more nutrients”…. and there will be no going back. :(((

23 06 2011
Arnie

I have to commend you on your fruitarian scholarship. You are quite correct in your analysis but you hardly have to dig this deep to dispel this nonsense regarding wild vs. modern fruit hybrids. I have tested just a few varieties of wild, ripe, freshly picked berries vs. the larger, sprayed commercial varieties and the results were obvious. The wild berries tasted better and had a higher sugar content. Hands down. Have any of these gurus had a tree ripened banana?

23 06 2011
Jane

Padraig,

I am indeed aware that many people claim copper deficiency is rare. The scientists who work on copper, however, say it’s extremely common, so common most of us have it. These scientists include Klevay and Sorenson, arguably the world’s top copper experts. Gross copper deficiency, of course, IS rare.

I am also aware that many people think they suffer from copper overload. This is a misinterpretation of what happens in inflammation: blood copper rises, because it’s needed for tissue repair. Establishing copper status is extremely difficult, and cannot be done by analysing hair, blood or urine.

I think you should stop taking zinc supplements AT ONCE. I am serious. Zinc overload is implicated in Alzheimer’s. For a long time, Alzheimer researchers argued about whether copper or zinc was the bad guy, and this has now been resolved. It’s zinc. Zinc prevents iron export from neurons, and iron causes the damage.

I agree with you about GM foods. I have had a long correspondence with the Royal
Society about their entirely unjustified criticisms of Arpad Pusztai’s work
on GM potatoes, remember it?

23 06 2011
Padraig

“I think you should stop taking zinc supplements AT ONCE. I am serious. Zinc overload is implicated in Alzheimer’s. For a long time, Alzheimer researchers argued about whether copper or zinc was the bad guy, and this has now been resolved. It’s zinc. Zinc prevents iron export from neurons, and iron causes the damage.”

Ehh… it seems to me like “Alzhiemer researchers” still don’t know if zinc is a bad guy or not. I am more inclined towards the unidentified microorganism theory causing the build-up of plaques which are trying to fight the microorganism. I doubt that any mineral such as zinc in any way reasonable quantities is bad for you. After all, many foods have zinc in them, we need it… it seems rather unlikely to me that our bodies wouldn’t have good ways to deal with it. Also note that zinc is greatly depleted from the intensively farmed soil of today.

“I agree with you about GM foods. I have had a long correspondence with the Royal
Society about their entirely unjustified criticisms of Arpad Pusztai’s work
on GM potatoes, remember it?”

I’ve read about it. I would really like to help in the fight against these foods and in a way that will last.

1 07 2011
The Evolutionary Function of the Beautiful and Bright Fruits

[...] super sweet fruit has bread for the sugar high, while the original fruit is small and less sweet. Denise Minger shuts down that idea with flair. Further reading: Evolutionary Triggers in Human Metabolism and [...]

1 07 2011
Ailu

Okay I’m starting to have Minger withdrawals now. Are we to see a new post soon? :-)

1 07 2011
neisy

Check back in about a week. Big’un in the works. :)

1 07 2011
Padraig

I can’t wait. :D

2 07 2011
Ailu

Oooh goodie! :-)

4 07 2011
Monte Diaz

Oh my, the suspense. Wheat betta look out!
;)

1 07 2011
Anita Patel

I enjoyed your article tremendously. Would it be possible to reproduce parts of it in our Newsletter, Good Health is Real Wealth to our readers with IBD and IBS?

4 07 2011
No Fruit??? | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page

[...] the fruit in the summer made Grok build a little bodyfat to get trough the winter. Have you read Denise Minger's article about that? Reply With Quote   + Reply to Thread « Previous [...]

5 07 2011
JohnG

Thanks Denise for this great job of investigation. The “Paleo” world desperately needed this. Currently, the trend has been toward higher carbs, but mostly in the form of “safe” starches (e.g. potatoes and rice). It seems ridiculous to me to discount fruit playing a fairly large role in a “Paleo” diet considering it may very well have been the first foods we would have eaten.

5 07 2011
Warren Dew

Anyone who thinks potatoes and rice are paleo is fooling themselves. “Primal” maybe, paleo no. Modern starchy tubers and grains are the ultimate in neolithic, nonpaleo foods.

I agree that Denise’s post is a great source for the paleo community. Not only does it reinforce the obvious – fruit is paleo – but it also shows us what domestication really did, which was reduce the acid content rather than increasing the sugar content. That suggests that, if we really want to be strict about paleo, we should choose sourer forms of fruit, just as the really strict adherent choose grass finished beef over commercial beef.

5 07 2011
Monte Diaz

But why?

5 07 2011
Padraig

It does NOT suggest that at all Warren Dew. If anything it suggests the exact opposite.

If we like the fruit, and it is grown naturally, then we should eat it. It is 100% IMPOSSIBLE to make a food that tastes better or feels better than nature’s tastiest fruits. Processed foods can imitate this, but they do not do better than it. Humans articially selected fruits themselves by eating it. Fruits were also artificially selected because of how easy they were to grow.

I mean were you paying attention at all to this blog post? Denise has shown they are practically the EXACT SAME in terms of sweetness. Your idea of eating sour fruit is this ****ing retarded puritan bull**** nonsense rearing its ugly head up again, going wildly in the face of all known evidence and everything you can see. It’s just so freaking stupid.

11 07 2011
JeffreyD

It is 100% possible for processed foods to taste better than fruit. Don’t get me wrong I’m from Hawai’i and I like the fresh tropical fruits. But Haagen Dazs or Nerds Rope taste better.

11 07 2011
Padraig

I agree with that statement JeffreyD, I didn’t say any different. I said nature’s TASTIEST fruits, ie. fruits that are freshly picked and grown in the wild. The reason they’re tasty to us is of course because they’re good for us. A stone or mud is not tasty, this is because it’s no good for us to eat. Fresh raw organic carrots are moderately tasty, so they’re moderately good for us.

Coke is a delicious drink, ice cream can also be. The thing is that these foods are only mimicking what would be tasty to us in the wild. Coke for example is made up of fruit flavourings… ice cream it is harder to say exactly what it’s mimicking but our body and parts of our brain think it’s something it’s not.

Oh I’m sure I’d be greeted with roars of laughter if I suggested to the “respected” scientific committees that the better something tastes, so long as it’s 100% natural, the better it is for your health…. but that’s the obvious truth of it. It’s so obvious it’s a joke. Why would we like something that wasn’t good for us?

And one final thing: Even if the fruits are artificially selected by humans… well, in the wild humans would have selected certain fruits also and discarded others, so this would also have been humans naturally “selecting” certain fruits. The big threat facing us all is the GM foods. Those are the curse of humanity and can cause our kind extreme suffering towards the end the existence of life that is anything like ours and leave our descendants cursing us until the end of time.

5 07 2011
Warren Dew

Padraig, you should perhaps go back and reread Denise’s post. Did you perhaps miss the part about wild fruit having “substantially higher” vitamin C content than domestic fruit, making the wild fruit more acid? Fruit that is more acid tastes more sour, even if it has just as much sugar in it. For example, a granny smith apple tastes more sour than a gala apple because it has twice as much vitamin C, even though it also has just as much sugar.

Taste is partly inborn, but also partly trained. If you truly prefer the taste of bland fruit, you’re in the same position as the guy who prefers feedlot beef to grass fed beef. You can eat the stuff you prefer, which will be fairly healthy, or you can try to change your tastes and prefer the stuff that’s more like what we ate in the paleolithic, which will be even more healthy.

Monte Diaz, I hope that answers your question too.

6 07 2011
Padraig

Nonsense Warren Dew, the vitamin C has very little to do with how they taste. I have pure vitamin C powder and only a fraction of a quarter of a spoon would be how much vitamin c are in fruit.

If that idea was right then lemons and limes would have by far the most vitamin c content of all, while sweet oranges would have very little vitamin c. I don’t know where you got that idea from.

I checked white grapefruit vs red grapefruit (white grapefruit is a lot less sweet and I think it tastes better), and even though they’re the same species, there is basically zero difference in the amount of vitamin c at all.

I don’t understand what you mean by the word “bland”, as I understand that word to mean boring or dull, which I don’t find any fruit to be. Of course I prefer sour or “tart” fruit better than ultra-sweet fruit sometimes, like I said above I prefer white grapefruit. I’m positive that you do too for some fruits. Everyone does. To be honest I have no idea what you are talking about or mean in this paragraph, but I do believe my sense of taste is still rather accurate and that after eating “normally” (as in a very high fruit diet for a few months), that the vast majority of people would also have this normal instinctive eating pretty intact.

6 07 2011
Padraig

Also it’s a well known fact that vitamin c disintegrates very, very rapidly from food once it’s picked, and perhaps also from pesticides etc.. I wouldn’t put any faith in any of these researchers, even to realize something as simple as that they would have to be tested for vitamin c at the same time after being picked and they should have everything about them the same.

5 07 2011
Padraig

“which was reduce the acid content rather than increasing the sugar content”

What do you mean “reduce the acid content rather than increase the sugar content”? Bitter fruits usually have more sugar than sweet fruits. You haven’t the slightest clue of what you’re talking about.

Some of you people are so ignorant and clueless. Your concept of sugar is of adding a teaspoon of white sweet sugar to something and that tastes good but is bad. That is NOT how it works with fruits. What a joke.

15 07 2011
Navigator

Nice post… Unless the whole theory of humans coming “out of Africa” was wrong to begin with. I’ve read convincing arguments that make that a possibility.

15 07 2011
Anna K.

Denise, thanks for all good work you are doing!

18 07 2011
8/377 (|_|/7155

I would hope that you would agree, that there is not such thing as how you put in the first few lines of this as the “optimal human diet”. You’ll find centenarians all over the world who consume a wide variety of diets from largely plant-based to largely animal-based. Anyways, I am curious as to why your post largely focussed on differences in macronutrients between wild and store bought fruits, but completely ignored micronutrients? I wonder if you’ve looked into any studies comparing the micronutrient content of store bought fruits to their wild grown counterparts.

18 07 2011
Padraig

“that there is not such thing as how you put in the first few lines of this as the “optimal human diet”.”

I don’t see why not in theory there can’t be. Your next sentence about centenarians betrays a lack of knowledge and understanding about longevity, health and diet… just because a person is still living doesn’t mean they have the healthiest diet, some long-living people have ridiculous diets and smoke.

20 07 2011
Jane

Padraig,

What do you think is the optimal human diet?

20 07 2011
Padraig

Jane, I would say 95+% fruit. All of the Great Apes prefer fruit more than anything else. As for what types of fruit, I would say figs, bananas, oranges… because these types of fruits are favourites of the Great Apes.

Also, these fruits, or at least some fruit, are available and fresh all year around in the tropics. Fruit in general is not seasonal in this part of the world where humans evolved, it is all year around (of course, specific fruits are more seasonal). Even intra-fruit, some fruit are better than others… we are drawn to the best-tasting ones, for example the darker ones with more antioxidants. However, I believe we shouldn’t concern ourselves with trying to intellectualize that process, we should eat as we feel… it is the only way. Maybe our feelings and instincts have been corrupted, but they’re all we’ve got. What makes the research papers about diet is sooooo stupid, they don’t know anything about diet and they will never find anything about diet except that what we are evolved to eat we do best on.

20 07 2011
Is Fructose More in Line with Fat Burning? | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page

[...] apples & grapes, etc., are all hybridized to be much bigger and sweeter than in nature, etc. An excellent post by Denise Minger addresses this issue. For those who don't want to read it all, the major points IMO are: 1] berries [...]

23 07 2011
Jane

Padraig,

So why, if you are eating the optimal human diet, do you take zinc supplements? You must know they cause copper deficiency. You must also know that both vitamin C and fructose can cause copper deficiency.

You may not know that here in the UK, the copper content of produce has fallen by 75% in the last 50 years. All very good reasons to avoid zinc supplements like the plague.

In the US, the zinc content of soil has actually risen in many places, due to use of basic slag as a fertiliser. Basic slag is often extremely high in zinc.

23 07 2011
Jane

Padraig, something very odd happened with my last comment. It posted itself without my permission, before I had finished it or checked my facts.

Please tell me if you have information that contradicts what I have said about zinc and US soils, or zinc and basic slag. I can’t find the papers I had read on these topics. I remember a table showing toxic levels of zinc in slag, but it could have been phosphate slag, not slag from iron foundries.

I also think the 75% reduction in copper content of UK produce referred to vegetables, not fruit.

23 07 2011
Padraig

Jane, that’s okay, I often have to double-check things myself before I post something. Thanks for also saying that it’s vegetables and not all produce, I know some people wouldn’t correct themselves on something like that. It is very good news that fruit doesn’t have this 75% reduction. One thing that I don’t have to check is about though is vitamin C causing copper deficiency… there is no way that occurs. You could take 20 grams of vitamin C and it wouldn’t harm you, it’s one of the least toxic substances known to exist.

Also, I never said I was eating the optimal human diet. Maybe I was for a short while, but it’s very hard and expensive to find fresh fruit all the time and not eat anything else. Zinc has been depleted from the soil. I also am low on testosterone and zinc is one of the foremost supplements for building testosterone. The zinc comes in the same tablet as calcium + magnesium, but I will certainly consider not getting the tablet with zinc in it next time. Though I might take a zinc supplement every 3/4/5 days instead just to ensure I am not deficient in it.

23 07 2011
Padraig

I tried over and over many times to eat the optimal human diet (or as close to it as I could reasonably get), and am still trying. But it takes so much time, is expensive, I get tired of going to the supermarket so often, and also the cravings for processed foods can get very strong sometimes as Denise has noted.

24 07 2011
Tim

Some fruits, usually those consumed as a staple, were extensively cultivated by primitive cultures.

For example, Amazonian peach palms (high in vitamin C, protein and very sweet) were cultivated by ancient peoples who pre-dated the Inka. The fruit was extensively hybridized and planted in vast groves that were initially assumed by European explorers to be wild.

As it turns out, those groves were planted on raised beds of topsoil that had been composted and constructed by humans. The soil is rich in ash and shards of clay pottery, used to prevent erosion from the heavy rains and seasonal flooding. See, ’1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus,” Charles C. Mann, pp.431-33.

It’s reasonable to assume that fruit was just as hybridized and cultivated as grain during the Neolithic period.

24 07 2011
Warren Dew

Tim, the fruit will still be much closer to the paleolithic versions. This is because fruit trees live for decades, while grains are an annual crop. Grains and other annual crops like pulses and tubers will have had an order of magnitude more generations to evolve, and will thus be much further from the original wild versions.

Of course, the important evolutionary diet argument is that even during the paleolithic, we didn’t eat the wild versions of modern starchy crops, while we did eat fruit – and vice versa, fruit was evolved to be eaten by animals, while the other crops were not. That’s why fruit are paleo and grains, pulses and tubers are not.

24 07 2011
Tim

Whether tubers were part of the Paleolithic diet is an open question. Potatoes in South America coincided with agriculture, but sweet potatoes and yams would have been available in Africa to hunter gatherers. The same goes for other starchy roots and tubers. Frankly, if an edible vegetable was available to hunter gatherers, they probably ate it. And it wouldn’t necessarily need to proliferate, given the fact that hunter gatherers were comprised of small bands. If enough real estate is available, wild varieties of roots and tubers could have been a dietary staple for some groups.

I do agree that the Paleo diet wrongly tends to minimize fruit consumption. I’ve been eating a modified Paleo diet since I started CrossFit about five years ago. I eat plenty of fat and protein, but I also eat fruit and potatoes (sweet potatoes and the American variety). I eat the starches in whole foods only and don’t add salt or fat to them.

25 07 2011
Warren Dew

Sweet potatoes, referred to as “yams” in the U.S., are native to the Americas, and wouldn’t have been available to humans in the paleolithic any more than white potatoes would have been.

Precursors of African yams would have been available, but wild yams are very different from the huge modern varieties that have been bred by Bantu agriculturalists. They are no more than half an inch in diameter and fibrous, more like modern ginger than modern yams. They would have been “available” in the same way that the precursors of modern wheat would have been “available” to homo habilis in the Caucusus – as very small sources of calories in return for large amounts of effort. Optimal foraging theory says they would have been ignored as long as large bodied game was available.

25 07 2011
Xogenesis

The real question should be: do these modern sources of high carbohydrate vegetables contain toxins that would recommend they not be eaten? Otherwise it doesn’t matter if they were available 30,000 years ago. Use our best abilites to make informed choices. Is pork an unclean animal as religous dictate informs? Is “Only eat paleo” a new new rule in a new bible?

25 07 2011
agradecido

Thanks for the informative read!

25 07 2011
Jane

Padraig, thanks.

It’s true, high-dose vitamin C is remarkably non-toxic. However,

‘..this study confirms that a high ascorbic acid intake is antagonistic to copper status of men as has been demonstrated in laboratory animals.’
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6837490

The thing is, vitamin C increases iron absorption. More iron means a higher requirement for copper. If your diet is high in iron and marginal in copper, like most people’s, you don’t want to take high-dose vitamin C.

25 07 2011
Howard Kaplan

Denise, I have no argument with your demonstration of the wide, year-round availability of fruits in Africa, and even that fruits in temperate regions would have similar macronutrient content in prehistoric times as today. What I reject is that human civilization began in Africa. Anything is possible I suppose, but it seems highly improbable that Scandinavians, for example, can trace roots back to Africa. If it all started there, what would have been the motivation to migrate to areas where food was more scarce and the climate harsher. In fact, putting oneself in the place of a prehistoric, it doesn’t make sense that the idea of migrating anywhere would have occurred to him. You live where you live and that’s it. I can’t imagine migration occurring until perhaps the advent of agriculture, and even then I can’t envision people transforming from black to pale and blond in only 10,000 years.

What makes sense to me is the following. When food is plentiful sex hormones are produced and consequently more mating is taking place. In northern climates, fruit is, in fact, only available part of the year, and the wild food supply would be more scarce in the other seasons. Sex hormone production would be inhibited in times of scarcity. And it has been shown that calorie restriction, and more specifically, glucose restriction, results in slower aging and increased lifespan. Cynthia Kenyon has done some amazing work in this field. So in Africa you had more reproduction taking place, meaning more offspring, and shorter lifespans meaning more generations. In northern climates people were living longer and not reproducing as much. Statistically where do you think you’ll find more preshistoric remains?

Also fructose is not converted to glycogen in the liver as one commenter stated. It is metabolized by the liver, but directly into fatty acids and most likely stored as fat, as it is always accompanied by glucose and therefore insulin is high.

26 07 2011
Monte

Quit smoking so much hashish Howard.

26 07 2011
Howard Kaplan

>>Quit smoking so much hashish Howard.<<

Monte, it's not the hashish. I ate the FRUIT of the Tree of Knowledge. :)

26 07 2011
ME

http://www.medbio.info/Horn/Time%201-2/carbohydrate_metabolism.htm

Fructose can be converted to glucose, glycogen and triglycerides.

25 07 2011
Padraig

If it all started there, what would have been the motivation to migrate to areas where food was more scarce and the climate harsher. In fact, putting oneself in the place of a prehistoric, it doesn’t make sense that the idea of migrating anywhere would have occurred to him.”

Howard, first of all… this journey took a really long time. They had no idea they were going to Scandanavia and harsher climates when they migrating. Many animals migrate for many reasons. They didn’t just appear out of nowhere. Evolution can occur quite rapidly. Look at the selection of dogs over the past few thousand years and how different they are from their origin of the wolf. Some people wonder how evolution can occur so rapidly given the current explanations (leading some to question evolution altogether), however this is a problem with evolutionary theory, not of migration. Everyone accepts that relatively fast (few thousand years or so) change happens especially if the environment changes.

There are so many problems with your next paragraph that I don’t even know where to begin, the whole thing is a joke, sorry.

26 07 2011
Howard Kaplan

Padraig, that’s okay–my ideas (and I) have been called far worse and you were kind to use restraint. You might want to read “Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar & Survival” by T.S. Wiley, and check out the research being done on aging and longevity by Cynthia Kenyon.

26 07 2011
Padraig

“Padraig, that’s okay–my ideas (and I) have been called far worse”

Probably by the so-called “paleo” (low sugar) community, right? Those guys can get very nasty very fast, perhaps it’s got something to do with them denying themselves food that has sugar in it (based on their deranged concept of sugar)…. I accept that that’s higly speculatory, but there can be no doubt that extremely low sugar = low/angry mood sometimes.

26 07 2011
Howard Kaplan

Actually, you’re right, it was among the Paleos. But ironically I consider myself to be a member of that group and find that my mood has improved since having eliminated carbs. However, in any group when one’s paradigm is challenged, the response is often an angry or defiant in defense of the beliefs. I have to fight the same urge–I keep re-thinking my positions, and keep questioning.

27 07 2011
Heather

ME, I think you are insulting everyone here’s intelligence and wasting all of our time by making unfounded claims about whole fruit and “proving” those claims with studies done on HFCS.

You want to believe that fruit is dangerous, so you reel in whatever possible argument you can find to support that bias, however far-fetched and unrelated. This being the case, no one can debate with you. Again, if for some reason you don’t like fruit, simply stop eating it.

27 07 2011
ME

Since you also can not comprehend the argument and clearly haven’t read any of the cited studies, let me simplify it for you:

Padraig claims that the optimal human diet is “95% fruit”. I am arguing against this position with the only clinical data available regarding fructose consumption at these levels. The clinical study data includes various forms of fructose, not just HFCS. I am not arguing that “fruit is dangerous” in general, and have made no such claim.

I am raising what has been shown by the research: that consuming more than 50 g of fructose a day results in adverse health markers. Interpret that as you wish.

28 07 2011
neisy

ME — although there’s a dearth of literature on the effects of fructose from whole fruit, there is at least one study out there done on honey (which has a similar glucose/fructose ratio as HFCS) that shows fructose from honey results in lower triglycerides than an equivalent amount of refined fructose. Read it here:
Substituting Honey for Refined Carbohydrates Protects Rats from Hypertriglyceridemic and Prooxidative Effects of Fructose — look in Table 3 and you’ll see that the honey-fed rats had significantly lower triglycerides than the ones fed fructose, even though the absolute amount of fructose consumed was the same.
Though not explicitly about fruit, this does give credence to the idea that whole-food fructose can have a different metabolic effect than refined sources.

28 07 2011
Warren Dew

Thank you – that is very interesting.

Of course the only reason the starch fed to the control rats is not itself prooxidative is because rats can turn glucose into vitamin C, an option humans don’t have.

28 07 2011
ME

That is a useful study, but the increase in TG is still there for honey. Not to the same extent as fructose, but still a significant increase as compared to the control group.

28 07 2011
ME

One other comment about this study. The actual food consumption of the rats wasn’t apparently monitored:

“Diet and distilled water were consumed ad libitum. ”

Maybe the rats consumed the same amount of fructose, maybe they didn’t.

28 07 2011
Warren Dew

ME, the difference in triglycerides with honey and with the control diet was not statistically significant, if you check the superscripts. The honey fed rats grew the most, so it seems to me unlikely they ate less than the fructose/glucose rats.

28 07 2011
ME

Thanks for pointing out the superscripts, so the only statistically significant change for the honey fed rats was reduced Vitamin E/TG ratio, which is odd because neither the Vitamin E or TG levels on their own show a statistically significant change (but I am not a statistics wonk).

Yes, it is possible that the honey fed rats ate more, but that statement is still speculative.

27 07 2011
Jane

Howard, I looked up Cynthia Kenyon and discovered she did her postdoc in the lab where I did my PhD. I know the people who have influenced her, and they think modern disease is caused by faulty genes rather than diet. At least they used to think that, perhaps they’re changing their minds now that the Human Genome Project has failed to come up with the genes.

She eats a paleo-style diet with almost no carbs, not even sweet fruit, because of her finding that worms don’t live as long if you feed them sugar. With her background, this will have been a revelation. The genes people were wrong! It’s sugar! But actually, it isn’t really the sugar at all. It’s the excess sugar, over and above the micronutrients needed for metabolism of the sugar.

28 07 2011
Howard Kaplan

Yes, Jane, Cynthia Kenyon was influenced by people who think genes cause disease and set about doing her research with that bias. But her research is on aging and longevity, not disease, and she DEFINITELY found that she could alter the lifespan of c. elegans by manipulating genes. And yes, she also discovered that glucose restriction would lengthen their lifespan. And that it would turn off their ability to multiply. Neither she nor I give a hoot what others eat. We believe limiting glucose (which is in fruit, BTW) will make us live longer. I still love berries and have them every once an awhile.

27 07 2011
Xogenesis

Fructose has unique biochemical pathways in humans and most of the great apes. It inteferes with liver function. The liver drops everything to deal with fructose metabolism. In view of the huge run up of added sugars in western diets in the past 60-80 years fructose must now be viewed as uniquely toxic with its assault on the liver. The prescription for most of the sick organisms that have resulted from the 900 or so excess carbohydrate calories consumed on the SAD diet is a long sugar holiday. A 95% fruit diet is an extreme radical take on what our species evolved on. Take a look at mother’s milk for a more rational macronutrient ratio. This is Denise’s blog. It doesn’t belong to an angry, nattering, name calling minority with nothing to do but aggressively put forth a combination of fantasy and fact without much spirit of calm inquiry and sharing of information. Go do your own damn blog and quit choking this one to death. Poor Denise.

27 07 2011
Heather

Xogenesis: Denise herself eats a high fruit diet, the exact type of diet you disparage in your comment.

27 07 2011
Xogenesis

A very narrow and unenlightening reading of the reply. Try to pull the whole statement into your consideration.

9 04 2012
Yuri

This is not science lecture — this is a blog. Argument, even radical and preposterous, is what drives blogs and interest.

If you want peace and harmony, go to a scrapbooking class.

“The liver drops everything to deal with fructose metabolism.” So what? That says it all, doesn’t it, about the value of your contribution.

27 07 2011
Padraig

“A 95% fruit diet is an extreme radical take on what our species evolved on.”

An “extreme radical take”, huh? My parents used to think that my raw diet was an “extreme radical take”. It could be argued better that the extreme radical take is to cook foods and to deny yourself eating the food that you want to eat due to some radical pseudoscience that has only ever produces what it’s supposed to in a test tube!

The Chimpanzees and Orangutans, who have been seen to throw away fresh monkey meat after capturing it in favour of eating fresh fruit instead, disagree with you. I too love fruit and love eating it. If you want to eat meat, try eating actual raw organic meat. That is how it was available to your ancestors. I’m sure it would be somewhat tasty, but not as much as fruit.

A lot of stuff on diet, in particular fructose, is just pseudoscience or wholly irrelevant. It’s taking the good name of science and just abusing it. Scientists are required to come up with theories and papers as part of their job description, the fact that they can come up with nothing useful for diet other than you should eat naturally means they come up with this sort of stuff. Even then, NONE of them are seriously claiming that 100grams of fructose a day is bad. In fact didn’t they say the EXACT OPPOSITE in the link that ME posted, ie. that the amounts of fructose that were bad for you were unrealistic for humans to take?

Health agencies can’t be trusted, but they have never warned about the “dangers of fructose”, it’s only this cult that’s going around the web interpretating these ideas they’re own way, led by people such as Cynthia Kenyon, and you bought into it. I’m sure it must be nice to pretend that you have the “inside knowledge” about something and that all those people buying fruit are damaging themselves. I’ve seen people say things with absolute seriousness like heart disease is caused “almost entirely by AGEs”… with the implication that AGEs are caused by fructose/glucose, ie. from food like fruit. Thank you Jane and Heather for your informative and interesting posts.

28 07 2011
Andrés

Chimpanzees has also been seen throw away fresh meat with other non-so-vegetable purposes: http://barrygroves.blogspot.com/2009/04/wild-chimpanzees-exchange-meat-for-sex.html

29 07 2011
Padraig

“Chimpanzees has also been seen throw away fresh meat with other non-so-vegetable purposes: http://barrygroves.blogspot.com/2009/04/wild-chimpanzees-exchange-meat-for-sex.html

Yeah I know about that, what those sneaky chimps get up to. :P It’s different to throwing it away though.

17 11 2011
Socrates

The use of fire for cooking a substantial portion of our food is a prominent factor in our evolution in becoming the species Homo sapiens. Apparently Homo erectus got the fire for cooking food ‘thing’ started well over 800,000 years ago. Cooking food, and the culture that goes with it all, is part of our basic biology as Homo sapiens.

27 07 2011
Warren Dew

As far as I can tell, Cynthia Kenyon believes that it’s glucose, not fructose, that’s bad. That implicates starchy foods such as bread and potatoes much more than it does fruit. Nor does she go around telling other people they should eat like she does; I think she’d be the first to admit that her diet is based on a guess, not on full knowledge.

28 07 2011
Howard Kaplan

Yes, Warren, that’s correct, glucose. But fruit does contain glucose. Neither she nor I are telling anyone what to eat. She found that she could lengthen the lifespan of c. elegans worms if she restricted glucose. Whether right or wrong I was using that fact to support my hypothesis on where we originated. I definitely believe that prehistorics ate fruit.

28 07 2011
Padraig

Also, just because fructose partially uses the liver as a metabolic pathway in no way indicates that it is not as good. Muscles weaken and atrophy when not in use, eyes that are not used when a person is born for some medical reason never develop sight properly.

28 07 2011
Grok

Attn: Those commenting to “ME”

If he hasn’t figured it out by now, he never will. It’s a lost cause. Quit wasting perfectly good glucose on him that you could be using to help someone else.

RE: Longevity

I guess I’ll eat my fruit and live to a thriving 90 vs low-carbing and living a miserable bonked out 93. But wait… isn’t stress one of the biggest factors in longevity? Last time I checked, worms didn’t have many stress factors in their lives.

Now back to my show on Discovery watching swinging primates with fatty livers from diets based on figs and bananas.

28 07 2011
Padraig

“I guess I’ll eat my fruit and live to a thriving 90 vs low-carbing and living a miserable bonked out 93. ”

Grok, you don’t really believe in that nonsense do you? If you eat a low-carb diet you will experience all sorts of problems far before anything like that age. Kidney problems, cardiovascular problems, bone health deteriorating, high risk of cancer. Now if you can manage to eat just raw meat, then maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. But a low mood will also put your stress hormones on full alert. This is why protein is known as a “toxic fuel”.

Grok I suggest you re-evaluate how your belief system works if you really believe that people will live *longer* on a low carb diet. Maybe low carb has some merits for a person suffering from very high and irreversible insulin resistance or has diabetes… a lot of these low carb propopents are or have been *extremely* fat themselves. A normal health individual would not do well to eat a low carb diet.

28 07 2011
Grok

@Padraig, no I don’t. There was a high level of sarcasm there. You and I are on the same page with the low-carb thing.

28 07 2011
Jane

Howard, you’re right. I just looked up Cynthia Kenyon again and found she’s the one who discovered the (really famous) daf-2 longevity pathway.

29 07 2011
Xogenesis

I stand vindicated. A radical extreme take on what humans evolved to eat. Eat what you want Padraig but your jumping up and down screaming psuedoscience doesn’t make it so. Where is your science? You eat a diet that 99% of the human population doesn’t and claim your are onto something that just eludes the rest of us. Argrogant one way Jesus saves whacko’s claim a much greater percentage of us humans than you can. Doesn’t make you wrong but I formally challenge you to a sports event where you will be able to show off you superior nutrition. Let’s see how far you can go on your sugar diet when it comes to performance. How about a photo of sucessful glowing fructarian health. Orangatan don’t look too Olympian but I am sure they are suited to their habtat. We know what healthy humans look like. Jack LaLanne recently died at 96. Why don’t you look up this example of robust health and try to encoporarte this into to your resricted world view. Loosen your sphincter a little and accept that there is a range of human nutrition that seems to work well and you don’t have the secret eluding mankind. Do expand your reading and educate yourself to the rapidly expanded science happening in front of you. Establish your blog where you don’t clog the arteries of this one.

29 07 2011
ME

No need. Anyone who can think logically can see that Padraig hasn’t cited any scientific studies to back up his opinions. In fact, he calls them “test tube nonsense.” He also continues to lie about what the study I cited actually states.

I’m just ignoring him now as he either has some serious mental health issues (see some of his previous posts early in this thread for what I’m referring to) or is just trolling. Seems that others have made this decision as well…

29 07 2011
Padraig

Xogenesis, what do you mean “Orangatan don’t look too Olympian”? I think you are just getting careless and rambling a bit now (even more than you were. Orangutans are exceptionally fit and healthy, look at this

Orangutan beating a Sumo Wrestler in a tug of war: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zj7EVThZJsE

Chimp easily beating Navy Seal over course: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wbVIgVi66k

Baby Orangutan vs acrobat ( the Orangutan would have won only she appeared to get completely bored and let go): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbo3jjs4AW0

I mean what an absolute ridiculous thing to say. Orangutans don’t look too Olympian and suggesting in a vague way it must be because they’re eating fruit. You are making me laugh!!!

As for “clogging up this blog”, this section is for comments and people can choose to read them or not. If I consider or feel like I should write a comment then why not listen to my natural instinct and write it? Denise doesn’t need saving from the like of you, lol. I’m not telling you not to write comments here, all I ask is that you don’t spread misinformation and this hearsay stuff about fructose, like ME who was citing studies that turns out, say the exact opposite of what he claimed they said.

29 07 2011
Padraig

Hrrmm… actually the chimp does not win against the navy seal, but he comes close. I thought I had seen the video before, I did see a video of a chimp easily beating a human before but can’t seem to find it now. Personally, I think it has to be something of a fix as a human can *not* beat a healthy chimp in a contest like that if they’re both trying. The chimp wasn’t motivated. Chimps are very fast and the climbing contests are obviously ridiculous: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ3lxypbiQo And here is chimp karate, where the chimp is performing at a world class level doing amazing kicks with hardly any training, which would take many years of intense training for a human to do: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXG4HrH1L-k

Whatever the case, I think it’s safe to say that Orangutans are exceptionally fit by any human standards.

29 07 2011
Warren Dew

I think it’s safe to say SEALs are exceptionally fit by chimp standards.

29 07 2011
Xogenesis

Spoken like a true outrsaged believer Padraig. Go ahead and miss the essential thrust of the reply and obfuscate again. I will take only this passing few comments to point out your arrogant monopoly of a blog that shines, otherwise, in clear thinking. Sitll waiting for a photo of your fuitarian slendor. And by the way Orangatans don’t look like human Olympian’s. Do they? They are herbivores, though and vastly overpower us. Paleolithic humans vastly overpowered our much evovled present form. Like I said, eat what you want Padraig but pity the poor infant who’s deranged parents think they can be weened to a fruitarian diet. Look at the tragic results in your news links. That should be enough.

29 07 2011
Jane

Howard, there’s something that might interest you (and Padraig) about Cynthia Kenyon’s work on longevity and genes. The daf-2 pathway is linked to a really important antioxidant enzyme, MnSOD, which protects mitochondria. (MnSOD = manganese superoxide dismutase)

Mutant daf-2 means more MnSOD, and giving worms or flies extra MnSOD makes them live longer.

So what does that have to do with sugar metabolism? Well, it turns out that it’s very relevant indeed to insulin resistance. A recent paper says that all the different ways of producing insulin resistance converge on excess mitochondrial superoxide, which is detoxified by MnSOD. In other words, the gene that makes you live longer is the same gene that protects you against insulin resistance, and the link between this gene and the environment is manganese.

If Cynthia Kenyon knew that, she might be more willing to eat sweet fruit. Blueberries and pineapple are FULL of manganese.

29 07 2011
ME

Excellent. Here is another list of high manganese foods: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=77

Several spices and leafy greens rank very high as well.

29 07 2011
Howard Kaplan

Jane, thank you for that info–it is fascinating and helps to answer questions (at least in my mind) about how certain peoples can have eaten lots of fruit and maintained good health. That does not negate her observations about glucose restriction; anti-oxidants are less important if there is no oxidation taking place. But it should certainly alleviate the concern of having some delicious fruit every now and then.

29 07 2011
Jane

The paper I just mentioned is ‘Insulin resistance as a cellular antioxidant mechanism’, Hoehn et al 2009, PNAS 106:17787. It says

In addition to showing that mitochondrial superoxide (O2•−) is increased in all four models of IR, we also show that either pharmacologic or genetic strategies that override mitochondrial O2•− reverse or prevent the onset of IR both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, selective induction of O2•− using the mitochondrial complex III antagonist antimycin A (AntA) rapidly induced IR and we observed an inverse relationship between the expression of mitochondrial superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) and IR in skeletal muscle of intact mice. We propose that mitochondrial O2•− is a unifying element of IR principally acting as a nutrient sensor in key metabolic tissues to regulate nutrient intake in accord with energy oversupply.

29 07 2011
Jane

Today Mercola tells us this:

‘All sugars and grains (including organic ones) promote insulin resistance, which sets you firmly on the path toward ill health.’

It’s true that insulin resistance sets you firmly on the path toward ill health. But it isn’t sugars and grains that promote insulin resistance, it’s sugars and grains that have had their manganese removed.

30 07 2011
Jane

Howard, that’s very interesting. So Cynthia Kenyon believes glucose should be restricted because it promotes oxidation. Could you please direct me to something she has written on this subject? I need to see her arguments.

ME, that link is one of the best accounts of manganese I’ve ever seen.

Reply

30 07 2011
Jane

It’s OK Howard, I found it.

Interestingly, many scientists have long believed the secret to longevity is a calorie-restricted diet, but compliance with a way of eating that leaves you constantly hungry and craving nutrition is not very high. Dr. Kenyon notes that a low-calorie diet is effective because it’s actually a low-carbohydrate diet that helps to control insulin production (which turns on the “Grim Reaper” gene) and is the primary hormonal culprit in the aging process.

30 07 2011
Jane

The quote above explains why Cynthia Kenyon thinks glucose should be restricted: it makes you produce too much insulin. But in fact, it shouldn’t, if your insulin-producing beta cells are working properly. When blood glucose rises after a meal, beta cells should respond at once with a small amount of insulin. If they can’t, they will respond later with too much insulin. Then you have hyperinsulinemia, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, obesity, etc etc. Eventually the beta cells wear out and you have diabetes.

Beta cells need manganese to function properly. They are very sensitive to oxidative stress, which is not related to the amount of glucose you eat, but to the ratio between manganese and iron. Excess iron causes oxidative stress, and manganese prevents it.

10 11 2011
George Henderson

Read this Jane; Iron Behaving Badly by Douglas Kell
http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0808/0808.1371.pdf
a brilliant review of all the then-published evidence, thousands of papers.
Insulin increases ferritin expression and iron retention.
Fructose disregulates insulin sensitivity more than glucose.
Diabetes was seen in parts of the world, such as Afghanistan, where fruits was able to be grown for much of the year, before Western diets.
Eating most calories as raw fruit may not cause IR in most people, but my hunch is it’s not going to cure diabetes either.

30 07 2011
Warren Dew

It’s not just “too much” insulin that Kenyon thinks is an issue. She thinks normal amounts of insulin cause normal amounts of aging, so life extension depends on having below normal amounts.

It’s to be noted though that worms are not humans or even mammals. In humans, there’s an insulin response to protein as well to carbohydrate, and in some mammals, restriction of essential amino acids has been shown to extend lifetime, showing that it isn’t just an issue of carbohydrates.

30 07 2011
Padraig

Calorie restriction diets “work” because they are using lab mice/rats who eat far more in captivity than they do in the wild and are often genetically mutated also. That’s not how much they eat in the wild. 100% fruitarians are exceptionally thin anyway, I believe this is just the natural way for Humans to be and all they would desire to eat also. While I do think that low calories relative to the norm are good, I doubt that it has anything to do with the effects seen in much lower organisms such as fruitflies, which you can also about double their lifespan by throwing them in the fridge. So what they call “calorie restriction”, is really just the normal amount of calories in humans. I don’t believe in the SIRT1 stuff, but I suppose it’s possible, unlike fruit being bad for you.

The relevant point discussed here is that there have been CR experiments carried out with high protein or high carb, and it’s been found that there is little difference between the two. IN FACT…. some people even consider CR to actually be just a superset of METHIONINE restriction, a type of protein which is high in foods with a lot of protein. And that the calorie restriction just causes methionine restriction, some experiments have given strong evidence for this being the case, even with calories being kept constant between the groups. Whatever the case, protein is not a good substance to live on and should always be avoided in favour of fruit. The old ideas about glucose and oxidive stress etc., A.G.Es etc. are old hat now and few scientists take them seriously anymore.

31 07 2011
Howard Kaplan

What about the idea that when fruits are eaten in the wild they often contain insects, and therefore a source of animal protein and fat is ingested along with them.

31 07 2011
Padraig

Wild fruit contains good bacteria, maybe good fungi and we can get vitamin b12 from it, not so much insects that you can see. The fruit we buy in store is also populated by microorganisms, but as you can imagine, they are much different. The vitamin b12 in particular is all gone.

The idea that we need more protein and fat than there is in fruit is a total myth.

1 08 2011
PJ

Will/Warren/Jane, thank you. Reading the comments section has mostly led me to believe that perhaps a diet of 95% fruit creates personality disorders in people who need their own blogs. Since Denise is dominantly raw/fruit apparently and she is unusually intelligent and many other good things, I’ll consider it an anomaly, not evidence. Anyway, your participation on the threads has been very interesting. I’m seriously gluten-intolerant but Jane’s comments have given me a perspective on grains I had never heard anything about before and I hope to find more reference to.

PJ

1 08 2011
Jane

Padraig, calorie restriction diets work in lab animals because their ‘normal’ food is not normal at all. Commercial feed manufacturers don’t have a clue. Here is an example.

Captive cheetahs are dying, see ‘The mystery of the dying cheetahs’. It turns out that their feed has about 5 times as much iron and zinc as it should have. See ‘Nutrition of captive cheetahs’, which says many zoo animals including cheetahs have deposits of iron in their tissues. Excess zinc prevents iron export from cells, which needs copper and is antagonised by zinc. This is what I told you about in relation to zinc supplements. The same thing is implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.

1 08 2011
Jane

PJ, thanks.

2 08 2011
Jane

I should have mentioned, the cheetahs have a disease called AA amyloidosis, which people think might be contagious. However, the AA protein is produced in response to tissue damage, and nobody seems to be asking why the cheetahs should have tissue damage. The most obvious explanation is of course the iron.

9 08 2011
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9 08 2011
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19 08 2011
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24 08 2011
dokmaidogma

We still eat bitter vegetables in Thailand: http://www.dokmaigarden.co.th

Cheers, Ketsanee

6 09 2011
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23 09 2011
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[...] I don’t recommend you eat 30 bananas a day. I do recommend you think twice about saying bananas are not healthy. You say fructose I say… bananas are a whole food! It’s more than fructose folks! If you are concerned about too much fructose then I invite you to read Denise Mingers take on fructose and fruit! [...]

28 09 2011
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4 11 2011
Couple of questions | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page

[...] occasional white rice. I no longer buy most of the fruit arguments – that fruit today is sweeter than it was thousands of years ago, or that the fructose in the fruit has any real negative impact for HEALTHY people. I haven't [...]

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10 11 2011
George Henderson

But was it eaten? I have seen two items recently suggesting that Grok, god bless him, may not have had a sweet tooth.
Firstly an episode of the TV series tribe where an Ethiopian tribe with goats and AK47s lived a hungry existence on a mononotonous diet of goat’s milk and a starchy root vege (oh, and they had beautiful healthy teeth, Dr Price). When asked what they would do when the food ran out altogether they replied “we’d have to collect fruit”.
Secondly, the “professor Gumby” guest spot on Kurt Harris’ Archevore blog where the visiting anthropologist describes how San-!Kung living a close-to-paleo HG existence never ate the very sweet and tasty fruit he found in abundance on their territory.

10 11 2011
Padraig

What a load of complete nonsense. Fruit is factually the food of choice for all primates, WHEN GOOD FRUIT IS AVAILABLE. All indigenous populations who have GOOD FRUIT available always eat as much fruit as they can and never get fat and never have any problems… like me. All of the other great apes do so as well. This idea of sugar/fructose being bad is faddist nonsense, it is a load of bullcrap, it is new age stuff that hasn’t got a shred of scientific evidence.

10 11 2011
George Henderson

Whatever. Proff Gumby lived with the San-!Kung for some months and I’ll take his word over your n=1 extrapolation when it comes to their eating habits.
Here’s the post http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2011/1/5/guest-post-professor-gumby-essay-001.html
I’m not trying to convince you mind.
We are not the other great apes; we evolved differently. When it comes to diet humans may be more like our common ancestor than the other apes, because all apes have gall bladders, but only humans (and the occassional cannibal chimp) use it for the designed purpose; digesting high fat meals.

13 11 2011
yellowhat@telus.net

Are the numbers used for modern fruit taken from fruit fresh and ripened on the plant, or for supermarket fruits after storage and shipping? I actually don’t think modern fruit is bred for sweetness. It’s bred for looks, productivity and it’s ability to withstand the trip to the market, with all that involves in the modern age. It would be my guess that heritage produce is probably sweeter than modern produce. It certainly has more flavour. I remember as a kid 20 years ago that I wouldn’t eat the strawberries in the store because they were tasteless compared to the ones from our garden. And the ones in the store now are worse! Huge, yes. Red, yes. And year round? yes. But sweet? no. And don’t get me started on tomatoes. And if you buy seeds, after all that work, they produce the same tasteless fruit cause they have messed with the breeding.
Trina

13 11 2011
Sara

very silly statement, small and bitter.
It that is so why have my sugar taste buds evolved so much?!!
Sugar and fat.. are indicatros of high vitamine,
fat–> liver, tongue etc
sugar-> fruit that is ripe

17 11 2011
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19 11 2011
Karen

Dear Denise: After reading your blog straight through in one sitting, from the tooth care thing to the China Study posts, to this one, I have two things to say:

No. 1; You rock.
No..2: I’m reminded of a bumper sticker I loved once, which said, “We have charts and graphs to back us up, so fuck off.” (Do you think that would work on your Campbell detractors??)

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9 12 2011
primallykosher

The Canistel actually looks like an avacodo due to the location of the seed and the color tone of the flesh. The color is almost complimentary too, in color wheel terms.

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[...]Wild and Ancient Fruit: Is it Really Small, Bitter, and Low in Sugar? « Raw Food SOS: Troubleshooting on the Raw Food Diet[...]…

20 12 2011
Koen

Very nice analysis of wild vs cultivated fruits there Denise! :-)
Your inclination towards statistics results in a very neat and
clear comparative overview, which blows the entire unsubstantiated
Paleo fruit myth out of the water.

Having lived in South Africa for a few years and having traveled
around southern Africa, I encountered many “wild” fruits there and
almost all of them were very sweet and tasty. People over there
don’t even consider the difference between “wild” and “cultivated”,
as just about all native fruits and vegetables are barely cultivated
or selectively grown at all. It is mostly the imported, non-native
fruits and vegetables that are grown in a “modern” and selective
way, things like apples, pears, potatoes, etc.
The mangos, marulafruit, custard apples, prickly pears, melons,
and many other “wild” fruits are often picked right off the “wild”
trees that just grow wherever they happen to sprout. I reguarly
bought a box full of freshly picked fruits on the side of one of the
dirt roads, where locals would tend to set up improvised roadside
stalls where they would try to sell fruit to passers-by. Most of the time
the tree they picked the fruits from was just right behind them and
still bursting with fresh fruit. It cost next to nothing to buy a box,
as the sellers never had to actually grow the stuff, they just picked
it fresh off the “wild” trees.

24 12 2011
HorseHorse

Oh man, I want to eat all of those fruits I never knew about. Who wants to go on a trip to Africa with me (you’re buying, btw)? Anecdotally (is that a word?), I have noticed that since I started limiting my fruit intake recently, I’ve lost weight much more rapidly (~30lbs over the last 3 months vs ~30lbs over the previous year when I was eating fruit like a fiend). However, I have also just reduced my portions in general. But my exercise is less than during the Summer…

But yeah, someone fly me to Africa and buy me some monkey oranges!

28 12 2011
Kathi Wise

The fruit may have been just as sweet. I’m sure the honey was too, difference is you had to climb a tree and deal with the bees. So as with the fruit, if there were more anti-nutrients and they offered less palatable material to munch on….most modern humans probably wouldn’t touch them. I don’t have much experience climbing trees and getting fruit in the wild, but it is work. Even throwing rocks at coconuts! (which I have done). So I think an important point is that we have to pay attention (and compensate for) the conveniences that we have created. Grabbing a pre-gathered or picked, pre cleaned, non-bug infested, fruit, in a sweatless manner from a shelf. Same goes with anything else of course. No, most of us are not out hunting our meat, but, it is my understanding (may be wrong here) that meat has not varied much (grass-fed organic) with the exception of less fat (providing there is good grass and soil)

28 12 2011
Padraig

yeah exactly. I’ve taken to climbing trees from time to time and it’s an interesting skill. It takes strength, stamina, lots of coordination and awareness. I think it is very good for you both physically and cranially.

One thing I don’t agree with is that in general wild fruit is “bug infested” or there are bees around them. Bees go to flowers. Any fruit that is bug infested we know is not to be eaten. There will still be plenty of food left over… or at least there is in the wild for a sensible population of primates.

12 01 2012
HorseHorse

Bug-infested fruit is just bonus protein….

12 01 2012
Padraig

WE GET ALL THE PROTEIN WE NEED IN FRUIT. WE DON’T NEED “BONUS PROTEIN” AND NEITHER IS IT GOOD FOR US.

The other great apes often eat insects, so they can be good for us sometimes. However bug-infested fruit is something that tastes bad and so is bad for us. I’m really going mental saying things that are so obvious to me. >_<

12 01 2012
Xogenesis

Gone mental is apt.

3 01 2012
chris

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7 01 2012
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[...] great blogs on her site: The New USDA Dietary Guidelines: Total Hogwash, and Here’s Why, Wild and Ancient Fruit: Is it Really Small, Bitter, and Low in Sugar?, The Truth About Ancel Keys: We’ve Got It All [...]

9 01 2012
Michele

My most favorite and peaceful thing to do of all time, is to wander the trails in Central NY, and pick wild black raspberries. I look forward all year to the ripening, and have taken time off work specifically to enjoy the outdoors, and berry picking!

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[...]Wild and Ancient Fruit: Is it Really Small, Bitter, and Low in Sugar? « Raw Food SOS: Troubleshooting on the Raw Food Diet[...]…

15 01 2012
Food Scientist

The article is totally pointless because humans didn’t evolve in rainforests filled with fruit. We evolved in cool arid high altitude grasslands in East Africa. Fruit is so rare in this region that even the Gelada baboons native to this area have evolved to live entirely on grass.

Those of us of European origin also went through a 30,000+ year evolutionary period during the last ice age when fruit was a very rare commodity (hence the extremely high rate of fructose intolerance in northern and central Europeans).
.

15 01 2012
Food Scientist

The purpose of selectively breeding fruit is not to make it sweeter [lemons have quite high sugar levels but are so acidic that the sweetness is not noticed]. It is to remove toxins, reduce acidity, remove hairs or spines, make peeling easier, improve the texture and flavour, increase shelf life, increase the size and colour etc.

Most wild fruits are unpalatble, poisonous, fibrous or acidic, One or two pea sized Deadly Nightshade berries can kill a child. Surinam cherries are delicious but you will probably suffer explosive diarrhoea not long after eating them. The bromelain in raw pineapple or the papain in papaya will dissolve the tissues in your mouth. Lemons and limes are extremely acidic. Rosehips are extremely fibrous, rather sour and quite bitter.

15 01 2012
Padraig

“The article is totally pointless because humans didn’t evolve in rainforests filled with fruit. We evolved in cool arid high altitude grasslands in East Africa. Fruit is so rare in this region that even the Gelada baboons native to this area have evolved to live entirely on grass.”

False. Humans evolved with in lower East Africa with fruit all around at all times during the year for millions of years. If we were like the Gelada baboons in any way, then we’d have evolved to live somewhat on grass wouldn’t we?

“Those of us of European origin also went through a 30,000+ year evolutionary period during the last ice age when fruit was a very rare commodity (hence the extremely high rate of fructose intolerance in northern and central Europeans).”

Wikipedia contradicts the basis for your argument: “Fructose malabsorption is found in up to 30% of the population of Western countries and Africa.[2] Some estimates for Asia seem to be considerably lower but are still at 10% of the population.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fructose_malabsorption ===> the patterns show ample evidence AGAINST this idea. Also we are still in “the last ice age” if you mean the one that was 30,000 years ago, I think you mean glacial cycle, which is not a very good point anyway since fruit can adapt and grow well during all glacial cycles and ice ages. 30,000 years is the blink of an evolutionary eye anyway… as opposed to millions of years adapting to eat fruit.

“The purpose of selectively breeding fruit is not to make it sweeter [lemons have quite high sugar levels but are so acidic that the sweetness is not noticed]. It is to remove toxins, reduce acidity, remove hairs or spines, make peeling easier, improve the texture and flavour, increase shelf life, increase the size and colour etc.”

With this I agree. It’s amazing how many people don’t understand this.

“Most wild fruits are unpalatble, poisonous, fibrous or acidic, One or two pea sized Deadly Nightshade berries can kill a child. Surinam cherries are delicious but you will probably suffer explosive diarrhoea not long after eating them. The bromelain in raw pineapple or the papain in papaya will dissolve the tissues in your mouth. Lemons and limes are extremely acidic. Rosehips are extremely fibrous, rather sour and quite bitter.”

No, no, no. This is highly misleading and inaccurate, and just plain wrong. Chimpanzees, orangutans, and humans, have evolved to live with wild fruits fruits. Humans didn’t evolve with “deadly nightshade”, they also wouldn’t have eaten any unpalatable fruits.

5 02 2012
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9 02 2012
LOL

Lol….Padraig is totally Durianrider….just sayin’

9 02 2012
Xogenesis

Padraig, Madrage, Gagrag, Badday, Makeitup, Goaway come again another day. Just sayin. Yea,paleo man living in France 30,000 years ago with 9.000 feet of ice piled up on top of the Alps had the luxury to peel a grape.

9 02 2012
Padraig

“Lol….Padraig is totally Durianrider….just sayin’” ===> False.

14 02 2012
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27 02 2012
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[...] and found it's actually very similar. I dont have the at the moment, I'm mobile. Found it: http://rawfoodsos.com/2011/05/31/wil…ancient-fruit/ Last edited by j3nn; Today at 02:08 PM. I make Primal-friendly chow now and then: [...]

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1 03 2012
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[...] am aware that Denise Minger put up a post not too long ago showing all the high-starch, high-sugar tropical fruits available in tropical [...]

2 03 2012
Tristam J

Brilliant article! I’ll be re-reading this one again.

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6 03 2012
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[...] Wild and Ancient Fruit: Is it Really Small, Bitter, and Low in Sugar? « Raw Food SOS: Troubleshooti… (Note : This isn’t a post about how much fruit we should or shouldn’t be eating, or how much fruit we’ve eaten in the past, or how many apples it’ll take to turn your liver into a ready-to-explode fructose grenade. Those are some hot issues, and I’m not sure they can be reasonably addressed with current research (for instance, there are virtually no studies on the effects of fruit-derived fructose in healthy humans, and quantifying historical fruit consumption is extremely difficult). My intent here is to shed light on some of the myths surrounding wild and ancestral fruit, since some of the most common beliefs are also the most inaccurate.) [...]

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16 03 2012
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I know this is only anecdotal, but when I went up north to my family’s place in Newfoundland, (my mother’s family lived on a fjord-like river reachable only by boat-ride…3 boat rides, to be exact), I was able to sample the most amazing strawberries and blueberries of my life. They were so tiny, (some berries the size of my baby-fingernail) and so deeply hued, and their taste was truly remarkable…One bite of a tiny wild strawberry carried with it more sweetness and more, “strawberry-ness” than even the most expensive “organic” berry from Whole Foods. Imagine that! The same for the blueberries, though the wild ones varied greatly in size, (but not taste). In this case, at least from a taste standpoint, wilder was sweeter, (and better!).

17 03 2012
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24 05 2012
Ryan.ron.jon.

Great post! In temperate climates we have the Paw paw tree – a large fruit and a relative to the cherimoya and sweet sop in tropical areas. It’s native to the northeast U.S., I think, and is making a comeback as a cultivated fruit.
Once again, what a thoughtful, well-written piece. Thanks.

Ryan

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23 06 2012
pavlos

This is a good body of work and congratulations. Very useful info.

One problem I see with your view is that humans did not really evolve in a tropical paradise full of fruit in great quantities, throughout the year. For 1000s of generations humans lived in climates that were far from that. In cold, over soil that does not produce much fruit, in places where the only food available came from animal sources that could find and process food better than humans. There are places where the only thing that grows is grass and other inedible low caloric content, high water content food. Many animals will live on it. Some animals, including humans evolved to live on the flesh of these animals. We can’t deny this fact, it’s all over our biology. Fish was the only source for many primitive communities and is the only source for many modern communities. Humans possibly starved for days at a time and lived a very different life from what the tropical paradise paradigm might make you think.

You obvioysly love fruit, it’s quite easy to tell from the descriptions of fruit. That doesn’t mean that a diet based on fruit is natural and heatly or that human evolved under this diet. The availability of these fruits was probably the exception. I might like grain but that doesn’t mean humans have always had crops stacked in their premises, I know agriculture hasn’t been with us for very long. It’s easy to tell by the starving mechanism of humans that we actually starved again and again. The fat storage mechanism and the use of it as fuel point to this direction.

Also, the choice of modern fruit is a little strange. Lots of good fruit in there, but many people in my country only eat apples, oranges and grapes. In most supermarkets you can only get a few tropical fruits. An apple a day we say. But apples are not high fat and high protein content like your modern fruit examples. They are 96% carbs, nothing like the uncommon tropical fruit you present here.

Most people consider fruit juices to be healthy and they are not. That’s biology and that’s a fact. You can easily drink too much juice, you can practically drink it instead of water, and there virtually no fiber in it. They are marketed on the same wagon with fruits, and that’s something we should change.

23 06 2012
Xogenesis

Thanks Pavlos. Glad to have your comments. Your rationality is attested to by the crap spewing forth from the sugar distorted mind of Padraig. He is like a spider ready to pounce on anyone arriving here. Complete strangers are treated like mortal enemies to be insulted rather than talked to. Never mind this example of the worst instinct in humanity. Probably one of those angry-all-the time vegans you see at the health food stores with their angry faces. Et tu Brutus? He has appointed himself guardian of the monkey ancestor diet hypothesis. I am surer poor Denise cringes when he writes in her name.

24 06 2012
Padraig

*sigh* You know I tried to think of something to say to this, but I just cannot break down how ridiculous it is to be 1) guessing about Denise’s state of mind and much worse 2) to state as an assumed fact that I’m attempting to “write in her name”, simply because I agree with the main point of this article.

24 06 2012
Xogenesis

“How can anyone talk as much **** as you do pavlos is beyond me. You are so utterly, completely wrong with every way. People like you are a pox on the planet. “We can’t deny this fact, it’s all over our biology”====> YOU’RE AN IDIOT.”
Hey Padraig, this is how you treat people. You are being called on being a nasty person. You are on record over an over again at being an intolerable bore and just plain mean to complete strangers. Now really, would it be a big step to think that Denise would cringe at reading of the vile nastiness she sees coming from you? I don’t think so. Now you have the last word. You are not worth another reply. I am cancelling my email notices

24 06 2012
Padraig

Again this fantasizing about Denise and what she’s thinking and how she must be on your side during all of this. I’m actually starting to find it borderline creepy myself, god only knows how Denise must feel as the object of your obsessions.

It wouldn’t be a big step to think that, no. I’m sure I could be banned at any time. But this doesn’t mean you can just talk about “what Denise must think” when she didn’t say anything about it herself. Now I can’t say it hasn’t crossed my own mind whether or not Denise would read my comments and what she would think of them, just like for other blogs I’ve posted on also. But I don’t have this intense focus on her hypothetical thoughts… which you just invented yourself… as you do.

I’m not critical of people or posts to feel better about myself, I am because I hate the misinformation that is spread around so much. Misinformation and lies destroy lives, kill people, and will probably destroy us all in the future when they are changing genes in food and many organisms including humans. And while I might say people here are full of crap, I say the same thing about a lot of scientists who are vastly worse in every way, the vilest of the vilest of people. But on principle nobody should talk about things they don’t know about, and nobody should encourage them or say their opinions are just as valid as anyone else’s. Humans have way too much power for that nowadays.

23 06 2012
Padraig

How can anyone talk as much **** as you do pavlos is beyond me. You are so utterly, completely wrong with every way. People like you are a pox on the planet. “We can’t deny this fact, it’s all over our biology”====> YOU’RE AN IDIOT.

23 06 2012
Padraig

And even though you are completely lost to the world of rational thought, how exactly do you figure oranges and grapes are “strange” modern choices for us, given that they have been eaten by our ancestors since day 1? Grapes and especially oranges are eaten by primates all the time.

You just don’t know anything, so stop acting like you do. A bizarre tangent into talking about a lot of grass everywhere. You know absolutely nothing.

25 06 2012
Quora

Why do some fruits (olive, avocado, durian) contain a large amount of fat, while most fruits (apples, cherries, etc.) are low in fat and high in sugar and carbohydrates?…

I researched this fascinating question for some hours today with little to show for it beyond the repeated explanation that plants create simpler sugars at times of higher photosynthesis or upon the need for a rapidly available source of energy, wherea…

30 08 2012
11 10 2012
Rod H.

The first thing I thought of when I read this very informative article was:

“Where there is something to explain, the human mind has never been at a loss to invent ad hoc some imaginary theories, lacking any logical justification.” – Ludwig von Mises from Human Action

This is obviously true within the paleo community as well. With that said, I will still be generally avoiding the high sugar fruits as a rule.

Great stuff.

18 10 2012
21 10 2012
Donata

Wonderful post, Denise! Thanks! Please, keep on your work, you are great, and I am vegan! I love your objectivity!

22 10 2012
Jelle (mostlyraw.eu)

Thank your for posting, awesome!

23 10 2012
Ray

Amazing article! I’ve definitely seen Fruits take alot of crap and it has affected my viewpoint for sure. Thanks for the refreshing perspective!

2 11 2012
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9 11 2012
blogblog

Domesticated apples are not descended from crab apples. Domestic apples (Malus domestica) have been bred from wild specimens that are native to central Asia. These wild apples grow in vast forests containing millions of apple trees. Wild apples can be as big as a large grapefruit and quite sweet.

9 11 2012
Donata

Well, if it’s true, it’s nice and good news!

25 11 2012
casey

I posed the question over at 30bananas a day, that, why would our skin have evolved away from a tropical climate(if you’re white) yet our digestion still favored a diet that would ONLY be supported in a climate that our skin would be unable to handle. It make’s little sense. Now if you’re very dark skinned or even african I don’t see why you couldn’t try the diet out.

Another flaw with fruitiarians idealism is when they talk about getting enough calories, often times they will have to consume excess of their hunger to maintain body mass. This is talked about extensively by Douglas Graham… You’re no longer eating instinctively if you’re having to forcefully consume extra fruit to maintain mass.

3 12 2012
Timothy

This subject requires some subtlety. This idea that truly “wild” fruits or wild counterparts to domesticated fruits are smaller, less sweet, more seedy – this is a generality – it’s not meant to be taken as anything other than what ‘tends’ to be so, more often than not, especially in reference to grocery-store/fruit market species. The more you know about the subject, the more caveats there are. If we’re talking about wild counterparts to common grocery store fruits, then yes, generally their wild counterparts tend to be small, less sweet, and less prolific — i.e. fruits like watermelon, apples, bananas, dates, mangoes, jackfruit – all have indeed been bred selectively by humans for enhanced qualities. If we’re talking about regionally available fruits, that can be a different story – many are still closer to their wild form (though you are more likely to find cultivars near human habitation), and some may be considered undomesticated and essentially wild. There are indeed several fruits which initially got big and sweet without much human assistance — and most have certainly gotten bigger in recent centuries: canistel, guanabana/soursop, mamey sapote, mamey apple, lucuma, cupuassu, jackfruit, cinnamon apple, papaya, avocado, chempedak, pedalai, marang, 13+ species of durian… fruits can vary immensely in size especially in tropical regions where biodiversity is almost 10x that of temperate latitudes (for every temperate crop – apples, pears, peaches – there is probably 7-10 tropical fruits). This is in part because humans aren’t the only animals on the planet doing the selecting – and in the case of fruits endemic to the tropical Americas (sapotes, annonas, papayas, etc) it may have been the now extinct megafauna – glyptodonts, pachyderms – that did much of the selecting. Humans have taken up these fruits since their main distributors died off.

I find several of the depictions near the top don’t actually show “wild” representatives of the fruits used to make the point, though this is forgivable because it not something one would know unless they had studied tropical pomology(fruit science)/ethnobotany by trade or in school. For instance, the massive soursop / guanabana depicted is certainly a large cultivated type. Luckily for cultivators all soursops tend to come true from seed – and the modern types with only a handful of seeds / prolific fruiting are commonly grown so that’s what you find at fruit markets. Soursop’s tendency to come true from seed means that modern trees planted near human habitation bear these superior fruits consistently, and pass these genes on. Thousands of years ago, this fruit was far more “wild” (meaning seedy and smaller) – a good analog would be the Mountain Soursop (annona montana), which shares a recent common ancestor with the modern soursop – a. montana has a fruit about the size of a large apple, and that’s about what a true ‘wild’ soursop a few millennia ago would have looked like. The Abiu pictured in that article is the large, single-seeded “Gray” or “Z” variety, and is not really representative of the wild fruit. The wild abiu is about the size of an egg, with several seeds. The “Gray” and “Z” varieties are navel-orange sized with only one or two seeds, which is huge compared to the wild ones. The canistel/egg fruit pictured there is probably “Saludo” which is about twice the size of the species as it occurs in the wild. Wild canistels have bigger seeds, too – all true sapotes (pouteria, manilkara, chrysophyllum) are sugar rich whether big or small – it’s just the nature of the mesocarp (flesh) of that family of fruit, very sugary – or “starchy” in the case of the lucuma (pouteria lucuma). Jabuticabas have been bred into about 12 different types, many of which are idiosyncratic and only found in human cultivation. The wild ones are generally smaller, and the one pictured is definitely of mankind’s influence — bred for productivity and multiple cropping – most jaboticabas people grow as trees (I have a huge potted one in the house) come descended from human selection, much like grapes. Wild ones fruit less frequently and have more seeds, and a more swampy flavor.

I do completely understand the author’s point, though – were I to write this, I would have chosen some different examples. The choices do not ultimately make the author’s point unsound – finding actual ‘wild’ specimens of domesticated species is hard to do, since cultivars are nearly always favored. In many cases though, such specimens do still exist. You just have to know where to go looking for them.

21 01 2013
Timothy

I realized I didn’t identify myself when I posted a few weeks ago. You used a few of my photographs (SkyfieldTropical.com). It’s OK to use them, as this appears to be not-for-profit. Thank you for crediting them appropriately.

When people say “wild fruit is seedy, bitter, or small” they are usually referring to wild strains of a familiar cultivated fruit– so it’s relative, and each fruit should be taken in a context.

Jackfruits, although large naturally, have ‘wild’ strains which have low flesh-to-seed ratio – i.e. they are mostly rind and rags. Modern jackfruits are 40% edible flesh. Compared to wild cultivars this is a vast improvement – I would call wild jackfruits “seedy” by comparison. It is much the same for many larger fruits. Soursop is an example of a fruit, fairly large initially, but which humans have selected to have fewer seeds and more flesh. More wild soursops have lots of seeds. Same for cherimoyas and custard apples of all sorts. “Seedy” is a fair assessment when compared to modern human-selected strains.

It really depends on the fruit. Not all 3 (“small” “bitter” or “seedy”) apply to the same fruit necessarily. It’s just a loose generality.

If you have questions about specific fruits, I can elaborate and/or provide resources for further research.

27 01 2013
Timothy

I keep checking back in case there is a response – I just looked at your initial reference links for the “wild” fruit claims – and I see now that all are “paleo” people — and I realize now this is a fad and a dichotomy of sorts in raw food circles. I wasn’t aware until now. I have no interest in these fad “paleo” diets, nor have I read any paleo books. I’m responding as a Pomologist (fruit science) and a Botanist, not due to anything “paleo” , so just an FYI… I find these subjects fascinating. In doing a bit more reading of your blog, and I think we are both concerned with pure data rather than with fads, false dichotomies, or what we’d like to believe. That’s good.

27 01 2013
Warren Dew

That darn fad paleo diet – it’s only been around for 2,000,000 years! We should all go back to being frugivores like we were 10,000,000 years ago!

27 01 2013
Timothy

My posts are referring to modern versus “wild” examples / phenotypes of fruit — which I intend to address on a specific basis. I am sorry that a 3-letter word “fad” has somehow prompted a response — it is odd that this one word elicited action, as I made a big, experience-based previous post which was far more open and content-based. I am not overall familiar with this particular “paleo” discussion – but nutritional anthropology is a vast and interesting subject in and of itself. I have no idea what you intention is academically, but I will try to respond as best I can, based on my education.

27 01 2013
Padraig

Well done Timothy, but I wouldn’t really call the “paleo diet” a “fad”. It’s highly established and has been around for many years. I disagree with the high animal protein found in most such diets (the true diet that our paleo ancestors has been found to be almost all fruit when it was available), however it’s not so accurate to call them a fad in any case.

27 01 2013
Timothy

My posts are referring to modern versus “wild” examples / phenotypes of fruit — which I intend to address on a specific basis. I am sorry that a 3-letter word “fad” has somehow prompted a response — it is odd that this one word elicited action, as I made a big, experience-based previous post which was far more open and content-based. I am not overall familiar with this particular “paleo” discussion – but nutritional anthropology is a vast and interesting subject in and of itself. I have no idea what you intention is academically, but I will try to respond as best I can, based on my education.

30 05 2013
diana

Hi Timothy, by accident I came across your post on ’30bananasadaysucks’. I had read Denise’s debunking of the ‘wild fruits are small & bitter’ meme, and was very impressed with it. When I read your post I was disappointed and realized that Denise was making a biased and unscientific case. Thanks for setting the record straight. What is truly sad is that her post has made its way through the internet, to diabetes forums and so on. This is alarming.

Denise, you really should set the record straight. You were less than scrupulous in your methods.

30 05 2013
Padraig

You know Diana, as terrible as this may sound, sometimes I actually like seeing posts like yours around. It gives me self-esteem, to know that out there somewhere, some hapless individuals out there are still following the low-cab diet and actually think that it’s a good one. Sometimes I get the impression that “oh everyone knows that now” about fruits after the “theories” by Lustig et al fell apart, the existence of sites like that and people like you means I still have people to laugh at.

Denise has no affiliation with any fruit corporation as far as I can tell, she has no reason to lie about any of these things. Only an absolute fool who had no idea what evolution is would think that fruit in quantities that we like to eat could possibly do harm to a human or any primate.

Diabetes and really fat people however may form a special case – I do not know. Those people are irreversibly damaged, because they didn’t eat enough fruit and drink enough fruit juice when growing up. I feel very sorry for them, I have no idea what kind of chaotic mess their systems are in now.

30 05 2013
gothamette

Not true that diabetics are irreversibly damaged. Google “newcastle.”

I don’t follow a “low-cab” diet.

I was not making any statements about macronutrient %s.

I did not say that Denise has an affiliation with fruit companies.

I wrote to support Tim, who states that Denise used photos he took without permission, and knows nothing about pomology.

Now get lost, Padraig. If you really believed that humans should die of a virus, why don’t you just go and kill yourself? Addition by subtraction.

31 05 2013
Timothy

It can be difficult to determine some people’s motivations in the public arena — humans are more complicated than their financial vested interests. Most of us have personal motivations too — i.e. beliefs, philosophies. Food politics is full of such beliefs, in fact many of them can seem rather shrill. This means that “controversy” is always a good attention-grabber in this arena. I’m not really sure why so much of her post was incorrect, other than she did not immerse directly in the subject of interest for it’s own sake. Information is not correct simply because a source is revered or trusted. It is to be trusted because it’s cited and sourced, based in curiosity, literacy and direct experience in a subject, through which higher and more detailed degrees of understanding and confidence are established. Trusting a person “just because” is argumentum ad verecundiam.

http://30bananasadaysucks.com/2013/02/raw-food-sos-copyright-infringement/

I posted my criticism because this entire blog entry literally walked right into my area of specialty and used a few of my pictures to boot. I was reluctant to post it at first, but I thought the subject deserved a fair rebuttal because my pictures were used.

I implore everyone I meet in this arena (food) to pursue firsthand literacy in the subject of their interest. Get a textbook on nutritional anthropology, biochemistry, dietetics, biology, zoology, whatever it is you want to know about. The ability to learn and to discern credible information about the human body, nature, and about world is a valuable skill to cultivate.

My motivation in this case is accurate information.– and as a person who works with tropical fruit, it is now hopefully obvious why a post like hers would receive my attention.

31 05 2013
gothamette

“I implore everyone I meet in this arena (food) to pursue firsthand literacy in the subject of their interest.”

Timothy, I am glad that I ran across your post nearly by accident, because I trusted that what Denise had written was true. It *sounded* true.

I take no side in the diet wars but here is my explanation of the situation. Denise has a reputation as a clever debunker. She isn’t pro- or anti-vegan/paleo/LC anything, she is a sort of freelance kamikaze who enjoys overturning the tables of the moneychangers in the temple. (That is semi-humorous ANALOGY….)

Her post on wild fruits was meant to be a debunking of a Paleo/Low Carb tenet. It struck me as true. I now realize it was merely truthy.

I learned a big lesson from this: something that *sounds* true, isn’t, necessarily. Thanks!

BTW, this article in the NY Times is interesting:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/opinion/sunday/breeding-the-nutrition-out-of-our-food.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&&gwh=514215D691A4645D20154295286A4729

31 05 2013
psychohist

If your motivation is accurate information, perhaps you should provide references and numbers, as Minger did, instead of just making unsupported assertions.

31 05 2013
Timothy

A large part of what I wrote re: cultivars was based on personal experiences growing them — this represents many years working professionally in, and reading about this subject of tropical pomology (fruit science). In my rebuttal, I have already provided names of the species and cultivars, and several technical terms which if you are so inclined will provide you leads for further and more specific research. Anyone who wishes to know more can pursue the subject through this avenue rather easily, taking each fruit as a subject individually.

I can provide some key books from my own library too — I do not know if they are available freely on Google or otherwise:

“Brazilian Fruits and Cultivated Exotics” (Harry Lorenzi)
“Malayan Fruits” (Betty Molesworth Allen)
“Five Decades with Tropical Fruit” (William F Whtiman)
“Amazon River Fruits” (Smith, Vasquez, Wust)

The majority of what I have said should be transparent in these few books on the subject. What I’m saying may indeed by assertions (but to me, they are merely objections), and they are hardly unsupported. If you do not have the curiosity to follow up further I cannot help you. I do not author a blog with a food-politics opinion. Do not expect someone else to do all the legwork for you.

31 05 2013
Padraig

I was thinking the same psychohist but sadly if you read the comments section you’ll notice wild submission from Ms. Minger herself. She even starts talking about an interview on it at the end…

Timothy Lane::you claim that some of these species selected by Denise Minger were under “human influence” and are therefore not “wild”. However, as a pomologist, you know that fruit has been under influence from selection by humans and other primates for millions of years. Furthermore, human tastebuds etc. have evolved to select the food that is most perfect for their system. This process is only thrown off by completely and ridiculously unnatural processes such as cooking them. It is not thrown off much/any way by more of the fruit being available than would be in the wild.

The extremely good tasting fruit does exist in the wild, but people just had to search and seek it out or use their brains and memory to find the right fruit, similar to how orangutans are learning from their mother for the first ten or so years of their lives. As you know, there is no “wild orange” and “cultivated orange” really…. there’s thousands and thousands of different variety of either with hugely different properties. Obviously our paleo ancestors would have eaten the best tasting of them. I wonder why you didn’t point this out…?

A tangential point I’d like to make is that everyone has to trust people in lots of ways. I think it’s quite appropriate to trust some bloggers and random people on things they say are true, if you take lots of things into context. Can you really say it’s better to trust government food panels? I think the answer to that is very obvious. Sometimes academic rankings and appeals to authority work, but other times it’s completely hopeless so it’s not foolish in itself to trust a blogger more than a scientist. Ms. Minger and some others of us have a professional standard of interest in this also, it’s not just some hobby.

I do get books sometimes that just seem just a list of almost random names of places, people and things, which of the books you recommend is least like that? Note that I will have to trust you also if I buy one of these books. I feel like learning the names of random things is unhelpful and doesn’t help me understand or improve my knowledge on things I might need to know, do you understand this complaint? However on the other hand there could be the argument that humans should have stored many thousands of properties of different plant species in their heads since growing up as our paleo ancestors would have.

31 05 2013
Timothy

There are usually wild ancestors, progenitors to cultivated fruit. With many of the modern citruses, one of those ancestors appears strongly to be citrus indica — http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111110125834.htm — with the diverse genus of citrus there has been a history of parentage, and sorting out the lineage genetically has become much easier in the last 15-20 years. There can be an assortment of possible candidates in the wild going only by physiology. It’s difficult to tell by appearances because cultivated fruits may change rapidly compared to nature — as do many artificially selected forms of life. Modern genetics has added a lot of clarity. if you want to see citrus interrelationships, query “rutaceae” or “citrus” + “phylogenetic” in Google Images.

I’ll start with Julia Morton’s “Fruits of Warm Climates” — http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/index.html — this book is a standard, and it’s available freely online. It is however, a list of species, origins, uses and characteristics, and is now outdated in some respects. It goes into some detail, without getting too technical. William Whitman’s book “Five Decades with Tropical Fruit” is particularly insightful in some ways also, but it is expensive. Lorenzi’s book is basically a list of Brazilian fruits and their many types/cultivars. “Amazon River Fruits” contains some of the information on soursop’s origins. You may find Gollner’s “The Fruit Hunters” book rather cheaply, which touches on the subjects, but is less dry of a read.

Our ancestors had a wealth of cultural information about plants — the extent of this knowledge cannot be overemphasized. Their diets were also homogeneous to a limited region and time of year, but at any time during the active growing season (using my own region as an example) they could potentially have been eating more than 75 different species of plants. Our ancestors would have eaten whatever was available to them, not just the obvious palatable items. We’re not precisely like monkeys in trees, hominids have used tools for millions of years. We’ve had a similar keenness towards exploiting foods not always available to other creatures, and not because it was ‘perfect’ in it’s natural state. In the northern hemisphere, we’ve been consuming wild acorns (oak/quercus) longer than recorded time — this starch being so prolific and abundant in some areas it never entered human cultivation, a single mature tree can produce 1-2000 of them in a season. We figured out early on how to leach the tannins from the flesh, and how to store them for long periods (submerged deep in cool water; a dual purpose for leeching the tannins), and how to process/cook with them. Talking fruit specifically, of the wild fruits collected in this region a few required cooking or straining of seeds — elderberry, prunus, pokeweed, to rid them of toxins. Some had to be picked at peak ripeness or were very toxic (mayapple). I myself do not consider cooking “unnatural” because it was employed for such a long time in human history, and was integral to our exploitation of many food sources — ingestion of most fungi depended on it (these could be a significant food source towards the end of a season). Needless to say I find this topic interesting — and being an active wild forager myself I find the concept of trying to understand what native people ate very interesting.

The last recommendation I will make is an excellent Nutritional Anthropology textbook: http://www.amazon.com/Nutritional-Anthropology-Biocultural-Perspectives-Nutrition/dp/0199738149/ref=pd_cp_b_0 — This may be most helpful.

Yes, we do trust people in a lot of ways, and my approach is to encourage people to follow curiosity, to check their sources, to pursue an interest firsthand – academically if possible. I try to find “free” resources wherever possible, but a lot of good information sadly isn’t available for free (even if I think it ought to be). Textbooks are always a good bet, as is developing a list of keywords/terms which will expedite specific research.

31 05 2013
gothamette

Timothy,

Again, thanks so much for your erudite contributions here.

Do you have a website? I tried looking for one on the web but couldn’t find it.

We have lots of acorns in Central Park near where I live. I looked up how the Native Americans leached out the tannins but it seemed so complicated, I gave up…..

“Furthermore, human tastebuds etc. have evolved to select the food that is most perfect for their system. ”

Sure. And that’s the reason why so many of us live on packaged junk.

Nor does it explain how people learned how to process bitter, poisonous foods.

31 05 2013
Padraig

“Sure. And that’s the reason why so many of us live on packaged junk.”

god do I have to add the clause SO LONG AS THEY ARE EATING NATURAL, UNPROCESSED FOODS every single time I say this? How many times have I stated that our tastebuds are unreliable for unnatural foods? This is the same with everything else in life: our instincts can be trusted 100% except for unnatural entities in the world. I don’t understand how people can be so stupid and still operate a computer and presumably function in society.

“Nor does it explain how people learned how to process bitter, poisonous foods.”

They never did. I have no clue… AND NEITHER DO I WANT TO KNOW…. why you would claim that they ate bitter, poisonous foods, but you are the ONLY person who would say that. Please don’t refer to me again, I am going to reflect on what Timothy has posted.

3 06 2013
Padraig

Thank you very much for your outstanding post Timothy, posts like this are why I find it worth it to go online sometimes!! I am thinking of going through other material before I this so I will save your post. The only comment I can think of making is that by posting something on 30badsucks it initially seemed to me like you were taking a side in the high carb vs low carb debate, that site is meant to be the anti-thesis of the 30bad site. To me it’s hugely regrettable and concerning that some individuals and corporations are tampering with the natural ecosystems of the planet often in an irreversible way.

7 12 2012
Agnes

Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the images on this blog
loading? I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
Any feed-back would be greatly appreciated.

29 12 2012
Moderne Obstsorten sind viel zu süß…oder? — Urgeschmack

[...] Denise Minger: Wild and Ancient Fruit: Is it Really Small, Bitter, and Low in Sugar? [...]

17 01 2013
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24 02 2013
Are sugar and starch metabolically identical, thus health wise identical? - Page 2 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 2

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1 03 2013
lovemorestudio

Great post! Living here in Brazil, I can attest to the awesomeness of the jabouticaba. Thanks for including it! ~ peace, Jason

5 03 2013
Butch

Love your well written and researched articles, Denise. I found this from a link at Dr. Michael Eades who seemed to have missed a lot of what you’re saying and presumes that once out of Africa humans were unable to find local fruits, and also presumes that birds and other critters would beat the sloth-like humans to the harvest. Here in southern Missouri I’m thinking of readily available native fruits like pawpaws and persimmons (as sweet and tasty as figs when they turn ripe). You don’t have to live in the tropics to find early, middle and late ripening fruits and sweet berries which our ancestors know doubt knew how to find before wild animals got all of them.

15 04 2013
How carbs and insulin make you fat and/or ill!

[...] about fruit, africa is full of fruit and they are available during whole year, not just summer: Wild and Ancient Fruit: Is it Really Small, Bitter, and Low in Sugar? | Raw Food SOS Quote Early humans may very well have had access to fruit for most or even all of the year. [...]

16 05 2013
Meat only diet - Page 2 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 2

[…] climates, in Africa where our ancestors evolved, fruit is available year round. Denise Minger did a post on wild and ancient fruit that changed my mind. Reply With […]

22 05 2013
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22 05 2013
www.hummaa.com

There’s definately a lot to know about this subject. I like all of the points you have made.

24 05 2013
Are we meat eaters or vegetarians? Part III » The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D.

[…] am aware that Denise Minger put up a post not too long ago showing all the high-starch, high-sugar tropical fruits available in tropical […]

29 05 2013
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3 06 2013
http://www.fiql.com/members/brick67ans

fantastic put up, very informative. I’m wondering why the other experts of this sector don’t notice this.
You must proceed your writing. I’m sure, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

3 06 2013
trina

denise
this post is still up on durianrider’s site under a false name. did your official complaint fail?
trina

3 06 2013
Padraig

How bizarre. Probably he’s doing it for attention to be drawn to his blog and to create “drama”. I think many of these food bloggers are incredibly ridiculous, self-absorbed and immature.

4 07 2013
Kizi

Very good information. Lucky me I found your blog by accident (stumbleupon).
I’ve book marked it for later!

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11 07 2013
Chad

I think I will go and have ‘one of my five a month’ after reading this article.

11 07 2013
Chad

very good article :)

22 08 2013
Juicing - Page 3 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 3

[…] orange. Tastes better, and has the same amount of sugar. Fruits not your problem, fat is. Also, Wild and Ancient Fruit: Is it Really Small, Bitter, and Low in Sugar? | Raw Food SOS Lets talk about carbs, baby. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread84530.html Reply […]

2 10 2013
stairlifts

Excellent write-up. I definitely love this website. Keep it up!

11 11 2013
Keen

Perhaps I’m missing something. I live in Africa – South Africa to be precise – and I can tell you that our climate is NOT tropical. The Cradle of Mankind is just up the road from where I live and that isn’t tropical either. In case those in the “West” haven’t noticed, we live about as far South as Europe is far North and there are not that many naturally growing wild fruits in this area – even less on the Cape coast (which is another area that has been posited as the starting place for “humanity”). So, while this is a good article, the whole premise of the article is off because tropical fruit are completely beside the point!

11 11 2013
Sketchy

This is one of those things — people here in the States often use the word “Africa” as though they were talking about a single national entity, people, or land. In fact they are talking about a giant continent 11+ billion square miles, with over 1 billion people, a diverse place with myriad different cultures, several different climates and ecosystems. It’s usually an unintended generalization, and you are wise to point it out, because it’s definitely a form of obliviousness. It divulges a lack of subtlety and detailed understanding to one’s statements. We do it with “Asia” too. — Khmer, Laotian and Japanese could not be more different. Perhaps most telling is that we do it with “Native American” too — when Narragansett, Ojibwe, Seminole and Cherokee might each be separated by 1000 miles. Food for thought.

11 11 2013
Warren Dew

Keethe current scientific consensus is that humanity originated in east Africa, which is tropical, not in south Africa.

12 11 2013
Keen

Actually, that is disputed. And East Africa is savannah, not tropical at all. This refers to a very old idea that humans originated in the tropics, but if you look up the latest findings, it isn’t so definite. Also, what exactly do you mean by “humans” – homo erectus, homo sapiens, neanderthal? The oldest human genome belongs to the San who were in the southern portion of South Africa, which is far from tropical.

12 11 2013
Warren Dew

Like most scientific consensuses, it is not definite. You may put the origination further south. Others put it further north, in the Caucasus.

By humans, I mean genus homo, which means human. I guess a case could be made for homo erectus as well, but homo erectus had a very broad range, so chronologically, it has to be placed after the origin of humanity.

12 11 2013
Keen

Well, the Caucasus is not tropical either. Which is my point – humans most likely did not originate in tropical areas.

12 11 2013
Padraig

Warren Dew, Keen is the muck of the world. The pseudointellectual who comes in with a few buzzwords and pretending to act surprised at things it later turns out he couldn’t have been surprised at, and trying to manipulate other people in ways that have nothing to do with the truth. An angry individual, looking for a fight and to be “right” and not looking for the truth. It’s best to ignore him, I just feel sorry about the damage he will cause. To be honest you are WASTING YOUR TIME responding to him and correcting him, and the way you’re speaking to him it’s like as though you’re almost legitimizing what he said as being in some remotest sense reasonable when it is cloud cuckoo land nonsense.

Trust me, a few simple, correct words at most is the best for these types, and that only so as not to confuse naive people who might read his posts and think there might actually be some sense in them.

13 11 2013
Keen

Excuse me???? Firstly, smarty-pants, I’m a woman, not a man. Secondly, my comments are perfectly valid and this pointless and aggressive attack shows your lack of intelligence and ability to think, never mind knowledge of history and the world. Go away and read something. Preferably in words of one syllable.

12 12 2013
Jon

I have been interested in and researching nutrition for about 3 years now. During that time, my thoughts on “good food/bad food” have gone back and forth on several occasions and i’m sure that it will continue to be the case. What I really like about articles like these is that they look at things on an individual basis rather than from a “Paleo/Low carb/Vegetarian….” standpoint alone.
For instance, whilst I can agree with the supposition that most grains and definately refined sugars can be harmful or even detrimental to health, I have often struggled with the argument that fruit is bad for us, especially from the low carb standpoint. Sometimes we have to listen to our bodies too and I find that I flourish much more easily when I incorperate fruit into my diet (although I don’t eat a great deal, usually about 2 pieces per day) At the same time, I don’t subscribe to the “5 pieces a day” advice from our governments. Fruit in nature has always been seasonal and sometimes hard to find. I’m totally sure that we wouldn’t perish if we go a for while without any at all.
I would love to see an article like this about dairy foods. I can imagine that milk (pasteurised) isn’t all that healthy but what about aged cheeses and natural yogurts? Are they essential? Are they harmful?

Great article, thanks :-)

13 12 2013
Sully Yankovich

Thank you so much for an excellent article. I have been looking for a lot more science based writings to hone specific information around fruits. Well done!

29 03 2014
dan

Interesting info, I would like to see more information clarifying how these sweet fruits are really wild and haven’t actually been bred for sweetness.

I remember going to the Peruvian Amazon in the city of Iquitos for the sole purpose of having access to an abundance, diverse amount of wild fruit and I clearly remember foraging for fruit with a guide in the remote jungle and not once did I taste one fruit (of the many that I tasted) that was actually truly wild that was sweet. It appears as if a high a content in sugar attracts plenty of insects that could actually hinder the survival and successive generations of the species.

31 03 2014
Padraig

Nonsense. The other great apes have to spend hours every day for many years learning where the sweet fruits are. They can go in all directions, ie. upwards as well .Your meandering around in the bushes for a few hours at best in Peru (ie. not Africa at all) would be highly unlikely to lead you to such fruit. Also, sweetness has EXTREMELY little to do with how much sugar is in a fruit. In fact the more bitter the fruit is, the more sugar is likely in it. You’re confusing your experience with the idea of white sugar making something sweet, that’s not how it works with fruit.

Furthermore, your idea of “sugar attracts plenty of insects which could hinder its survival and successive generations” is speculative nonsense. Now I’m not being mean by saying that, in fact many well-respected scientists and writers used to think up such evolutionary explanations on the fly in recent history. However it was then realized that these “just so” evolutionary “explanations” for things are very easy to make up on the fly and often have absolutely nothing to do with the reasons for it at all. So it’s a trap you’ve fallen into but not an undignified one. There is plenty of sweet fruit available to great apes in Africa where humans came from.

13 03 2013
psychohist

There’s no such problem for me in an older version of Firefox for Mac.

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