Don’t Go Bananas Just Yet: The Truth About Paleo & Fruits

Don’t Go Bananas Just Yet: The Truth About Paleo & Fruits

  • Apple
  • Avocado
  • Blackberries
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Mango
  • Lychee Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Lemon
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Pineapple
  • Guava
  • Lime
  • Raspberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Tangerine
  • Figs
  • Oranges
  • Bananas

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Paleo and fruits go together - right? Find out the truth.

The truth about fruits.

Yes, fruits get the green light from the paleo diet but don't go bananas just yet - are the 'paleo fruits' you're eating really all that healthy? The record shows that caveman ate fruits. Period. The argument may arise that fruits made up only a portion of most cavemen's diets and this is true - most cavemen lived in areas where fruit was seasonal. Some cavemen, however, lived in areas around the equator that were extremely conducive to growing fruit. Naturally, in such locations fruit would make up a larger part of a cavemen's diet. Skip forward to modern day:  We have Apples out of season and Avocados from Peru.  What gets overlooked far too often is the fact that the fruit you'll find on the shelf of your grocery store these days is a far cry from what it looked like back in the day of cavemen.  

A paleo fruit bowl is still a viable healthy meal.


Whatever happened to an apple day keeps the doctor away?

The old phrase still holds true - sort of. Sure, the fruits (aka paleo fruits) you choose to eat are an important part of adhering to the Paleo diet and getting the most nutritional value possible. The other side of the coin, is something that's completely out of your control: Through selective breeding, fruits are now sweeter, larger, and more aesthetically pleasing. It's gotten to the point that quite of a few of commonly purchased fruits can no longer survive on their own; they need an artificial environment and plenty human vigilance. Besides being unnerving to the few who still carry a rosy image of how our food is really grown, this on it's own doesn't necessarily imply a defiency in nutritional value.
The real source of concern with fruit is processing.
We expect our fruits to look like they were just picked off the tree - even if the tree they were picked off of is half way across the country. To be sure, a certain expectation of aesthetic is a huge motivator for the processing to continue as it is. Fruits are now picked before they're fully ripe and refigerated in a truck ripening as they go on the way to their destination. There's two issues with this:
  1. Picking most fruit before they're ripe robs them of nutrients they would've normally had.
  2. The fruit is still alive as its being transported in the back of that refigerated truck. Lacking any soil or artificial energy source, the fruit turns to its own reserves - the nutritional reserves that you expect to have when you buy produce.
All of this is without going into the actual chemicals that are part of fruit processing. Babble lists the most chemically treated fruits:
  1. Apples
  2. Cherry Tomatoes
  3. Grapes
  4. Strawberries
  5. Peaches
There's a neverending arms race going on between farmers and the insects and weeds that threaten their crops. Unfortunately for us, this means more and stronger pesticides every year. To quote Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University:
Genetically engineered crops have led to an increase in overall pesticide use, by 404 million pounds from the time they were introduced in 1996 through 2011.
Don't be so quick to bet the house on local farming either - they use pesticides as well. In fact, in many cases, local farming can be more hazardous when it comes to pesticides. Local farmers will claim to use 'organic pesticides' which holds very little water once you look past the trendy name. In actuality, these 'organic pesticides' are used by local farmes and non-local farmers alike. Since they're weaker than their synthetic counterparts, they're used far more intensively. All of this is not meant to scare you out of eating fruits. All of our food ends up being processed in one way or another, this doesn't mean that they're not nutritious. The real lesson to take away is to know as much as possible about what you're eating which will then allow you to make informed decisions on what's going to be for dinner tonight.

Where does this leave us?

In this case and in many cases regarding the Paleo diet and paleo fruits, you end up exactly where you started. When in doubt, remember the foundations of your diet: to eat natural  food with the least amount of processing possible. Your body is your compass: what is healthiest for you? Too often people get caught up in bickering over "this food, that food" arguments in regards to whether they were available to cavemen or not. Cavemen didn't have the access to food we have now - if they had, they'd surely be doing the exact same thing they were doing before: eating as healthy as possible with what's available. Did you find this article helpful? What are your thoughts on paleo fruits? 

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