Fruit is an essential component of your daily diet and has many nutritional advantages, especially when you replace junk food with servings of fresh fruit. However, it's not a good idea to try to live on fruit alone. So-called "fruitarian" diets or "fruit cleanses" may have great benefits according to their proponents, but any diet that focuses mainly on one food group tends to lack essential nutritional components. Always talk to your doctor before beginning a diet plan.
Nutrients in Fruit
Fruits contain a variety of nutrients that are needed to keep your body healthy, including potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin A and small amounts of calcium and iron. The skin and/or flesh of many fruits are also a good source of dietary fiber. Compounds called caretenoids and polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties that can protect your body from cancer, are also found in fruits. Emphasizing plant-based foods in your diet can lower your risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke.
Although fruits are a great source of many nutrients, they also tend to contain large quantities of sugar. Fruit juices, even ones made from 100 percent fruit, are especially sugary. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends about two cups of fruit per day for men and 1.5 cups per day for women over age 30. In comparison, women should eat 2.5 cups of vegetables per day, and men should eat three cups. The increased amounts of vegetables is recommended because they provide similar nutrients as fruit but have less sugar.
If you only eat fruit, you'll miss out on an essential dietary component: protein. Your body needs protein to build and repair muscle and tissue and to create hemoglobin, the substance that carries oxygen to your organs. Most fruits contain very little, if any, protein; the best sources include meat, eggs, dairy products, nuts and beans. Adults need about 60 grams of protein per day, so if you only eat fruit, you will likely find yourself with a protein deficiency.
A "fruitarian" diet, even one with a small allowed amount of grains and nuts, may cause deficiencies in calcium, protein, iron, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin B-12 and essential fatty acids. These deficiencies can lead to problems with bone density and nervous system function. Whatever diet plan you choose to follow, be sure it's rich in all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients your body needs each day to perform its essential functions.