In this post, we will explore the fruitarian diet, explain what the diet is, why people choose to follow it and what fruitarians eat. We will also consider whether the fruitarian diet is healthy and if there are any possible health impacts from following this type of eating plan.
What is a fruitarian diet?
A fruitarian diet is amongst the most restrictive diets. It can be considered a subset of the vegan diet because fruitarians exclude meat, fish and all other animal products from their diet just like vegans do. The fruitarian diet involves eating mostly raw fruit but also allows vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Much like the climatarian diet, and other strict diet patterns, individual followers of the fruitarian diet may differ slightly in how they interpret and follow the diet. For example, some fruitarians may eat 90% or more raw fruit daily, while others include a higher percentage of nuts and seeds.
Generally speaking, to be considered a fruitarian, one’s diet must be made up of at least 50% raw fruit. Typically, a fruitarian diet consists of between 50 – 75% raw fruit.
Why do people follow a fruitarian diet?
There are several reasons why people choose to follow a fruitarian diet. Many fruitarians, like vegans, are motivated to follow the diet for ethical reasons. But while vegans are generally OK with the notion of killing plants for food, ethical fruitarians are not. They desire to avoid the killing of any living organism as far as possible, which is why they choose to only eat the fruits of plants rather than the plants themselves.
Some fruitarians choose to follow the diet due to religious reasons. Some fruitarians holding Judeo-Christian beliefs believe that humanity’s original diet was fruitarian, dating back to Adam and Eve. This belief arises from an interpretation of the Book of Genesis 1:29(12), in which it is perceived that a return to an Eden-like paradise will depend on people living a simple lifestyle and taking a holistic approach to diet and health.
Much like proponents of the paleo diet, many fruitarians hold the view that the fruitarian eating plan is the original diet of humankind. For some, this view leads to the belief that a fruitarian diet is preferable for health reasons. For others, this view is attached to a utopian idea of returning to a lifestyle of the past, predating agrarian society, when humans were gatherers.
Finally, there are some followers of the fruitarian diet who chose to adopt this way of eating because they are motivated by either the desire to eliminate perceived toxicity within the body, or they believe it will support their weight loss goals. People with these motivations often follow a fruitarian diet only on a temporary basis, for a pre-determined length of time such as a week, month or several months.
What do people on a fruitarian diet eat?
A fruitarian diet is extremely restrictive and typically includes the following types of foods:
- Sweet fruits such as grapes, bananas and melons
- Acidic fruits such as citrus fruits, pineapples and cranberries
- Subacid fruits such as raspberries, blueberries, grapes and figs
- Vegetable fruits such as cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and peppers
- Oily fruits such as coconuts, avocados and olives
- Seeds such as pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and sunflower seeds
- Nuts such as cashews, pistachios, peanuts, almonds and walnuts
In terms of drinks, the fruitarian diet permits fresh fruit juices, coconut water and water. Some fruitarians also drink coffee.
Some people choose to follow a less restrictive, modified version of the fruitarian diet, which includes small quantities of whole grains and plant-based proteins to ensure nutritional needs are more fully met. This type of eating, however, is more closely aligned with a whole foods plant-based diet.
Generally, a fruitarian diet encourages intuitive eating, which means only eating when you feel hungry and eating enough to feel satisfied at each meal. As such, there are no specific guidelines around when and how often to eat.
Is a fruitarian diet healthy?
Fruit is rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fibre, which support good health. As such, fruit is an important dietary inclusion for most people. It is generally recommended that people consume five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, with some studies suggesting a higher amount is more beneficial.
Some studies show that eating fruits can reduce the risk of cancer and chronic diseases as well as improve cholesterol levels and reduce high triglyceride levels.
Many proponents of a fruitarian diet report increased happiness, confidence, concentration and mental power. Other reported benefits of a fruitarian diet include eliminated headaches, anti-ageing, greater resistance to pain and illness, healthy digestion and weight loss.
Having said this, the highly restrictive nature of the fruitarian diet may lead to deficiencies in important nutrients such as iron and vitamin B12, which could lead to anaemia, tiredness and other health problems. Fruitarians may also struggle to get enough calcium and vitamin D, which are needed for healthy bones and teeth, and iodine which is required for normal metabolic functioning.
In addition, it can be difficult to get enough protein and essential fatty acids on a fruitarian diet. These are needed for growth and repair as well as to support the normal functioning of the immune system and hormone regulation.
Those choosing to eat a lower amount of nuts, seeds and vegetables on a fruitarian diet may find it more difficult to get some of the above-mentioned nutrients.
Because fruit contains high quantities of natural sugar (fructose), consuming too much has been associated with health issues such as dental erosion, digestive issues and sometimes weight gain.
A fruitarian diet is not recommended for people suffering with pre-diabetes or diabetes and should also be avoided by those with blood sugar issues, kidney or pancreatic disorders. Restrictive diets, in general, are not recommended for those with a low BMI, a history of eating disorders, children, the elderly or pregnant or breastfeeding women.
The benefits and effects of following a fruitarian diet will differ between individuals. It is generally a good idea to speak to your GP before making any significant diet changes, such as adopting a fruitarian diet. Looking to find out more about diets? Find out what a Climatarian diet is here.