Best Time to Eat Fruit

Best Time to Eat Fruit

Have you been warned by someone not to eat fruits after food? Or that mixing fruits with food will cause digestive issues like acidity and gas? Let's find out how true these ideas are.

Human beings have evolved from frugivorous apes. This means that our digestive system has evolved to thrive on a primarily fruit-based diet with other whole plant foods.

Studies assessing microscopic wear and tear patterns on archeological tooth samples and studies comparing ratios of functional body size to area of absorptive gut mucosa have concluded that human beings are primarily fruit eaters and plant eaters.

In India, however, there is no practice of eating fruits everyday!

Most of us think of fruits as a snack.

Some eat fruits only on special occasions and days of indulgence.

Even worse, many people think fruits actually raise your blood sugar and need to be eaten in moderation!

There are also many myths floating around that fruits must not be eaten at the same time as cooked food, and must not be eaten after food either.

Listening to these, fruits seldom make it to the lunch box or the dinner table.

I hope article helps you cut through the myths and learn the science for yourself.

Myths About the Best Time to Eat Fruit and the Truth

Here are some common health myths surrounding fruits, and the science behind why they are true or false. Read these health tips to learn more.

Myth 1: You shouldn't eat fruit after 7 pm

There are many variations of this - 7 pm, 8 pm, 9 pm. When scientists tested this theory, they found that the same food eaten before sunset and after sunset had varied effects on the body.

Before sunset, blood sugar response was good. After sunset, the same food cause a spike in blood glucose levels.

So, whether it is fresh fruit or cooked food, time of day does seem to matter. Finishing your last meal before sunset seems to be a good idea.

Having said this, If you are unable to make it home in time, you can still go ahead and eat dinner late that day - just try to get back on track with your healthy schedule the next day.

Myth 2: Afternoon is the best time to eat fruit

Time of day matters. However, fruits are healthy to eat in the morning, afternoon AND evening!

In fact, we recommend starting every meal with a fruit or two, not just restricting it to the afternoon meal.

Myth 3: Avoid eating fruit before bed

There is no scientific basis to avoiding fruit at any time of the day for the average person.

Having said this, eating any food after sunset may result in a blood sugar spike and increased inflammation. It makes sense to complete your last meal before sunset, leaving a gap of a few hours before bed.

Myth 4: Eat fruit on an empty stomach

The stomach takes around 30 minutes to digest fruits before pushing them into the small intestine.

When it comes to cooked food, your stomach may take 60-90 minutes as they are protein rich.

So, if you eat fruits on an empty stomach, before cooked food, it gets digested better. You are able to optimise nutrient absorption this way.

Having said this, even if you eat at the end of your meal, it is still nutritious for you!

A lot of people eat some fruit at breakfast time or brunch time. It is a great idea to add fruits to lunch and dinner too, at the start of your meals. Any meal or snack time is the correct time to eat fruit!

Eating fruit on an empty stomach is the best practice, but don't let that stop you from eating fruit even if you have already eaten something else.

Myth 5: You shouldn't eat fruits if you have diabetes

This is one of the biggest myths out there.

Every time we eat food, the body goes into what's called a 'pro-oxidant state' for the next few hours.

Metabolising glucose at the cellular levels causes the formation of free radicals, which damage our body from the inside out, causing chronic lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, high BP, heart disease, and cancer.

The body has a natural mechanism to counter this free radical production, using antioxidants.

Therefore, if you eat foods that are rich in antioxidants while containing calories in the form of carbohydrates, fat and protein as well, we get the best of both world - a boost in energy and a boost in health too!

Consuming fruits along with cooked food during meals has been found to boost our antioxidant capacity during the postprandial state, in the hours following your meal.

When you eat fruits with food, instead of the body suffering for hours afterwards, we get an amazing boost in health for many hours!

Repeat this through the day by eating fruits with every meal and snack, and we stay healthy throughout the day!

What if you already have diabetes? Researchers tested it out by putting diabetics into two groups.

They told one group to eat at least two fruits daily, and the other group to eat at most two fruits a day.

At the end of the study, they found no difference between the two groups!

They concluded that diabetics should not be advised to restrict fruit intake.

Newer research also shows that small quantities of fructose may be beneficial for diabetics, by stabilising blood sugar levels.

In general, it is safe for diabetics to consume fruits.

Myth 6: You don't get all the nutrients from fruits if you eat them with a meal

To a small extent, this may be true if you eat fruits after cooked food.

Then, it may get stuck in your stomach until the cooked food has finished getting digested. In this time, the fruits may be get 'over'-digested, leading to nutrient depletion.

However, when you start your meal with fruits - eat fruit first - you can circumvent this issue and absorb maximum nutrients from fruits.

In fact, a meal with fruits may be healthier than a meal without fruits.

Myth 7: You can only eat fruits on an empty stomach

We learnt about the digestion process above. High-fiber, high-antioxidant fruits may be healthiest for you when you eat fruits on an empty stomach, but they are absolutely healthy when you eat on a full stomach too!

Myth 8: The most optimal time to eat fruits is hours after you wake up

The most optimal time to eat fruits is hours after you wake up - and in the afternoon, and in the evening!

Fruits are so healthy, they are great for you no matter when you eat them!

They are high fiber, high water, high antioxidant and low calorie density foods.

Myth 9: There is no difference between fresh and dried fruits

There are many differences between fresh and dried fruits, but none of which prevent them from being used interchangeably.

Fresh fruits may have higher vitamin C content and water than the same quantity of fruit when it is dried.

However, when you eat dried fruit, you tend to eat a lot more nutrition per cup.

Also, it gets naturally rehydrated in your stomach.

So while there are some technical differences, when it comes to practical application, you can consider that there is no difference between fresh and dried fruits.

Myth 10: Fruit contains bad sugar

Sugar by itself is bad for health, because it is devoid of other nutrients that keep you healthy.

However, fruit also contains:

  • Fiber
  • Water
  • Antioxidant Phytochemicals
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals

All these nutrients protect your body from the harmful effects of the sugar it contains.

Your body needs sugar to stay alive.

However, thepackage in which you consume sugar counts.

When you consume sugar from a whole plant food such as a fruit, you tend to get healthier.

When you consume sugar as processed table sugar, you tend to fall sicker.

Myth 11: We can survive only on Fruits

You may be able to survive only on fruits for some days - and even get healthier than before due to the effects of short term calorie restriction.

However, fruits are not complete foods and cannot give you all the nutrition you need to survive and stay healthy for the rest of your life.

Intake of Fruits is a fantastic part of a healthy whole food plant based diet.

Myth 12: Eat fruits in small quantities several times in a day

This myth is partly true.

It is a great habit to eat fruits through the day.

Whenever you eat high antioxidant foods like fruits, your blood antioxidant content is boosted for the next few hours.

The best way to keep it high consistently is consciously plan consumption of fruits several times in a day.

However, you don't need to eat fruits in small quantities.

Researchers asked a group of people to eat 22 servings of fruit and 44 servings of vegetables every day. At the end of the study, they found that all their health parameters had improved.

The only side effect they found was the largest documented bowel movement in the history of modern medicine!

They concluded that you can eat fruits and vegetables in any quantity everyday.

Myth 13: Always eat fruits after a meal

Most western countries have a culinary habit of eating fruits for dessert. This may be much healthier than sugar-sweetened desserts.

However, as we saw above about the process of digestion, it is wise to eat fruits before a meal for optimal nutrient absorption.

Myth 14: Eat Fruit for Breakfast

There is no best time or worst time to eat fruits. They are so healthy that it is always a good idea to eat fruits!

As a first step towards practicing Intermittent Fasting, you may want to eat fruits for breakfast or eat fruits for dinner. This helps you make the transition easily.

Myth 15: Eat Fruits After Workout

The post workout state is a pro-oxidant state.

This is the time when high antioxidant foods like fruits can make a big difference to your muscle recovery, stamina, strength and flexibility.

Myth 16: Eat Fruits Before Workout

Bananas before workout is a popular pre-workout snack, for good reason!

Fruits are high antioxidant, high water content foods that can fuel you well during a workout.

Perhaps watermelon with seeds may help you a little more than bananas though, as they have been shown to help improve exercise capacity.

Myth 17: Eat Fruits Soon After you wake up

There's nothing like starting your day with an antioxidant boost! A fruit breakfast is a great way to do this. You can include fruits in your smoothies.

Myth 18: Eat Fruits In between meals

Fruits are great snack options.

However, in most homes, fruits areonly eaten as snacks.

Research shows that including fruits in your every meal could improve your blood antioxidant content through the day.

So apart from eating fruits in between meals, you may want to include themwith your meals too!

Myth 19: Eat Fruits only if you want to lose weight

Fruits are calorie-dilute and nutrient-dense. This makes them ideal candidates if you want to lose weight.

In fact, eating just one apple at the beginning of your meal could be equal to a negative 200 calories as compared to the same meal without the apple!

However, that's not all that fruits are capable of.

They are high antioxidant foods that could help you prevent a variety of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and certain forms of cancer too.

So, whether you want to lose weight or not, fruits may a great food choice for you as part of a healthy diet.

Health Benefits of Eating Fruits Daily

It's important to eat plenty of fruit every day.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating five servings of fruit per week was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

The 2019 Global Burden of Disease Study is the largest study of human death and disability to date. They found that our diet one of our top risk factors for death.

Shockingly, they found that a Diet Low in Fruits is the second worst thing about our diet! This is responsible for killing more than 2.5 Lakh people every year.

A diet low in whole grains was the worst, killing a few thousand more.

Eating fruits has been proven to reduce risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, obesity, and even dementia.

Here are some fantastic benefits of eating fruits daily:

  • Fruit contains fiber, which helps lower cholesterol levels. Even a piece or two of fruits is better than no fruit at all.
  • Fruits contain potassium, vitamin C, folate, and antioxidants.
    • Antioxidants protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
    • Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause cell damage.
    • Antioxidants neutralize free radicals before they can harm cells.
  • Fiber in fruit keeps your digestive system healthy.
    • Fiber feeds your good gut bacteria, helping maintain the health of your gut microbiome.
    • Fiber also helps control blood sugar levels. Although fruits contain sugar, this does not spike your blood sugar level. This is because the fiber slows down digestion and absorption, keeping your blood sugar level steady.
    • The sugar content of fruits is balanced our by their fiber content.
  • Fruits are calorie-dilute and nutrient-dense. This makes them ideal candidates for weight loss

    • In fact, eating just one apple at the beginning of your meal could be equal to a negative 200 calories as compared to the same meal without the apple!

    • This goes to show that it is not about the amounts of food you eat, but the types of food that count. Quality, not quantity determines your body weight and body composition.
    • Please note, this is not about achieving a 'bikini body' or losing unhealthy amounts of weight. The goal is to avoid the negative consequences of obesity and live a fit, long, healthy life.
  • To get maximum benefits of fruits, our mentor Dr. Michael Greger, Founder of NutritionFacts.org, recommends eating:

    • One daily serving of berries (half cup fresh or frozen berries, or a quarter cup dried) and

    • Three daily servings of other fruit (a medium-sized fruit, a cup cut-up fruit, or a quarter cup dried)

  • Potassium-rich fruits help keep your blood pressure levels in check.
  • There are four simple healthy lifestyle factors that may strongly prevent chronic diseases:
    • Not smoking
    • Not being obese
    • Exercising for half an hour daily
    • Eating healthier. This is defined as eating more fruits, vegetables, & whole grains, and eating less meat.
  • Just these four factors may be responsible for 78 percent of chronic disease risk. If you manage to do all four, you could:
    • Reduce diabetes risk by 90%
    • Reduce risk of heart attack by 80%, significantly lowering risk of heart diseases as a whole. (If you experience any heart attack symptoms like chest pain, difficulty breathing or sweating, please call an ambulance)
    • Reduce risk of stroke by 50%
    • Reduce cancer risk by 35%
  • Fruits give you an energy boost.
    • They contain easily digestible simple sugar along with fiber, which slows down digestion, ensuring a steady blood sugar level.
    • If you are worried that the sugar content of fruits would spike your blood sugar levels, don't be.
    • This is the advantage of natural sugar from whole plants sources - they come prepackaged with protective fiber!
  • Replacing cancer-causing foods like processed meat with more fruits and vegetables could help prevent cancer.
    • This is especially true of cancers in the digestive system, the surfaces that fruits come in contact with directly, such as:
      • Oral cancer
      • Esophageal cancer
      • Stomach cancer
      • Colon cancer
      • Rectal cancer
  • Unlike meat, eggs and dairy, fruits are not one of the culprits of food poisoning. Any spoilt fruits are easy to identify and discard, making them a choice food for safe eating habits, especially while traveling.
  • A 2013 study conducted by Jouni Karppi et al at the University of Eastern Finland, Department of Medicine, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, Kuopio, and the Department of Internal Medicine, Lapland Central Hospital, Rovaniemi, assessed the link between Serum Ī²-carotene and Congestive Heart Failure
    • Congestive Heart Failure is a severe condition that may often be fatal.
    • Serum Ī²-carotene is a biomarker and fruit and vegetable consumption. The more fruits and vegetables you eat, the higher your Ī²-carotene levels.
    • The researchers found that eating less fruits and vegetables could increase your risk of CHF almost 3 times compared to those who ate the most fruits vegetables!
  • What about chances of heart diseases as a whole?
    • The 2019 Global Burden of Disease study found that a Diet Low in Fruits contributed to more than 8 lakh deaths from cardiovascular diseases.

Types of Fruits & Intake

There are many different types of fruits you can add into your diet, especially when you are shifting to a plant-based diet:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Melons
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • ...and many more!

Fresh fruits are always the best. Get a bunch of fruits from your local farmer's market, and they may taste fantastic!

Choose local fruits & seasonal fruits to have the highest antioxidant intake.

Frozen fruits are super healthy too.

What is the Best Way to Eat Fruits?

Fruit is a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. But how do you eat it?

The best way to eat fruits is by eating them raw (or ripe, hehe!)

You can also eat them lightly cooked, although this does impact nutrient content of heat-sensitive vitamins.

You can also add some homemade date syrup to make your fruit more sweet.

Make a bowl of fruit salad and top it with some berries, dry fruits, and nuts to make it look fancy!

Make a smoothie with some fruits and greens for a morning energy boost.

How about a fruit snack when you're feeling peckish?

Fruit juices are fiber-deficient and may lead to blood sugar spikes.

Except for fruit juices, other forms of fruits, like whole fruits and fruit smoothies are healthy ways to get plenty of fruits into your diet.

We recommend three servings of fruit and one serving of berries everyday for optimal health.

The best part? When it comes to fruits, they are so dilute in calorie, there is no need of any portion control!

If you want to analyse the nitty gritty of sequence of fruit consumption, Indian traditions outline the sequence of fruit intake as:

  • Acidic fruits like citrus fruits first
  • Juice fruits like watermelon next
  • Dense fruits like bananas last

FAQ on Eating Fruits

Can diabetics eat fruit?

Yes, diabetics can eat fruit.

A study assessed the difference between diabetics who were asked to eat maximum 2 pieces of fruit a day, and diabetics who were asked to eatminimum 2 pieces of fruit a day.

They found no difference between the two groups.

They concluded that diabetics should not be advised to limit fruit intake, as fruits have a wide variety of health benefits for long term health and do not seem to raise blood sugar levels.

Can I eat fruit during period?

Yes, you can eat fruit during periods. They may help relieve constipation and bloating too.

Can I eat fruit if I have diarrhea?

Yes, you can eat fruit if you have diarrhea.

In fact, boiled apples have been used for decades in treating diarrhea.

Just ensure that the fruit is fresh and not rotten.

Can we eat fruit during intermittent fasting?

Yes, you can eat fruit during intermittent fasting.

Fruits are nutrient-dense and calorie-dilute foods.

This makes them ideal candidates when you are on intermittent fasting and wish to lose weight or achieve better health.

Can we eat fruit during pregnancy?

Yes, you can eat fruit during pregnancy.

Eating fruit during pregnancy may help you reduce risk of complications like gestational diabetes, preterm birth and also protect your baby or babies from developing chronic diseases early in life.

Can we eat fruit for constipation?

Yes, you can eat fruit for constipation.

I see many patients who are having trouble with their bowel movements.

They have been to the gastroenterologist and they say they don't have any major problems, but it's still not working.

They are able to give some laxatives and ask them to drink lots of water. This provides relief for a few days, but eventually the constipation comes back.

What we do is directly address the root cause of constipation - a fiber-deficient diet.

When you simple eat more fruits and other whole plant foods, your good gut bacteria feed on them grow into larger colonies, making your stool soft and bulky.

This helps relieve constipation within a matter of days.

If you suffer from constipation, please consult a physician first. If they confirm that there are no major issues and it is only diet-related, adding fruits to your diet may help.

Can we eat fruit without washing it?

Yes, you can eat fruit without washing it if it has been grown organically without chemicals.

Even then, it may have dust, dirt and mud on it. It is a good idea to wash it with water if you can.

If it has been grown with chemicals, then definitely wash it. A 10% salt solution has been found to be the most effective fruit and vegetable wash for removing pesticide residue from the surface.

Can you eat frozen fruit by itself?

Yes, you can eat frozen fruit by itself.

Studies have shown that frozen fruit may be even healthier than fresh fruit sometimes, because they are frozen immediately after harvest, while fresh fruit may be sitting on the shop shelf for days.

If you are trying to find a way to make my kids eat more fruits and veggies, frozen fruit is a great idea.

If you have been buying them fresh from the store, but your family has not been eating enough, you can freezesome for later in the week.

Tired of eating plain fruits? Blend up some frozen fruit with some cashew butter to make delicious Ice Cream at home!

How to eat fruit when you don't like it?

Are you a big fan of some fruits but not others?

Or do you dislike all sweet foods, including fruits?

Try these ideas:

  • Sprinkle some nuts on top
  • Squeeze some lemon juice on top of any fruits you find too sweet. Acidity helps cut through sweetness.
  • Make savoury smoothies with pineapple, musk melon, apple, banana, cucumber, beetroot, tomato, palak and mint
  • Eat a low salt whole food plant based diet consistently for five days. This helps your taste buds adapt to natural foods. You may find yourself enjoying fruits more!

How to eat fruit without getting gas?

Have been reading a lot about the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, you know that they are good for you, but you are wondering how to eat fruit without getting gas?

Here's how.

Fruits contain a lot of fiber, which your good gut bacteria feast on. They grow into large, stable colonies and fight bad bacteria. However, they also release gas in the process.

If you have been eating a fiber-rich diet from before, this won't happen because your good gut microbes have already formed a stable colony.

If you are switching from a low fiber diet to a high fiber diet, you could end up with a lot of gas.

How do you overcome this?

By going slow.

Start with a piece of fruit at the start of each meal, then increase the quantity slowly, keeping your comfort levels in mind.

Over time, you will be able to reach your optimal intake of 3 servings of fruits & 1 serving of berries everyday without getting gas.

Is frozen fruit safe to eat? When to Eat Frozen Fruit?

Yes, frozen fruit is safe to eat.

Studies have shown that frozen fruit may be even healthier than fresh fruit sometimes, because they are frozen immediately after harvest, while fresh fruit may be sitting on the shop shelf for days.

You can eat frozen fruit anytime you like.

  • Pop them in as snacks
  • Make a cold smoothie to kickstart your morning
  • Blend them into ice cream for dessert or a summer snack

Is it better to drink juice or eat fruit?

It is better to eat fruit than to drink juice.

You need to filter out fiber to make juice.

The problem is, most of the antioxidant phytonutrients in fruits are bound to the fiber.

If you filter the fiber, you also filter out a ton of healthy nutrients.

If you eat whole fruit, you get all these nutrients that help you stay healthy.

If you still wish to drink your fruit, consider making smoothies and drinking them slowly over a 20 minute period. This is as good as eating whole fruit.

Is it ok to never eat fruit?

No, it is not ok to never eat fruit.

Research has shown that if you eat less than 3 servings of fruits, you increase your risk of several chronic diseases, such as:

  • Heart diseases
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer, especially colon cancer

Is it true: Don't eat fruit without seeds?

Yes, it is not true, don't eat fruit without seeds - only the fruits with edible seeds though!

Most fruits have edible seeds, like oranges, watermelon, and banana.

These seeds contain several phytonutrients that are not found in the fruit pulp.

Eating these fruits with seeds helps you enjoy better health benefits than eating the fruit pulp alone.

There are some fruits with seeds that are not edible, like mangoes. Please eat such fruits without seeds.

What Fruits to eat?

You can eat all fruits!

Fruit is a healthy food, and it can be eaten in different ways.

Some of the most common fruits are apples, oranges, grapes, bananas, strawberries, pears, peaches, apricots, plums, mangoes.

You can also try local, seasonal berries and fruits with unique flavours, like the Kaake Hannu in Karnataka, India!

When to eat fruit salad?

You know that it's good for you to eat fruits and vegetables, but what is the best time of the day to eat them?

Fruit salad is healthy to eat anytime.

Research shows that the best time to eat fruit salad, when you get maximum benefit, may be at the beginning of your meals.

Try adding fruit at the start of your meals and let me know how it feels.

Which fruit to eat at night?

You can eat any fruit at night.

However, eating any food after sunset may lead to a blood sugar spike, not just fruits.

We recommend finishing your last meal for the day before sunset.

Which fruit eat in morning?

You can eat any fruit in morning.

In fact a bowl of fruits is a great early breakfast to have!

Try a bowl of watermelon cubes, papaya, pineapple, or a mixed fruit salad.

Which fruit to eat during pregnancy?

You can eat all fruits during pregnancy.

Eating a variety fruit during pregnancy may help you reduce risk of complications like gestational diabetes, preterm birth.

It also protect your baby or babies from developing chronic diseases early in life.

Which fruit to eat for weight gain?

If the cause for low body weight is malnutrition, then calorie-dense foods like nuts, seeds, whole grains, pulses and legumes may be more helpful for weight gain than fruits

But if the cause for low body weight is indigestion or absorption issues, then all fruits can help you improve your digestion, absorption and bowel movements, helping you with weight gain.

Which fruit to eat for weight loss?

You can eat all fruits for weight loss.

In fact, eating just one apple at the beginning of your meal could be equal to a negative 200 calories as compared to the same meal without the apple!

Ideally, eat fruit at the start of your meals for maximum weight loss benefits.

Which fruit to eat in covid?

You can eat all fruits in covid.

Plant-based diets have been found to protect you from severe Covid-19, hospitalisation and mortality too.

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy plant-based diet.

Eat a greater variety of fruits for maximum benefit.

Which fruit to eat in diabetes?

You can eat all fruit in diabetes.

Researchers tested this out by putting diabetics into two groups.

They told one group to eat at least two fruits daily, and the other group to eatat most two fruits a day.

At the end of the study, they found no difference between the two groups!

They concluded that diabetics should not be advised to restrict fruit intake.

Newer research also shows that small quantities of fructose content in food may be beneficial for diabetics, by stabilising blood sugar levels.

In general, it is safe for diabetics to consume fruits, even fruits like mangoes. They contain vital nutrients that help prevent other chronic diseases too.

As Dr. Greger likes to say, 'The least controversial statement in all of nutrition is that fruits and vegetables are good for you!"

Fruits have been recommended for decades, from a '1985 best-selling diet book' to the latest Celebrity Nutritionist, even featuring in latest trends from health experts on social media!

I hope this article helped you discover why.

How much fruit do you eat everyday? Comment on this article and let me know, I would love to hear!

If you found this article useful, please share it with your loved ones. Let's make this world a healthier place to live in together.

Be blessed,
Dr. Achyuthan Eswar
Lifestyle Medicine Physician & Co-founder,
NutritionScience.in & SampoornaAhara.com

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