Is the Fruitarian Diet Good for You?

A short stint on this fruit-heavy regimen might actually do your eating habits some good.

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Picture eating a fresh summer peach, with the juice dripping down your arm. Or how about the tropical taste of fresh guava in the dead of winter?The biggest benefit of the fruitarian diet is that it sounds delicious.

But the fruitarian diet is an extremely restrictive diet that includes eating raw fruits, dried fruits, nuts, seeds and not much else. Some fruitarians even swear off food processing, which would eliminate 100% fruit-and-nut bars and even frozen fruit — which is a shame, since frozen fruit is often higher in nutrients than fresh fruit, because it's picked and frozen at the peak of freshness to lock in nutrition. And because the diet doesn't include cooked fruit, it eliminates one of summer's pleasures: grilled fruit.

One thing that does seem apparent is that most fruitarians set their own rules. If someone is dead set on trying this fad diet, they should make sure that fruit accounts for no more than half of their daily diet. And even then, deficiency is a real possibility.

During this short time of dieting (after which it will likely be time to switch to a diet with fewer rules), some benefits may emerge. One of the biggest advantages is to help "reset the dinner plate" with produce. Here's what a brief stint on the fruitarian diet might do for you:

Unpackage your diet — If the only things you eat these days come in packages, whether from the supermarket snacks section, the corner deli or a restaurant, it may be time to check out plant foods that come in nature's own packaging. Think pears and apples of all sorts and all colors, and new varieties of grapes. Then learn to cut a pineapple. Look for unique seasonal fruits at the farmers market. And while you're at it, cut down on fruit packaging by bringing your own mesh bags to the farmers market and toting reusable shopping bags to the supermarket.

Lower inflammation — Fruits are packed with fiber and powerful antioxidants that can help lower inflammation in the body and reduce the risk of cancer, digestive diseases and heart disease. The fiber in fruits can provide nourishment for good bacteria in the gut and potentially help boost the immune system, as much of our immune system is located in our gut.

Strive above the recommendations — It's recommended that most Americans get about 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit daily. However, most don't get this amount. On the fruitarian diet, this small amount will likely seem easy as (peach!) pie to obtain, as many fruitarians eat bunches of bananas a day. One warning: Eating very large amounts of fruit each day may cause severe bloating and gassiness.

Diversify your portfolio — Are you stuck in a rut of apples, oranges and bananas? Jumping on the fruitarian diet for a week or two will likely have you branching out. There's a whole world of fruits out there: kumquats, papaya, guava, mini pineapples. And then there's a whole world of new fruits coming to supermarkets, including: Cotton Candy Grapes, Golden Berries, Artic Apples that don't brown, Wonderful Seedless Lemons and Blazeberries from Naturipe Farms. Explore them all — even if you're not following the fruitarian diet.

Create raw fruit recipes — Tinker in the kitchen and write down the results. Then, when you go off this restrictive diet, you'll have lots of snack ideas. For starters, try these:

  • Cubes of mangoes sprinkled with chili powder and salt
  • A creamy green shake of avocados, coconut and frozen strawberries (avocados make any smoothie extra creamy without the addition of dairy)
  • Pineapple whip — Frozen pineapple or frozen bananas can be blended in a food processor to create "nice cream"
  • Bananas and sunflower butter (enough said!)

Serena Ball, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian nutritionist, food writer and recipe developer. She blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com and is the author of the best-selling The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. Follow her @TspCurry on Twitter and Instagram.

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