Everything You Need to Know About the Fruitarian Diet

Medically reviewed by Natalie Olsen, RD, LD, ACSM EP-C on July 19, 2017Written by Corey Whelan on July 19, 2017

What’s in the fruit diet?

The fruitarian, or fruit, diet is a highly restrictive vegan diet. It excludes all animal products, including dairy. People following this program eat a diet consisting primarily of raw fruits.

Vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, and seeds can also be eaten in moderation.

Other types of food, such as grains, legumes, and tubers, are severely limited or eliminated completely. Cooked food of any kind, including cooked fruit, is avoided.

There isn’t one specific way to do the fruit diet. Some fruitarians only eat fruit that has fallen onto the ground, rather than fruits that have been picked. Others won’t eat any seeds, because these have the capacity to become living plants.

Following the fruit diet carries many risks, such as malnourishment, so talk with your doctor about your intentions. They can guide you on how to meet your nutritional needs without putting your health at risk.

What are the potential benefits?

When eaten in moderation, fruit can be a very healthy part of a nutritious diet. Some benefits from eating fruit include:

  • Fruits contain fiber, which can help lower your cholesterol and encourage regular bowel movements. Apples, pears, blackberries, and raspberries are examples of fruits high in dietary fiber.
  • Oranges, red peppers, and strawberries are examples of fruits that contain lots of vitamin C. This helps keep teeth and gums healthy. Vitamin C also supports the immune system.
  • Bananas, guavas, cantaloupe, and mangos are examples of fruits higher in potassium. Potassium can help maintain a healthy blood pressure and regulate fluid balance in the body.
  • Oranges and tropical fruits such as mangos are high in folate. This can help the body produce red blood cells. Folate also supports healthy fetal development. Looking for fruits that are low in sugar? Try these.
  • Black plums, prunes, and all berries are examples of fruits rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants limit the production of free radicals. They can protect your skin and fight off illness.

What are the potential risks?

Several nutrients that are vital for overall health are lacking in a fruit-based diet.

This includes:

  • protein
  • fat
  • calcium
  • B vitamins
  • omega-3 fatty acids

Due to the diet’s highly restrictive nature, malnourishment is a significant concern. Your body might even go into starvation mode. This means that your metabolism will slow as it attempts to hold onto your nutritional stores and conserve energy.

You may also experience anemia, fatigue, and a reduced immune system. Over time, the lack of calcium can lead to osteoporosis.

A fruit-based diet is also very heavy on sugar, even though it’s a natural source. This may make it a poor choice for people with diabetes, prediabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or insulin resistance.

There aren’t any ironclad rules to follow, so you may be able to adapt the fruit diet to your specific nutritional needs. Limiting your fruit intake to 50 percent and adding protein sources, such as nuts or vegetarian-approved supplements, may help balance out the nutritional deficits inherent in the fruit diet.

How to transition into a fruit diet

If the diet appeals to you, proceed slowly. Rather than start all at once, make a gradual transition away from your current eating patterns.

This may mean giving up:

  • alcohol
  • animal products
  • grains
  • processed foods
  • caffeine

You should also begin adding:

  • raw fruits
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • vegetables

Fruitarians typically eat freely from multiple fruit groups. You may wish to stick to a three-meal-a-day plan, or build in four to five smaller meals throughout the day.

The fruit groups to choose from include:

  • acidic fruits, such as oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, berries, plums, and cranberries
  • sub-acidic fruits, such as apples, apricots, raspberries, and cherries
  • oily fruits, such as avocados, olives, and coconuts
  • sweet fruits, such as bananas, dates, figs, and grapes
  • starchy fruits, such as squash
  • melons of all kinds
  • vegetable-fruits, such as cucumbers and bell peppers

If you can, opt for organic fruits whenever possible. And if you want them to last longer, make sure you’re storing your fruits correctly!

You should also drink water, coconut water, or 100 percent fruit juice throughout the day.

With every meal

  • During the transition, it may help to steam or soak your fruits and vegetables until you’re ready to go completely raw.
  • You should also try to include oily fruits with every meal to provide your body with fat.
  • Try to include a protein source, such as nuts or seeds, with each meal.
  • You should also include raw or lightly-steamed vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and celery, with each serving.
  • Make sure to drink plenty of fluids, such as water and natural fruit juice.

No matter what type of eating plan you follow, your body needs to move in order to be healthy. The fruitarian diet may not provide you with enough energy to exercise. If you find this to be so, it may be a red flag that you need to modify your nutritional intake.

See your doctor

Whether your goal is weight loss, increased health, or a more natural way of life, checking in with your doctor before beginning the fruit diet is a good idea. This diet may have an adverse effect on your overall health if you have an underlying medical condition or take any medications. Your doctor can help you understand your individual risks and help you modify the diet to suit your needs.

Meeting with a registered dietitian is also a good idea. They can help create a plan that works for you while also ensuring you have no nutritional gaps.

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