The Truth About Fruit and Vegetables

Conventional Wisdom says that we need to eat lots of fruit and vegetables to be healthy.  But as with so much of CW, this is a myth.  The truth is that fruit and vegetables are just not very nutrient-dense, especially when compared to animal products like meat and eggs.  Nutritionist and obesity researcher Zoe Harcombe explains:

The facts are these.  There are 13 vitamins and fruit is good for one of them, vitamin C.

Vegetables offer some vitamins - vitamin C and the vegetable form of the fat-soluble vitamins A and vitamin K1 - but your body will be able to absorb these only if you add some fat, such as butter or olive oil.

The useful forms of A and K - retinol and K2 respectively - are found only in animal foods.  As for minerals, there are 16 and fruit is good for one of them, potassium, which is not a substance we are often short of, as it is found in water.

Vegetables can be OK for iron and calcium but the vitamins and minerals in animal foods (meat, fish, eggs and dairy products) beat those in fruit and vegetables hands down.  There is far more vitamin A in liver than in an apple, for instance.

Are fruit and vegetables good for you?  Sure.  But let’s be honest about the nutrients they’re actually providing.

Vegetables can be pretty tasty, so if you like them, by all means, eat them.  But if you think they’re doing wonders for your health, you’re kidding yourself.  That’s only true if the alternative is something almost totally devoid of nutrients like wheat products (bread, cereal, pasta, etc) or the boxed processed crap that lines so many supermarket aisles (which is also mostly wheat products).

Fruit is definitely tasty, because it’s full of sugar.  Eat it in moderation, but realize that it’s essentially candy.  What’s worse is that the sugar in fruit is fructose -- the same stuff in the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup -- which, unlike glucose, is sent directly to your liver and converted to fat.  There is a reason that fruit is seasonal: before our modern times of food abundance, refrigeration, and long-distance shipping, people would load up on fruit when it ripened in the late summer/early fall, in order to pack on some body fat to survive the winter.  Eating lots of fruit year-round is not a great idea unless you too want to pack on the body fat.

No, fruit and vegetables are far from the most nutritious foods available.  The most nutrient-dense foods are animal products, especially egg yolks and liver.  Liver is nature’s multivitamin; it is literally the most nutritious thing you can eat.  And egg yolk is so full of vitamins and minerals that simply eating more egg yolk would resolve Americans’ most common nutrient deficiencies.

It’s easy to verify which foods are the most nutritious: just look at the numbers.  Compare fruit to liver, or bread and salmon.  Or look at oysters.  The animal products are more nutrient-dense in most cases, and in many cases (e.g. liver) they blow the plant foods out of the water completely.

Posted by Anthony on 5 replies


01. May 6, 2013 at 12:49pm by William:

You are misleading people and must be making money of the masses. First of all we dont need cows milk it is defencient in phosphorous and taurine which is essential for brain development. Cows milk is Acidic and I’m black so the only time I’m defencient in vitamin D is in the winter time when the hours of sunlight are less. We develop are brains first cows devolop their skeletal system first after all the double their weight in two months and humans double their weight every 7 to 8 months. Also if that where true why is it that when we saw raw meat we dont salivate. Plus it hardly tatkes any energy to digest friuts and vegtables, however when we eat meat we get sleepy. Meat eating animas have short digestive tracts and we have long digestive tracts like that of a friutarian gorilla.  You cant get obese if you eat fruits and vegatables or hardly even sick if you do its because they will give your body the power to cleanse it self. The american diet is not nutrition because the word nutrition comes from nature. That is why medication is a repetative drug that helps you live with the affliction verses curing or giving your body the building blocks to regenerate itself. If that is the case why does the organe juice in the store cause diabetics promblems but they can eat a basket of friut and be fine?

02. May 6, 2013 at 10:33pm by Anthony:

There are so many errors in your comment, I scarcely know where to begin.  From the absurd and juvenile "you disagree with me so you’re getting paid by my enemies!!" remark, to the atrocious spelling and grammar, to the reliance on bizarre anecdotes rather than references... I’m sorry, but if you’re not willing to spend the time to write a coherent and legible comment, then I’m not going to waste time writing a thorough response.

03. Sep 29, 2013 at 01:14am by Joan:

I think that your body lets you know if it does not like something.  If you eat something that makes you feel good and gives you energy I think it makes you want it more.  That seems to be different things for different people and people are entitled to believe what they want to believe.  If a person wants to live in good health, maybe they should listen to their body.  It’s what I do.  When my body doesn’t like something, it let’s me know in plenty of ways. :O

04. Sep 30, 2013 at 11:32pm by Anthony:

It’s true that there is some degree of individual variation, and listening to your body is important.  On the other hand, some diseases progress slowly, and some foods degrade your health over time, without any immediate acute negative effects.

Eating vegetable oil may not make you feel sick, but the large proportion of omega-6 fat in it tends to push people into a low-grade but consistent inflammatory state, and to cause oxidative damage in the cardiovascular system.  Similarly, consumption of modern wheat might not cause stomach upset (though it certainly does for some), but for many people it does cause arthritis, headaches, and other kinds of sickness that they might not realize are related to diet.

So yes, listen to your body, but when in doubt -- and in general -- stick to whole foods as much as possible: meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds.

05. Jun 25, 2014 at 05:12pm by Michael Oliver:

Your article is a breath of fresh air.  People are finally waking up to the distortions and out right lies we been fed for about 60 years from the medical establishment.  They don’t want to admit they were wrong about eating a low-fat diet and avoiding cholesterol-but eventually they will have to. Thanks for the great article.

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