Too Much of a Good Thing? Why Fruits and Veggies Can Be Harmful

Too Much of a Good Thing? Why Fruits and Veggies Can Be Harmful

Written by Alex Reid
Posted July 26, 2012

Mothers, your children might actually have a leg to stand on with the daily fruits and veggies argument at the dinner table. As we've been told for years, having a strong and healthy diet with a balance of fruits of vegetables is vital. But in the eyes of the young girls or boys staring down their broccoli and squash on their plate, even one bite is too much for them.

And now the kids might have a point...

Although it may come as a surprise to most, it is very easy to overeat healthy foods and eventually negate it's healthiness altogether.

According to Loyola University Health System registered dietitian Brooke Schantz, too much of a good thing (in this case healthy food) can still be bad for you.

“While fruits are nutritious, too much of even a healthy food can lead to weight gain,” she explained. “The key is to remember to control the portion sizes of the foods you consume.”

Portion control is one of the main focuses for dietitians, especially within America -- the most obese country in the world with 34% of the adult population classified as obese, according to the OECD survey.

Just earlier this summer we saw Mayor Michael Bloomberg place a controversial big soda ban on New York City to limit the size of drink containers larger than 16 ounces within the city.

From Science Daily,

“Schantz reported that overeating healthy foods is easy to do, but the same rules apply to healthy food as junk food. Weight fluctuates based on a basic concept -- energy in versus energy out. If your total caloric intake is higher than the energy you burn off in a day, you will gain weight. If it is lower, you will lose weight.”

So even if your leafy greens and your bright fruits are abundant in your diet, don't go overboard, it doesn't mean you are eating healthy if you are eating heaps of vegetables and fruits and forget your other balancing foods like proteins, carbohydrates, dairy and sugars.

Schantz explains that she's had patients ask her why they are not losing any weight when they are on a strict diet. They then would explain that they are eating fruit all day long and are later shocked to hear that even if it is considered a healthy food, doesn't mean you can strictly eat it all day long.

But there is one exception to the rule: non-starchy vegetables like artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, cucumbers, onions, and radishes. These vegetables are difficult to overeat unless they are accompanied by unnecessary calories from sauces, cheeses, and butter. The reason these non-starchy vegetables are difficult to go overboard with is because they have high water and fiber content coupled with the stretching capacity of the stomach.

High-starch vegetables like peas, potatoes and corn are those which need to be limited as well as foods that are labeled “fat-free” or “low-fat” because those foods may be hiding their high sugar or calories.

Even with so many options and suggestions on how best to eat healthy, Schantz says the best rule of thumb is to watch the quantity you consume and refrain from eating an excessive amount of anything.


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