Should you eat fruits on an empty stomach? Or fruits should be eaten on an empty stomach?

Should you eat fruits on an empty stomach? Or fruits should be eaten on an empty stomach?

There is myth saying that it is not healthy to eat fruits on an empty stomach, meaning before the main meal. Or in contrast, there's also myth saying that fruits should be eaten on an empty stomach. And another popular topic for the diabetes patients is that they cannot eat fruits.


You can't eat fruits on an empty stomach.

Why is that so?
The 'theory' behind this myth is, if you eat fruits first and then eating other foods, the sugar in the fruit will cause all of the food in your stomach to ferment or rot. Some fruits are very acidic and they can quickly spoil the other food in the stomach as soon as they come in contact. This claims that it can affect your digestion, cause weight gain, bloating, diarrhea, gas and a host of other health problems.

Is it true?

There is nothing unhealthy about eating fruits along with other foods. Most fruits are naturally low in fat, contains sugar (mainly fructose), they are sources of many essential nutrients and fiber. Let's think about this, we eat different types of mixed meals almost every day, we gain nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fiber and other micronutrients. We hardly consume just one type of nutrient.

The main function of the stomach is to break down and digest food in order to get necessary nutrients from what we have eaten. It secretes acid and enzymes that digest food, and thus creating an acidic environment which kills bacteria that enter our stomach. Food will then pass from the stomach to the small intestine. Our pancreas secretes bicarbonate (alkali) into the small intestine to neutralize the acid, and the digestion goes on. Our gastrointestinal system is made to digest a mixed meal. Nothing can rot in the stomach.

It is said that food that stays in the stomach too long can ferment, which can lead to the growth of bacteria. However, the naturally highly acidic stomach environment is designed to prevent the growth of bacteria.


Fruits should be eaten on an empty stomach.

Why is that so?
Some say fruits must be eaten on an empty stomach in order for the body to absorb all the nutrients properly.

Is it true?

Digestion mainly occurs in the small intestine, not the stomach. Our small intestine is the site of virtually all nutrient absorption. As I've mentioned earlier, our gastrointestinal system is made to digest a mixed meal and to absorb the nutrients from foods, regardless of whether we eat fruit on an empty stomach or with a meal.

Anyway, there are people who need to avoid having fresh fruits, due to fructose malabsorption/ intolerance.
Certain people are sensitive to fructose, which a basic sugar found in fruits, due to the inability to properly digest fructose. Fructose malabsorption is also a common symptom of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The one way to minimize the discomfort such as bloating, diarrhea and gas due to fructose intolerance is to avoid eating fresh fruits.

"For example, honey, dates, raisins, molasses, and figs have a content of >10% of fructose, whereas a fructose content of 5–10% by weight is found in grapes, raw apples, apple juice, persimmons, and blueberries."


There's a lot of discussion over which kind of fruits that we should avoid having too much on an empty stomach.

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits are higher in acid content, and this can irritate people with a sensitive gastrointestinal system.
However, "organic acids present in citrus fruits, such as citric acid, malic acid, oxalic acid, succinic acid, and malonic acid are easily metabolized as they are the part of metabolic pathways in the human body. Citrus fruits do not increase the body's acid content. These acids are very mild compared to the hydrochloric acid present in stomach."


Pineapple is also high in its acid content despite not listed as a citrus fruit. "Consuming large quantities of fresh pineapple juice can cause mouth and esophagus soreness. The irritation results from the combined action of the acids, bromelain enzymes and calcium oxalate crystals. The high level of citric acid in fresh, unsweetened pineapple juice may cause an upset stomach if large quantities are consumed, especially on an empty stomach."

How about banana?

For most of us (without diabetes), a banana is fine even if it's taken in the morning on an empty stomach.
The concern is banana can increase blood sugar a little more than many other fruits. Morning is the time when many people are more prone to blood sugar spikes. It is suggested to pair it up with other food instead of making it a standalone breakfast. For people with diabetes, this is even more of a concern.
Banana is high in magnesium. There's an idea about having too much of banana on an empty stomach may cause the magnesium in the blood to increase, which causing an imbalance between the magnesium and calcium in the blood, and thus affecting the cardiovascular function. However, one banana will not give such negative impact.

There is also news sharing that persimmon, tomato, pear, and lychee shall not be eaten on an empty stomach.

Look out for all these concerns only when it's consumed in a big amount, or if you're having a particular health condition, especially gastrointestinal system related problem. In general, having a moderate amount of fruits, any type of fruits, will not bring detrimental effect to your health. Compared to those calorie-dense foods, such as refined and processed foods, chips, cookies, fries, or other sweet treats, fruit is indeed a better choice. High in fiber, it's able to slow the stomach emptying time, which means it will sit in your stomach for a longer time. Having high fiber food will keep you feeling full for a longer time.

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Basaranoglu, Metin, Gokcen Basaranoglu, and Elisabetta Hossain, Md Farid, Shaheen Akhtar, and Mustafa Anwar. "Nutritional value and medicinal benefits of pineapple." International Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences 4.1 (2015): 84.
Bugianesi. "Carbohydrate intake and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: fructose as a weapon of mass destruction." Hepatobiliary surgery and nutrition 4.2 (2015): 109.