Search for hoax proves fruitful

THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVERJune 15, 2011 

Q: Is eating fruit on an empty stomach more healthful than eating it with or after a meal? I read a report that said fruit causes a reaction with other food that is damaging to the body. Is there a valid source on the Internet for learning about these things?

It isn't a site for nutrition information, but I checked out your question on another source: www.snopes.com. Snopes specializes in checking out Internet rumors and hoaxes.

Whenever someone passes on mass email, whether it's the latest "true crime" story or a nutty food claim, check Snopes before you share it or take it seriously.

Sure enough, I found your fruit report there. According to Snopes editor Barbara Mikkelson, the piece was originally written in 1998 and has been floating around the Internet since about 2001.

The doctor mentioned in the report had a degree in naturopathy, not medicine, and was arrested multiple times for practicing medicine without a license. There is no scientific proof to back up his claim.

Other versions of the fruit story have been made by people selling weight-loss programs since the 1980s, but none of those has been proved, either. The nutritional value of a piece of fruit is the same whether it's eaten on an empty stomach, with food or after a meal.

In fact, someone who is diabetic can keep his blood sugar level from spiking by ingesting fruit as part of a meal. There also is a condition called fructose intolerance that can cause gas and cramping if fruit is eaten on an empty stomach. But neither of those changes the nutritional value of the fruit.

Kathleen Purvis answers food questions at www.charlotteobserver.com/food .

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