Are Apples Allowed on the Paleo Diet? 4 Paleo Expert Perspectives

apple orchard tree full of apples - featured image can you eat apples on paleo article

One common question often asked by those new to the Paleo Diet is can you eat apples while on Paleo? To try to help assemble a comprehensive answer to this question, I decided to compile the answers found in the writings of several experts related to the Paleo Diet.

Are apples Paleo approved? According to Loren Cordain, considered to be the founder of the modern Paleo Diet movement, fresh apples are allowed to be eaten as part of a Paleo Diet. However, if you are overweight, obese or have type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or abnormal blood lipids, you may want to limit your consumption.

As there are some differences of opinion between Paleo experts on whether to limit apples in your diet and by how much, we have pulled together a summary of these viewpoints below. We’ve also included other factors to consider like the differences in sugar content of various types of apples, pesticide levels, and other topics to help guide you towards making an informed decision.

What do Paleo experts say? Are apples OK on the Paleo diet?

As you can see in the table below, there is some slight variation in the advice in the Paleo community about the recommended amount of Apple(s) to include in your diet.

ExpertLimit Quantity ToExceptions/Who Should LimitSource
Loren CordainNo Limit– Overweight/Obese
– High blood pressure
– Abnormal blood lipids
– Type 2 diabetes
1
Robb WolfReserved for Days Where Exercising– Light Workout
– Lots to Lose
2
Mark SissonDaily or Slightly Less– Overweight/Obese Moderate Amount3, 4
Sarah BallantyneDepends– Trying to Lose Weight
– Fructose Intolerance
– Gut Dysbiosis (Apples high FODMAPS)
– Find Fruit Appetite Stimulant
5

As you can see the advice varies, however as a general rule some amount of apples and fresh fruit are allowed on the Paleo Diet.

Where there starts to be variation is when you start to take into consideration the current health condition and goals of you as an individual.

Are you obese or suffering from a chronic health condition? In that case, the general consensus is that you will want to limit your intake of moderate and higher sugar fruits.

Although apples would fall more in the moderate sugar category, you would likely be better to avoid them until you get your health conditions stabilized, something that a healthy low sugar version of the Paleo Diet will hopefully help you to do.

Is your primary goal with the Paleo Diet to lose weight? If that is the case, you may want to also follow the advice of reducing your consumption of moderate to higher sugar fruit, even recommended Paleo fruit like apples.

You might consider trying to follow Robb Wolf’s suggestion of limiting your apple intake to days where you’ve done a commensurate amount of exercise and otherwise stick to lower sugar fruits like berries and lots of fresh vegetables as an alternative.

Our culture has an obsession with unblemished produce, often at the sacrifice of ripeness, taste and nutrition.

Apples and Pesticides

Part of following the Paleo Diet is seeking out organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible, especially for produce that has high levels of pesticides.

As pointed out by Loren Cordain, Apples are consistently found to be one of the “dirty dozen” list of fruits and vegetables with the highest concentration of pesticides and herbicides as reported by the Environmental Working Group.

According to the most recent EWG dirty dozen/clean fifteen report:

90 percent of conventional apples had detectable pesticide residues.

https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php

80 percent of apples tested contained diphenylamine, a pesticide banned in Europe.

https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php

For this reason, it is highly advised to by organic apples versus those that have been conventionally grown.

Are Dried Apple Crisps Paleo?

One common misconception with those following the Paleo Diet, even those who have been on the diet for years, is that because fruit is encouraged as a portion of your diet, that dried fruit is also ok.

Snacks like apple crisps and fruit snack chips have been marketed heavily to those on the Paleo Diet in recent years as a Paleo friendly stack on the go.

However dried fruit receives a near universal warning by the Paleo experts mentioned above. In one article Dr. Cordain compares the sugar content of dried fruit, including apples, per 100 grams to the suger content of various candy bars and shows that they are quite similar in concentration.

Eating such a concentrated source of sugar is not advised as a Paleo staple and is better reserved for an emergency situation.

Which type of Apple has the Least Amount of Fructose (to be limited on Paleo)?

As the amount of sugar in fruit is a major topic in Paleo circles and specifically the amount of fructose versus glucose in each fruit, here is a breakdown of the amount of each sugar in several types of popular apples.

Apple VarietyGlucose content
in g per 100g of
Fruit
Fructose content
in g per 100g of
Fruit
Fructose/glucose
Ratio
Granny Smith1.12.32.1
Boskop1.43.12.2
Pink Lady1.44.83.4
Golden Delicious2.05.22.6
Royal Gala2.36.93.0
Fuji3.37.72.3

Table: the fructose and glucose content and fructose/glucose ratio of different varieties of apple (Source)

As you can see, there is a fairly wide variation in both overall natural fruit sugars as well as the percentage of glucose versus fructose in different types of apples.

Fructose consumption, as opposed to glucose, is widely pointed out in the Paleo community as being bad for your liver, as well as contributing more significantly to weight gain and other health issues.

Another factor that is often pointed out is the ratio of glucose to fructose in different foods. If the ratio has much higher fructose compared to glucose, that is considered problematic.

Although fresh whole apples do include soluble fiber, pectin and other elements that help your body to slow down the processing and absorption of fructose in your liver, being mindful of the fructose content in different types of apples can be helpful when picking out your next on the go snack.

Related Questions:

Can you eat fruit on Paleo?According to many Paleo experts fruit is a central part of the Paleo Diet and should make up at least a portion of what you eat every day. However, depending on whether your goals are to lose weight or if you have any pre existing health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal blood lipids, you may want to limit the amount of fruit in your diet and look for fruits, like berries, that tend to be lower in sugar while still being high in nutrients.

Is Juicing paleo friendly? Paleo experts advocate for the consumption of whole fruits and vegetables in order to get all the beneficial fiber, water, nutrients and enzymes in their natural proportions. The fiber in whole fruits and vegetables also slows down the absorption rate of the sugars in fruits and vegetables, something that is not the case with fresh pressed juice. So although fresh juice is technically allowed on the Paleo Diet, it is said to be better left as a very occasional or emergency food rather than a staple of your diet.

Are apples on Whole30?Fresh apples of all varieties are allowed on the Whole30 (see the Whole30 shopping list for omnivores). However, there are instructions to limit dried fruit such as dried apples and to choose fresh apples instead. If you are a person that tends to binge on fresh fruit or it exacerbates your sugar cravings, one set of guidance is to eat fruit, like apples, as part of a meal instead of as a standalone snack and to pre-portion the amount of fruit to include with each meal.

Can you eat apples on a ketogenic diet? Apples are not a very good choice for those maintaining a ketogenic Diet. With 25 grams of carbs in an average apple, that alone would either put you over or very close to your total allotment of carbohydrates for the day. In addition, the average medium apple has 19 grams of carbohydrates as sugar. For those on a Keto diet who are really craving apples, about 1/8th of an apple (or approx. 1-2 slices), would add up to the same net carbohydrates as the more standard choice of a half cup of raspberries.