Are Humans Frugivores?

are humans frugivores
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When considering the human diet from a biological perspective, one fundamental question arises: Are humans frugivores? This inquiry delves into our evolutionary history and the biological adaptations that might shed light on the type of diet humans are best suited for. While it’s essential to acknowledge that humans have developed culturally diverse eating habits, numerous aspects of our biology suggest a strong affinity for a frugivorous diet. Let’s explore the evidence.

Ancestral Origins in Frugivorous Ancestry

To understand whether humans are frugivores, it’s crucial to trace our dietary lineage. The evidence from our evolutionary history points to a frugivorous ancestry. Primates, our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, often serve as a valuable reference. Many primates, including chimpanzees, exhibit frugivorous diets, primarily consisting of fruits. This shared dietary history raises intriguing questions about the nature of the human diet.

1. Loss of Vitamin C-Genes

One compelling piece of evidence linking humans to a frugivorous diet is the loss of vitamin C-synthesization genes. Unlike most mammals, including omnivores and herbivores, humans, and other highly frugivorous animals do not produce vitamin C internally. Instead, we must obtain it from external sources, such as fruits. This unique trait is shared by apes, guinea pigs, bats, and certain birds—species known for their fruit-based diets. The loss of vitamin C genes appears to be an adaptation due to high fruit intake, highlighting our frugivorous connection.

2. Trichromatic Color Vision

Another characteristic shared between humans and frugivorous animals is trichromatic color vision. Most frugivores, including humans, possess the ability to see a broader spectrum of colors than other species. Trichromatic color vision is optimized for detecting fruits, as it helps distinguish colorful fruits from the surrounding foliage. This trait allows frugivores to efficiently locate and identify ripe fruits—an essential skill for fruit foraging.

3. Digestive Anatomy and Microbiome

The anatomy of our digestive system provides further insights. Humans share similarities in digestive anatomy and microbiome with other frugivores. Our intestinal mucosa, which absorbs nutrients, aligns with the characteristics of a frugivorous primate. While frugivorous primates may occasionally consume animal-based foods, their primary food source is fruits and plant matter. Additionally, studies have shown that humans’ microbiome closely resembles that of wild frugivorous chimpanzees in their natural environment.

4. Dental Structure

Human teeth exhibit a dental pattern consistent with other frugivorous primates. Our teeth, like those of frugivorous apes, are adapted to bite into fruits and chew them effectively while releasing sugar-digesting enzymes in our saliva. This dental structure aligns with the requirements of a fruit-based diet.

5. Complex Hands

The human hand is a remarkable tool for fruit foraging. Our complex hands are optimized for picking fruits, determining ripeness, and peeling them. These hands allow us to engage in the intricate tasks associated with fruit consumption. While humans may not have the same climbing skills as some other frugivores, our opposable thumbs and dexterous fingers enable us to excel in tasks related to fruit gathering and handling.

6. Sweet Tooth

Humans have a natural affinity for sweetness, a trait designed to motivate us to eat ripe fruits. Sweetness in fruits comes from simple sugars, which provide our primary energy source. This preference for sweet tastes aligns with our frugivorous nature, as it encourages us to consume energy-rich fruits.

7. Attraction to Sour Taste

Similarly, humans, like other frugivores, have a liking for sour tastes. Acidic tastes are attractive to frugivores, possibly because sourness often indicates the presence of vitamin C in food. This attraction to sour foods may have evolved as an adaptive trait for species without functional vitamin C genes.

8. Instinctual Appeal of Fruits

Our instincts play a crucial role in guiding us toward our natural diet. Humans instinctively find colorful, especially tropical, fruits appealing. This instinctual attraction stems from our biological adaptation to these fruits, which are edible in their ripe form without the need for cooking or flavoring.

9. A Tropical Species

Humans are fundamentally a tropical species. Tropical regions provide the necessary conditions for sustaining larger frugivorous animals due to the year-round availability of highly nutritious fruits. Humans’ ability to adapt to non-tropical environments through culture and intelligence does not negate our tropical origins.

10. Origins in Tropical Forests

Recent insights challenge the notion that humans originated in open savannahs and suggest that our ancestors thrived in tropical forests. This revelation carries significant implications for our dietary preferences, emphasizing the importance of fruits in our evolutionary history.


While humans have developed diverse dietary habits throughout history, the evidence from our biology and evolutionary heritage strongly suggests that we are biologically adapted to a frugivorous diet. Our shared characteristics with other frugivorous animals, including primates, highlight the importance of fruits in our natural diet. Understanding this biological perspective can have profound implications for dietary recommendations, health, and our relationship with food.

To explore the concept of adopting a frugivorous diet yourself, and delve deeper into the implications of this dietary perspective, visit the homepage of PlantBased Pty.

In the quest to understand our true nature and the diet that aligns with it, the evidence points to a strong connection between humans and a frugivorous lifestyle.

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