According to a recent study, certain fruit and vegetables help you trim your waist, while others may cause you to gain weight.
The study was conducted by experts from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston. Scientists surveyed 133,468 healthy American men and women, aged between 25 and 65, regarding their daily eating habits, and established a link between their diets and their body weight.
The study was conducted for a period of 24 years, and every 2 years each subject was asked to detail the frequency of consuming 131 different foods, including fruit and veggies. Researchers aggregated these answers into categories, depending on glycemic content, fiber content and other factors.
Fruit were separated into berries, melons and citrus, while vegetables were also divided into cruciferous, leguminous and green leafy. Results were published on September 22 in the journal PloS Medicine.
Overall, a diet rich in fruit and vegetables allowed participants to maintain a healthy weight. This may be explained by the fact that plant-based food items are rich in polyphenols, which reduce oxidative cell damage. Such foods act therefore as natural antioxidants which increase energy production within the cells and improve metabolism.
Given these benefits, nutritionists usually recommend serving 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit, and 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables on a daily basis. However, few people follow these guidelines, with grave consequences.
Scientists who carried out the questionnaires also discovered that each item included in the experiment had its own particular impact on weight fluctuations.
It was already known that consuming meals that are high in fiber content curbs hunger, whereas foods with a high glycemic index cause elevated blood sugar levels, and reduce the feeling of satiety.
Researchers proved that indeed foods rich in fiber and low in sugar (like broccoli and Brussels sprouts) were more effective for dieters than meals rich in sugar and low in fiber (like carrots). However, more specific variations were identified as well.
For instance, it was discovered that respondents who had consumed starchy vegetables like corn, potatoes and peas were less likely to lose weight. The exception to the rule was represented by tofu and soybeans, which curb weight gain despite containing certain carbohydrates.
Other vegetables that allowed participants to maintain a slim figure were peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, string beans, green leafy vegetables and summer squash. On the other hand, foods such as cabbage, onions and winter squash led to slight weight gain.
Researchers also established that high fruit consumption is more useful than vegetable consumption, when it comes to slimming down. Each additional fruit serving consumed weekly led to a half a pound weight loss, while each vegetable serving resulted in a quarter pound loss.
Those with a high intake of blueberries, strawberries, apples, pears, grapes, grapefruit and prunes had the lowest likeliness to gain weight. On the other hand, some people who consumed avocados and melon experienced some weight gain. Those who preferred peaches, apricots and plums were also more prone to increase their body weight.
Despite these interesting conclusions, the survey does have some limitations, such as the fact that the sample group was not heterogeneous enough (it consisted mostly of white, educated people) and the answers were self-reported, which may reduce accuracy of the findings.
Nevertheless, experts maintain that the study could advance progress in preventing obesity, which has been linked to type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
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