Berries Could Help You Lose Weight — and Here's One New Reason Why
It's not just that they're low in fat and calories, a new study finds
Here's yet another good reason to eat not only your greens, but also your blues and purples and reds: Berries and other fruits and vegetables that are high in compounds called flavonoids may help you lose weight or keep it off.
That’s what researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the United Kingdom and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health concluded after looking at the relationship between flavonoid-packed produce and changes in weight in 124,086 American men and women.
“Dietary flavonoids are natural compounds found in fruits and vegetables,” Aedin Cassidy, MD, a professor at UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said in a press release. “We found that people who ate a few portions of flavonoid-rich fruits and vegetables a week maintained a healthy weight and even lost a little.”
Because just a few extra pounds can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer and diabetes, “losing even small amounts of weight, or preventing weight gain, can improve health, says Cassidy.
David Katz, MD, director of Yale University's Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, says the research reaffirms something we already know. “Fruits and vegetables in various colors are rich in nutrients, including but not limited to a variety of antioxidants. I think in this study, the antioxidants were really a proxy measure for higher intakes of highly nutritious foods, which confer direct benefit, and indirect benefit as well — by displacing less nutritious foods in the diet."
In other words, by choosing to eat an apple rather than chips, you're getting the benefits of the fruit while avoiding an excess of fat and calories.
"Get the foods right, and the nutrients sort themselves out,” adds Katz.
Filling up on flavonoids
“As your mother probably told you, you should eat your vegetables for many reasons, not just for weight loss. Vegetables provide us with a cacophony of benefits, including fiber, water and satiety,” explains Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, owner of betterthandieting.com and author of “Read It Before You Eat It.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends filling half your plate with produce at every meal.
To lose a pound or two, though, the UEA and Harvard researchers say your choice of fruits and vegetables matters. Those with high levels of flavonoids may be more likely to help with weight loss. In the study, the foods that limited weight gain the most included apples, pears, berries and peppers. But cherries, grapes, radishes, onions, blackcurrants and tea also did the trick.
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