A study published in The British Medical Journal Thursday suggests that filling up on flavonoid-rich fruit and vegetables could be an effective way of preventing weight gain.
Flavonoids are compounds beneficial to health that are naturally found in fruit and vegetables. Previous studies have already linked them to weight loss, but this previous research has only used small samples and has mainly focused on flavonoid-rich green tea.
This new study however focused on a possible link between weight gain and seven different flavonoids in food and looked at a large sample size of 124,086 men and women across the US.
The team of researchers recruited participants from three prospective cohort studies: the Health Professionals Follow Up Study, Nurses' Health Study, and Nurses' Health Study II, and asked them to report on their weight, lifestyle habits, and any recently diagnosed illnesses every two years for a 24-year period between 1986 and 2011.
Participants also had to report on their diet every four years.
After taking into account dietary and lifestyle factors such as smoking status and participants' levels of physical activity, the results showed that higher consumption of flavonoids was associated with reduced amount of weight gain, with the results seen across both men and women of all ages.
The strongest link was found between the flavonoids anthocyanins, found in blueberries and strawberries; flavonoid polymers, found in tea and apples; and flavonols, found in tea and onions.
Although as an observational study the research has limitations, the researchers stated that the findings "may help to refine previous dietary recommendations for the prevention of obesity and its potential consequences," and that by maintaining a healthy weight people can reduce their risk of many other diseases associated with obesity such as diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
The team also believe that their results can help people maximize the health benefits of fruits and vegetable by advising which are most flavonoid-rich and most beneficial for managing weight, for example apples, pears, and berries.
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