While kale and flaxseed get all the headlines about being superfoods, basic fruits and vegetables are being touted by health officials as a way to produce healthy weight loss, according to a recent study.
It’s all because of a certain element inside these fruits and vegetables called flavonoid. The natural compound found in fruits and vegetables gives the produce its blue, purple or deep red color and can be found in foods such as berries, red and purple grapes, strawberries, apples and peppers.
The study, which was published in BMJ, followed more than 124,000 men and women in three U.S. studies. Researchers observed the various types of flavonoids they ate after a two decade follow-up period. Each person reported their weight, habits and any diagnosed diseases every two years from 1986 to 2011.
“We looked at seven different classes of flavonoids, and we found increased consumption was associated with less weight gain,” said study author Monica Bertoia, a research associate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, in a news release.
Dietitians agree that adding fruits and vegetables enriched in flavonoids is important to your health.
“Eating more fruits and vegetables is number three in the top three things you can do to increase your lifespan,” says Dotty Berzy, senior clinical dietician at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. “Number one is stop smoking and number two is wearing a seat belt.”
While the study showed men and women gained some weight throughout the years, researchers concluded that consuming higher portions of foods rich in flavonoids contributed to maintaining a healthier adult weight. It also helps with the prevention of obesity and its potential consequences. Researchers suggest that everyone should consume at least two cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day.
“When you fill you plate with more fruits and vegetables, it definitely helps you control your weight because it fills you up,” says Berzy. “There are studies that say it also decreases you chance of cancer and cholesterol as well as giving you the fiber and nutrients you need to survive.”