An Apple a day Keeps the Weight Gain Away

Flavonoids from fruits, vegetables found to decrease weight gain


Most people know that eating fruits and vegetables promotes good health. However, many people may not realize that certain fruits and veggies contain a particular compound that deters weight gain.

According to a press release issued by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), a new study links eating fruit and vegetables with high levels of flavonoids, such as apples, peppers and berries, with less weight gain. These flavonoid-rich foods may also lower risks of cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

Dietary flavonoids are natural compounds found in fruits and vegetables, according to the press release. Though previous studies have linked flavonoids to weight loss, the studies primarily focused on a particular flavonoid found in green tea and were limited by small sample size.

Expanding on previous research, the team looked at 124,086 men and women over a period of 24 years and examined seven flavonoid subclasses. The participants were part of three prospective cohort studies—Health Professionals Follow Up Study, Nurses' Health Study and Nurses' Health Study II—in which they self-reported weight, lifestyle habits and diseases every two years between 1986 and 2011. Participants also self-reported diet every two years.

Researchers found that consumption of flavonoid subclasses was associated with less weight gain. The strongest association was found in anthocyanins, flavonoid polymers and flavonols.

For those unfamiliar with flavonoid subclasses, anthocyanin is found in many blue, red and purple fruits like blueberries, strawberries and purple cabbages. Flavonoid polymers are found mainly in tea and apples, and flavonols exist in onions and apples.

This observational study has limitations due to its design. However, the authors say the findings “may help to refine previous dietary recommendations for the prevention of obesity and its potential consequences,” according to the press release.

Authors add that losing weight, even in small amounts, can reduce risk of diabetes, cancer, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. According to the press release, most people in the U.S. consume less than one cup of fruits and less than two cups of vegetables daily. The authors suggest that people eat at least two cups of fruit and two and half cups of vegetables each day.

The full study was published January 27 in The BMJ. It was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Authors disclose that contributors ERB and AC receive a collaborative grant to conduct observational and experimental studies of blueberries and cardiovascular disease health outcomes from the US Highbush Blueberry Council.