It is widely known that eating a wide array of fruits and vegetables promote weight loss. A new study says that fruits and vegetables that are rich in flavonoids helps individuals maintain a healthy weight.

Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that eating fruits and vegetables contain high levels of phytonutrients called flavonoids that help in controlling weight over time.

"We looked at seven different classes of flavonoids, and we found increased consumption was associated with less weight gain," Monica Bertoia, a research associate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, said.

Flavonoids are mostly found in fruits and vegetables. They are responsible for the vivid colors of plants and are considered powerful antioxidants. Food rich in flavonoids are associated with the prevention of various diseases like cancer, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular problems.

The researchers added that apples, berries, peppers and pears contain huge amounts of flavonoids.

In the study published in the journal BMJ, the researchers recruited 124,000 healthy people. They evaluated how much of the seven major types of flavonoids they consumed during the 24-year follow-up period.

The study found that four types of flavonoids namely flavonols, flavan-3-ols, anthocyanins and flavonoid polymers showed the greatest link with weight loss and maintenance. About one quarter cup of strawberries or cherries contains 10 milligrams of anthocyanins. In about four years, this amount can lead to about a quarter-pound of weight loss.

Overall, the researchers found that increased consumption of most flavonoid subclasses was linked with lesser weight gain among the participants.

"Increased consumption of most flavonoid subclasses, including flavonols, flavan-3-ols, anthocyanins, and flavonoid polymers, was inversely associated with weight change over four year time intervals, after adjustment for simultaneous changes in other lifestyle factors including other aspects of diet, smoking status, and physical activity," the researchers wrote in the study.

The results suggest that selecting fruits and vegetables rich in flavonoids may aid in weight control. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a report states that in 2013, most American adults consumed too few fruits and vegetables. Less than 18 percent of adults in each state consumed the recommended amount of fruit and less than 14 percent consumed the recommended amount of vegetables.

"While this study shows interesting outcomes, it does not show cause-and-effect. It does provide more validation of the health benefits for fruits and vegetables, which for me as a registered dietitian, is good news," explained Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis.

Photo: Sharon Mollerus | Flickr 

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