As a general rule, fruits and vegetables are good for one's health. In trying to shed the excess pounds, however, there are certain kinds that will help in one's weight loss mission.

In a new study published in the journal PLOS Medicine, researchers studied the dietary habits and weight change in more than 130,000 individuals for up to 24 years. Every four years, they gave questionnaires to the participants, who tracked their diet each day for a week and reported their weight every two years.

The study found that eating more fruits, such as apples and pears, and berries and non-starchy vegetables, such as soybeans and cauliflower, assist in weight loss over the long term.

Consumption of high-fiber, low-glycemic load foods, such as brussels sprouts, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, was also linked to greater weight loss compared to eating those that have a higher glycemic index and lower fiber content, such as carrots.

On the other hand, starchy vegetables, such as peas, corn and potatoes, have led to weight gain among the participants over time. Although rich in nutrients such as potassium, vitamins C and B6, iron and protein, these vegetables may cause a greater spike in blood sugar levels, which may increase hunger and food intake.

Overall, eating more fruit was linked to more weight loss than eating more vegetables, particularly about half a pound for each additional fruit and about a quarter of a pound for every additional vegetable serving.

Not all fruits and veggies are created equal when it comes to weight management: high-fiber food, for instance, increases satiety and reduces total energy intake. Food with a low glycemic load, says the study, "produce[s] smaller and fewer blood sugar spikes … which may reduce hunger later on."

Nutrition experts like Erin Keane, a registered dietitian at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, were no longer surprised by the study findings. However, Keane said that one "can't generalize these findings to all individuals" given that the study focused on white, well-educated adults.

Current American dietary guidelines recommend a variety of fruits and vegetables to both adults and children for a healthy weight, specifically 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables per day depending on age.

Photo: Ali Karimian | Flickr 

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