A recent study from researchers at Harvard University has uncovered a new weight loss secret when it comes to choosing the right fruits and vegetables.
Common sense holds that the more fruits and vegetables there are in your diet, the better chance you have at shedding some unwanted pounds. According to a report from Philly.com, a new study suggests that eating fruits and vegetables that are low in starch can help keep your physique slim and your weight low.
A study from researchers at Harvard University examined health data from more than 133,000 women and men in the United States over a 24 year time period. After controlling for extraneous lifestyle factors like smoking and the amount of physical activity people performed, the study found that the risk for unnecessary weight gain was reduced significantly when people ate more fruits and non-starchy vegetables.
Not all vegetables are created equal, and the ones with high levels of starch can actually throw a wrench into your weight loss plans. Veggies like corn, potatoes, and peas were all found to have a link to people that gained weight over the study period.
The findings don’t prove a causal relationship between eating a specific mix of fruits and vegetables and a notable trend in weight loss, but the research team, led by Monica Bertoia from the Harvard University School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital explains that the study could “provide further food-specific guidance for the prevention of obesity, a primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and many other health conditions.”
The study’s findings were published in the September 22 edition of the journal PLOS Medicine, and are consistent with current research in the field of dietary science.
According to Erin Keane, a registered dietitian and assistant clinical nutrition manager of outpatients at the Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, the main difference between vegetables that are high and low in starch is a property called the glycemic load.
She explains that foods with lower glycemic loads produce fewer spikes in the blood’s glucose levels. When this happens, people feel less hungry and reduce their overall calorie intake throughout the day.
Vegetables to look out for with a low glycemic load include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, romaine lettuce, spinach, peppers, tofu and soy, and Brussels sprouts.
On the other hand, corn and potatoes have a high glycemic load and thus incite people to keep eating more food even though they may not actually be hungry. These are less healthy options if you’re looking to lose some weight.
Fiber can also play an important role in your ability to lose weight. Vegetables that are high in fiber were associated with a greater rate of weight loss in the study.
Not to be overshadowed by the variation in vegetable choices, fruits also played an important role in the ability of people to lose weight. Berries with a low glycemic load had the biggest influence in weight loss among the participants in the study.
Keane noted that the participants in the study were all healthy and educated individuals. They likely had access to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables over the course of the study, and likely didn’t have to deal with extraordinary instances of weight gain.