Eat more flavonoid-rich fruits, veg to prevent weight gain


THERE are more than 6,000 types of flavonoids, which are naturally present in most fruits and vegetables. Some of the more well-known types include flavonols, flavones, flavanones and anthocyanins.
Previous studies have associated dietary flavonoids with weight loss, though the team involved in this latest study – including Monica L. Bertoia of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA – notes that most research has focused on the weight-loss effect of flavan-3-ol, a flavonoid found in green tea.
What is more, Bertoia and colleagues say most previous studies assessing the link between dietary flavonoids and weight loss have only included a small number of participants who were overweight or obese.
For their study, the team set out to assess how intake of seven types of flavonoids influenced the weight of 124,086 men and women aged 27-65 who were part of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, the Nurses’ Health Study or the Nurses’ Health Study II.
Every 4 years between 1986-2011, participants were required to complete a dietary questionnaire, from which the researchers assessed their intake of dietary flavonols, flavones, flavanones, flavan-3-ols, anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins and flavonoid polymers.
Participants’ weight, lifestyle habits and diagnosis of any diseases were assessed through a questionnaire completed every 2 years. The researchers found that participants who increased their consumption of certain flavonoid types – flavonols, flavan-3-ols, anthocyanins and flavonoid polymers – during the study period were less likely to experience weight gain. Anthocyanins, flavonoid polymers and flavonols were associated with the least weight gain; every additional 10 mg of anthocyanins, 138 mg of flavonoid polymers and 7 mg of flavonols consumed daily were associated with 0.16-0.23 Ibs less weight gained each 4 years. These findings remained after accounting for potentially confounding factors, including changes to participants’ smoking status, physical activity and other dietary aspects. The main sources of anthocyanins in the study were strawberries and blueberries, while tea and onions were the main sources of flavonols. Intake of flavan-3-ols and their polymers primarily came from tea and apples.
Bertoia and colleagues note that their findings are observational, meaning no definite conclusion can be reached. Still, the team says the results could help combat the current obesity epidemic by offering guidance on which fruits and vegetables are best for weight maintenance.

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