Eating fruits and vegetables has always been recommended by health care officials. Now, studies suggest that getting your daily dose could even help with weight loss.
Researchers from Kings College in London and the University of East Anglia conducted a study that found dietary flavonoids help to stem weight gain.
Flavonoids are a diverse group of compounds that can be found in plant-based foods, like fruits and vegetables.
Higher intakes of flavonoid subclasses, including flavones, flavonols, catechin, anthocyanins and flavonoid polymers have all been linked to less weight gain, the study said. The researchers made a point to observe the role genetic factors play into a diet of flavonoid intakes and fat mass in the body.
The study focused on healthy female twins that were ages 18 to 83 years old from the TwinsUK registry. Over 2,700 participated and were given questionnaires to determine their flavonoid intake, along with seven subclasses.
“The cohort consisted of women because, historically, the study was predominantly focused on diseases with a higher prevalence in women (osteoporosis and osteoarthritis),” the authors said. “All participants were unaware of the specific hypotheses being tested and were not selected for particular diseases or traits.”
Fat and fat mass distributions in the women were measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, a process in which two x-ray beams with different energy levels are aimed at a patient’s bones. The process is known for measuring bone density in order to diagnose and treat osteoporosis.
“Higher intakes of anthocyanin, flavonol, and proanthocyanidin subclasses were significantly associated with a more favorable fat mass distribution, which was defined according to the ratio of limb fat mass to trunk fat mass,” the authors wrote.
Increased dietary intake of all flavonoids, with the exception of polymers, was linked to a lower central mass. For each twin pair, the twin with a higher intake of flavan-3-ols, flavonols and proanthocyanidins had a lower fat mass ratio than the twin with lower intakes, the study said.
The authors said a higher intake of foods rich in flavanones, anthocyanins, flavones and proanthocyanidins were inversely associated with a significantly lower fat mass and central fat mass. Foods such as citrus fruit, oranges, grapefruit, fruit juice, peppers, apples and cocoa drinks were all listed as contributors.
“We also showed a significantly lower FMR after higher intake of foods that were rich in flavonols and proanthocyanidins. Because the FMR is known to be strongly related to age and menopausal status, we repeated our co-twin analyses but restricted the analysis to participants aged less than 50 years old,” the authors said. “In these younger participants, we further observed a significant difference in the FMR of 9 percent for the comparison of twins with high intake of anthocyanin-rich foods compared with twins with low intake of anthocyanin-rich foods.”
The anthocyanin-rich foods included berries, pears, grapes and wine. The study said intake was at least two portions.
“We show greater associations between the FMR and flavonoid subclass intake than for physical activity and intakes of energy and sugar-sweetened beverages, which are well-known contributors to fat mass,” the authors said. “We also show that these associations are both independent, and the effect sizes with the FMR are markedly greater than for total fruit and vegetable intake and fiber intake. Furthermore, these associations are shown with dietary achievable intakes of flavonoids, thereby making them relevant for public health recommendations to reduce body fat.”