Flavonoid-Rich Food May Slow Weight Gain
Most people gain weight as they get older, but gaining too much weight can have serious health implications. A recent Harvard-led study suggests that eating flavonoid-rich foods may be associated with significantly less weight gain.
The study included the more than 124,000 participants in the Health Professionals Follow Up Study, Nurses’ Health Study, and Nurses’ Health Study II. After examining the data, the researchers found that the people who consumed one more standard deviation daily of foods rich in three types of flavonoids — anthocyanins, flavonoid polymers, and flavanols — gained 0.16 to 0.23 pounds less than those who didn’t over a four year period.
The anthocyanins consumed by the participants were mostly from blueberries and strawberries, while flavanols came from tea and apples and their polymers. The researchers found that as little as one half cup of blueberries, containing 121 mg of anthocyanins (equivalent to 12 standard deviations), had an impact on weight.
While the impact was relatively small, the researchers noted that weight gain over time can contribute to a range of health problems, including an increased risk of developing diabetes and certain cancers. Some studies suggest that gaining 10 pounds or more between the ages of 40 and 60 may increase the risk of developing diabetes by 40-70%.
Researches from Harvard, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and University of East Anglia conducted the study. It was published on January 28, 2016 in The BMJ.
Flavonoids are naturally occurring antioxidants which have previously been shown to decrease inflammation, protect our DNA from damage, and improve heart and brain health by increasing blood flow. Foods high in flavonoids include citrus fruits, grapes, strawberries, tea, cooked greens and dark chocolate.
Previous studies have shown that anthocyanins protect the body from damage by free radicals, which may help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Anthocyanins can be found in red, blue, or purple fruits and vegetables. Blueberries, cranberries and acai have particularly high levels.