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Berries and Brussels Beat Holiday Bloat

Eating Fruits and Vegetables Linked to Weight Loss over Time

The holidays are notorious for indulgent foods, but season’s eatings don’t have to end in swells on the scale. You can eat, drink and stay healthy this holiday season by making produce the stars of your meals. Research from Harvard suggests filling your plate with fruit and non-starchy vegetables may be the key to keeping the weight off this December and all year round.

Using data from three large cohort studies comprising nearly 118,000 men and women in the United States, researchers analyzed participants’ diets and weights every four years over a period of 24 years. Researchers categorized fruits and vegetables as either high fiber (about 3.7 grams per serving) or low fiber (about 1.2 grams per serving), and as either high or low glycemic load, which is a measurement of how fast blood sugar rises after eating the food.

Analysis showed a link between eating more fruits and vegetables and losing weight. For each additional serving of vegetables people ate every day, they lost an extra 0.25 pound. Higher-fiber, lower-glycemic load vegetables like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and leafy greens were among the most effective for weight loss. For fruit, each additional daily serving was linked with an extra 0.53 pound lost. Berries, apples and pears showed the greatest effect.

Though one of the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables is that they are lower in calories than most other foods, researchers controlled for caloric intake, meaning some other benefit of fruits and vegetables was responsible for the weight loss. Researchers also controlled for changes in physical activity, smoking status, intakes of other heavy foods, and hours spent sleeping or watching TV, showing the true health potential of eating more fruits and vegetables.

January may be weeks away, but it’s never too early to resolve to eat more fruits and vegetables. Aim to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at meals, and snack on fresh produce when hunger strikes during the day. At holiday parties, seek out dishes that feature vegetables and fruit as the main components, and at potluck gatherings offer to bring your own fruit or vegetable platter so you know there is a healthy option in the room. Healthy foods don’t have to be boring. Serve our beautiful Holiday Cobb Salad for a dish that with please your guests’ eyes, taste buds and waistlines.

Published December 1, 2015

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