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Can Eating More Berries Help You Lose Weight?
The Flavonoid Mega-Study
The “BMJ Study” was one of the largest studies of its kind ever performed. The purpose of the study was to determine whether or not the consumption of flavonoid-rich foods was associated with changes in weight over time. The study lasted for 24 years and involved over 124,000 adults. Those participating in the study were required to report their weight every 2 years and any changes in their diet every 4 years.
Obviously, 24 years is a long time, so the researchers had to adjust for things like changes in lifestyle, such as smoking and levels of physical activity. But even after adjusting, the results were quite positive.
The results showed that the participants who ate more flavonoid-rich foods had an easier time maintaining their weight or losing weight. The average adult between the ages of 18 and 49 gains about 1-2 pounds per year. But the participants who consumed large amounts of flavonoids only gained 0.16 to 0.23 pounds per year. In some cases, participants eating the most flavonoids lost weight. This appears to show a direct relationship between eating more flavonoids and the prevention of unwanted weight gain. This is not some miracle cure for obesity, but it does show that eating more flavonoids can help you prevent weight gain and play a role in reversing it.
There are different subclasses of flavonoids. The ones that produced the most statistically significant results were flanan-3-ols, flavanols, flavonoid polymers and anthocyanins. Of these different subclasses, anthocyanin-rich foods appeared to be the most beneficial with regard to weight control.
There was some criticism of the study. “Consider the type of person who would eat lots of colorful fruit,” said Naveed Sattar, Professor of Metabolic Medicine at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. “You can imagine they may be more health conscious, better educated etc and lead healthy lifestyles in general.” This is a fair observation to make, and it raises the question of correlation versus causation. But given the incredible health benefits of fruits that have already been established, it seems unreasonable to dismiss the findings of the study. As it so happens, most peer review for the BMJ Study has been positive.
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