Harvard researchers found that fruits and non-starchy vegetables can help you stay slim and even shed some extra pounds. The team found that there is a significant link between starchy vegetables such as peas, corn, potatoes, pumpkin, and zucchini and weight gain.
For their research, the team sifted through data on more than 133,000 Americans who were monitored for more than two decades. Scientists adjusted the data for other risk factors such as physical activity, income, smoking, race and age, and found that a higher daily intake of fresh fruits and non-starchy vegetables was tied to a lower risk of weight gain.
Furthermore, starchy foods were associated with weight gain, and researchers believe that they may also be linked to the obesity epidemic in the U.S. Nevertheless, Dr. Monica Bertoia, the lead author of the study and nutrition researcher at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, admitted that the link her team found was not a cause-and-effect relationship.
But researchers hope that their findings may be used by health care providers, personal trainers, and weight loss programs as a guidance when trying to rein in obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, cancers, and other nutrition-related health conditions.
The Harvard study was published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine.
Nutritionists, on the other hand, said that the findings were no surprise. Erin Keane, a nutrition expert and dieting manager for Lenox Hill Hospital’s patients in NYC, explained that starchy foods are more likely to lead to obesity and diabetes due to their high ‘glycemic load.’
Dr. Keane, who was not involved in the study, argued that low glycemic loads are linked to lower blood sugar levels and fewer chances of having a blood sugar spikes. They also help people feel full longer and have the potential of trimming overall calorie intake throughout the day.
Vegetables with low glycemic index are soy, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, mushrooms, and onions. But potatoes and corn may contribute to a high risk of diabetes and overweight.
Dr. Keane also recommends high-fiber foods to her patients that try to lose weight. These foods are as effective as non-starchy vegetables when one tries to control weight. And fruits with a low GI such as berries should also be added to the menu when watching the waistline.
The researcher also pointed out a limitation of the Harvard study – researchers focused only on white adult population with a solid educational background.
“We can’t generalize these findings to all individuals,”
Dr. Keane concluded.
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