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Posted on Wed, 15 Feb 17

Higher dietary flavonoids prevent obesity

People who eat more dietary flavonoids are protected against weight gain, and these phytonutrients outdo genetic influences. Colour is the new calories. 

Some years ago one of the first studies to find a link to phytonutrients and body weight discovered that people who consumed more phytonutrients were more likely to be a healthier weight, regardless of calories [1]. This is may due to anti-obesity effects of phytonutrients found in plant-foods [2]. Recently, two important studies have strengthened the case for phytonutrients. 

The first, in the British Medical Journal, was an analysis of the association between dietary intakes of flavonoids and body weight measures in some 124,086 men and women over 24 years. The study found that increased consumption of flavonoids was associated with less weight gain [3]. 

And the second, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, set out to see if genetic factors play a role by comparing the diets of twins. Phytonutrients are more powerful than genetic influences it seems, because flavonoids were associated with lower fat mass independent of shared genetic factors [4].  

So, while it is generally important to eat mostly plants, specifically eating more flavonoid-rich fruits and vegetables, such as deeply-coloured grapes, apples, pears, berries, peppers, as well as cocoa and tea, may help with weight control. 

References: 

  1. Vincent HK, et al. Relationship of the dietary phytochemical index to weight gain, oxidative stress and inflammation in overweight young adults. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2010 Feb;23(1):20-9
  2. Martel J, et al. Anti-obesogenic and antidiabetic effects of plants and mushrooms. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2017 Mar;13(3):149-160. 
  3. Bertoia ML, Rimm EB, Mukamal KJ, Hu FB, Willett WC, Cassidy A. Dietary flavonoid intake and weight maintenance: three prospective cohorts of 124,086 US  men and women followed for up to 24 years. BMJ. 2016 Jan 28;352:i17.
  4. Jennings A, MacGregor A, Spector T, Cassidy A. Higher dietary flavonoid intakes are associated with lower objectively measured body composition in women: evidence from discordant monozygotic twins. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Jan 18. pii: ajcn144394. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.144394. [Epub ahead of print]

Tags: Phytonutrients, Flavonoids, Obesity, Overweight

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