In a BMJ study of more than 100,000 men and women, researchers discovered that subclasses of powerful antioxidants called flavonoids—namely flavonols, flavan-3-ols, anthocyanins, and flavonoid polymers—found in select fruits and vegetables may prevent weight gain. The fruits with the greatest effect on weight maintenance were chock full of flavonoids called anthocyanins, and blueberries top this list.
About one-quarter cup of blueberries contains 10 milligrams of anthocyanins, and each 10 mg increase is linked with a quarter-pound less weight gain over four years, the BMJ study found. This may seem insignificant, but it can add up with time, the study authors point out. Exactly how flavonoids deter weight gain is not fully understood but eating foods rich in flavonoids—namely produce—may allow us to feel full sooner, and avoid other less-healthy foods that may lead to weight gain.
“I am a blueberry fan for many reasons,” says Keri Peterson, MD, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Antioxidant power aside, blueberries are also rich in fiber which keeps us feeling full longer, she says. “They are among the healthiest fruits to eat.” Berries happen to be among the most-filling fruits. Aim for a cup of blueberries a day as part of an overall healthful diet that is rich in lean protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats like olive oil, fruits and vegetables, she says.
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Who cares if an apple a day can keep the doctor away if it also helps keep you trim? Apples are rich in flavonoid polymers and are also packed with fiber, making them one of the best fruits for weight loss when part of a healthy diet. One medium-sized apple is considered one serving. Eat them with the skin on (i.e. unpeeled) to get more fiber, antioxidants, and better control over your blood sugar, says SharAd Paul, MD, the Auckland, New Zealand-based author of The Genetics of Health: Understand Your Genes for Better Health. Preventing blood sugar spikes and valleys will help banish food cravings and eating binges, not to mention help protect against diabetes.