Fruit and Vegetable Choice Matters

A large study finds that eating certain fruits and vegetables helps curb weight gain more than others.



Last September, a group of Boston area researchers working in the nutrition and public health arenas published a detailed peer-reviewed paper looking at 24 years of data on intake of specific fruits and vegetables in maintaining healthy weight. More than 100,000 individuals contributed dietary information over the course of the study. Participants included people with a wide variety of body mass indices, people with and without diabetes, and people falling into risk categories associated with difficulty managing weight, all logging their daily intake over several years.

The wisdom of the ages favors fruits and veggies over, say, bacon and doughnuts, but what fruits and vegetables people choose matters greatly, according to Harvard researcher Monica Beroia, who holds advanced degrees in epidemiology and chronic disease epidemiology. Too often, fruit means orange juice, and vegetables means potatoes. The study found that eating berries, citrus, peppers and carrots led to less weight gain for people in their thirties and forties over time, according to a New York Times report.

Not all fruit and vegetables are created equal. Fiber content, glycemic load (a measure of a particular food’s tendency to introduce glucose into the bloodstream) and nutrients vary greatly among foods originating from plants. According to the Boston group, learning about the dietary values of a variety of fruits and vegetables is the better approach for healthy eating than simply abandoning eggs, meat and dairy and pursuing a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Tables showing fiber values and glycemic loads for a comprehensive variety of fruits and vegetables are available in the free Harvard School of Public Health publication of the study report.

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Jim Cahill is a senior writer for Insulin Nation and Type 2 Nation. Before turning to writing, he was a lawyer in government and private practice who focused on consumer protection and regulatory law. He can be contacted at jcahill@epscomm.com.