WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Dietary flavonoids have been shown to help men and women alike maintain weight throughout adulthood.
WHAT WE KNOW
Dietary flavonoids are naturally occurring bioactive compounds that are found in fruits and vegetables.1 Flavonoids, along with the calorie and macronutrient content of a food, can potentially influence body weight. Fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, apples, pears, prunes, strawberries and grapes, celery and peppers are rich sources of flavonoids. Studies have shown that flavonoids may increase energy expenditure, decrease fat absorption, or inhibit fat cell development. Preventing weight gain in adulthood is essential to maintain health and wellness. Averting even the smallest amounts of weight gain is important for preventing disease later in life. Gaining 10lbs or more between the ages of 40-60 increases the risk of developing diabetes by 40-70% and increases the risk of developing cancer by 24-59%.1
A newly published study, which followed participants for up to 24 years, included 124,000 men and women and began in 1986. In total, over 124,000 people between the ages of 27-65 participated. All study participants self-reported their diet every four (4) years using a food frequency questionnaire. Their flavonoid intake was calculated by how frequently they consumed flavonoid-containing foods. Participants also reported on their lifestyle habits and weight every two (2) years. They were also asked to report any changes in smoking status, physical activity level, hours spent sitting or watching TV, and hours of sleep.
Over each four-year period, men gained 2.2lbs on average and women gained 2.9lbs. Intake of flavonoids was an average of 224 milligrams per day in men and 247 milligrams per day in women. Every additional 10 milligrams of daily intake was associated with 0.16 to 0.23 lbs. less weight gained over four-year periods. A quarter cup of strawberries or cherries contains about 10 mg of flavonoids. This means that someone with an additional 100 milligrams flavonoid intake per day (equivalent to 2.5 more cups of flavonoid-rich fruit or vegetables daily) could prevent nearly 14lbs of weight gain by the end of the 24-year study!
WHY THIS MATTERS
As men and women age, the body’s metabolism slows and weight gain can be harder to avoid. In adulthood and older adulthood, it’s that much more important to strive to eat nutritiously, as it’s possible that regular physical activity may become more challenging with age. Highly nutritious, fiber-filled, antioxidant-rich, flavonoid-packed fruits and veggies are indispensable when it comes to weight maintenance. Carrying extra weight makes regular, daily movement all the more challenging, which may negatively impact an older adult’s ability to live independently or take care of a spouse. In addition, weight gain with age can have a substantial impact on the risk of hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Though this study shows correlation, not causation, it offers yet another reason to eat fruit and vegetables, especially those rich in flavonoids like berries, apples, pears, prunes, grapes, celery and peppers. In order to make sure that you’re getting enough of the recommended 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of veggies each day, strive to fill half of your plate with fruits and veggies during every meal and snack. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity for most days of the week for a total of 150 minutes to maintain weight and stave off weight gain.
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