An overall increase in all fruits and vegetables is generally associated with positive health outcomes, so the more you include these nutrient-rich foods, the better.
But if you’re trying to lose weight, is a potato as healthy as kale? And what are the best vegetables for weight loss, and the best fruits? A study published in September 2015 gives us some answers.
Higher overall fruit and vegetable intake aids in weight loss efforts
The study, published in the journal PLoS Med looked at data from three cohorts of men and women, adding up to over 130,000 people. They looked at weight change over four year intervals and how that related to fruit and vegetable intake.
Increased vegetable intake was associated with weight loss of 0.25 pounds per daily serving and increased fruit intake was associated with weight loss of 0.53 pounds per daily serving over four years.
These results aren’t surprising; it’s well known that eating lots of fruits and vegetables is healthy. In fact, following vegan and vegetarian diets is one effective strategy if you’re looking to lose weight.
What was even more interesting about the study was that not all fruits vegetables were created equal; some were much better for weight loss than others.
The best fruits and vegetables for weight loss
When the researchers broke the results down by individual fruits, they found the strongest associations between increased intake of the following fruits and weight loss:
- citrus fruits.
The best vegetables for weight loss include:
- cruciferous vegetables
- green leafy vegetables
Per daily serving of cruciferous vegetables, for example, the participants lost an average of 0.68 pounds.
The results showed that there were stronger associations between high fiber, low glycemic index vegetables and weight loss. These factors influence how full we feel, how our blood sugar responds, and also how we store fat and burn fuel, all things that can impact weight loss.
Some vegetables can actually make you gain weight
On the other hand, starchy vegetables including peas, potatoes, and corn were actually bad for maintaining a health weight; people who ate more of these vegetables actually experienced weight gain instead of weight loss.
Making healthy fruit and vegetable choices
The more fruits and vegetables you can eat, the better. But if you want to make choices that will support you in your weight loss efforts, opt for non-starchy, high fiber vegetables like cruciferous vegetables and green leafy vegetables. Avoid things like potatoes, corn, and peas, which aren’t as useful for weight loss.
Making thoughtful choices will make your diet an even more effective tool in losing weight and improving your health.
Share your experience
What are your favorite fruits and vegetables? Which do you think are the healthiest? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.