Flavonoids in Strawberries May Help Prevent Age-Related Weight Gain

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Consuming flavonoid-rich foods may help prevent weight gain, according to a new study in the British Medical Journal.

Three prospective cohort studies, which followed over 120,000 adult men and women for 24 years found that flavonoid-rich diets may contribute to weight maintenance and prevent obesity.

Lead author Monica L Bertoia of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and her team analyzed the weight and diet records of participants from three large prospective cohort studies—The Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, The Nurses’ Health Study, and The Nurses’ Health Study II. Participants who consumed the most flavonoid-rich foods experienced the least weight gain over four year time intervals, even after adjusting for other lifestyle factors including diet, smoking status and physical activity.

One flavonoid subclass, anthocyanins, had the greatest impact after adjusting for total fiber intake. Participants got most of their anthocyanins from strawberries and blueberries, according to food frequency questionnaires.

Flavonoids may affect weight gain by decreasing energy (calorie) intake, increasing glucose uptake in muscle, and/or decreasing glucose uptake in fat tissue, according to short-term human studies and animal models.

It is common for adults to gain weight as they age, which increases the risk of chronic disease and inflammation. For example, gaining 10 pounds or more between ages 40-60 (less than one pound a year) can increase the risk of developing diabetes by 40-70%, according to the study authors.

Simply eating more flavonoid-rich fruits and vegetables, including strawberries, may help people manage their weight more easily. Seventy six percent of the total U.S. population doesn’t meet fruit intake recommendations and 87 percent don’t meet vegetable recommendations; encouraging adults to eat ‘more’ may help them weigh less.

Bertoia Monica L, Rimm Eric B, Mukamal Kenneth J,Hu Frank B, Willett Walter C, Cassidy Aedín et al. Dietary flavonoid intake and weight maintenance: three prospective cohorts of 124 086 US men and women followed for up to 24 years BMJ 2016; 352:i17

Study: Dietary flavonoid intake and weight maintenance: three prospective cohorts of 124 086 US men and women followed for up to 24 years [hyperlink: http://www.bmj.com/content/352/bmj.i17]

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