Eating more fruits and vegetables: for years, that’s been widely considered the universal solution for a weight problem. In fact, earlier this year researchers from University College London released a report which recommended doubling the intake of fruits and vegetables, from five to ten portions a day.
But new research shows that consuming fruits and veggies may not actually help people lose weight.
Recently, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham carried out an analysis of roughly 1,200 people. The goal: to see how consuming lots of fruits and veggies affected weight loss.
The discovery: a diet loaded with fruits and vegetables didn’t actually have a significant impact on weight loss. The problem is that many people whose diet includes lots of fruits and vegetables don’t reduce their intake of other, less healthy food items.
The key to weight loss, then, is reducing overall caloric intake — not just adding bananas, apples, pears, and carrots to an otherwise less healthy diet.
“In the overall context of a healthy diet, energy reduction is the way to help lose weight, so to reduce weight you have to reduce caloric intake,” noted Kathryn Kaiser, the study’s lead author. “People make the assumption that higher-fiber foods like fruits and vegetables will displace the less healthy foods, and that’s a mechanism to lose weight; but our findings from the best available evidence show that effect doesn’t seem to be present among people simply instructed to increase fruit and vegetable intake.”
The Alabama researchers insist that more research needs to be done to discover how different foods interact to encourage or prevent healthy weight loss. For example, does it help to increase intake of one type of food while reducing intake of another food item?
The University of Alabama research team’s report has been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.