Are you looking for a simple way to improve health and boost your weight loss? Don’t forget about fruits and vegetables! There is much information about the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. However, you don’t find many tips about how an extra portion of apples or carrots impacts weight loss.
Today, I am going to change that situation and look closer at this question.
Let’s start with the health benefits. I know that you already have heard about them. However, I want to remind you about only three health benefits that fruits and vegetables provide us.
- Vitamins and minerals;
- Antioxidants and other biologically active compounds.
All of this is crucial to sustain normal body functions. That is the reason to eat fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.
At first, let’s find out how much fruits and vegetables you should take daily. WHO (World Health organization) recommends 400 g (1 lb) or 5 portions daily intake. This amount doesn’t include vegetables such as potatoes, corn, pea and legumes. In fact, 400 g (1 lb) isn’t much. It is only as much as 4 apples or 4 oranges weighs.
Despite that, for many people, it is still a challenge to reach 400 g (1 lb).
Around the world
Unfortunately, the situation about fruits and vegetables consumption isn’t good. According to WHO, approximately 1.7 million deaths worldwide are related to low fruit and vegetable consumption.
Low fruit and vegetable intake is among the top 10 risk factors for global mortality. Global organisations are seeking solutions to increase worldwide consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Health Institute – Amway Nutrilite handled the global research about fruit and vegetable consumption. The results were published in the British Journal of Nutrition. What did they find out?
Most of the population needs to double their daily intake of fruits and vegetables to reach the WHO recommended minimum of 400 g (1lb).
In some poor countries like Ethiopia, people consume only about 100 g (0.2 lbs) of fruits and vegetables per day. People don’t have enough money to buy all necessary food.
Changes in the recent years
One interesting survey was conducted between the years 2010 to 2013. The survey was about changes in fruit and vegetable consumption between 11, 13, and 15-year-old adolescents from Europe and North America. The results were hopeful because they showed an increase in fruit and vegetable intake in comparison to the last year.
You can see the results in the graphs. ´+´ means that consumption has increased and ‘-‘ means that consumption has decreased. At least these graphs look hopeful.
However, one of the latest studies shows not so good results in the USA. From 2009 to 2014, there was a decline in fruit and vegetable consumption by 7%. Mainly, this is because people drank less juice for breakfast and rarely chose vegetables as a side dish. On the other hand, fresh fruit intake went up. There is even a prediction that in the next five years (2015 -2020), fruit and vegetable consumption will increase by 4%. However, this could be due to population growth.
Overall, the situation is changing and we can’t say that it is great.
Impact on weight loss
I suppose it could be a most interesting part for most of you.
Does an additional portion of fruits or vegetables speed up weight loss?
I’ve read many studies and expert opinions about this topic. However, I can’t say that I’ve found confirmation to ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The results and tips were different.
I took three of the largest studies which could give us a better understanding.
In 2014, seven studies were compared with more than 1200 respondents. The results didn’t prove the fact that increased fruit and vegetable consumption could help weight loss.
There is also one long term study about the impact of fruit and vegetable consumption on more than 130,000 American adult weight changes over 24 years.
The overall impact wasn’t as noticeable as we would expect. The researchers admitted that one additional portion of fruits per day helped to lose 0.24 kg (0.53 lbs) in 4 years. However, with one additional portion of vegetables only 0.11 kg (0.24 lbs) in 4 years.
I suppose this could be a surprise for many fitness addicts. Usually, fitness fans prefer vegetables to fruits. Fruits contain more carbs and calories than vegetables. For this reason, if you want to stay in a good shape, vegetables are a better choice. However, this study showed us slightly different results.
The best choice of fruits and vegetables to boost weight loss were berries and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower. Keep this in mind!
Meanwhile, an increase in starchy vegetable consumption such as corn and potatoes resulted in weight gain.
The last study comes from Europe. A large study was conducted over a 5-year period about the effect of fruits and vegetables on weight management in 10 European countries.
The number of respondents was 373,803 and their age varied between 25 to 70.
The study showed us that an additional 100 g (0.2 lbs) of vegetables and fruits per day didn’t cause weight loss. The weight loss was possible only with restricting calories.
As you can see from all studies, the increase of fruit and vegetable consumption without calorie restriction doesn’t result in significant weight loss.
However, I would advise to you to look at your present fruit and vegetable daily intake. If you eat only 100 g (0.2 lbs) per day, then raising it by 500 g (1 lb) will give you many benefits.
Whereas, if you are a fruits and veggies lover, and your daily intake is around 500 g 1 (1lb), then an additional 100 g wouldn’t give you so many advantages.
Why fruits and vegetables can help lose weight
Satiety. Veggies and especially fruits can fill you up. This is affirmed through studies as well as my own experiences. There was one interesting study about this topic. In order to compare satiety index, 38 products were divided by product groups like fruits, grains etc. At the end of the experiment, fruits showed a slightly better satiety index than other products. This is relevant information for prevention of overweight and obesity.
Fewer calories. Fruits and vegetables aren’t so calorie dense and contain more water than grains or meat. Fewer calories means it’s easier to sustain weight for all of us.
A visual trick. A plate loaded with vegetables could look as big as a plate with a fatty meat. However, you don’t consume so many calories and get the feeling that you ate a lot of food.
Fiber. In general, products with high protein, fiber or water contents give better satiety than others. However, it is even better that a product contains two of them like fiber and water as it does in fruits and vegetables. Now, I will explain findings related to this topic. Researchers separated people into three groups. They supplemented the first group’s diet with three apples, the second with three pears, and the third with three oat cookies. Pears, apples and oat cookies had similar calorie and fiber contents. After some time, those who ate pears and apples slightly lost weight but the weight of the oat cookies group stayed the same.
Which would be the best choice among fruits and vegetables? Instead of giving you certain examples, I will better give you tips to consider.
I advise you to look at fruits and vegetables from these groups:
- locally grown;
- various size and color;
- fresh or mild prepared like steamed or boiled.
In the list above, I haven’t included starchy vegetables. I don’t say that you cannot eat starchy vegetables. They are good but more calorie dense then fibrous vegetables. For those who want to lose weight, it is important to eat less calorie dense food.
We can compare 100 g corn – 330 kcal and 100 g apple – 54 kcal. As you can see it’s a big difference. Increasing starchy vegetable consumption doesn’t result in weight loss.
Most popular starchy vegetables:
An alternative to starchy vegetables are fibrous vegetables. There are a wide variety of fibrous vegetables for every taste.
How to add them to a meal
Many people want to find a way to add an additional portion of fruits and vegetables to an everyday meal. Sometimes, this is difficult due to our habits like eating sweets between meals instead of fruits. This is why you need to be creative and patient while changing them.
Below, I will list some tips you can try:
- use fruits instead of sweets as snacks between meals;
- prepare vegetable stew at least once a week;
- choose desserts with larger content of fruits;
- always use vegetables as a side dish;
- try new fruits and vegetables;
- keep fruits and vegetables in an easily reachable place;
- in the shop, at first buy fruits and vegetables and only then think about other products.
You can also opt for nutritious juice. However, keep in mind that juice contains more calories, carbs and doesn’t fill you up as much as fresh fruits and vegetables.
At the end of the day, I want to remind that you need to reach a daily intake of fruits and vegetables of around 500 g or 1lbs. This will help you to improve health and stay in good shape.
Good luck in your weight loss.
How many fruits and vegetables do you eat every day?
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