Recent studies have shown diets that include wine can improve heart health. Now, a review of several large studies has found strong evidence of a link between keeping trim and the polyphenolic compounds found in wine and many fruits and vegetables.
Flavonoids are naturally occurring compounds that are found in specific fruits and vegetables, including grapes, blueberries, apples, pears and prunes.
The three-study analysis conducted by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health looked at the eating patterns of more than 120,000 participants to determine whether foods rich in flavonoids had any effects on managing body weight.
Researchers looked at diet, exercise and lifestyle data from middle-aged and older people. They found that those who ate diets rich in flavonoid-filled foods maintained their weight better than people who didn’t, even after adjusting for smoking and fitness activities. Some even lost a little weight.
The Harvard study centered on seven specific subclasses of flavonoids. Wine, especially red wine, is high in dietary flavonoids. The principal flavonoids consumed by the participants were anthocyanins, which were derived from blueberries and strawberries, flavan-3-ols, acquired from beer, tea and apples, and flavones from oranges, onions, teas, beer and wine.
Earlier studies revealed that flavonoids might increase energy expenditure, decrease fat absorption and work as an anti-inflammatory, along with with showing antioxidant qualities.
The researchers observed a significant correlation between a diet that is heavy in fruits, vegetables and flavonoid-heavy drinks, and participants who were healthier overall and less overweight.
It’s important to note that flavonoids aren’t some miracle weight loss cure. Instead, they’re a way to curb your natural weight gain as you grow older.
So how much weight can you expect not to gain when taking more flavonoids?
Researchers observed that every extra daily standard deviation — a unit that varied by produce type — of flavonoids was associated with 0.16 to 0.23 pounds of less weight gained over 4 years.
While the study was observational, the authors expressed hope that people might eat more fruit if they knew a favorite berry helps with weight loss. Most Americans eat less than a cup of fruit and less than two cups of vegetables a day, research has shown.
Don’t feel like eating fruits or vegetables today? Why not pour yourself a glass of red wine? Red wine contains many of the same flavonoid benefits as grapes and grape juice. A single glass can provide you with high levels of anthocyanins along with flavonoids such as quercetin and myricetin.
Being obese or overweight decreases your life expectancy since it increases your risk for chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
So take your mother’s advice: Eat your fruits and vegetables. You may live longer — or at least earn a new wardrobe.