You’ve heard the recommendation: Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet—seven to nine servings a day—is good for your health.
But did you know that not all fruits and vegetables are created equal, especially if losing weight is your goal? A recent study, from researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, suggests different produce items can have dramatically different effects on weight loss.
The study analyzed diet information for 117,918 people during four-year intervals over 24 years, starting while the participants were in the 30s and 40s. Though increasing daily servings of fruits and vegetables led to losing weight across the board, some foods correlated better with dropping pounds than others.
For example, though higher fruit intake led to an average weight loss of .53 pounds per additional daily serving over a four-year period, berries led to more than a pound of weight loss. Pears and apples had a similar effect, leading to weight dips of 1.24 pounds per extra daily serving.
Cauliflower and tofu/soy were the weight-loss winners in the vegetable category. An increase in vegetables overall led to about a quarter-pound of weight loss per daily serving, but bulking up on tofu/soy caused the average person to drop nearly 2.5 pounds, while cauliflower led to 1.37 pounds of weight loss.
Some vegetables were actually associated with weight gain. “Increased intake of starchy vegetables, including corn, peas and potatoes, was associated with weight gain,” the study authors said.
Americans consume a lot of fruit juices and potatoes, but they might not be the best options. “There are many fruits and vegetables that may be better choices—apples, pears, berries and nonstarchy vegetables,” said lead author Monica L. Bertoia.