Flavonoids For Weight Loss
Flavonoids are one of the hottest new dietary ingredients of 2016. But can they actually help you lose weight? Find out today as we explore the link between flavonoids and weight loss.
The Flavonoids and Weight Loss Study
On January 27, 2016, researchers published the results of a study in The BMJ.
Those researchers were studying a little-understood group of chemical compounds called flavonoids. Found in high levels in fruits and vegetables, flavonoids give foods their unique color and smell.
For the study, researchers looked at 24 years’ worth of data from 124,000 people across America. All people in the data set were between ages 27 and 65 and had reported their weight every 2 years and their diet every 4 years between 1986 and 2011.
Researchers found that individuals who ate a diet high in flavonoids tended to experience less weight gain. It is also important to mention the connection between flavonoids and cocoa flavanols as well.
Specific flavonoids were linked to greater results. Those who ate anthocyanins, for example, had the best results. Anthocyanins are the flavonoids found in dark-red fruits and vegetables, including blueberries, grapes, cherries, and strawberries.
Another powerful flavonoid was a group called flavonoid polymers, which are found in tea and apples.
Flavanoids History To Help Lose Weight
Previously, the same researchers involved in the study above had observed that some foods – like blueberries, strawberries, apples, pears, prunes, peppers, and celery – were all linked to lower weight gain.
These researchers knew that certain fruits and vegetables led to better weight loss results, but they didn’t know why certain fruits and vegetables were more powerful than others:
“We wanted to better understand why those particular fruits and vegetables stuck out,” says Monica Bertoia, research associate at Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health and lead author on the paper.
First, researchers looked at other characteristics of the fruits and vegetables. They examined how fiber and glycemic load might play a part on weight loss, for example. Researchers didn’t observe a connection between these characteristics, so they moved onto flavonoids.
Previously, flavonoids had been observed in animal studies as a way to decrease the absorption of fat while increasing calorie expenditure.
This was the first time that such significant results had been seen in a landmark human study, however, which is why this study is making big headlines.
How Much Can Flavonoids Reduce Weight Gain?
It’s important to note that flavonoids weren’t observed to actually help people lose weight over the years. Instead, those who took high levels of flavonoids were observed to gain less weight than those who didn’t consume high levels of flavonoids. These phytochemicals are being shown to help control human appetite and provide better body weight management as a whole. Even relationships with coleus forskohlii have merged in various studies of herbs and extracts that offer body weight control and ultimately manipulation.
In other words, 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.
That obviously sounds like a small amount of weight over a long period of time.
However, the standard deviations can quickly add up to a significant amount of weight. For example, one half cup of blueberries contains about 12 standard deviations of anthocyanins, while a half cup of blackberries provides 7 standard deviations.
How Do Flavonoids Work?
Flavonoids are thought to work by acting as powerful antioxidants within the body, reducing free radical damage and reducing your risk of serious diseases like osteoporosis, diabetes, and even cancer.
Beyond that, we don’t know exactly how flavonoids are linked to weight gain. It’s thought that antioxidant activity might make it easier for all parts of your body to digest food and process food more efficiently. It soothes your digestive tract, for example, and may boost your metabolism with anti-inflammatory effects.
In short, antioxidants are those compounds that can benefit all parts of your body. Weight gain is just one of the many observed benefits from higher levels of flavonoids.
Best Sources of Flavonoids
Thinking of adding more flavonoids to your diet to help manage your weight? Here are some of the best sources of flavonoids:
Berries – like red, blue, and purple berries – have some of the highest levels of flavonoids we’ve observed. Blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, and black grapes are all popular for their flavonoid content. Blueberries and cranberries are particularly high in a flavonol group called quercetin along with myricetin, for example, while blackberries and black grapes are high in the flavonoids epicatechin and catechin. Meanwhile, other berries like raspberries, cherries, and red grapes are rich with anthocyanidins and cyanidin.
Tree fruits like bananas (anthocyanidins), grapefruit, lemons, limes, and oranges (hesperetin, naringenin, and eriodictyol), and apples, pears, plums, peaches, and apricots (catechin and epicatechin) are all popular for their high levels of flavonoids and antioxidants. They’re particularly beneficial when eaten raw with the skin on.
Nuts and Beans
Fruits and vegetables aren’t the only foods that are rich with flavonoids. Nuts and certain types of beans are high in flavonoids and protein. Dark beans – like black beans and kidney beans – are particularly rich with flavonoids (especially malvidin, delphinidin, and petunidin) while fava beans and pinto snap beans are rich with flavanols like epicatechin and epigallocatechin. Walnuts, pecans, pistachios, and cashews also have high levels of various flavonoids.
Peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, and other members of the nightshade family are rich with flavonols like quercetin and the flavones lueteolin. Red onions and green onions also contain high levels of quercetin. Green vegetables like celery and artichokes are rich with flavonoids, while snap beans, okra, and broccoli have high levels of flavonols like quercetin and myricetin.
Yes, you can get high levels of flavonoids from spices. Certain spices have high levels of flavonols. Dill, for example, has high levels of quercetin and isorhamnetin while parsley is rich with apigenin and isorhammnetin. Thyme, capers and chocolate are also rich with flavonoids.
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 like quercetin and myricetin. If you’re not a wine drinker, tea (particularly black, red, and green teas) are all rich with catechins and flavonoids.
Can Flavonoids Really Help You Lose Weight?
Ultimately, flavonoids have not shown a definitive connection between their consumption and weight loss. They have, however, indicated a connection between higher flavonoid consumption and less weight gain. By adding flavonoids to your diet, you can better manage your weight and supplement your existing diet and exercise routine. Besides, most of us could use more fruits and vegetables in our diets.