You don’t need science to tell you that fresh produce is healthier than processed, packaged food— especially if you’re trying to lose weight. But science is here to help anyway. New research that tracked more than 133,000 people’s eating habits and weights for four years confirmed that increasing your daily intake of veggies or fruits can help you gain up to half a pound less than the average person over time. (Not too shabby for a dietary change that involves consuming more food!)
But the study, which was published in PLOS Medicine, also found that the kind of produce you eat can significantly impact your weight—pretty crazy for anyone who thinks all salad bar bounty is created equal.
People who gained the least weight over time ate more of the following foods, which have a high fiber content and low glycemic load—two characteristics that help keep hunger at bay so you eat fewer calories overall:
2. Apples and pears
3. Tofu and soy
7. Brussels sprouts
9. String beans
- Meanwhile, people who managed to gain weight from eating more produce increased their intake of corn, peas, and potatoes — all starchy veggies that contain less fiber than the foods above or have a higher glycemic load, which means they temporarily spike your blood sugar, then stoke your appetite soon after. This doesn’t mean they’re off-limits though. It just means that French fries and succotash salad probably won’t tip the scale in the right direction if your goal is to lose weight. In which case, your new shopping list (above!) awaits you.