Eat phytochemicals before a meal to fight obesity

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Advertisement

A new study from University of Florida researchers shows that eating plant based foods that contain beneficial phytochemicals before consuming a meal can help fight obesity. Phytochemicals found in fruits, nuts and vegetables reduce oxidative stress that can lead to obesity, and help with weight loss.

Preparing a plate of broccoli, leafy green vegetables, nuts, or fruit to eat before a meal is an easier way to lose weight, compared to making drastic dietary changes. Consuming plant based foods before a meal can lead to weight loss, and provide essential nutrients that might otherwise be neglected.

Heather K. Vincent, Ph.D., lead author of the paper explains, "We need to find a way to encourage people to pull back on fat and eat more foods rich in micronutrients and trace minerals from fruits, vegetables, whole grains and soy. Fill your plate with colorful, low-calorie, varied-texture foods derived from plants first. By slowly eating phytochemical-rich foods such as salads with olive oil or fresh-cut fruits before the actual meal, you will likely reduce the overall portion size, fat content and energy intake. In this way, you're ensuring that you get the variety of protective, disease-fighting phytochemicals you need and controlling caloric intake." Cutting portion size and fats is essential for weight loss.

The finding, published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, is the result of an analysis of the dietary patterns of 54 over a three day period, and repeated after eight weeks. Two groups were studied – one group was overweight, and one normal weight. The researchers found that overweight adults consumed the same amount of calories as normal weight participants, but ate fewer plant based foods. Without calories from plants with phytochemicals, the body produces inflammation and disease, producing a vicious cycle that leads to more weight gain and disease.

Advertisement

"Diets low in plant-based foods affect health over the course of a long period of time," Vincent said. "This is related to annual weight gain, low levels of inflammation and oxidative stress. Those are the onset processes of disease that debilitate people later in life." Phytochemicals in plant based foods can counteract the damage caused by oxidative stress, help with weight control and over time lead to weight loss.

Just being overweight can produce even more free radicals. Enzymes that create oxidative stress are more active in fat tissue. Vincent explains, “In comparison to a normal-weight person, an obese person is always going to be behind the eight ball because there are so many adverse metabolic processes going on." Plant based foods, eaten before a meal, can replace pre-packaged snacks, keep hunger away, and help fight obesity, heart disease and diabetes. A recent report shows that diabetes has reached epidemic proportions.

"We always want to encourage people to go back to the whole sources of food, the nonprocessed foods if we can help it," Vincent said. "That would be the bottom line for anyone, regardless of age and body size, keep going back to the purer plant-based foods. Remember to eat the good quality food first."

Eat your phytochemicals from plant based foods to fight obesity and help with weight loss. Weight gains sneak up on us. Adding plant based foods, including green leafy vegetables, nuts and legumes, and fruit before a meal can help fight obesity and provide nutrients essential to fight disease.

Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics

Advertisement