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Can Berries Help you Lose Weight?

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When you are planning your fat loss diet you want to make sure that every food you choose to eat helps you move towards your goals. In this article we’ll take a look at the health benefits of berries and whether they can help you lose weight.

You will learn:

  • What is a berry?
  • What are the health benefits?
  • Can berries help you lose weight?

What are berries?

This type of fruit is soft and pulpy. They do not contain a stone, but may contain seeds or pips. Common examples include raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and red and blue currants. These fruits come in a range of bright, vibrant colors and a range of sweet or sour flavors.

The more scientific definition of the berry suggests that they are fruits that have developed fleshy fruits from the outer layer of a single flower ovary. As this would include fruits such as bananas and tomatoes, for simplicity we’ll stick to the more common definition.

Presuming the fruit is edible (there are types such as deadly nightshade and white mulberry that aren’t) they can be eaten raw or used to make jelly or preserves. They can also be used as ingredients in salads, desserts and juices.


Berries-for-Fat-Loss

Key Point: Berries are colorful, juicy fruits that have either sweet or sour flavors.


What are the health benefits of the berry?

These fruits are often referred to as ‘super foods’ due to their nutrition profile – and whilst this may just be a term that food marketing team use to boost sales, there are definitely a number of health benefits associated with them.

Each fruit differs somewhat in its nutritional content and unique benefits, however you can expect to obtain low calories, a great source of fiber and tons of vitamins A and C from practically all of them. These fruits also have a high water content so are great for hydration and a giving you a feeling of fullness.

Each of these fruits have their own distinct, deep and vibrant color – and that is down to their antioxidant phytochemical content. These chemicals are natural compounds found in plants that reduce cell damage. For example – the red, purple and blue pigments found in currants come from the phytochemical anthocyanin

Phytochemical antioxidants have been linked with a number of health benefits including protection from high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, reduction in urinary tract infections, and protection of beta cells – a cell type involved in the development of diabetes.

The fruits also contain ellagic acid  another antioxidant that has been shown to slow the division of cancer cells and prevent the destruction of the genes associated with the development of cancerous cells. [1].

According to the BMJ [2] antioxidant flavenoids such as anthocyanin are bioactive compounds, beyond calorie and macronutrient content, that could potentially influence body composition.

So let’s have a look at the studies and see if berries can help you lose weight…


Phytochemicals-for-Weight-Loss

Key Point: These soft and juicy fruits contain antioxidants such as anthocyanin and ellagic acid which provide a range of health benefits.


Can berries help you lose weight?

The low energy density, as well as high water and fiber content of these antioxidant-containing fruits will help you keep fuller for longer whilst staying the hydrated. The sweet taste may also help to satisfy your sugar cravings.

A study in the British Medical Journal [2] investigated the effects of antioxidants, including anthocyanins, on weight maintenance over a four-year periods for a total of 24 years.

To do this they recruited over 120,000 and analyzed their diet over the study duration and looked for relationships between antioxidants (flavonoid sub-classes) and body composition changes.

They found that a daily intake of 10mg of anthocyanins was linked with a 0.1-kilogram loss in body mass over a four-year period – this means that by eating only a handful of blueberries or strawberries a day, you could lose over 1kg in weight – only a small amount but it all adds up.

The study concluded that these plant compounds may contribute to weight maintenance in adulthood and may help to refine dietary recommendations for the prevention of obesity and its potential consequences.

Results are not conclusive though. This study in The Journal of Nutrition [3] shows less promising results.

The study investigated the potential for these fruits in improving features of metabolic syndrome, as well as related cardiovascular risk factors and body composition. To do so they enlisted 48 volunteers who ate 50g of freeze-dried blueberries a day for 8 weeks. Whilst blood pressure, markers of metabolic dysfunction as well as weight were unaffected. 

At present there is not enough evidence to suggest that berries directly boost weight loss, however they do provide a nutritious and healthy alternative to other foods, that helps to form a healthy lifestyle. The combination of these fruits, a good diet and regular exercise will no doubt help you to change body composition- but eating them alone is unlikely to have much of an effect.

It is important to realize here that there are no foods at all that will make you lose weight as such – whenever you eat food you ingest energy as calories. However, the right choice of food can provide all of the necessary nutrients without excess amounts of calories.


Key Point: There is interesting evidence to show the potential for berries as a tool to change body composition, but evidence is not conclusive.


Summary

This type of fruit is soft and pulpy. They do not contain a stone but may contain seeds or pips. They come in a range of bright, vibrant colors and sweet or sour flavors. These fruits are low calorie, a great source of fiber and will provide you with vitamins A and C as well as the cell-protecting antioxidants.

The color in these red, purple and blue fruits comes from a phytochemical called anthocyanin. This particular active compound has been associated with a number of health benefits including the reduction of blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, as well as the development of diabetes. Another compound, ellagic acid, has been found to be a useful weapon in the combat against cancer.

Evidence as to whether berries help with weight loss is conflicting and by no means conclusive. There is promising research to suggest that long-term changes to your body can be achieved by including antioxidant-rich fruits in the diet, but at present no direct link can be found. It provides a promising area of future research though.


References

  1. Narayanan, BA et al. p53/p21(WAF1/CIP1) expression and its possible role in G1 arrest and apoptosis in ellagic acid treated cancer cells. Cancer Letters. 1999; 136(2): 215-221
  2. Bertoia, ML et al. Dietary flavonoid intake and weight maintenance: three prospective cohorts of 124 086 US men and women followed for up to 24 years. BMJ. 2016; 352: i17


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