If you’ve ever had a bad trip to the grocery store, or you’ve heard about how your favorite fruit can help you lose weight, then you might have wondered if it’s actually a good thing.
The answer is probably yes, says New Scientist.
The fruit’s pectins, which are essential fatty acids that help keep your body and brain functioning, may actually help you shed weight, according to a study published online in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
The study also found that those who ate a lot of fruit, especially pineapple and bananas, had lower levels of insulin resistance than those who avoided fruit.
While we may never know how this weird fruit works, the results are important, says Katherine Schulze-Makuch, PhD, associate professor of nutrition at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
“We want to make sure people understand that fruits, especially pectas, can have a very powerful effect on weight loss,” she says.
Schulz-Mackuch and colleagues used data from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS), which was a randomized, controlled trial of 6,534 men and women who were overweight or obese.
Participants were randomly assigned to either consume fruit juice or placebo for two weeks, followed by a two-week washout period.
After the second washout, the participants were again given the same instructions as before, but with the new diet plan, which focused on fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.
After consuming the new fruit diet, the researchers measured weight, blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), blood glucose and insulin, and fat-free mass.
Participants who ate fruit juice lost more weight, and those who did not ate fruit lost more.
Those who ate more fruit also lost more body fat.
For those who followed the new plan, fruit juice was associated with a 2.5 percent weight loss rate, while fruit juice did not reduce body weight.
But when the researchers looked at the effect of fruit juice on insulin resistance, the effect was much more pronounced, the authors found.
Fruit juice increased insulin resistance by 3.5 points, the team found.
While the researchers didn’t study the effect on cholesterol levels, they believe the effect could be due to the sugar content of the fruit.
“Fruits are very high in fructose, and fructose is associated with cardiovascular risk,” Schulzi-Machuk says.
“So fruit is a good source of calories to help you keep weight off, but we don’t know exactly how that affects insulin resistance.”
Fruit-free energy drinks have been gaining popularity, and the health community has started to encourage people to try one.
The researchers believe that these fruit-based drinks may actually be an effective alternative to the fruit juice.
“The study shows that a diet based on fruits may be better for weight loss than the fruit-only diet,” Schuilze-Malek says.
However, Schulzes-Mekuch notes that more research needs to be done before people can conclude that fruits are an effective weight loss strategy.
“What we’re doing is really a simple, simple thing, and it’s not a magic pill, but it’s an effective strategy to reduce weight and reduce your risk of developing diabetes,” she adds.
The article is reproduced with permission from the journal Nature.