April 22, 2009

Fruits and vegetables are your best allies when it comes to weight loss. In a national nutrition survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, researchers found that people who were overweight and obese ate significantly less fruit than those at a healthy weight. Also, women who got more vegetables had a lower BMI (body mass index, or the relationship between weight and height) than those who didn't. And that's just the tip of the turnip: "Hundreds of studies spanning more than three decades of research show that people who eat a diet rich in producer have a significantly lower risk for everything from cancer, heart disease, and diabetes to hypertension and cataracts," says Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Other ways produce keeps you slim:

It helps you feel satisfied

Thanks to their high fiber content, vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables help you feel full-which is especially helpful when you're limiting your calories because it means less room for fat- and calorie-laden fare. Aim for nine half-cup servings a day.

Some produce may reduce fat storage

Diets that tout the benefits of grapefruit or grapefruit juice have been around for decades. But clinical evidence shows that such plans may work, at least for very overweight people. A 12-week study conducted at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego found that people who ate half a grapefruit before each meal lost an average of 3.6 pounds, while those who drank 8 ounces of grapefruit juice before meals lost an average of 3.3 pounds. Researchers speculate that some chemical property of grapefruit lowers insulin levels, reducing fat storage, according to Ken Fujioka, M.D., medical director of the clinic's Nutrition and Metabolic Research Center.