Increasing Fruit & Vegetable Intake for Prevention of Weight Gain in Aging Adults

In early 2016, a study was published in the British Medical Journal suggesting that a higher intake of flavonoid-rich fruits and vegetables could help aging adults succeed in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

The study examined a massive quantity of data, collected over a 24-year period from three large prospective cohorts of more than 124,000 healthy American adults. The men and women followed were participants in either the Nurses Health Study (I or II) or The Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Only data from subjects who were non-obese at outset, and free of other chronic diseases at both baseline and follow-up was included.

The goal of the research was to address the premise that most adults gain weight as they age, and to learn if this could be prevented by increasing fruit and vegetable intake. Obesity affects more than 50% of the population and is associated with a number of physical and psycho-emotional disadvantages. Even small increases in weight can have a substantial negative impact on the risk of chronic disease development and mortality. Health experts recognize the critical need for practical strategies that will help people to maintain a healthy weight from childhood onward.

Fruits and vegetables contribute many types of nutrients to the human diet including vitamins, minerals, fiber and a number of bioactive phytochemicals, notably flavonoids. Flavonoids are a complex and important class of phytonutrients that exhibit strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Many, if not most, dietary flavonoids are contained in the pigments of plant foods. Deeper-hued varieties of produce generally exhibit the highest flavonoid contents. For example, dark red, blue and purple foods contain high levels of anthocyanins and proanthocyanadins. (An exception to this rule would be the antioxidant flavonoid quercetin, present in high levels in white onions.)

In the current British Medical Journal study, consumption of apples, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, tomatoes, celery, peppers, onions and tea were all significantly associated with preventing weight gain in aging adults. Upon analysis, these foods were found to be rich in flavanols, flavan-3-ols (EGCG), anthocyanins and flavonoid polymers. Other fruits and vegetables that supply these compounds include blackberries, cranberries, cherries, red wine, leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage and beets.

It is well accepted that eating sufficient fruits and vegetables benefits health in a variety of ways. However, most American adults fall short in consuming adequate levels. A 2015 report from the Centers for Disease Control found less than 18% of Americans eat the daily recommended amounts of fruit (1.5 to 2 cups) and fewer than 14% meet vegetable intake recommendations (2 to 3 cups).

Finding easy and cost-effective ways to increase fruit and vegetable consumption will help more Americans maintain a normal weight and improve health. Increasing the intake of whole fruits and vegetables (ideally organic, and fresh or flash-frozen) requires access to a well-stocked market or farm stand and time to prepare meals. All patients should be encouraged to make this kind of investment in their health. In addition, a high quality powdered fruit and vegetable supplement such as 100% organic, flavonoid-rich Select Greens® offers a convenient way to boost intake. Research suggests that concentrated fruit and vegetable powders may help improve nutrient status, offer antioxidant benefits, support healthy cardiovascular and endothelial function, decrease inflammation and reduce oxidative stress in response to aerobic exercise.

By Diana Allen, MS, CNS; Product Development Manager

Moss Nutrition Digest #6 – 02/18/2016 – PDF Version


  1. Bertioia 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
  2. Centers for Disease Control. Adults meeting fruit and vegetable intake recommendations – United States 2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). July 10, 2015 / 64(26);709-13
  3. Lamprecht M, et al. Supplementation with a juice powder concentrate and exercise decrease oxidation and inflammation, and improve the microcirculation in obese women: randomised controlled trial data. Br J Nutr. 2013 Nov 14;110(9):1685-95.
  4. Esfahani A, et al. Health effects of mixed fruit and vegetable concentrates: a systematic review of the clinical interventions. J Am Coll Nutr. 2011 Oct;30(5):285-94.