Friday, November 1, 2013

Research Update

Do Fruits And Vegetables Help You Live Longer?

The Study
In a Swedish Cohort study, 71,706 men and women aged 45-83 were followed for 13 years to examine the effect of fruit and vegetable consumption on mortality. When compared to subjects consuming 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, subjects who never ate fruits and vegetables lived 3 years shorter and had a 53% increased risk of mortality. The authors believed the difference in mortality was due to the fruit and vegetable consumer’s lower rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2013; 98:454-9.

Take Home Message
Fruits and vegetables are the healthiest things you can eat, aim for a minimum of 5 servings per day, more is better.

Do Nuts Make You Fat?

The Study
Although nuts are an extremely healthy food, many avoid them because they fear their high fat content will cause weight gain. A recently published meta-analysis examined this question. Thirty-three randomized controlled trials were included in this meta-analysis. The results were very interesting. When comparing diets that included nuts to diets that did not, researchers found no increases in body weight, BMI, or waist circumference. In fact, all three were lower in the nut groups, although these differences did not reach statistical significance. The authors believed that the protein and fiber in nuts increase satiety, and that is why they were not associated with weight gain. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2013; 97:1346-55.

Take Home Message
Nuts are an awesome food. They are high in healthy fats, protein, fiber, minerals, and phytochemicals. Feel free to include nuts in your diet without fear of them tipping the scale in the wrong direction. Just be reasonable with your portions.



What Should I Weigh?

When I meet a new weight loss client, one of the first questions I ask is, “How much weight would you ideally like to lose?” Usually they turn around and ask me, “Well, how much do I need to lose?”

My primary goal is to get my clients down to a point where their weight will no longer increase their risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. A simple and powerful measure of how your weight will affect your risk of disease is the Body Mass Index.

Your body mass index is your weight in kilograms divided by your height in meters squared. If your body mass index is 25 or lower, your weight is considered normal. If it falls between 25.1 and 29.9, you are considered overweight. If it is 30 or more, you are considered obese.

Risk of chronic disease begins to increase with BMI’s over 25 and rises sharply with BMI’s over 30. I always have my clients shoot for a BMI under 25. While the BMI measure isn’t perfect, there is a ton of solid research behind the numbers, so I always have my clients start there.  

The Center for Disease Control has a free BMI calculator (click here). You can use this calculator to figure out your BMI today and also what weight you need to reach to get it under 25. There are also a variety of BMI calculator apps for your Smartphone. Just go to your app store and type in “BMI calculator” and you’ll get a number of options to download, many of which are free.