New Study Examines Which Specific Fruits and Vegetables Keep Off the Pounds

A happy plate.
A happy plate. Photo: Kai Schwabe/Westend61/Corbis

Skipping meat in favor of plants is a great way to keep weight off, but most people already know that tidbit. What they may not know, according to a new study out of Harvard, is exactly how much weight depends on which plants you’re eating. Researchers followed the diets of a bunch (117,918) of roughly middle-aged people for a long period of time (24 years) to see what fruits and veggies were most strongly associated with a healthy weight. As expected, they found that adding one extra daily serving of either group resulted in less weight gain — a quarter of a pound less for veggies over a four-year period, and half a pound for fruit. But the interesting (and they hope helpful) part was studying the high end of the data curve: Eating more apples on average led to 1.24 fewer pounds, berries to 1.11 pounds, and tofu and soy to 2.47 pounds.

Per the study, which appears in PLOS Medicine, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and avocados were also good options, while vegetables that weren’t so great included cabbage, carrots, corn, and peas — a crippling blow to strident pea-guacamole enthusiasts. The authors write that plants with more fiber and a lower so-called “glycemic load” (in other words, less carb-y) did a better job of helping the pounds stay off. Unsurprisingly, the study calls out potatoes as the worst offender — which isn’t such fantastic news because that’s the vegetable Americans eat the most of, usually fried.


New Study Examines Which Specific Fruits and Vegetables Keep Off the Pounds