The average adult gains one pound per year, and this steady weight creep may be directly related to what (and not just how much) you eat, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers analyzed data collected over 20 years from more than 120,000 U.S. men and women who were not obese and were free of chronic diseases, and identified a number of specific foods linked to weight gain — or weight loss. Eating just one additional daily serving of French fries led to a 3.35-pound weight gain over a four-year period, the study found, while adding yogurt to your diet was linked to a 0.82-pound loss over the same timeframe.
The findings further fuel the theory that little diet tweaks can have a big impact on your weight — the average participant gained 16 pounds during the course of the study — and overall health. "This suggests that the path to eating fewer calories is not simply to count calories, but to focus on consuming a more healthy diet in general," the study's lead author, Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, associate professor in the department of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, told The Wall Street Journal.
Also important: Rounding out a healthy diet with smart lifestyle choices. The study found that weight gain also occurred among those who slept less than 6 or more than 8 hours, who watched the most TV, and who drank the most alcohol. So are your daily favorite foods padding or slimming your waistline#
Fruits Participants lost 0.49 pounds over a four-year period by adding fruit to their daily diet. The new USDA MyPlate recommends eating fruits and veggies at every meal.
Vegetables Adding more veggies, with their high fiber and water content, can help you fill up and slim down. According to this major diet study, eating vegetables every day led to a loss of 0.22 pounds.
Nuts Nuts may be high in fat, but it’s the slimming monounsaturated kind that experts say we need to eat more. And not surprisingly, they were among the foods that helped prevent weight gain. Participants who ate these nutrient- and fiber-rich treats lost 0.57 pounds.
Whole-Fat Dairy Foods Got milk# You’re better off sticking with skim or low-fat dairy. Participants who ate whole-fat dairy (butter, cheese, and whole-fat milk) gained 0.10 pounds. Food Fact: 8 fluid ounces of regular milk = 149 calories; the same amount of skim milk has 83 calories
Low-Fat Dairy Foods Yogurt may be the ultimate slimming food. Those who ate it regularly lost an average of 0.82 pounds.
Potato Chips Among the worst offenders in the study were potato chips. People who ate them gained an average of 1.69 pounds.
Whole Grains Researchers have long touted the benefits of whole grains: They’re great for digestion, cholesterol — and weight loss, too. Participants who ate them lost 0.37 pounds.
Refined grains Refined grains (white rice, white bread, white pasta, and all-purpose flour) lack fiber and key nutrients — and they also triggered a 0.39-pound weight gain.
Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Soda continues to be linked to rising rates of obesity, and this study further strengthens the connection. Participants who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages gained one pound. 100 Percent Fruit Juice The research showed that drinking 100 percent fruit juice is simply not as good for your weight as eating whole fruits. It led to a 0.31-pound gain.
Sweets or Desserts Sweet treats are among a dieter’s worst enemies. Yet according to this study, they’re not as bad for you as, say, a baked potato! Still, participants with a sweet tooth saw a 0.41-pound weight increase.
Processed Meats Processed meats like hot dogs, bacon, and deli meat can increase your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. In this study, they led to a 0.93-pound weight gain.
Unprocessed Red Meats A diet full of fatty red meat can set the stage for a host of health problems, including obesity, heart disease, even cancer. Participants gained 0.95 pounds by adding red meat to their diets.
EAT RIGHT RULE: If your food can go bad, it's good for you. If it can't go bad, it's bad for you.
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