Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Phytochemicals in plant-based foods could help battle obesity, disease

22.10.2009
The cheeseburger and French fries might look tempting, but eating a serving of broccoli or leafy greens first could help people battle metabolic processes that lead to obesity and heart disease, a new University of Florida study shows.

Eating more plant-based foods, which are rich in substances called phytochemicals, seems to prevent oxidative stress in the body, a process associated with obesity and the onset of disease, according to findings published online in advance of the print edition of the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.

To get enough of these protective phytochemicals, researchers suggest eating plant-based foods such as leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes at the start of a meal. Using what is known as a phytochemical index, which compares the number of calories consumed from plant-based foods compared with the overall number of daily calories, could also help people make sure they remember to get enough phytochemicals during their regular meals and snacks, said Heather K. Vincent, Ph.D., the lead author of the paper.

"We need to find a way to encourage people to pull back on fat and eat more foods rich in micronutrients and trace minerals from fruits, vegetables, whole grains and soy," said Vincent, an assistant professor in the UF Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Institute. "Fill your plate with colorful, low-calorie, varied-texture foods derived from plants first. By slowly eating phytochemical-rich foods such as salads with olive oil or fresh-cut fruits before the actual meal, you will likely reduce the overall portion size, fat content and energy intake. In this way, you're ensuring that you get the variety of protective, disease-fighting phytochemicals you need and controlling caloric intake."

The researchers studied a group of 54 young adults, analyzing their dietary patterns over a three-day period, repeating the same measurement eight weeks later. The participants were broken into two groups: normal weight and overweight-obese.

Although the adults in the two groups consumed about the same amount of calories, overweight-obese adults consumed fewer plant-based foods and subsequently fewer protective trace minerals and phytochemicals and more saturated fats. They also had higher levels of oxidative stress and inflammation than their normal-weight peers, Vincent said. These processes are related to the onset of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and joint disease, she added.

"Diets low in plant-based foods affect health over the course of a long period of time," Vincent said. "This is related to annual weight gain, low levels of inflammation and oxidative stress. Those are the onset processes of disease that debilitate people later in life."

Oxidative stress occurs when the body produces too many damaging free radicals and lacks enough antioxidants or phytochemicals to counteract them. Because of excess fat tissue and certain enzymes that are more active in overweight people, being obese can actually trigger the production of more free radicals, too.

Because many phytochemicals have antioxidant properties, they can help combat free radicals, Vincent said. Phytochemicals include substances such as allin from garlic, lycopene from tomatoes, isoflavones from soy, beta carotene from orange squashes and anythocyanins from red wine, among others.

"People who are obese need more fruits, vegetables, legumes and wholesome unrefined grains," she said. "In comparison to a normal-weight person, an obese person is always going to be behind the eight ball because there are so many adverse metabolic processes going on."

Instead of making drastic changes, people could substitute one or two choices a day with phytochemical-rich foods to make a difference in their diets, Vincent said. For example, substituting a cup of steeped plain tea instead of coffee or reaching for an orange instead of a granola bar could increase a person's phytochemical intake for the day without even changing the feeling of fullness. Over time, replacing more pre-packaged snacks with fresh produce or low-sugar grains could become a habit that fights obesity and disease, Vincent said.

"We always want to encourage people to go back to the whole sources of food, the nonprocessed foods if we can help it," Vincent said. "That would be the bottom line for anyone, regardless of age and body size, keep going back to the purer plant-based foods. Remember to eat the good quality food first."

Currently, there are no recommendations for how much of these plant compounds people should be getting each day, says Susanne Talcott, Ph.D., an assistant professor of food science and nutrition at Texas A&M University. Using the phytochemical index could be a good way to come up with these recommendations, she said.

Like Vincent, Talcott also cautions people to try and stick to the whole sources of foods and be wary of processed foods that promise benefits from added plant compounds.

"Consumers should stick with what we have known for decades and eat fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables," she said. "Stick with those kinds of foods rather than reaching out for a tropical wonder pill or juice."

April Frawley Birdwell | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ufl.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>