Fruits and Vegetables Can Lower Calorie Intake

Fruits and Vegetables Can Lower Calorie Intake

A recent study examined whether including low calorie substitutes in the regular diet, in the form of puréed vegetables, would help to reduce the overall energy intake and increase vegetable consumption in adults. It was found that the calorie input, proportionate to the amount of masked vegetables incorporated, decreased. Measurement of hunger and fullness pre- and post-meal revealed no changes between this diet and a normal energy-rich diet. Thus, this could be an easy and valuable strategy to maintain optimum energy intake.

In the present day, fast-paced life, readymade high-calorie foods are easily accessible to people. Although this reduces the pressure of cooking, cleaning and related activities, it may be a compromise on one’s health. However, one effective tactic suggested by this research is to incorporate more vegetables in the daily intake in a concealed form. Puréed vegetables are an excellent choice of low-energy as well as dense food. Substituting regular high-energy items in the daily menu with such preparations is seen to decrease the total energy intake while increasing healthy vegetable consumption. Also, the taste could be maintained while there were no concerns regarding hunger satiation; the diet was consumed with pleasure.

* A group of 41 participants, aged 20 to 5 years, was provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner on the designated day/week (for three weeks). The diet was planned in such a way that 85 or 75 percent of the main meals was substituted with puréed vegetables.
* Other snacks and side-dishes were also given to the subjects but these were unaltered.
* Food and energy intake, energy density of the foods and vegetable consumption, hunger and palatability were noted through questionnaires.
* Statistical analyses were employed to measure the efficacy of the low-energy dense inclusions in a routine diet.

Results/Key findings
* The manipulations in diet led to an increase in vegetable intake from 270 grams of vegetables in the standard 100 percent intake group; to 401 grams of vegetables in the group where 85 percent was substituted with puréed vegetables, and to 487 grams of vegetables in the 75 percent group.
* Also, there was a corresponding reduction in daily calories intake by 6 and 11 percent, while there was no variation in the total weight of food intake.
* No changes were observed in scores of hunger satisfaction, look, taste or feel of the food.

Next Steps/Shortcomings
The possibility of the participants eating high energy foods on the non-study days of the week needs to be monitored. The long-term effects of using substitution with puréed vegetables should be assessed, especially in the light of its usefulness in controlling obesity. Although this strategy appears simple, compliance and benefit can be assured only if palatability is retained.

The incorporation of a good amount of vegetables and fruits only once a week in main meals could go a long way in cutting down calorie ingestion. With the vegetables in the puréed form, most of the study subjects did not realize there were manipulations in the food that they consumed, even as they enjoyed the benefits of the same. The altered diet was consumed with enjoyment because the original flavor and texture of food was retained. The total density of the food consumed was unaltered while the total energy intake was decreased. Also, the subjects were allowed to eat other snacks and side-dishes with no changes. This ensured that any lost energy was compensated. This is an effortless tactic that could be utilized at home or in restaurants.

For More Information:
Hidden Vegetables: An Effective Strategy to Reduce Energy Intake and Increase Vegetable Intake in Adults
Publication Journal: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February 2011
By Alexandria D Blatt; Liane S Roe; Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.

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