The Best and Worst Foods for Healthy Weight
When it comes to keeping your weight down, a new study by Harvard researchers suggests that the quality of your food matters more than its calorie count.
Intuitively, we know that gorging on burgers and French fries and slurping down soda leads to more weight gain than eating fresh fruits, veggies and brown rice. But in the most comprehensive and detailed study of its kind, researchers have figured out exactly how much weight gain is associated with the consumption of certain foods.
The worst offenders were potato chips, which led to more weight gain per serving than any other food, the study found. The best nosh for your waistline? Surprisingly, yogurt.
It matters, of course, how many total calories you take in each day, but the authors say the age-old advice simply to "eat less and exercise more" may be naïve. To control weight over the long term — adults gain about a pound a year on average — the study suggests that people benefit more by focusing on eating right, rather than less.
"For diet, conventional wisdom often recommends 'everything in moderation,' with a focus only on total calories consumed," says Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, and lead author of the study. "Our results demonstrate that the quality of the diet — the types of food and beverages that one consumes — is strongly linked to weight gain."
For each extra serving of potato chips eaten in a day, for instance, people gained 1.69 lbs. every four years. Among the other extra-fattening foods the study highlighted: potatoes. Baked, boiled, mashed or French fried, each extra serving of potatoes was associated with an average 1.28-lb. weight gain (looked at separately, French fries were particularly unhealthy, linked with more than 3 lbs. of gain alone). Rounding out the top five most fattening foods were sugar-sweetened beverages, red meat and processed red meat, each associated with about 1 lb. of weight gain every four years.