You may already know that fruit can help you lose weight, but did you know that there’s a trick to maximize the effect nature’s candy can have on your weight loss? It sounds a bit technical, but in practice, it’s fairly easy: by combining fruits rich in complementary nutrients, you can nourish your body with a health-promoting, weight-loss supporting cocktail of health benefits. It’s all thanks to the power of flavonoids. (Related: 15 Classic American Desserts That Deserve a Comeback.)
Flavonoids are plant compounds that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors. They are natural phytonutrients with powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties that support a strong immune system. Studies have linked consumption of these bioactive compounds to weight loss—particularly for those with diabetes—fat loss, and treatment of obesity as well as reducing the inflammation linked to weight gain.
Many fruits contain more than one of these beneficial plant chemicals—the main ones include anthocyanidins, flavanols, flavones, flavonones, flavan-3-ols, and isoflavones. But no fruit delivers all of them, which is why combining fruits or eating a fruit salad made of fruits containing multiple flavonoids is a smart way to get the most bang for your buck.
Flavones, for example, are primarily found in the skins of fruits like apples and grapes, as well as in citrus fruits. For one critical category, flavonones, you’ll get almost exclusively from citrus. (Vegetables do not supply flavonones, either, making a daily dose of citrus crucial: A 2011 study of 1,600 women showed that those with the highest intake of citrus- based flavonoids had lower levels of pro-inflammatory compound interleukin 8 compared with women who ate less citrus.)
In other words, just piling up the apples every day won’t keep the doctor away. You need to get a variety of fruits in order to achieve maximum weight loss. (A diverse diet is a healthy diet.)
To make it simple, follow this handy chart. Make sure you get at least 1 serving a day of fruit from each of the below groups. The easiest way to do so is in a weight loss smoothie, but you can also make a fruit salad. Either way you choose, simply mix one from each category to ensure you’re getting a full day’s complement of fruit-based flavonoids.
The Tree Group (High in anthocyanidins, flavan3ols, flavones, and flavanols): Apples (with the skin on), Pears, Cherries, Peaches, and Plums
The Berry Group (High in anthocyanidins, flavan3ols, flavones, and flavanols): Blackberries, Blueberries, Cranberries, Elderberries, Raspberries, Strawberries
The Citrus Group (High in flavones and flavonones): Blood oranges, Grapefruit (white or pink), Lemons, Limes, Oranges, Tangelos, Tangerines
The Wildcard Group (High flavones and a variety of other flavonoids): Apricots, Currants, Grapes, Kiwi, Watermelon
For more healthy eating news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!