Share this article

print logo

Dr. Zorba Paster: Eat right, lose weight

Eat right and you’ll lose weight – yada, yada, yada.

If you’re like most people, you’ve heard that song over and over again. And yet when you want to lose weight, you don’t. All over the place everyone shouts, “do this, do that,” and you do it and still don’t lose pounds.

Many thought sugar-free soda would work. Nope. No study has ever shown it gets people to lose weight.

Weight Watchers is coming back strong since Oprah bought it. It may not be Lady Gaga chic, but it’s gaining momentum.

Then you have my friend Dr. Oz’s two-week weight-reduction plan that I’ve seen on magazines on the checkout counter at my local grocery store.

If it worked, then everybody would be on it and the obesity epidemic of our times would be solved.

Do you see it working? I certainly don’t.

As often as I say fruits and vegetables count, I have never looked at which ones have high levels of flavonoids, or micronutrients. Foods highest in these include berries – especially blueberries – parsley, onions and peppers, with a super concentration also found in green tea. Even red wine contains some flavonoids.

Some experts think these super nutrients are one of the chief drivers of health in the plants we eat, the tea we drink and the wine we sip.

Recent research looked at studies of health professionals, doctors and nurses, men and women who were followed for more than 25 years. This is not your cross-section of the American population, and that’s important to keep in mind.

These folks are less likely to smoke, and more likely to eat right, exercise and continue to change their health practices based on what they have learned over time.

This group of health professionals kept diaries of how much they weighed and what they ate – lifestyle habits followed since 1986, a long time.

It turned out that people who drank green tea and ate foods high in flavonoids – berries, apples, oranges, onions – seemed to weigh less. This was after controlling for other health habits.

This didn’t lead to a large difference in weight, only a few pounds here and there. But who hasn’t wanted to lose a few pounds here and there? Even a small weight loss in many people can drop the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and high blood pressure.

In Wisconsin, my home state, people eat less than two cups of vegetables and one cup of fruit a day. It’s pitiful. We may give lip service to eating fruits and veggies, but we don’t follow our own advice.

When it comes to supplements, though, we Americans spend more than $20 billion a year.

My spin: This study shows us again that fruits and vegetables are the way to go.

Don’t think that taking an industrialized supplement that contains flavonoids is going to substitute for good, solid food.

Remember that Mother Nature puts lots of goodness into her offerings that food manufacturers do not.

Dr. Zorba Paster is a physician, professor, author and broadcast journalist. He hosts a radio program at 3 p.m. Sundays on WBFO-FM 88.7; email him at zorba@wpr.org.