Fruits and vegetables help to regulate meals and snacks

Citrus fruits - oranges, lemons and limesNew research published in the Nutrition Journal has discovered a relationship between the consumption of fruits and vegetables with snacks and healthy breakfasts. People who eat fruits and vegetables tend to also eat breakfast every day and are less likely to binge on snacks throughout the day. This can help to regulate weight and improve dietary health.

The research was carried out across several Italian research institutes by scientists from the Department of Molecular Developmental Medicine, University of Siena; CREPS – Centre of Research for Health Education and Promotion; Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, and Local Public Health Unit 7.

The research set out to determine if there was a relationship between the frequency of breakfast and snack consumption with the intake of fruits and vegetables. It studied adolescents (aged 11, 13 and 15 years) from Tuscany.

The results

The study found that there is a significant relationship between low fruit and vegetable consumption and poor breakfast and snacking habits.

Low fruit intake was linked with irregular snack consumption, however, low vegetable intake did not have the same relationship.

The biggest and more significant relationship was in young women who did not eat fruit – they had the most irregular breakfast habits, and the older they became the more significant the relationship was.

Regular meals easier with fruit and vegetables

One of the aims of the research was to find ways to help children and young adults to consume more regular meals. Regular meals with limited snacking helps to control weight and improve general health. The research has shown that a balanced diet which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables helps to improve other aspects of diet and eating habits.

The result is that rather than simply telling people to eat 3 meals a day it may be better to encourage people to consume more fruits and vegetables – the meal patterns may then start to align naturally as the need for snacks reduces and a healthy breakfast is consumed more often.

The easiest way to encourage more fruits and vegetable consumption is to make them more available at home and in school, as this is where most meals are eaten by children. A piece of fruit with each meal may be enough to reduce the need for snacks and therefore also ensure that the main meal is consumed at the correct time.

Research reference

Association between fruits and vegetables intake and frequency of breakfast and snacks consumption: a cross-sectional study” by Giacomo Lazzeri12*, Andrea Pammolli, Elena Azzolini, Rita Simi, Veronica Meoni, Daniel Rudolph de Wet and Mariano Vincenzo Giacchi. Nutrition Journal, Volume 12:123.

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