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Twins Study: Higher Flavonoid Intake Associated With Lower Weight Gain In Women

Article By Akam Anyangwe

Results from a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition(Jennings et al 2017), which looked at the associations between flavonoid intakes and fat mass in the body, suggests that regular intake of flavonoids, like anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavonols, and proanthocyanidins, is associated with lower fat mass, independent of genetic and environmental factors.

The study included 2,738 healthy female twins between 18-83 years old from the TwinsUK registry. 43% of the twins (1174) were monozygotic. Average flavonoid intake was 1.1g/d and their intakes of total flavonoids were deduced using food -frequency questionnaires.

Measurements taken included limb-to-trunk fat mass ratio (FMR), fat mass index, and central fat mass index.

In monozygotic twins with different diets, twins with higher intakes of flavan-3-ols, flavonols, and proanthocyanidins had significantly lower FMR than their co-twins (difference: 3-4%). Additionally, twins with higher consumption of anthocyanin-rich foods like berries (only in young participants <50years), as well as flavonol- and proanthocyanidin-rich foods had a 3-9% lower FMR than that of their co-twins.

The results, also showed that higher intakes of anthocyanin, flavanol, and proanthocyanidin subclasses were significantly associated with better fat mass distribution.

Recently, fat distribution has proven to be a stronger predictor of insulin resistance and inflammation than body fat measurements alone. Percentage of body fats on the other hand has been shown to be a stronger determinant of cardiovascular disease than body mass index or waist circumference.

Animal studies have demonstrated that dietary flavonoids influence obesity through mechanisms such as the inhibition of adipogenesis (the process of cell-differentiation and maturation into mature fat cells), the normalization of glucose tolerance and the modulation of insulin and inflammatory signalling pathways.

These results further add to already existing evidence that dietary flavonoids may be beneficial for weight maintenance.

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