By Megan Rauscher
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Drinking at least one glass of low sodium vegetable juice every day may help overweight dieters lose more weight.
In a study, adults who drank at least 8 ounces of vegetable juice as part of a calorie-controlled heart-healthy diet lost 4 pounds over 12 weeks, while those who followed the same diet but did not drink the veggie juice lost only 1 pound.
It's possible, study investigator Dr. Carl L. Keen told Reuters Health, that vegetable juice helps reduce a person's appetite. "There is also a long-term belief that a high fruit and vegetable diet is associated with lower body weight," added Keen, who is with the University of California, Davis.
All 81 participants in the study, almost three-quarters of whom were women, had metabolic syndrome - a cluster of risk factors including excess body fat around the middle, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol. It's estimated that 47 million Americans have some combination of these risk factors, placing them at increased risk diabetes and heart disease.
All of the study subjects were encouraged to follow the American Heart Association's "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension," or DASH, diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, fiber, minerals and low-fat dairy products and low in saturated fat and salt. In addition, they were randomly assigned to drink 0, 1, or 2 cups of low sodium, high potassium vegetable juice every day for 12 weeks.
The vegetable juice drinkers -- in addition to losing more weight over 12 weeks than the non-juice drinkers -- were also more likely to get the recommended 3 to 5 servings of vegetables daily.
Vegetable juice drinkers also significantly increased their intake of vitamin C and potassium, while decreasing their overall carbohydrate intake.
"Diet and body weight are key modifiable factors in changing the course of metabolic syndrome," principal investigator Dr. John Foreyt, of Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, noted in a written statement.
Most U.S. adults don't get the recommended servings of vegetables each day. Vegetable juice, Keen said, "is a very good, portable option and may be a good way to help close the gap."
Keen reported the results of the study, which was funded in part by the Campbell Soup Company, this week at the Experimental Biology convention in New Orleans.