Scientists randomly assigned 100 people with abdominal obesity (waists larger than 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men) to eat their usual diet or either a high-quality or a low-quality diet with a 25-percent calorie cut.

The high-quality diet was richer in fiber, unsaturated fats, and plant protein from foods like whole grains, fruit, fish, tofu, and olive oil, while the low-quality diet had more refined grains, juice, meat, and butter. (The high-quality group also got a daily fish oil capsule with 400 mg of EPA and 300 mg of DHA.)

After 12 weeks, the high-quality group had lost 18 pounds, the low-quality group had lost 14 pounds, and the usual-diet group had lost no weight. What’s more, blood cholesterol and triglycerides fell more in the high-quality than in the low-quality group (and not at all in the usual-diet group).

What to do

Trying to lose weight? A healthy diet is a good strategy.