You’ve heard for years about so-called super foods, foods that are so packed with vitamins and other nutrients that they help your body renew cells, augment your eyesight, recharge your energy and, yes, lose weight. Over the years, the so-called super weight loss foods have included grapefruit, oatmeal, whole grains, acai berry and, most recently, green tea extract. How much of the hype is just that – hype – and how much of it is based on real, verifiable science? Read on to find out about 10 foods that could hold the keys to losing weight and keeping it off permanently.
How often have you heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away? According to Self magazine, apples also can help you shed pounds. In at least one study, people who ate an apple before a meal of pasta ate fewer calories than those who ate another snack with the same amount of calories.
Tip: Snack on apples during the day to help control cravings and provide a powerful punch of healthy antioxidants that may help reign in belly fat.
Dried beans are protein powerhouses, and black beans are among the most power-packed of all. A 1-cup serving of black beans provides you with 15 g of protein without the saturated fat you’ll get in red meat and other protein sources. Dr. Oz suggests eating black beans with low-fat cottage cheese to help carve fat off your bottom by reducing the amount of estrogen circulating in your system. Estrogen is associated with bigger bottoms, so there is some science behind the suggestion.
Tip: Make a spicy black bean hummus and melt low-fat cottage cheese on top for a tasty alternative to nachos.
George H. W. Bush may not eat his broccoli, but if you’re serious about healthy eating, you should. At fewer than 30 calories per serving, broccoli is an excellent source of filling fiber and antioxidant minerals and vitamins. Eat it raw or lightly steamed to fill up on its health-giving, weight-loss assisting powers.
Tip: Make life easy on yourself. Keep a bag of fresh frozen broccoli florets in your freezer for nights when you don’t feel like cooking. Just toss a handful of florets into brown rice during the last five minutes of cooking and toss with a teaspoon of Italian dressing for a savory treat.
Nutty, chewy and delicious, brown rice is one of the best alternatives to starchy grains, pasta and root vegetables. It contains all the goodness and flavor that gets stripped away from white rice during processing, and provides a healthy weight loss punch in the form of resistant starch, a carbohydrate that helps boost metabolism and burn fat.
Tip: Cook up a pot full of brown rice at the start of the week and keep it on hand for quick meals. When you’re ready to eat, scoop up a half-cup serving, toss with roasted or steamed vegetables and sprinkle with toasted sunflower seeds for a tasty, toasty and very filling treat.
This ruffled dark leafy green treat has attracted a lot of attention lately, thanks to its healthy helping of iron and calcium – and its low glycemic and calorie load. With only 34 calories per 1-cup serving, kale also provides lots of great fiber to help your digestive juices keep working overtime. The spicy-bitter taste is delicious in salads and pairs especially well with blueberries and strawberries.
Tip: Eat a salad of kale and mandarin orange slices spritzed with raspberry vinaigrette and a teaspoon of olive oil to power up your digestion.
Long known as a peasant side dish, lentils are coming into their own as a healthy alternative protein and fiber source. Red, black or yellow lentils have an earthy, nutty flavor that’s the perfect background for soups, breads and other meal combinations. They’re high in protein and have been shown to help prevent insulin spikes – and if you’re trying to bust belly fat, lentils are a known belly flattener.
Tip: Yellow and red lentils cook to a tender crunch in just about 15-20 minutes, making them an ideal evening meal at the end of a long day. Toss a cup of lentils into water to boil and add fresh or dried mint. Toss with chopped raw tomato and onion and serve over a bed of couscous or cracked rice.
Oats are one of the healthiest, most fiber-packed grains readily available at the market. All types of oatmeal are good for you, but steel-cut oats and rolled oats are the healthiest because they’re the closest to the whole grain – minimal processing means that they lose fewer nutrients and fiber. You can eat oatmeal or substitute rolled oats for breadcrumbs in meat loaf or meatballs to add a heart-healthy punch of fiber (5 g per serving) to regular mealtime.
Tip: Don’t have time to make oatmeal in the morning? Stir rolled oats or steel-cut oats into water the night before and shake it up in a covered jar. Let it sit in the refrigerator overnight, and in the morning, you’ll have oatmeal, ready to be dressed with fruit for your breakfast.
The firm-fleshed cold-water fish is among the healthiest of lean proteins, providing as much as red meat without the wallop of unhealthy fatty cholesterol. To make it even better, salmon provides a healthy helping of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) – belly fat busters touted by Prevention magazine in their Flat Belly Diet. In one study, people who ate a diet rich in MUFAs lost an average of 9 pounds while their counterparts on a low-fat diet gained 6 in the same amount of time.
Tip: Eat fatty cold water fish like salmon, tuna and flounder 2 to 3 times a week. Choose fish that are raised or fished sustainably – not only is it better for the food chain, those fish are also more likely to be low in contaminants often found in fatty fish.
Yes, wine! A small glass of red wine is chock full of resveratrol, an antioxidant that boosts metabolism and stops your body from storing fat. Research shows that wine drinkers have slimmer waist lines and less body fat than those who drink other types of liquor. Drinking a small glass of wine can increase your calorie burn for up to 90 minutes, according to Health magazine. Of course, drinking a glass of wine isn’t a necessary part of your diet, but it’s nice to know it’s actually good for you if you choose to have a glass with dinner.
Tip: Enjoy a glass of red wine with or after dinner once or twice a week to stimulate your metabolism.
Dairy products are packed with protein and other good stuff for your body, but only plain yogurt has been dubbed the “perfect food” by nutritionist. It provides an awesome combination of protein, carbohydrates and fat in just the right proportions to help you stave off hunger and keep your blood sugar on the right track. Greek yogurt, which happens to be the latest fad, is also the healthiest choice of all – it has more protein in it than other styles of yogurt.
Tip: Enjoy yogurt any time of day. Substitute plain yogurt for mayo in tuna, chicken or potato salad to save 4.7 g of fat per serving, or use it in place of sour cream to cut calories and add a delicious tang to baked potatoes, black bean nachos and gazpacho.
In addition to these ten super healthy weight loss foods, you should also add blueberries, goji berries, almonds and sunflower seeds to your menus. They’re chock full of healthy antioxidants that encourage your body to work more efficiently and lose weight faster.