Food #1: Sardines
Full of satiating protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, sardines are low on the food chain and thus less apt to contain heavy metals than their larger kin. Sardines packed in olive oil are tastier than the water-packed kind. The protein and fat work in tandem to fill you up and minimize blood sugar swings, making it easier to stick with your weight loss program.
Food #2: Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol and, according to research published in Diabetes Care in 2007, help shrink belly fat — the kind linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Extra-virgin oil is made from the first pressing of the olives. Look for cold pressed oil — it hasn’t been subjected to nutrient-destroying heat.
Food #3: Avocado
This fruit that acts like a vegetable is another source of tummy-reducing MUFAs, as well as oleic acid (which has been shown to lower cholesterol), folate, and vitamin E. Select blackish-green, pebbly-skin Haas avocados, which are higher in fat and lower in carbs than the smooth, bright green Florida avocadoes. Have half an avocado as a snack, add chunks to a tossed salad, or take a few minutes to make guacamole.
Food #4: Almonds
Almonds (and most other nuts) combine protein, healthy fats, and fiber — a perfect recipe for satiety, so you’re less apt to experience cravings. Eating almonds has also been shown to lower your cholesterol and risk of heart disease. According to a 2003 study in the International Journal of Obesity, overweight people who ate almonds lost more weight than those consuming the same number of calories but no nuts (and therefore less fat). Aim for up to two 1-ounce snacks a day.
Food #5: Blueberries
Another member of the tummy-fat banishing club — even as part of a high-fat diet — is the blueberry, according to a recent study on rats at the University of Michigan. More research is required to confirm these results in humans, and Oklahoma State University is recruiting subjects for a study that will look at the effects of consuming blueberries on abdominal fat as well as other disease risk factors. Blueberries have long been known as a superior source of antioxidants.
Food # 6: Broccoli
This member of the cabbage family, which is known for containing micronutrients that squelch cancer-causing agents, has lots more going for it: Packed with fiber, broccoli is filling, which naturally helps with weight control, it’s low in carbs and calories, and it’s full of vitamins C and A, calcium, potassium, and folic acid. Enjoy it raw or cooked.
Food #7: Red Bell Peppers
The sweet red bell pepper leaves its unripe green brothers in the dust. A red pepper contains eight times as much vitamin A, almost three times as much vitamin C, and almost four times as many carotenoids — including lycopene, which helps prevent prostate cancer — as a green pepper. Hot and sweet peppers alike contain substances that increase your body’s heat production after consumption, meaning you burn extra calories.
These seven superfoods are just the tip of the nutrition iceberg. Enjoy a wide variety of whole foods and you’ll reap the benefits in overall good health and weight control.
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