Superfoods can help to build and strengthen bones, improve eyesight and brain function. Impressively, recent scientific research suggests that they can even help you lose and keep weight off. This is because different foods will take different metabolic pathways in the body leading to various effects on hunger and how many calories are burnt.
Green tea is known to be extra powerful as it contains catechins – antioxidants that can hinder fat storage around the belly and aid quicker weight loss. One study analyzed reviews from fifteen different trials and found that participants who consumed these green tea catechins that contained caffeine lost more inches of fat around their waist and weight overall than those participants who drank caffeine only and avoided green teas (1).
Nuts are high in fats but this does not mean that they are actually fattening. In fact, nuts contain proteins, fibres and healthy fats which can improve metabolism and contribute to weight loss. However, as most nuts are high in calories, eating nuts in large amounts without working off the extra calories is not recommended.
One study suggested that eating almonds can help burn more fat and carbs during exercise, and a second almond study found that overweight and obese adults who ate a quarter cup of almonds per day in combination with a calorie controlled diet lost weight more effectively than if they ate snacks which were complex carbohydrates (2). Very similar results were found in another study in which participants were given either 240-calories worth of pistachios per day or 220-calories worth of pretzels. Results showed that the pistachio group of participants had managed to reduce their BMI, as well as improve their cholesterol and triglyceride levels (3).
Legumes such as lentils and beans are high in protein and fiber – two nutrients that can lead to feelings of hunger satisfaction. One Spanish study found that along with a calorie-restricted diet, consuming legumes four times a week can aid in weight loss than diets that don’t contain legumes at all. Participants who consumed legumes also showed signs of improvement in their bad LDL cholesterol levels and systolic blood pressure (4).
Fruits in general are understood to be beneficial for health as they contain natural sugars, and the fibers in them can stop the sugar from being released too soon into the blood. Grapefruits in particular have been studied extensively for their effects on weight control and weight loss. One study asked obese participants to consume half a fresh grapefruit thirty minutes before their main meals, which caused an average weight loss of up to three and a half pounds within three months. These participants surprisingly also showed reductions in their insulin resistance (5).
Potatoes are an excellent nutrient source as they have several properties which make them ideal for health and weight loss. They contain a little of almost every nutrient the body needs, and there have even been accounts where people have survived on nothing but potatoes for long periods of time. Potatoes are high in potassium – a nutrient that has a highly important role in controlling blood pressure. Not only this, but they are highly fulfilling to eat and can satisfy hunger meaning you will feel full quicker and less tempted to overeat. Boiling potatoes allows them to form resistant starch, a fiber substance that is linked with weight loss.
For more information on superfoods that can aid weight loss, see our Nutrition & Weight Management course.