By Patricia Bannan
Looking to lose weight? You’re not alone. With the majority of Americans wanting to slim down, it’s all too common to hear what you should cut out of your diet to drop a few pounds. For a refreshing change, check out these seven simple foods that you can add to your diet for a tasty way to help shed pounds.
Adding blueberries to your diet is a little change anyone can make that, with consistency, equates to a big step in the right direction. Blueberries are low in fat and sodium, have just 80 calories per cup and contain vitamin C and phytonutrients (called polyphenols) for good health. Blueberries are also a good source of dietary fiber, which adds bulk to your diet to help make you feel full faster. For weight loss, load blueberries in to your favorite dish (like oatmeal, yogurt, cous cous, or even whole grain waffles) to bulk it up and add vitamins and minerals. Plus, they are so easy – blueberries require no peeling or chopping, just wash and add.
Swap meat for mushrooms and lose weight. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Weight Management Center report that when people ate mushroom-based entrees, they felt just as satisfied as when they’d eaten those same dishes made with beef. Mushrooms work well as a meat-replacement in dishes and have practically no calories or fat, while providing several micronutrients. In the year-long clinical trial, which was funded by the Mushroom Council, mushroom eaters dropped an average of seven pounds, lost 2.6 inches from their waist circumference and lowered their BMIs. To substitute mushrooms for meat in your diet, try grilling up a portobello mushroom instead of a beef patty, adding chopped mushrooms to a tomato or curry sauce, or using them in an enchilada or lasagna with other vegetables.
Eggs are one of the most nutritious ways to start your day, providing protein and antioxidants for good health. In fact, research suggests that starting the day with an egg breakfast can reduce hunger and help reduce caloric intake by more than 400 calories over the next 24 hours. A top choice in the egg aisle is Eggland's Best eggs, which have less fat and more vitamins and minerals – providing 25 percent less saturated fat, four times more vitamin D, double the omega 3, and ten times more vitamin E. Plus, no hormones, steroids or antibiotics of any kind are used in their eggs. For added convenience, boil some ahead of time for a healthy grab-and-go snack.
Nuts are another superfood rich in protein, potassium, fiber, and healthy fats that help you slim down. Pistachios in particular can help you shed pounds: Research shows eating in-shell pistachios can create a more mindful snacking experience, helping people eat less and feel just as satisfied. Pistachios offer a combination of protein, fiber and healthy fats to keep you full until your next meal, and you get approximately 49 nuts per serving.
Your body digests whole grains more slowly than refined grains, which have been stripped of their bran and germ, and thus fiber, and are absorbed almost as quickly as pure glucose. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, quickly absorbed, refined carbohydrates are linked to weight gain, as well as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. An easy way to get more whole grains in your diet is to choose a quality whole grain bread, such as Oroweat, Arnold, and Brownberry that contain no trans fat, no high-fructose corn syrup, and are a good source of fiber. For example, making a sandwich with two slices of Oroweat Whole Grains Double Fiber bread provides 38g of whole grains and 48 percent of your daily fiber value.
Even if you changed nothing else about your diet, eating half a grapefruit before each meal may help you lose up to a pound a week. Researchers at Scripps Clinic in San Diego found that when obese people ate half a grapefruit before each meal, they dropped an average of 3.5 pounds over 12 weeks. Apparently the tangy fruit can lower insulin, a fat-storage hormone, and that can lead to weight loss. Plus, since it’s at least 90% water, it can fill you up so you eat less. However, if you are on certain medications you should not have grapefruit or grapefruit juice, so check the label on all your prescriptions, or ask your pharmacist or doctor.
Beans are an excellent source of slow-release carbohydrates, as well as a good source of protein and fiber, which slow the digestive process to help you stay fuller, longer. Beans -- like whole grains, and most fruits and vegetables -- have a low glycemic index, a measurement that indicated how a food affects blood sugar and insulin levels. Beans are also a good source of protein and fiber, to aid in your weight loss efforts. For example, cup of black beans provides 15 grams of satisfying protein and 15 grams of fiber, and doesn't contain any of the saturated fat found in other protein sources, like red meat. Include garbanzo beans, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans and other beans in your diet for sustained energy and reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Patricia Bannan is a Los Angeles-based registered dietitian specializing in nutrition and health communications. She is the author of "Eat Right When Time Is Tight: 150 Slim-Down Strategies and No-Cook Food Fixes." Visit her website at http://www.patriciabannan.com/.
Baked avocado...try it, replaces starch