If you are trying to lose weight, and tired of feeling hungry while sticking to a limited diet, consider the delicious variety of superfoods for weight loss.
Superman, along with other “superheroes” who exist in the world of comic books and action movies, have unusual superpowers for doing good. But dubbing a food as “super” may sound like a wild claim or a fad diet ploy. However, there are foods that pack such a powerful nutrition punch they’ve earned the title superfoods.
And in some ways, they do have superpowers. In fact, a growing body of research backs up claims many foods really are super when it comes to a variety of health benefits, including helping people lose excess pounds and keep weight under control.
So, what is a superfood?
Steven Pratt, MD, a Scripps Memorial Hospital ophthalmologist and University of California assistant professor of ophthalmology, first made the term “superfood” popular over a decade ago with his first book, “SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life.”
The answer to the question “what is a superfood?” has three parts, according to Pratt. First, a superfood isn’t some exotic or super expensive fare; it must be readily available to the public and, second, it must contain nutrients known to promote health and longevity. In addition, a food only has true “super” status if its benefits have been documented by scientific studies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging people to include super nutritious foods in meals to build health and to control weight, too. The CDC has its own designation, Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables (PFVs, for short), for foods that meet similar qualifications as Pratt’s superfoods.
PFVs are foods most strongly associated with reduced risk for chronic diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC. PFVs are typically nutrient-dense (meaning they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients important for health) and rich in fiber – which can promote weight loss.
How superfoods help with weight loss
No matter what you call them, superfoods are great choices for losing excess weight and keeping it off.
Eating a diet consisting of primarily superfoods for weight loss makes sense in several ways. Superfoods are non-processed and typically high in fiber, promoting satiety. That means you’ll feel full and satisfied and less tempted to reach for a doughnut or another calorie loaded snack if you regularly eat superfoods.
What’s more, superfoods are low in calories and devoid of saturated fat, added salt, and sugar.
Superfoods for weight loss wasn’t something Pratt was promoting when he wrote his book to share the nutritional and health benefits of superfoods. But after his book was published and he was travelling and giving interviews about it, he repeatedly heard how people who had changed their way of eating to concentrate on a diet full of superfoods had lost weight.
"The most common thing I hear is how much weight people lost without trying to lose weight," Pratt said in a CNN interview. "It's the non-diet diet. It's food you can eat for a lifetime."
Bottom line? Learn what are superfoods for weight loss
Simply by understanding what are superfoods and building your meals around superfood choices, the odds are you won’t feel deprived or walk around hungry while losing extra pounds.
A dozen top superfoods for weight loss:
1. Beans may be cheap in price, but they are high in value when it comes to weight loss. Packed with natural plant-based protein and fiber, beans can keep you feeling full for hours and help regulate blood sugar levels, too. They also contain nutrients (including B vitamins, iron, and magnesium) that may have anti-cancer and cholesterol-lowering benefits.
2. Avocados aren’t just the delicious basis for guacamole, they are one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. They are rich in potassium, vitamin E, lutein, and magnesium. Avocados also have a lot fiber and healthy monounsaturated fat – two factors that make you feel satisfied and help you stay on track to lose extra pounds.
3. Broccoli and other vegetables in the cruciferous family (including Brussel sprouts and cauliflower) are some of the most nutrient-dense foods known. Extremely low in calories, cruciferous veggies are filling and contain phytochemicals that may lower the risk of cancer
4. Berries are fiber-rich and can satisfy a sweet tooth without added sugar. The American Heart Association advises getting smart about these and other superfoods and notes berries have a high level of flavonoids, which may lower the risk of heart attacks in women.
5. Kale and other leafy greens, including spinach and collards, are low-calorie and high in fiber. Dark leaf veggies are also packed with minerals, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K.
6. Nuts and seeds are superfoods that are rich in fat, but it’s the healthy, unsaturated type. It’s true, nuts are high in calories – just don’t eat a whole bowl of them and you’ll be fine. In fact, eating a handful of almonds, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds as a snack can help you lose weight, thanks to hunger satisfying fiber and fat. An added benefit: A handful of nuts about five times a week is associated with a lower heart attack risk.
7. Sweet potatoes live up to their name – they are sweet. But they are low in calories (although high in fiber and vitamin A), and you don’t need to add butter, salt, or anything else to them to satisfy a sweet tooth.
8. Soy is another plant-based, high-quality protein with omega-3 fatty acids and abundant soluble fiber to keep hunger at bay. It is also an appetite suppressant, according to superfoods expert Pratt, and soy lowers the risk of heart disease and, possibly, cancer.
9. Whole-grain oats provide filling dietary fiber that helps with digestion and can promote weight loss. Eating oats regularly is linked to lower cholesterol levels and a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
10. Salmon, preferably the wild variety, is an optimum source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, as well as being a delicious source of hunger satisfying protein. Alaskan halibut, albacore tuna, herring, and sardines also meet the superfood qualifications.
11. If you think of pumpkin only as an ingredient for high-calorie, sugar-filled pumpkin pies, think again! Pumpkin is inexpensive and low in calories; it’s high fiber and full of vitamin A, too. Consider adding pumpkin to your diet throughout the year to aid in weight loss. Use the canned variety to make low-sugar whole-wheat pumpkin muffins, pumpkin and bean soup. and more (see USDA’s free pumpkin recipes for inspiration).
12. An apple a day may keep the pounds away. In fact, superfood apples are not only powerful sources of vitamins, fiber, and potassium, but also are filling, sweet, and contain fewer than 50 calories, on average.
April 09, 2020
Janet O’Dell, RN