We all know that fresh fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet. But it can be hard to get all of your recommended daily servings. When trying to decide which ones to buy, are there some that are better than others? And are there any that are actually ideal foods for weight loss?
The answer is yes. Certain fruits and vegetables, in addition to supplying your body with important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, may actually help you lose weight.
What are the best foods for weight loss?
The best foods for weight loss are whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sources of lean protein. These foods contain high levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients that help drive weight loss in several ways. Not only do many of these foods help boost your energy, they can also help you feel full, and help speed up your metabolism so that you burn more calories.
What are good snacks for weight loss?
Healthy snacks are those that help increase your metabolism and maintain energy between meals. Good snacks for weight loss are foods high in fiber, healthy fats, and protein such as plain Greek yogurt, nuts, cottage cheese, hummus with veggies, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Be careful about foods that sound healthy but are actually high in carbs and sugar, such as granola bars, flavored yogurt, or dried fruit.
What are the best superfoods for weight loss?
Superfoods are foods that are highly nutrient-dense and that offer significant benefits for your overall health. Some of the best superfoods for weight loss include blueberries, salmon, avocados, and leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collards. Almonds, pears, grapefruit, broccoli, and green tea are other superfoods known to drive weight loss.
The best fruits and veggies for weight loss
All fruits and veggies are generally healthy for your body unless you have allergies or medical conditions that make you sensitive to certain foods. (Common food allergens include tomatoes, strawberries, and nightshade vegetables like bell peppers and eggplants.) However, there are certain foods that may be a better choice if you’re trying to lose weight. Certain fruits and veggies may actually help boost your metabolism and encourage your body to release excess fat cells.
The next time you’re at the grocery store, load up your cart with these fresh foods!
Hot peppers and mild peppers
Spicing up your food with hot peppers may help you burn extra calories. A compound in hot peppers called dihydrocapsiate (DCT) heats up the body, which could lead to increase fat burning. Evidence suggests that hot peppers can also help control appetite.
DCT is also found in milder bell peppers and is related to the compound capsaicin, which gives spicy peppers their heat. Capsaicin has been found to relieve pain and prevent disease. Sweet red and green peppers are a good source of vitamin C, which can help counteract the stress hormones that cause weight gain in the abdominal region.
Broccoli is an excellent source of an anti-inflammatory compound known as sulforaphane, which helps protect against cancer. Studies conducted on mice have found that sulforaphane helps balance levels of intestinal bacteria and accelerates tissue browning, a process where white fat tissue is turned into more beneficial brown fat.
Broccoli is another excellent source of vitamin C, which can help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Like other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli can cause some people to feel bloated and gassy, but these effects can be minimized by eating these foods cooked instead of raw.
There’s a reason Popeye eats spinach to grow big muscles: this powerful leafy green is a surprisingly good source of protein. Just one cup of cooked spinach contains nearly 6 grams of protein — about as much as one whole egg. Protein is necessary for building muscle, and muscle tissue increases your metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn — even in a resting state. Spinach is also high in thylakoids — membranes found in plants that help control appetite. You can add spinach to nearly anything! Try it in salads, stir-frys, omelettes, and smoothies.
Onions are rich in quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that helps regulate glucose levels and prevent the formation of new fat cells. Onions are also found to improve cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. If you don’t like onions but want the health benefits of quercetin, this compound is also present in red wine, tomatoes, dark berries, cherries, cruciferous vegetables, and leafy greens.
Ruby red grapefruit
The various phytochemicals and vitamin C in grapefruit may help reduce belly fat and lower cholesterol levels. One study found that people who ate grapefruit with every meal reduced their waistlines by one inch over a period of six weeks. Try eating half a grapefruit with breakfast, or add a few segments to a salad for lunch.
Sweet potatoes are high in dietary fiber, which can help you feel full for longer periods of time. This healthy veggie also boosts your metabolism, promotes regular bowel movements, and prevents your body from absorbing fat.
The orange and purple colors of sweet potatoes are produced by a number of antioxidants that fight free radicals, which helps reduce inflammation. As a result, you can benefit from a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, obesity, and cancer.
Watermelon is composed of roughly 90% water, which means this superfood is low in calories while also being nutrient dense and high in fiber. Watermelon is rich in flavonoids, which are natural plant compounds that boost energy, decrease your body’s fat absorption, and work as anti-inflammatory agents. Watermelon even has high levels of antioxidants and amino acids that help reduce inflammation, which helps ward off fat gain.
Avocados are high in fiber and healthy fats that improve digestion and gut health, which can help drive weight loss. Unlike other fruits, avocados do not contain sugar, and can even help regulate glucose and blood sugar levels, helping to lower the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Eat avocados with eggs for breakfast or as a post-workout snack, since this superfood is also high in electrolytes that aid in recovery.
Blueberries are high in dietary fiber, potassium, and antioxidants that can help drive weight loss. Evidence suggests that including blueberries in your diet may help you lose abdominal fat and benefit from lower cholesterol and triglycerides. This colorful superfood is also high in flavonoids that work as antioxidants to combat inflammation, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Cauliflower is low in carbs and high in fiber, which can help you stay slim and feeling full. The omega-3 fatty acids in cauliflower help stimulate your body’s production of leptin — a hunger hormone that increases metabolism and regulates your body weight. This cruciferous veggie also contains high amounts of folate, vitamin C, and a phytonutrient called sulforaphane, which has been shown to drive weight loss.
Apples contain about five grams of soluble fiber and 85 percent water, which makes them great at keeping you satiated. Apples are an ideal midday snack that can help ward off cravings for junk food and that help you stay hydrated. Studies show that apples can facilitate weight loss in overweight women adhering to weight-reduction diets.
Get a personalized diet plan that will help you shed excess weight and feel your best. Our personalized weight-loss program at Garcia Weight Loss and Wellness Centers takes the guesswork out of what to eat by designing a diet plan and wellness program tailored to your unique physical needs. Contact us today for your free consultation.
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on August 14, 2018
This post was originally published in April, 2018, and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.