Losing weight and getting healthy can be a tough challenge. Eating right might not be enough to lose weight. Quantity and quality of food will make a huge difference in your overall health. Science is just learning about the hidden health effects of foods, such as the benefits of antioxidants.
In this article, you’re going to get a list of handy, nutrient-dense foods that will also keep you satisfied while cutting weight.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s start with the easiest way to add more superfoods to your diet, fruits.
Apples are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients that fight free radicals. They’re also packed with vitamins and dietary fiber to keep you full. In one study, non-smoking women between the ages of 30-50 were randomly assigned one of three dietary supplements, adding 3 apples per day to their diets, 3 pears per day, or 3 oat cookies per day.
Bananas are one powerful fruit. When it comes to weight loss, I like to eat a banana in between meals like breakfast or lunch. This gives me the energy I need to make it to my next meal and banishes my cravings for sweets.
The deep blue color that comes from blueberries lets you know that they are rich in antioxidants that ward off free radicals. And they’re also great for weight loss.
Thanks to the combination of fiber and water found in blueberries, they’re an excellent choice to help slim down by reducing appetite.
4. Goji Berries
Goji berries may not be as easy to find as the other items on my list, but they have similar benefits. These tiny, bright berries help control appetite and blood sugar levels. They also contain a good chunk of fiber.
Goji berries are generally sold as a dried fruit, so I’ll sprinkle them on my salads or oatmeal for a little added sweetness.
One study examined 91 obese patients and split them into four groups. One group was given a placebo, one received grapefruit capsules, one had to drink grapefruit juice, and the last group ate fresh grapefruits. The participants had to consume their allocated supplements three times a day before each meal over 12 weeks.
The results? The fresh grapefruit group lost the most weight, the grapefruit juice drinkers came in second place, and the capsule consumers fared better than the placebo takers.
Pears are incredible for controlling appetite. Since pears have an average of 5.5 grams of fiber, they keep our digestive systems moving. Fiber helps our bodies absorb the nutrients and vitamins of all the other superfoods on our list.
7. Pomegranate seeds
This low calorie snack option also packs a healthy dose of fiber, making it an ideal afternoon treat. Buy containers of pomegranate seeds so all I have to do is sprinkle them over some greek yogurt.
Beef has a rep for hurting weight loss because of its saturated fat content, but eating lean steak may help you peel off pounds thanks to its protein—we’re talking 36 grams for a 4-oz piece of top sirloin.
Grill or broil a 4-ounce serving of local, organic top round or sirloin and slice it thinly to top a salad, or mix with veggies for fajitas.
Dig in to eggs, yolks and all: They won’t harm your heart. “The [USDA] Dietary Guidelines sees eggs as a healthy source of protein, and groups them with meat and poultry,” Caroline Kaufman, R.D., told SELF in a previous article about what people get wrong about cholesterol. “Don’t stress about dietary cholesterol; focus on saturated and trans fats.”
It seems like kale’s buzz will never die down, and for good reason: One raw chopped cup contains 33 calories, 2 grams of protein, 1 gram of fiber, and a hearty helping of iron and calcium.
11. Wild salmon
Not only do fish fats keep your heart healthy, but they can help you lose weight, too. Omega-3 fatty acids help you build muscle to your best potential. And the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns.
12. Buckwheat pasta
Swap plain noodles for this hearty variety (which you may find more easily by looking for soba noodles—just check that they’re 100 percent buckwheat before purchasing). Buckwheat noodles contain fiber (12 grams per cup), and unlike most carbs, they contain protein, too, (24 grams per cup) making it more filling, aka harder to overeat than the regular stuff.
13. Almond butter
The nutritional content of this tasty spread may freak you out, but there’s no reason to be afraid of fat! Fat helps make food taste delicious and keep you satiated, so it’s actually good news that 1 tablespoon of almond butter has 9 grams of the stuff. Even better, adding almond butter to a carb-based food can help stave off a blood sugar spike thanks to its fat and protein (2 grams per tablespoon).
Popeye was on to something. This dark, leafy green is chock-full of so many beneficial nutrients, like iron, potassium (a helpful bloat-buster), fiber, and even protein.
Blend 2 cups of spinach, 1 cup of fruit, and an unsweetened milk substitute for a filling, healthy smoothie that can aid weight loss, or use it as a bed for a colorful salad.
15. Chia seeds
These little seeds pack a major nutritional punch. A tablespoon contains 69 calories, largely thanks to the seeds’ heart-healthy fats, plus 5.5 grams of fiber. It’s no surprise they make a welcome addition to everything from smoothies to make-ahead puddings.
16. Flax seeds
Like their cousins, chia seeds, flax seeds are diverse little kernels. A tablespoon has 55 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of good-for-you fats.
Add them to smoothies, sprinkle them atop your morning bowl of cereal, or incorporate them into your baking when you want a healthy dessert.
Carbs are not the nutritional Voldemort. Actually, certain healthy carbs can help you lose weight—and air-popped popcorn is one of them. “Portion-wise, it has a lower calorie per unit volume than many other snacks,” Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., R.D.N., and owner of Nutrition Starring You, told SELF in a previous article. You get more bang for your caloric buck, and since popcorn is made up of complex carbs, it’ll digest more slowly, keeping you fuller longer.
The combination of the antioxidant lycopene, water, and potassium makes tomatoes another winner, Brigitte Zeitlin, M.P.H., R.D., C.D.N., founder of the New York-based BZ Nutrition, told SELF in a previous article.
Whether you’re a hummus lover or not, chickpeas are a nutritional win. There’s a reason registered dietitians often call upon chickpeas as a dinner staple: Its protein content is through the roof, with 12 grams in a single cup, along with 11 grams of filling fiber.
20. Bell peppers
Bell peppers, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways. Not only do these colorful veggies offer plenty of vitamin C—132 milligrams in a large green one, 209 milligrams in a large red one, and 341 milligrams in a large yellow one—they also make the perfect vehicle for other healthy foods when they’re stuffed.