The term ‘superfood’ has grown in popularity over the last few years, but what exactly makes a food a superfood?
Despina Hyde, a registered dietitian at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, explains it perfectly: “Superfoods have extra-large doses of vitamins and minerals that can help us ward off diseases and live a longer, healthier life”.
Another article defines the word superfood as: “A non-medical term popularized in the media to refer to foods that can have health-promoting properties such as reducing one’s risks of disease or improving any aspect of physical and emotional health”.
I’ve seen firsthand that superfoods are essential for us to maintain good health. These superfoods should be consumed throughout the week and as often as possible. In today’s post, I’ll show you my favorite superfoods for weight loss and give you an example of how to incorporate each of them into your diet.
But before we can move on, I want to clear up a common misconception about superfoods…they are not miracle workers on their own.
Superfoods are not a quick fix and they won’t work if you’re still consuming a poor diet. For best results, eat superfoods in addition to a healthy diet and exercise plan. Otherwise, you’re only wasting your money.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s start with the easiest way to add more superfoods to your diet, fruits.
Fruits for weight loss
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.
Of course, you’d expect the fruit group to lose more weight than the oat cookies group, and this was the case. The fruit group lost a pound on average more than the oat group.
I know that a pound seems small, but when combined with the rest of the foods on our list, the tiny pounds quickly add up to larger amounts of weight loss.
My favorite way to eat apples is dipping fresh slices into some portioned out almond butter with a little cinnamon sprinkled on top. That gives me three superfoods in one snack.
From fighting depression and feelings of nausea to stabilizing blood sugar levels between meals, 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.
My favorite way to eat banana is similar to apples. Cut the banana into thin slices, add some almond butter, cinnamon, and a sprinkle of chia seeds to ward off hunger pangs and make you feel full.
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. We’ve shown you how blueberries can target your midsection specifically in this article.
I like to add blueberries to my smoothies, salads, or on top of my oatmeal.
4. Goji Berries
Goji berries may not be as easy to find as the other items on my list, but they’re definitely worth the extra effort to find.
These tiny, bright berries help control appetite and blood sugar levels. They also contain a good chunk of fiber.
However, my favorite attribute of goji berries is that they contain chromium, a mineral that helps control blood sugar levels and preserve lean muscle mass during weight loss.
Goji berries are generally sold as a dried fruit, so I’ll sprinkle them on my salads or oatmeal for a little added sweetness.
If you can get past the super tartness of grapefruit, you’ll be well on your way to quick weight loss.
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.
In fact, on average the placebo group saw a third the amount of weight loss compared to the fresh grapefruit group. This goes to show that grapefruit is a beneficial weight loss addition to your diet.
If it’s hard for you to enjoy the tartness of fresh grapefruit slices, try blending them in your smoothies or even dropping a slice in a glass of wine.
Pears are incredible for weight loss. 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.
If you’re feeling a little backed up or constipated, slice up a juicy pear and enjoy.
7. Pomegranate seeds
According to LiveStrong, the name pomegranate comes from Latin and translates to ‘seeded apple’. Since apples are so great for weight loss, it’s no wonder that pomegranate seeds are perfect too.
This low calorie snack option also packs a healthy dose of fiber, making it an ideal afternoon treat.
I like to buy containers of pomegranate seeds so all I have to do is sprinkle them over some greek yogurt.
I have to admit that I love oranges, but I hate orange juice. Most juices today are so packed with sugar that the true orange flavor is completely lost.
In my favorite fat melting drink, I showed you why oranges are so healthy. For weight loss, the fiber and vitamin C found in oranges can’t be beat.
I don’t do anything fancy with my oranges. Occasionally, I’ll slice one up for an acai bowl, but other than that the fresh slices are where it’s at.
Avocados are another favorite of mine. Once I learned about their powers I was hooked.
Especially the fact that avocados help you feel satisfied after a meal.
Do you ever get that feeling after you eat that you could go for something else, despite having eaten a full meal already? I used to until I learned that adding half an avocado to your lunch could prevent this issue from happening.
The results showed that those who added the fresh avocado to their lunches had a decreased desire to snack between meals by 40% over the course of three hours. 28% even reported feeling this satiated (full) as long as five hours later.
I like to add half an avocado to my smoothies, sandwiches, or salads.
10. Black beans
The combination of fiber and protein makes beans so healthy for you. Not only will black beans keep you full, but they’ll also give you a burst of energy.
I like to make black bean burritos using fresh salsa, avocados, and brown rice for Meatless Mondays.
Your mom was right when she told you to eat your broccoli. According to an article in LiveStrong, “eating it a few times a week can cut the number of calories you consume while promoting overall health”.
That’s music to my ears. Instead of severely limiting your calories on certain diets, you can add more nutrients and cut calories simultaneously by eating broccoli.
With broccoli I keep it simple and steam it as a side dish or use it in a stir fry. I also like to cut it up raw for salads or hummus.
Chiles pack a punch of heat that’s been studied for its effect to help you burn calories. The capsaicin, or the ‘heat’ of the chiles, activates the brown fat in our bodies.
According to an article by CBS, the more brown fat you have, the more calories you burn.
If I’m feeling up for some heat, I’ll add chiles to my black bean burritos.
13. Garbanzo beans
You may be familiar with garbanzo beans, or chickpeas, thanks to the rise in popularity of hummus, a ground up and seasoned version of chickpeas.
According to SFGate, when it comes to weight loss, both hummus and chickpeas are super helpful. These tan colored beans are packed with soluble fiber to absorb water and give your brain the signal that it’s full. The article continues to say that chickpeas are also nutrient dense and provide you with 7 grams of protein and 22 grams of complex carbohydrates.
I prefer eating chickpeas in a cold salad or ground up as hummus.
Similar to beans, lentils are packed with protein. In fact, a single cup can contain as much as 18 g of protein for just over 200 calories.
Not only does this significant amount of protein help you build lean muscle mass to give you a slimmer, more toned appearance, but it will also help you cut calories.
I like to eat lentils as a cold salad mixed with quinoa, pomegranate seeds, and green onions.
15. Kidney beans
You could argue that all beans are superfoods, but I’ve found that black beans, kidney, and white beans are the best ones for weight loss.
Kidney beans, in particular, are popular among vegetarians as a hearty meat substitute. Thanks to their iron, protein, potassium, and magnesium content, you’ll be satisfied and protected from high cholesterol.
My favorite way to eat kidney beans is in a vegetarian chilli. I’ll set up a crockpot with some tomatoes, corn, peppers, black beans, and onions and let it simmer for about two hours on high.
16. White beans
White beans have been dubbed the ‘weight loss bean’ and it’s no surprise since there’s research to back it up.
According to one study, 25 participants were given either a placebo or 1000 mg of white bean extract twice a day over the course of four weeks. The participants given the white bean extract lost an average of two pounds more than the placebo group.
If you’re unsure of how to use white beans, I recommend adding them to a simple chicken noodle soup that has some fresh carrots and onions in it.
You could also use white beans to top off a tasty kale salad.
No superfood list would be complete without including kale. But what makes kale so super?
One measure, the oxygen radical absorbance capacity, takes biological samples of food and examines the amount of antioxidants in them and their ability to fight off free radicals. This test rates kale as having one of the highest amounts of antioxidants.
These antioxidants can help you fight off certain cancers, but what about using kale for weight loss?
How does kale help you shed pounds?
One cup of kale is only about 33 calories, yet it’s packed with nutrients to keep you feeling full and satisfied. This helps you whittle down the amount of calories you consume each day without sacrificing essential vitamins and minerals, making it a perfect weight loss superfood.
I like to add kale to my smoothies or substitute it for watered down lettuces like iceberg. I even like to pair it with my next favorite superfood, spinach.
Spinach has recently taken a backseat as a result of the kale craze, but it shouldn’t be overlooked in your diet, especially if weight loss is your goal.
According to Prevention, 3 cups of raw spinach deliver 2.9g of protein for a mere 23 calories.
Although the protein content is pretty high for such a low calorie count, I’m afraid that kale has spinach beat here. The article in Prevention points out that for half that amount (1.5 cups) of kale, you’ll actually get 3.3g of protein. This is a major reason why kale has blown up in popularity.
However, spinach makes up for this protein difference in another way.
According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, participants who consumed a spinach extract, which contains powerful thylakoids, showed a boost in weight loss by about 43%.
Thylakoids are responsible for helping us feel satisfied and suppresses cravings for unhealthy foods. In fact, that study also showed that food cravings reported by the 38 overweight female participants dropped by 95%.
Although I find it easy to add spinach to salads and smoothies, it’s actually a bit healthier when it’s cooked. The cooking process helps our bodies absorb the essential nutrients like iron, magnesium, and calcium.
Plus, you can’t beat the simple fact that when sauteed, spinach reduces drastically in size, making it much easier to consume a healthy serving of veggies without having to chew on salad for 20 minutes.
Nuts & seeds
We talked about how almonds can help boost testosterone levels in this article, but they’re also ideal for weight loss.
These powerful nuts tide you over between meals and can be added to salads and oatmeal for a boost of omega-3s, fiber, and protein. Almonds also help curb the urge to overeat.
Keep a handful of almonds in your purse or at your desk and reach for them anytime a junk food craving strikes. It only takes a small amount to be satisfied. I prefer the roasted unsalted almonds.
20. Almond butter
If you like almonds then you can’t go wrong with almond butter. As I mentioned earlier, it’s perfect on bananas and apples or even on a slice of whole wheat toast.
I choose almond over peanut butter any day. Almond butter offers more vitamins and minerals compared to the old school peanut butter option. Plus, you have to be careful because many peanut butters are overly processed, almond butters aren’t.
21. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are one of my favorite must-have staples in the house. These tiny black seeds are awesome.
When consumed, chia seeds expand and create a jelly-like substance in your stomach, which leaves you feeling full. They also digest slowly so you have long-lasting consistent energy rather than high spikes that leave you sluggish on the comedown.
I add chia seeds to my smoothies and salads as well as sprinkle them over anything involving almond butter. I even like to submerge a spoonful in water, let it sit for a few minutes while the seeds expand, and then drink it as a mid-day energy booster or pre-workout mix.
22. Flax seeds
Flax seeds help prevent you from overeating and give you that satisfied ‘I’m full’ feeling.
In order to get the most benefit out of your flax seeds, grind them up yourself or purchase them already ground.
The easiest way to eat flax seeds is by mixing them into smoothies.
23. Pine nuts
Pine nuts are often overlooked in supermarkets, but they pack appetite suppressing goodness, which shouldn’t be avoided.
According to Mercola, a key fatty acid found in pine nuts releases high amounts of cholecystokinin, an appetite suppressing hormone.
Plus, the healthy mix of protein, iron, and monounsaturated fat also gives you a boost of energy.
I love to sprinkle pine nuts over salads or add them to soups and they taste great slightly pan roasted.
Pistachios work their weight loss magic in two ways. First, having to de-shell each pistachio helps slow your eating down. It also makes you less likely to overeat since un-shelling eventually becomes a chore.
Next, LiveStrong points out that: “[A] diet rich in nuts is actually linked to a leaner body composition and healthier body weight”.
To avoid eating too many, you’ll want to set aside a portion instead of consuming them directly from the bag.
The next four starches have a few things in common:
- They’re complex carbohydrates
- They digest slowly
- They help keep you full
- They provide sustained energy
We talked about some of oatmeal’s health benefits in this article and if you haven’t been convinced to eat it by now, I urge you to give oatmeal another chance. Oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast; it makes a great snack between meals.
I know that may not sound tasty at first, but trust me, you’ll get used to it in no time. Especially if you know that you’ll be less tempted to eat a huge meal or snacks before bedtime. It’s a great little weight loss trick.
If you haven’t been acquainted with barley, let me introduce you to this superfood.
Barley loves to control blood sugar spikes, just like bananas and goji berries.
Basically, the less your blood sugar spikes, the better your body feels. That’s because rapid fluctuations in blood sugar can make you feel hungry, tired, and moody.
Barley can be cooked like quinoa and used as a base with a variety of delicious toppings. From risotto to fiesta salads, barley and quinoa are as versatile as it gets.
I have to admit I was a bit late to the quinoa game, but I’m certainly making up for lost time.
Similar to brown rice, quinoa is a low-calorie option filled with both protein and fiber so you’ll feel full in fewer calories.
I usually make quinoa for dinner, but I’ve also found that it makes a great substitute for oatmeal in the morning. You can sprinkle in some cinnamon, almonds, and fresh berries for a hearty breakfast.
Salmon and sardines are my top two types of fish to recommend if weight loss is your goal.
According to SFGate: “A 3oz serving of wild Alaskan salmon has 155 calories, 22 grams of protein and 7 grams of fat”, making it the perfect choice for a healthy dinner.
With that high protein content you won’t be tempted to snack after dinner.
However, these days you should only trust wild caught salmon since farm-raised salmon has been known to create some health concerns.
For such tiny fish, sardines pack a whole host of nutritional benefits. With sardines you’ll get 7 grams of protein for a mere 59 calories. Plus, you’ll also enjoy a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids.
My favorite way to eat sardines is from a recipe I found in Chow. All you have to do is combine smoked sardines with cottage cheese, greek yogurt, and the juice of one lemon to make a delicious pate. This is equivalent to a smoked fish dip without having the added calories of the mayo.
30. Avocado oil
I praised avocado oil in this article, but I’m also a huge fan of using this superfood to aid in weight loss.
Earlier in this post I mentioned the benefits of avocados and they carry over when you use avocado oil too. By using it as a salad dressing, you’ll be feeling more satisfied with your salad of choice.
As a tip, I generally skip the avocados if I’m using the oil.
Similar to chiles, cinnamon provides a great boost.
According to Ideal Bite, cinnamon can:
- Control insulin levels
- Speed up metabolism
- Decrease blood sugar spikes
- Help burn belly fat
- Suppress appetite
- Lower cholesterol levels
That’s why I try to sneak in cinnamon wherever I can. I like to add it to oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, and even chilli. It provides the perfect amount of flavor and just enough of a healthy kick.
If you made it this far, you’re probably overwhelmed with the amount of superfoods to choose from. My hope is that this list doesn’t scare you off and instead provides a ton of options to suit your needs.
When it comes to eating healthy and losing weight, variety is key; you don’t need to go out and buy every item on this list. Instead, you can mix and match items and use a different combination each week.
How many super foods from my list can you combine in one recipe?