What are the best foods for healthy weight loss?Posted by Anne Baker on Jul 18, 2012 in Food & health, Weight | 4 comments
My criteria for naturally healthy, weight loss foods:
First it has to come from the good green earth! This means it is grown/raised with out chemicals in either the soil or in the food it eats. I am talking about whole foods like fruits, vegetables nuts and seeds, and beans and legumes and naturally raised animal proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits. These are the building blocks of life and the foundation of true health.
In order to enhance both weight loss and better health a food must be nutrient dense. This means it needs to have a high amount of micro nutrients (vitamins & minerals) and macro nutrients (fats, proteins or carbohydrates). It needs to provide the body with a good profile of both vitamins and minerals and ideally either protein, fat, or carbohydrates. The really great foods provide multiple nutritional benefits and thus are “nutrient dense”.
And finally, since good digestion is a result of a well fed GUT I include foods that help establish and maintain proper digestion. If you have poor digestion your holding on to excess weight!
No grains – no gain!
You might be wondering why I left out grains. Grains are one of those foods that put weight on most of us. Grains are actually a type of carbohydrates (like fruits and vegetables), however the kind most Americans eat are highly processed and contain gluten which is highly inflammatory and is linked to many chronic health disorders. The better ones are the gluten-free grains. These have a decent protein profile and are less inflammatory. I try to steer people away from inflammation promoting foods as these contribute to allergic reactions/ food sensitivities; disease; pain and swelling and promote weight gain. Remember strictly limiting grains helps you lose weight. Plus grains are not necessary for a healthy diet – think Paleo!
Weight loss and health go hand in hand.
You cannot lose weight until your body is healthy and in balance.
Best nutrient dense foods for weight loss:
Almonds -rich in antioxidants, vitamin E and magnesium. Adding almonds to your diet effectively lowers not only LDL cholesterol levels but also C-reactive protein levels, a key marker of inflammation. While nuts are high in fat, they contain healthy fats and fats help you feel fuller longer. Studies have shown that eating nuts can lower the risk of developing gallstones by 25 percent. Almonds have also been shown to help prevent dementia; advanced macular degeneration, and stroke. Like all nuts, raw are best and they should be soaked to release phytats and to be made more digestible.
Apples – high in fiber apples fill you up without adding many calories. Apples are loaded with antioxidants. These include: quercetin, epicatechin and procyanidin B2. Apples are also a very good source of fiber and vitamin C. The pectin and quercetin in apples is especially soothing to the digestive tract and these have wonderful healing properties. This makes apples a good choice for people who have digestion issues. One study found that women who ate three apples each day lost more weight while dieting than the women who did not eat fruit while dieting.
Asparagus – is considered a natural diuretic and is low in calories. Asparagus is high in folic acid and vitamin C. Asparagus contains the chemical asparagine. This is an alkaloid that stimulates the kidneys and improves the circulatory process. These alkaloids directly affect the cells and break down fat. Asparagus also contains a chemical that helps to remove waste from the body by breaking up the oxalic acid, this acid tends to glue fat to cells, so by breaking the acid up, it helps to reduce fat levels.
Avocado – a rich source of L-carnitine and L-carnitine helps you metabolize fat better and burn more of it. Although high in fat this is a healthy fat that actually helps improve triglycerides. Because it’s high in L-carnitine it helps lower cholesterol, a hormone that stores abdominal fat, which means it may even shrink belly fat. Avocado’s are the richest fruit in beta carotene, vitamin E, vitamin B and protein. Due to their high vitamin B (pantothenic acid) content they are a natural anti-depressant.
Beans – beans (and legumes) are high in fiber which means they take longer to digest and hence help you feel fuller longer. High fiber also helps you maintain healthy cholesterol levels. The soluble fiber in beans dissolves in water, trapping bile acids in its gummy goo. Beans also provide substantial insoluble fiber, which helps combat constipation, colon cancer, and other conditions that affect your digestive tract. Beans should be soaked before cooking to release phytic acid and make them more digestible and less gas-producing.
Chia seeds - Yes these are the same seeds that grow the chia pet! Chia provides a complete protein source and are high in B vitamins and Omega 3 fatty acids. These seeds are unique in that they absorb liquid and become gelatinous. This means they increase feelings of fullness and help digestion by acting as a scrub brush for your intestinal tract. Excellent to help increase bowl movements and help detoxify the body too. Safe for those with diverticulitis too!
Eggs - starting your day with eggs is a good way to ensure you’re getting a high quality protein source. Since protein intake early in the day helps stabilize blood sugar eating eggs helps you avoid the crash associated with eating a high carbohydrate no or low protein breakfast. This helps you curb hunger all day long.
Flax seeds & oil – The Omega 3 fatty acids in flax-seed are essential nutrients. Your body actually seeks out these essential nutrients in the foods you eat. When it can’t find them, it detects a nutritional deficiency. The result is you continue to crave unhealthy fats and sweets. Flax seeds help increase your body’s metabolic rate allowing you to burn excess fats through thermogenesis; a process in which specialized fat cells throughout the body (called brown fat) click into high gear and burn more fat when activated by essential fatty acids, especially gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Eating flax-seed oil with food helps you absorb nutrients better and helps keep hormones in balance. Never cook with flax-seed oil and keep refrigerated. Try my salad dressing recipe!
Fish – loaded with DHA fatty acid, minerals and a good source of protein eat fish several times a week. Wild caught, while more pricey has been shown to have a higher DHA content and is free from antibiotics. Because wild caught fish and seafood is naturally high in DHA this means it is a better choice than commercially raised fish. This is because fish and sea food who are fed an unnatural diet of corn and soy are eating grains that are high in Omega 6′s and these are more inflammatory grains. Commercially raised fish are kept in confined spaces and their water can become unclean raising concern of contamination.
Fermented dairy and other foods – foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, sprouted seeds and nuts or other naturally fermented vegetables contain enzymes that help us digest our food. Be sure to make or buy naturally fermented versions of these. An excellent website on how to make your own naturally sauerkraut and other fermented foods can be found here:Wild Fermentation
Ginger root- fresh ginger root helps increase metabolism and can restrict fat accumulation in your body. Ginger increases the PH value of stomach acids, this in turn reduces the rate of gastric secretions and accelerates enzyme activity necessary for digestion. Many find drinking ginger root tea helps increase weight loss and eases digestive discomfort. To make a tea cut a 1″ piece of fresh ginger root and pour boiling water over it . Allow to steep and drink.
Green tea – One of the most important aspects of green tea is its high Polyphenol content. The Polyphenol content in green tea has antioxidant effects that are said to be greater than that of vitamin Cs. Green tea also contains alkaloids such as caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline, which gives green tea its stimulant effects and boosts metabolism and may help burn fat. The primary mechanism of action of green tea is the catechins in green tea stimulate thermogenesis and fat oxidation by inhibition of catechol O-methyl-transferase (COMT). Catechol O-methyl-transferase (COMT) is an enzyme that degrades norepinephrine (NE), a stress hormone that releases stored energy from fat. Green tea extract has been shown to increase sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity acutely.
Green leafy vegetables – favorites include swiss chard, kale, spinach, radicchio and all cabbages and leaf lettuces. Eat one to two servings a day to get your daily dose of vitamins, minerals and remember greens also provide good roughage to help move digested food through as it cleans your GI tract. helps in improving cardiovascular health. Ginger also elevates the levels of high density Lipoproteins and lowers the risks of stroke and heart attack by improving the blood circulation.
Herbs – fresh oregano, rosemary, dill, thyme, parsley all contain minerals and help the digestive process. Oregano is also a natural anti-fungal herb which means it help discourage yeast overgrowth. Herbs are virtually zero calories and loaded with flavor. Use in salads, salad dressings marinades and light stock or tomato based sauces.
Olive Oil – since cooking destroys the health giving properties I suggest using raw extra virgin oil in salad dressings and as a finish to vegetables and grilled meat. This preservers the high phenols in the oil and ensures your body gets all it’s healthful goodness. High quality olive oil should include an expiration date on the bottle.
Basic Flax Oil & Vinegar Dressing (2 servings)
1- 2 tablespoons flax-seed oil (lemon infused is especially good)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon unfiltered apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon raw honey or a few drops of stevia
Pinch sea salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Put vinegar into bottom of small mixing bowl and add honey. Blend with a whisk. Add oils and seasonings and whisk all ingredients together.
- Substitute fresh lemon juice for the vinegar or use brown rice vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar.
- Use berry infused flax seed oil in place of the lemon infused oil
Add ¼ teaspoon of Dijon mustard
Add ½ teaspoon of raspberry, peach or any all fruit spread you like.
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