What are superfoods?
Often, the term “superfood” is used as a marketing strategy to promote products like health powders, shakes, and exotic, overpriced new food items. There are no clear definitions for “superfood” from a scientific source. There are no guidelines on what superfoods are and what effects they need to have on your health in order to qualify as a superfood.
Since there is no clear definition, the term superfoods often refers to plant based foods that are nutrient packed or are shown to have significant health benefits.
Today, I would like to share 10 superfoods that are actually proven by science to reduce weight, boost fat loss, and have great health benefits. As an added bonus, these foods are all budget friendly and easy to purchase.
Misconceptions and myths about superfoods
Superfoods to boost health and weight loss
Superfoods can support weight loss, health, and energy levels, but they are not a necessity for those purposes. Either way, a balanced diet filled with simple fruits and vegetables will have the same benefits and help you lose weight naturally.
Superfoods are expensive
There are superfood powders and other superfoods out there that are expensive. But you don’t have to buy this in order to enjoy the benefits of a superfood. Goji berries are a high priced super food but really are not necessary for a healthy diet. Goji berries are high in selenium and vitamins A and C, so if you are deficient in either you can think about trying them. But in reality, a balanced diet should give you all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
The superfood list below focuses on superfoods for weight loss that are also budget friendly. The key is to incorporate a variety of the foods below in your daily diet.
Superfoods and metabolism
You can find many articles pointing out that certain superfoods will boost your metabolism. Often these claims don’t come with a source that proves this statement.
However, when it comes to metabolism it is proven that a vegetarian diet (that is in fact higher in carbohydrates) was associated with up to 60% higher metabolic rate than a “normal” diet (source). Vegetarians and vegans also have an 11% higher resting metabolic rate (higher metabolism when sleeping) than non-vegetarians (source).
As a conclusion, I would suggest choosing a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains to boost your metabolism instead of focusing on any single superfood. Use the list below to create a well rounded superfood-filled diet.
Top 10 Superfoods For Weight Loss
A foolproof way to lose weight is to transform your thinking and eating habits into a new lifestyle. Learning about new foods, their health benefits, and proven weight loss boosting properties will motivate you to try new recipes and eat healthier.
In a 12-week study of individuals consuming 2g of ginger a day, data showed “ginger consumption significantly decreased BMI” (source). Besides the weight loss effects, ginger is also known to decrease inflammation in your body and improve liver function (source). Not sure how to include ginger in your diet? Try this sweet potato ginger soup.
1 medium grapefruit contains 100 calories and covers 126% of your daily need for vitamin A, 106% for vitamin C, and 7% for magnesium, calcium, and potassium. It even contains 2g of protein!
Grapefruits make a great weight loss superfood. In a study of 91 obese patients, those consuming grapefruit lost 1.6 kg compared to those not consuming grapefruit who only lost 0.3 kg. It’s worth mentioning that they were eating one half fresh grapefruit 3 times a day before a meal. So make sure to pack your grapefruit snacks for the day.
#3 Leafy Greens
Dark green leafy vegetables are the healthiest foods and offer the most nutrients per calorie. You can use them everyday in a smoothie or salad.
As this study shows, green leafy vegetable intake showed the strongest protection against major chronic disease and cardiovascular disease.
In another study they found that consuming spinach (rich in thylakoid) extract reduced hunger for over 2 hours compared to the placebo group (source), increased satiety by 14%, reduced cravings for all snacks and sweets during the day by 36%, as well as cravings for salty snacks by 30% (source).
Spinach is a powerhouse for health and weight loss. The best way to eat 2 cups of spinach per day is by making a daily green smoothie!
Tip: Blending your spinach will actually help your body absorb more nutrients.
In China they tested 445 individuals with 298 overweight patients and divided them into a “usual care group”, “healthy diet group”, “50g oats a day group”, and “100g oats a day group”.
While the last three groups all reduced weight within 30 days and 1 year, “the 100g oats group had a significantly greater decrease in weight than the healthy diet group.” (source) This study also pointed out that consumption of oats improved blood glucose levels of type 2 diabetes patients.
#5 Turmeric (Curcumin)
“Curcumin administration increased weight loss from 1.88 to 4.91%, enhanced percentage reduction of body fat (from 0.70 to 8.43%), increased waistline reduction (from 2.36 to 4.14%), improved hip circumference reduction from 0.74 to 2.51% and enhanced reduction of BMI (from 2.10 to 6.43%) (p < 0.01 for all comparisons).” (source)
Furthermore, curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties and is a great antioxidant. “Research suggests that curcumin can help in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, anxiety, and hyperlipidemia. It may also help in the management of exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness” (source).
Flaxseed is high in omega 3 fatty acid and fiber and plays a pretty significant role in lowering blood pressure (source). There is a seven point drop in blood pressure from consuming 1 tablespoon flaxseed a day (source). That means 46% less stroke risk and 29% less heart disease risk. Flaxseed prevents cardiovascular disease in general (source).
Omega-3 (ALA) supplementation has been shown to decrease food intake (source) and boost small but significant weight loss (source). With this evidence and all the other health benefits of flaxseed it is recommended to eat 1 tablespoon per day. You can add it to a smoothie or a bowl of oats.
“Several studies have demonstrated that the consumption of lentil is immensely connected to the reduction in the incidence of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cancers and cardiovascular diseases due to its bioactive compounds.” (source)
Lentils are a great source of lean protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. They will fill you up and keep you full and satisfied for a long time. One cup of lentils (cooked) contains 230 calories, 18g of protein, 40g carbs, 11g fiber, and it covers 90% DV of folate, 37% iron, 23% zinc and magnesium.
(Hot) tea drinkers have a lower BMI than non-tea drinkers, but we are talking about hot tea without anything added. Iced-tea drinkers actually show a higher BMI (source). Oolong teaspecifically was shown to improve fat metabolism and prevention against obesity (source).
Green tea also comes with other health benefits like anti-cancer and anti-fungal properties while increasing your chance of a longer life span.
In this study they compared nine tree nuts and found that walnuts might be the healthiest: Walnuts had the highest amount of antioxidants and vitamin C.
Another study shows that the consumption of unsaturated fatty acids found in nuts “is associated with improved lipid profiles, a lower potency of intermediate biomarkers of atherosclerosis and lesser incidence of cardiovascular diseases” while walnuts are especially rich in these unsaturated fatty acids.
In a weight loss study, participants were consuming a normal diet, a diet based on dietary advice, and the same dietary advice plus 30g of walnuts per day. The walnut group had the greatest weight loss results (source).
#10 Apple Cider Vinegar
In this study, 2 tablespoons of vinegar per day reduced weight by about 5 pounds within 12 weeks and waist circumference reduced as well. This might not sound like a lot, but if you add this superfood to your diet you have found an easy way to drop some extra pounds over time without much effort.