20 Superfoods for Weight Loss

Blast fat and drop pounds by loading your plate with these foods

October 4, 2012
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We have yet to discover a food that melts all the unwanted fat from our bodies—we suspect it's hidden somewhere near the fountain of youth. But packing your plate with ultra-healthy foods may help you whittle your waistline over time.

More: 50 Foods You Should Never Eat

"I think of these as foods that do double-duty--they give you great nutrition, and they also help you out in the weight loss department," says Marisa Moore, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Load up on these superfoods and watch the pounds peel off:

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1. Milk

Milk really does do a body good, according to research published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The 2010 study found that adults who drank about 12 ounces of milk (or 580 mg of calcium) for at least six months lost about 12 pounds at the end of two years, whereas people who consumed only 150 mg of dairy calcium dropped just 7 pounds. Researchers suspect that vitamin D and calcium are what make milk slimming. If milk's not in your diet, consider any of these milk alternatives to reap the same calcium benefits. 

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2. Watermelon

Watermelon contains an amino acid called arginine, which may boost weight loss, according to a 2011 study in the Journal of Nutrition. The scientists found that mice that consumed foods rich in arginine for three months lowered their body fat gains by 64 percent. Watermelon's high water content may also help you feel full for longer, says Ruth Frechman, RD, author of The Food is My Friend Diet.

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3. Eggs

Scramble some eggs in the morning, and you could be looking at a smaller pants size over time, keeping in mind that choosing the best and healthiest eggs is just as important. People who started their day with eggs felt fuller for longer afterward, according to research conducted at Louisiana State University.

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4. Green Tea

Torch calories by sipping this zero-calorie beverage. In a Penn State University study, obese mice that were fed EGCG, a compound found in green tea, along with a high-fat diet gained weight more slowly than mice that did not receive the green tea supplement.

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5. Greek Yogurt

It wouldn't be a superfood list without Greek yogurt. This nutritional powerhouse comes loaded with satiating protein, as well as fat-fighting calcium. "It's a tasty, but really healthy way of getting calories because it's packed with protein, Frechman says. "You're getting more bang for your buck compared to regular yogurts." Just be sure to choose a plain, low-fat variety.

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6. Air-Popped Popcorn

Snacking can be the death of a weight loss plan, unless you opt for this crunchy and satisfying treat. You can indulge in three whole cups for under 100 calories, while squeezing in a healthy dose of fiber, which will help you feel full. Popcorn also contains a high concentration of health-enhancing antioxidants, according to a University of Scranton Study. Just make sure to skip the microwaveable popcorn, and opt for air-popped instead.

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7. Lentils

If you want to walk away from a meal feeling satisfied, load your plate with lentils. A cup carries an eye-popping 16 g of fiber and 18 g of protein.

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8. Water

Good old H2O has zero calories, and tricking yourself into drinking lots of it may help curb your appetite. In one American Chemical Society study, dieters who guzzled two cups of H2O three times a day before meals over 12 weeks dropped 5 pounds more than subjects who didn't increase their water intake.

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9. Raspberries

One cup of raspberries packs 8 g of fiber for just 65 calories. "They're a great nutritional bargain," Moore says. They're also perfect for sweetening oatmeal, yogurt, or water naturally.

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10. Black beans

A cup of black beans contains a belly-filling 15 g of protein and 15 g of fiber (about half of your daily fiber needs). "Fiber plus protein spells satisfaction," Moore says.

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11. Edamame

Soybean pods give you 5 g of fiber and 10 g of protein per cup--and only 120 calories, making them one of the best high-protein power snacks. "The protein and fiber in edamame keeps you feeling full, and since they're in pods, it slows down eating, Moore says. "You'll fill up before you go for something else."

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12. Pistachios

Like edamame, you have to shell pistachios before you eat them, which keeps you from speeding through your snack and overdoing it. Plus, a UCLA study found that dieters who ate 240 calories worth of pistachios every afternoon over 12 weeks were more likely to reach their weight loss goals than those who munched on 220 calories of unsalted pretzels.

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13. Pears

The fruit's 5 g of fiber should keep your stomach from rumbling, and pears--as well as apples and other white-fleshed fruits--may reduce your risk of having a stroke, Moore says.

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14. Coffee

Java-lovers, rejoice--your morning cup of joe may jolt your metabolism. Drinking two cups of black, caffeinated coffee can boost your metabolism by up to 16 percent, according to a study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior.

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15. Tart Cherries

These ruby reds posses an antioxidant called anthocyanins that may reduce belly fat, according to research from the University of Michigan. Bonus: Cherries fight inflammation, may prevent post-exercise muscles soreness, and ease arthritis-related pain.

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16. Blueberries

Blueberries (and therefore, blueberry pancakes) contain more antioxidants than any other fruit, and research also shows that, like cherries, they possess fat-cell fighting antioxidants.  Fill up on these little guys and you could also be looking at a healthier heart and a reduced risk for type 2 diabetes.
 

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17. Grapefruit

Remember the '80s, when the grapefruit diet reigned supreme? It turns out there was something to that fad. Dieters who ate a half a grapefruit before every meal over 12 weeks lost an average of 3.6 pounds--more than dieters who did not pre-game with grapefruit, according to research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, and the tart fruit has even been proven to calm acne flare ups

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18. Oatmeal

You're not mistaken if you think a bowl of oatmeal satisfies you more than a bowl of Cornflakes, says Frechman. The 4 g of fiber, paired with a surprising 6 g of protein, in every cup of cooked oatmeal helps you feel full. The complex carbs will also give you plenty of energy to burn calories later in the day.

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19. Salmon

This superstar seafood is jam-packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which may boost your body's metabolism and help you burn more fat. Of course, these friendly fats may also improve your heart health, reduce depression, and prevent arthritis.

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20. Quinoa

Loaded with protein and fiber (8g and 5g per cup, respectively), this South American grain will quiet your hunger, so check out these 20 new ways to eat quinoa. It's also relatively low in carbs, which makes it a blood-sugar-friendly food.

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