When you’re watching what you eat, focus on the foods that provide the most nutrition for the least calories. Just because you are eating less does not mean that you can’t get all the nutrition and satisfaction you need from your diet. There are 10 foods you should incorporate into your menu to get the best results.
Using safflower, olive or canola oils in your cooking, especially in place of butter or margarine, helps add beneficial MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids) into your diet. MUFAs are a “good” fat that helps lower your risk of heart disease and stroke by reducing bad cholesterol levels.
Apples and Pears
Apples contain pectin, which was found in a 2007 University of Georgia study to fight prostate cancer. Other health benefits of pectin are its effect on colon cancer cells, and its ability to lower cholesterol and glucose levels. Both apples and pears are excellent sources of fiber, which help you to feel full longer.
Berries are rich in antioxidants and fiber. They also are highly portable and easy to portion control, making them an ideal snack and a healthy way to satisfy sweet cravings.
Besides containing MUFAs, avocados are a great source of potassium, lutein, B vitamins and vitamin E. Their creamy taste and texture make them a great substitute for mayonnaise on sandwiches, and for sour cream in Mexican food and dips. Pairing avocados with foods that are high in antioxidants, like tomatoes or carrots, boosts the body’s ability to absorb the antioxidants.
For just 75 calories each, eggs provide high-quality protein and a wide variety of nutrients, including choline, which is essential to brain function. Their versatility makes them an option for any meal, such as a breakfast omelet, hard-boiled for a snack, or cut up in a lunch salad or a dinner frittata or low-fat quiche.
Besides offering a shot of flavor, the ingredient in peppers that gives them their heat, capsaicin, has been found to offer a mild boost to the metabolism.
Salmon is a terrific source of omega-3, an essential fatty acid our body needs but does not produce. It supports healthy brain function and reduces the risks of heart disease and stroke. Omega-3 has also been shown to be helpful in preventing risk factors for cancer and arthritis.
Nuts and Seeds
Peanuts have been shown to lower total cholesterol. Almonds help lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease, and contain B17, a nutrient being studied for its cancer-fighting properties. Walnuts improve artery function, particularly following a meal that’s high in fat. Pumpkin seeds aid in prostate health and improving male bone density.
Besides chocolate satisfying a sweet tooth, dark chocolate is packed full of antioxidants and the chemical serotonin, a natural anti-depressant, as well as feel-good endorphins. It relaxes blood vessels and can help to lower blood pressure. Just remember to keep the portion size small (1 oz. or less).
The complex carbohydrates help to regulate blood sugar levels to prevent peaks and crashes, which help you to avoid crankiness and binge eating. It is also a great source of fiber.