Those hoping to slim down know that exercise can help, but a proper diet is also vital to maintaining a healthy body weight. “The way we eat can help or hinder our weight loss journey,” says nutritionist Diane May. “There are certain foods that assist in not only losing, but maintaining, a healthy weight.”
“The expression, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is accurate,” says May. “Loaded with fiber and Vitamin C, apples can reduce the risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer.” According to May, apples contain pectin, a soluble fiber that helps to naturally pull LDL cholesterol out of the body. “There are 4.4 grams of fiber found in an apple,” she adds. “Fiber helps to keep us full and gives a greater sense of satisfaction.”
2. Greek Yogurt
“Strained of whey, Greek yogurt is thicker and has more protein than regular yogurt,” explains May. “Protein helps to keep us satisfied and helps repair muscle, while probiotics found in yogurt have been shown to assist with weight loss.” May also notes that the calcium in yogurt encourages fat cells to release less cortisol, a negative hormone that produces glucose, which in turn leads to elevated blood sugar levels. “Low fat dairy can reduce blood pressure and support the immune system,” says May. “Look for Greek yogurt that has between 100-150 calories, at least 10 grams of protein and no more than 20 grams of sugar per serving.”
“Protein, monounsaturated fat, fiber, and antioxidants make almonds a healthy addition to any diet,” says May. “Studies have shown that those who consume almonds have better weight loss results and that almonds can also reduce blood pressure. May warns that, like all nuts, almonds are high in calories; so people should pay attention to serving sizes.
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4. Cruciferous Vegetables
“Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, arugula, and cabbage are just some of the vegetables found in the cruciferous family,” explains May. “These vegetables are super high in fiber and very low calorie per serving. Eating high fiber foods that are low in calories not only helps us feel full longer, it helps us lower our overall caloric intake.” May says that these super greens also have a high water content, which helps keep the body hydrated and can reduce oxidative stress. “One of the phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables, sulforaphane can help reduce the risk of cancer,” adds May.
“High in fiber, protein, and nutrients, beans should be a part of everyone’s diet,” says May. “Heart healthy and low in fat, they can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, hypertension, as well as control blood glucose.” May adds that consuming beans has been shown to reduce our risk of developing metabolic syndrome, and can contribute to weight loss. “The protein and fiber helps to keep us satisfied and eat less,” she says. May warns that beans are heavy in carbohydrates and can thus contribute to weight gain. She recommends subbing out one ounce of meat for 1/4 cup of beans.