Pick up these superfoods as part of your weekly shop and start to feel healthy today!
Often overshadowed by its similarly anthocyanin-rich cousins, blueberries and strawberries, the humble plum has plenty to offer those of us wanting to slim down. Research by the University of Southern Queensland showed a specific variety, Queen Garnet, had impressive weightloss effects. In the study, obese rats were given plum juice and exercised for 30 minutes a day, and within eight weeks, had lost almost all their excess flab. The Queen Garnet has around five times the anthocyanin levels of other plums, making it particularly good at reducing oxidative stress in our bodies, which has been linked to obesity. And, of course, antioxidants have a multitude of health benefits, including fighting premature ageing, cancer and heart disease, so stock up on the purple fruits!
Brimming with iron, magnesium, phosphorous and fibre, this health food hero offers complete protein, which means it contains all eight essential amino acids. We need protein for regulating metabolism and hormone production, as well as repairing muscle tissues. Quinoa’s high protein and complex carb content make it excellent post workout fuel, plus it helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer than high-GI fodder, like white bread. What’s more, it’s gluten-free,hence a fabulous alternative to pasta and couscous. Quinoa is also antioxidant-rich and closely related to spinach, beets and chard.
There isn’t an entire diet dedicated to this leafy green powerhouse for nothing. Not only is the veg bursting with health benefits, it can fight flab too. “Watercress is a great source of vitamins K, C and A, which protect against degenerative damage, fight cancer and heal wounds,” explains nutritional adviser Jaelithe Leigh-Brown (mrsmojo.co.uk). “It’s also a great form of calcium, potassium and manganese, which assists metabolic activity, meaning your body is better at converting the fuel from the food you eat into energy, instead of storing it as fat.”.
4. Adzuki beans
Popular in Asian cooking, adzuki beans have a mildly sweet, nutty flavour and can inject some serious superfood power into both sweet and savoury dishes. “Along with being full of folate, potassium and magnesium, adzuki beans can assist with weightloss due to their high fibre and protein content, which boosts satiety so that you eat fewer calories throughout the day,” says Matthew Plowman (cardiffsportsnutrition.co.uk). Plus, they are low in cals so you can fill your boots! Use adzukis to bulk up casseroles, salads and stir-fries, and create healthier brownies by adding some blended beans into the mix.
Turn up the heat and crank up your calorie burn! “Capsaicin, the chemical that gives chillies their heat, has the potential to fight fat and curb appetite,” says Dr Michelle Storfer (thefoodeffect.co.uk). “In studies, capsaicin has been found to reduce cravings for salty, sweet and fatty foods, as well as increase energy expenditure. Chillies release heat in your body and increase heart rate – both help you burn slightly more calories.” The body-boosting benefits don’t end there: “Chillies are full of vitamins A, C and B6. Vitamin B6 helps your body use energy from protein and carbohydrates,” adds Jaelithe.
Coconut water is a top thirst-quencher during a good fitness session thanks to its natural electrolyte balance, while the oil boasts flab-fighting qualities, too. “Coconut oil is high in medium chain triglycerides, which are metabolised by your body a lot faster than other fats. This means they quickly become readily available to be used as energy rather than being stored as body fat,” explains Matthew. Nutrient-dense coconut flour is another way to incorporate the superfood into your diet
7. Chia Seeds
They may be small but these little beauties are titans in the health food stakes. Bursting with fibre, chia seeds can slow the absorption of carbs into our bloodstream, balance blood-sugar and curb cravings. A rich source of omega three fatty acids, protein, magnesium and calcium, they could even help you train harder for longer as a study from the University of Alabama revealed chia seeds were just as successful as sports drink Gatorade for carb loading pre-endurance running. Sprinkle them in your morning porridge or smoothie.
8. Green Tea
This brew is packed with antioxidants known as catechins, as well as B vitamins, folate, magnesium, potassium and caffeine. Catechins are said to ward off cancer and heart disease, and can even boost fat-burning. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition saw a significant reduction in weight loss in participants who drank green tea and exercised for three hours per week compared to those who did the same workout but drank water instead.
The veg’s high concentration of nitrate boosts blood vessels to not only lower blood pressure but also increase oxygen uptake during exercise, so it can actually help us exercise harder for longer. Plus, beetroot is a potent source of calcium, iron, potassium, fibre, folic acid, and vitamins A and C, among other disease-fighting antioxidants. Traditionally used for liver detoxing, beets can up the cleansing power of fresh juices. Don’t overlook the leaves – they can be eaten in salads or gently cooked, much like spinach.
This is the star of the superfood world – in fact avocado on toast was the most Instagrammed food photo of last year with everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow to MileyCyrus getting in on the action. The good news is we can believe the hype when it comes to the green goddess. Avocados are rich in vitamin E, potassium, niacin and iron. But, the major appeal is their high levels of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which have waistline-shrinking potential. A study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that a diet rich in monounsaturated fat can regulate fat distribution in our bodies and even ward off belly flab. What’s more, avo keeps you feeling full for longer than most other fruits and vegetables, reducing the temptation to nibble on naughty foods. Mash it, slice it, blend it, grill it… avocado
is wonderfully versatile too.