7 Superfoods for Weight Loss
The superfoods in this article not only have weight loss attributes but supreme health benefits that make them ideal members in any healthy weight loss regime.
The active ingredient in chilli called capsaicin is a thermogenic agent which helps to increase metabolism and the burning of calories and fat. This is why capsaicin is found in many natural weight loss formulas.
Capsaicin is also believed to be an appetite suppressant. Two studies led by the same Japanese researcher (Yoshioka et al., British Journal of Nutrition; 1998, 1999), revealed the ability of cayenne to increase the metabolism of dietary fats in women as well as demonstrate modest reductions in appetite.
In addition to weight loss properties, capsaicin has been shown to relieve pain, sinusitis, psoriasis, migraines and arthritis, improve circulation and stomach conditions and inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Bee Pollen, around 40% protein with a staggering composition of nutrients, enzymes and phytochemicals, is a virtually complete food. As well as a plethora of health benefits, it is said to stimulate the metabolism, speeding up the burning of calories, and its high content of lecithin can help to flush fat from the body.
Bee pollen also functions as an appetite suppressant, containing the amino acid phenylalanine that is known to effect the area of the brain that deals with feelings of hunger and fullness. Unlike the chemical manmade derivative of phenylalanin called phenylpropanolamine used in commercial weight-loss products, phenylalanin is not addictive and has no negative side effects. Bee pollen also satiates the appetite and eliminates cravings because it is so nutrient-dense.
Dr. Weston A Price, the Darwin of nutrition writes, ‘Replacing the fats you now eat with coconut oil may be the wisest decision you can make to lose excess body fat…You can lose unwanted body fat by eating more saturated fat (in the form of coconut oil) and less polyunsaturated fat (processed vegetable oils). One of the remarkable things about coconut oil is that it can help you lose weight. Yes, there is a dietary fat that can actually help you take off unwanted pounds. Coconut oil can quite literally be called a low-fat fat.’
Coconut oil is unique from animal saturated fats in that it is comprised of medium chain fatty acids which are absorbed directly and used immediately for energy. Raymond Peat MD, author of Coconut Oil and Its Virtues, concludes, ‘The anti-obesity effect of coconut oil is clear in all of the animal studies, and in my friends who eat it regularly.’
Coconut oil has also been found to benefit a myriad of conditions from diabetes, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, digestive disorders, thyroid imbalances, and viral, bacterial and fungal infections.
Nettles contain serotonin, a mood enhancing neurotransmitter with a calming influence. Serotonin also plays a role in the feelings of satiation one experiences after eating, hence functions as an appetite suppressant. It is for this reason that serotonin supplements have been designed to tackle food cravings and aid slimming.
Studies have shown a direct link between obesity (due to overeating) and decreased brain levels of serotonin. This is no doubt one reason why nettles have a traditional reputation for improving weight-loss. The late naturalist and wild-food forager Euel Gibbons claims, ‘stinging nettle is very efficacious in removing unwanted pounds!’.
Nettles are incredible mineral dense and are cleansing and detoxifying for the body. They are also great for skin, hair and nails as they contain the beautifying mineral sulphur.
Cacao (aka pure chocolate), contains chemicals that increase levels of serotonin in the brain, and as such has appetite suppressing properties. Serotonin levels are raised in part due to the amino acid tryptophan in cacao as well as the action of monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibitors (MAO inhibitors). These decrease our body’s ability to break down serotonin so that more of this neurotransmitter remains in the brain remains, creating feelings of fullness for longer.
Cacao is also exceptionally high in antioxidants, has potent aphrodisiac properties, healthy minerals and mood-boosting compounds such as PEA the ‘love chemical’.
Pure, unrefined chocolate contains none of the detriments of commercial products such as sugar, hydrogenated fats, milk, additives, agro-chemicals and solvents.
A study published in the December 1999 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, led by Dr. Dullo at the University of Geneva, indicates that substances in green tea extract may actually promote weight loss. Men given a combination of both caffeine and green tea extract burned more fat calories than those given caffeine or placebo alone.
The scientists believed that the catechin flavonoids in green tea may alter the body’s use of norepinephrine, a chemical transmitter in the nervous system, to increase the rate of calorie burning. They concluded, ‘Green tea has thermogenic properties and promotes fat oxidation beyond that explained by its caffeine content per se’.
Green tea also lowers cholesterol, reduces the risk of stroke, protects against cancer, prevents teeth cavities and has anti-inflammatory action.
Omega 3 Fish Oil
Omega-3 oils serve numerous bodily processes and are particularly good for the immune system and heart as well as arthritis, skin conditions, pre-menstrual tension, mental function, improving memory and reducing depressive symptoms. Omega 3 oils also play a role in burning fats within the body and as such can aid weight-management.
This is due to its effects on insulin, reducing levels in the body. Insulin promotes the use of fat for storage and reduces the use of fat for fuel, hence lower insulin levels mean greater conversion of fat for energy rather than storage.
The best Omega-3 oil sources are oily fish like sardines, salmon and mackerel. Plant sources include flaxseeds (the richest plant source), walnuts, pumpkin seeds, green leafy vegetables, evening primrose oil, wheat germ and spirulina.
I would also recommend a primarily raw food diet (plant-based) and alkaline diet for healthy weight loss.