Functional Foods for Weight Loss
Nuts. Dairy. Tea. These are the big three for weight loss. Each of these functional foods (tea is the world’s second-most popular beverage, after water) have been studied for their effects on weight loss or weight maintenance. Each has been shown to enhance weight-loss, above and beyond the expected effects of a lower-calorie diet.
Take nuts. Plenty of interesting studies have concluded recently that a diet that includes sensible portions of tree nuts is more effective for weight loss than a diet that does not include these heart-healthy treats. Even though they tend to be relatively high in calories from fat, it’s becoming apparent that fats—especially fats from plants—play an important role in appetite
regulation. Nuts also provide dietary fiber and minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
Walnuts are a source of the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid, and pistachios are brimming with phytonutrient antioxidants. Some nuts provide up to one-fifth of the daily value for certain B-vitamins.
As I mentioned last week, dairy can be a healthy part of your day. If you’re lactose intolerant,
try yogurt or hard cheeses, such as parmesan, swiss, or aged cheddar. Research has shown repeatedly that weight loss diets that incorporate dairy are more successful than similar diets that do not. Calcium is believed to play a role in the way the body expends energy and stores it in the form of fat. Other components of milk, such as conjugated linoleum acid, may also influence metabolism favorably.
Tea also mildly encourages weight loss by nudging the metabolism towards burning fat for energy. Choose green tea, which is unoxidized, for best results. Black tea contains different compounds that may also be beneficial, but it does not contain significant amounts of EGCG, the antioxidant compound credited with many of green tea’s benefits. Even if it doesn’t promote meaningful weight loss, drinking green tea is linked to better cardiovascular health and a reduced risk of certain types of cancer.
St-Onge MP.Dietary fats, teas, dairy, and nuts: potential functional foods for weight control?Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1):7-15.