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Six Superfoods for Weight Loss and Health

Superfoods for weight loss and health

These six simple ingredients not only taste good, but are good for your health

I used the six superfoods shown here to make a very simple, but very luscious and low calorie dessert., Mocha Spice Strawberries. In this post, I want to describe some of the reasons why these six ingredients are superfoods. Some of them will help your weight loss, but they will also all have very beneficial effects on your health. 

1. Strawberries

Strawberries are chock full of vitamin C, which the body needs in order to make collagen (which forms the structural support for skin and other tissues). In olden days, sailors who had no sources of vitamin C during long voyages used to develop scurvy, because they could not produce enough collagen.

Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, and thus helps to protect against the effects of pollutants, development of cancer and the aging process. Other potent antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and ellagic acid, are also present in strawberries.

Like other fruit, they are a good source of fiber, as well as being low in calories. Fiber is important for keeping the digestive system healthy. It is very helpful for people trying to lose weight to have a high intake of fiber, because it makes us feel full and so decreases the urge to overeat.

A recent scientific study, published in April 2013 in the British Journal of Nutrition by scientists from the United States Department of Agriculture, reports that eating strawberries boosts the immune system of obese people, who are otherwise at higher risk of getting infections. A summary of this paper is available, although it is written in very technical language.

2. Yogurt

Yogurt is a good source of calcium, which is important in the prevention of osteoporosis, the risk of which is increased in women after the menopause . It is more digestible than milk itself, so some people with a very mild intolerance to milk are able to eat yogurt with no problem.

The bacteria present in live yogurt act as probiotics. This means they help to keep the right balance of bacteria in the intestines (intestinal flora). Eating yogurt helps to prevent digestive problems as well as helping to restore the intestinal flora after antibiotic treatment. It can also help recovery from diarrhea and other digestive disorders.

Consumption of yogurt and other dairy products is believed by a number of scientists to be helpful for people trying to lose weight, although the topic remains controversial. It is also interesting that an Australian study published in 2013 reported that:  “our data showed total dairy intake, yoghurt, and dairy protein were inversely associated with % body fat, and yoghurt and dairy protein were inversely associated with abdominal fat”. This means that people who eating yogurt and other dairy products have lower levels of body fat/. What is more, yogurt and milk protein seem to be particularly effective in decreasing belly fat. You can read the whole paper here.

Yogurt might also give you beautiful hair. Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have published an interesting paper with the title Probiotic Bacteria Induce a ‘Glow of Health‘ They found that mice fed probiotic yogurt had thicker, more lustrous fur than those who did not receive it. They imply that the same applies to humans.

3. Coffee

Coffee has had a lot of bad press in the past, but scientists are having to accept that it actually can do people a lot of good to drink coffee.

The stimulant properties of coffee mean that it speeds up metabolism to help burn more calories. Not only does it make us feel energetic, it actually improves athletic performance. Having a cup of coffee first will therefore help you get the most out of your exercise sessions and feel good while doing so. Incidentally, a study of hydration levels in athletes showed that there was no difference if they consumed beverages without caffeine or beverages containing caffeine. It seems that the supposedly dehydrating effects of coffee have been vastly exaggerated in the past.

Coffee contains a significant quantity of antioxidants, with all the general benefits this brings as described above in the section on strawberries. However, there is also an ever-increasing number of studies showing beneficial effects of coffee in preventing specific diseases.

Scientists have been very surprised by evidence suggesting that people who drink a lot of coffee are at much lower risk of developing type 2 (maturity-onset) diabetes.

Coffee drinkers have also been found to have higher protection from certain types of cancer. One of the best documented examples of this is the finding that women consuming more than four cups of coffee a day have 25% less chance of developing cancer of the uterus lining. A summary of  these findings in simple terms for non-scientists can be found by following this link.

4 + 5 Cinnamon and Honey

I’ve grouped these together because both have been found particularly effective in helping weight loss, keeping blood glucose levels in check and maintaining a healthy balance of lipids in the blood. Many people drink a mixture of both in hot water each day. Both help to lower insulin resistance, reverse some of the symptoms of metabolic syndrome (also known as syndrome X)  and thus help to combat some of the risks associated with obesity. I’ve described some of the research that has led scientists to these conclusions in detail in another post here.

In addition, honey and cinnamon both have antiseptic and antibacterial properties, so that they help to protect the body against infections.

6. Cocoa

Cocoa is yet another source of valuable antioxidants. One of its major constituents is theobromine. The name, incidentally, comes from the Greek and means “food of the gods”. As well as being found naturally in cocoa, it is formed in the body through the metabolism of caffeine.

Because it dilates blood vessels and increases urine excretion, theobromine has been used as a treatment for hypertension. It also helps to relieve the symptoms of asthma by dilating the bronchial tubes.

A number of cocoa polyphenols are thought to increase feelings of content, calmness and well-being, as demonstrated in a study by Australian researchers from Swinburne University of Technology, who published their finding in the Journal of  Psychopharmacology in May 2013. You can read about it in the university’s press release on the topic, although you probably are already quite aware of the feel-good factor provided by cocoa chocolate!

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