Few things say summer like freshly picked corn on the cob. And if you love carbs -- and have a tough time fighting off the urge to nosh them nonstop -- then this is the veggie for you. Each cob contains three grams of appetite-taming protein, plus 138 milligrams of phenylalanine -- an amino acid that quickly soaks into brain cells, where it dampens carb cravings for up to three hours. Corn is also one of nature’s top sources of lutein and zeaxanthin -- antioxidants that stall the growth of vision-robbing cataracts, say Yale researchers.
Also see: 15 Hidden Reasons You're Not Losing Weight
Sweet, juicy cherries contain just 87 calories per cup -- and if you enjoy them three times weekly in place of heavier desserts, you could shed up to five pounds this summer alone, say researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles. Bonus: Cherries are loaded with anthocyanins -- antioxidants that University of Nebraska researchers say can help kill cancer cells and lower your liver’s production of artery-clogging cholesterol by as much as 10 percent.
Who can resist a bowl of juicy red berries? Pop ’em freely, because they’re the perfect summer snack: filling, light on calories and laden with nutrients from omega 3 fats to cancer-fighting polyphenols. “Just half a cup of strawberries provides over 70 percent of your daily Vitamin C, plus fiber and an array of antioxidants,” says weight-loss coach Jackie Keller.
Recipe: Balsamic Strawberry Pops
Brimming with good stuff, blueberries improve circulation and fight free-radical damage to cells and tissues, says Keller. They’re super low-cal, yet so delectable—in color, texture and taste. Enjoy them on top of oatmeal, in whole-grain muffins, as a garnish for BBQ meats and even pureed into hamburger patties—they add incredible moistness and flavor!
Recipe: Blueberry Beef Burgers
"Whether eaten whole, dried or pureed into sauces, plums are low in calories and a good source of both dietary fibers and Vitamin C,” says Keller. Dried plums (also known as prunes) are the perfect grab-and-go healthy snack, and they make a rich, sweet dessert when stewed into compote. Plus, they can help suppress appetite thanks to their low glycemic load.
Oh, My Squash
From pattypan to zucchini, summer squash delivers major vitamins and nutrients (including magnesium, potassium and copper), to the tune of a mere 80 calories per half cup. With its bright colors and earthy flavor, squash makes the perfect side dish to any meal. On BBQ days, toss zucchini on the grill.
Recipe: Spicy Grilled Zucchini
Ring the Bell
Bell peppers, that is. “Sweet red peppers are such a good source of beta carotene, and top the charts of vegetables for that important antioxidant,” says Keller. “Green bell peppers also contain generous amounts of Vitamin C.” Peppers, like zucchini, grill up beautifully…for a rich, colorful side dish that fills you up on just a few calories.
Recipe: Stuffed Red Peppers
Mango for It
Dense with antioxidants—plus protein and omega 3 fats—mangoes are a delicious, low-calorie way to bulk up meals with exotic flavor, ensuring "healthy" fare doesn’t fall into a rut. Toss on top of oatmeal or yogurt, in salads and even in stir-fries.
Can't Beet 'Em
“One of the real gems found in beets is the B vitamin folate,” a key nutrient for women, says Keller. “Beets help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer.” Naturally sweet and agreeably buttery, beets can turn a salad into something special without adding lots of calories.
Recipe: Roasted Beet and Feta Salad
Why pass up dessert when the “stone fruits” of summer (think peaches and nectarines) can make for a guilt-free sweet treat? Tossed on the grill, peaches and nectarines get even more flavorful as the heat caramelizes their natural sugars. Top with low-fat ice cream, and you won’t feel one bit deprived.
Recipe: Fresh Basil, Watermelon and Peach Popsicles: Healthy Ways to Raid Your Herb Garden
If you’re looking for a slimming snack, watermelon can’t be beat. You’d have to eat six cups of the stuff to get the calories in just half a cup of Haagen-Daz vanilla ice cream! And watermelon’s no slouch in the beauty-boosting department, either. According to Tufts University researchers, it’s loaded with lycopene -- a plant compound that acts like an internal sunblock, upping your protection against damaging UV rays by as much as 46 percent, helping to prevent collagen damage and skin sagging.
Where the Buffalo Roam
No need to give up red meat when you’re grilling. Bison (or buffalo) burger is naturally lean, far lower in fat and calories than beef, chicken or pork. Plus, it’s a great source of iron and omega 3 fats. Try the patties open-faced with half a bun, and hold the cheese and mayo while piling on the mustard, relish and salsa.
“If Mother Nature had a vote for her ultimate superfruit, figs would be it,” says Dr. Paul Gross, author of Superfruits (McGraw Hill). And why not: they pack fiber, potassium, folate and vitamins for heart health into one incredibly sweet, low-cal fruit. And with 6,000 years of staying power, figs might have even kept Cleopatra trim. For a snack that sticks with you, try the black mission style—the seeds release even more nutrients, plus omega fats.
The superstars of the slimming fruits, blackberries contain just 62 calories per cup, they’re packed with six grams of appetite-taming fiber, plus they’re low in sugar, fat-free and packed with berry flavor! Even better, they’re a great source of manganese -- a tough-to-find mineral that helps muscle cells soak up and burn fats -- all-told, helping women shed up to 14 pounds per year, if they enjoy one cup daily, say University of Maryland researchers. Bonus: Tufts University research shows that blackberries contain 220 percent more cancer-fighting antioxidants than even broccoli!
According to USDA researchers, this melon is one of the most filling fruits you can find -- eating just half a cup squashes hunger pangs for two hours at a stretch. An added perk: Cantaloupe is packed with vitamin A -- a nutrient that a study in Environmental Nutrition says can help block the buildup of artery-clogging plaque, cutting your risk of heart disease as much as 33 percent.
These tasty fruits (which are sometimes sold under the name dinosaur eggs due to their odd coloring) are actually part plum and part apricot. And if a sweet tooth is killing your efforts to stick to a healthy diet, enjoying two of them daily could be your ticket to slim. Pluots have an intense, sweet flavor and delicate, fruity scent -- and when their distinctive taste and smell reach your brain’s olfactory nerve, they can shut down sugar cravings in as little as five minutes, says Dr. Hirsch.
This often-overlooked herb is packed with slimming potential. According to USDA researchers, each cup contains 984 micrograms of vitamin K -- a nutrient that prevents fluid retention and flushes out bloat, helping women shed three pounds of excess water weight if they serve it up daily. Use parsley to add a seasonal flare to salads, and add it to dressings, mayonnaise, omelettes, rice and potato dishes, soups, burgers and other main course meals to balance and brighten their natural flavors.
Add half a cup of green beans to your evening meal and you’ll feel full almost twice as quickly -- and stay full for three hours straight, say Stanford University researchers. Credit green beans’ appetite-controlling blend of omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and fiber. And here’s the kicker: According to Stanford studies, green beans are also high in anti-inflammatory enzymes -- compounds that can help flush excess water weight out of cellulite-prone areas.
Sneak one clove into a meal, and your hunger pangs could disappear within 10 minutes of enjoying the first few bites, according to studies at Chicago’s Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. “The enticing odor of garlic activates the hypothalamus -- your brain’s satiety center -- helping you feel genuinely full long before your tummy is uncomfortably full,” says lead researcher Alan Hirsch, M.D. Bonus: A University of South Carolina study shows that eating just one clove of garlic daily can slash your risk of stomach cancer by 30 percent. Credit goes to garlic’s allicin and quercetin -- powerful antioxidants that shuts down the growth of suspicious cells in the digestive tract.
When it comes to fat-burning potential, cherry tomatoes are off the charts. According to Yale University researchers, just adding a cup of these sweet gems to your daily diet could help you shed up to three pounds every month -- without making any mega diet changes. Credit goes to the cherry tomatoes’ antioxidants -- including naringenin, rutin and kaempferol -- which soak liver cells and fire up their ability to burn stored fat for fuel.
Never tried it? It looks like a funky cross between a cabbage and a turnip but it actually tastes vaguely like a peeled broccoli stem (only milder and sweeter). Kohlrabi is great raw -- in salads and coleslaws -- plus it’s delicious grilled, roasted and stir-fried. And according to Stanford University researchers, kohlrabi is rich in choline, potassium and phosphorus -- nutrients that energize your central nervous system, helping you exercise harder without running out of steam.
They look like baby green tomatoes, but they’ve actually got a tangy, citrusy flavor that goes great with a multitude of Mexican dishes, including guacamole, salsa verde, enchiladas, soups...you name it. Tomatillos contain just 11 calories each, plus they’re a great source of appetite-suppressing minerals. Feeling frazzled? Tomatillos are also rich in withanolides -- plant compounds that help calm the adrenal glands, say researchers at the Swedish Herbal Institute in York, Maine.
They’re from the same family as onions, but these milder bulbs won’t bring tears to your eyes when you slice them. Despite their mild nature, shallots are loaded with sulfur -- a nutrient that helps your hard-working organs burn carbs for fuel before they can be stowed away as fat, say Stanford University researchers. Sulfur is also a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps kill off H. pylori -- the troublesome bacteria that causes stomach ulcers, add researchers at Albany’s State University of New York.
Fat-blasting fact: A large romaine lettuce leaf contains just one calorie -- plus it’s fat-free, sodium-free and cholesterol-free! Need more incentive? Romaine is rich in folic acid -- a B vitamin that can actually reverse cervical dysplasia (a precancerous condition that can progress to cervical cancer). Folic acid soaks into the cervix and forces abnormal cells to either grow normally or die, say University of Florida researchers. Use romaine to add an impressive crunch to your sandwiches -- or turn the leaves into “pockets” to hold chicken, cheese, veggies and other fillings.
They’re the most popular pear world-wide, and for good reason: Penn State studies suggest eating one each morning can help you effortlessly trim 190 calories out of your daily diet -- and 12 pounds off your figure every year. The act of chewing, plus the rich, satisfying flavor of these juicy pears, soothes the hypothalamus -- the region of your brain that fuels powerful hunger pangs and cravings, say Stanford University researchers.
To lose weight at a steady clip, you need to keep your blood sugar levels low, since your body will only dip into your fat stores if its supply of easy-to-burn sugars dries up, says Larrian Gillespie, M.D., author of You’re Not Crazy, It’s Your Hormones. And that’s where lima beans come in handy. According to Australian researchers, they’re packed with fiber and plant proteins -- molecules that stall carb absorption in the intestines, plus help your muscles burn blood sugar before it can sabotage your weight loss efforts. Enjoy half a cup daily, and you could speed your weight loss by 50 percent, the study authors say.
These sweet, tart treats are now showing up in even the smallest grocery stores. And nibbling one or two of them daily could help you reach your weight loss goals a whole lot sooner. That’s because kiwis are loaded with chlorophyll -- a green pigment that heals and energizes the liver, increasing this organ’s ability to burn fat for fuel, says Susan M. Lark, M.D., author of Dr. Susan Lark’s Hormone Revolution. Another perk: A study published in the journal Thorax suggests that the kiwi’s healing vitamin C and chlorophyll can help cut lung troubles -- like shortness of breath and wheezing during exercise -- by as much as 32 percent.
Scientists measure how much foods mess with your blood sugar -- and your ability to lose weight -- by using a scale called the glycemic index. Lower numbers are better, and that’s where grapes really shine. According to studies at Australia’s University of Sydney, these tasty little globes have a glycemic index of 43 -- and that means they’re as good at keeping your blood sugar steady and helping you lose weight as bran cereals and chick peas! Got an achy back? Purple and red grapes are loaded with resveratrol -- an antioxidant that relaxes blood vessels, improving blood flow to damaged back tissues and speeding their healing, says Mark Stengler, N.D., author of The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies.
They start cropping up in August, and their mild, sweet flavor, thin skin, small size and resistance to bruising makes them one of the most loved apples nationwide. Munch one before lunch and another before supper, and Brazilian researchers say you could effortlessly shed three pounds of fat in one month. The reason? Apples are nature’s number one source of pectin -- a soluble fiber that blocks the absorption of dietary fats. Good news: Apples are also rich in quercetin and ellagic acid -- compounds that cut your liver’s production of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol by 34 percent, say researchers at the University of California at Davis.
Jalapenos, habaneros, serranos, fresnos...these mouth-watering fruits (yes, they’re fruits!) can do a lot more than just jazz up your favorite soups and chilies. According to a British research team, their active ingredient -- capsaicin -- can also boost your fat-burning metabolic rate by 10 percent for up to three hours at a stretch. Another fiery fact: Canadian research shows that chilies suppress appetite, helping you feel full on 200 fewer calories per meal.
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