While it’s true that losing weight depends on expending more calories than you take in, simply focusing on cutting calories is not the best or most effective way to lose weight. It’s important to consider where those calories are coming from, and to prioritize healthy foods that will nourish you while supporting your weight-loss goals. So, get ready to add these nine superfoods for weight loss to your grocery shopping list!
Before we get into what superfoods are and the best superfoods for weight loss, it’s important to note that health and weight loss are not synonymous. If you’re looking to lose weight, it could be worthwhile to consider why that is. You may also want to consult with a doctor, dietician, or another health professional to make sure you’re setting reasonable weight-loss goals. Don’t let a focus on diet and exercise blind you to the other factors that influence your weight, like the quality of your sleep and your stress levels. Be sure to take care of your mental and physical health while working toward your weight-loss goals.
What Are Superfoods?
At this time, there’s no single definition for what qualifies a food for superfood status. The basic idea is that some foods are exceptionally nutrient dense and therefore exceptionally good for you. Or, if you will, super good for you. Some superfoods cited by the American Heart Association include dark, leafy greens, seeds and nuts, and salmon.
Concrete criteria for what makes a food super may be forthcoming. An article shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proposed a classification scheme that would define superfoods as “foods providing, on average, 10% or more daily value per 100 kcal of 17 qualifying nutrients.” While scientists debate the specifics, it’s worth noting that when the author of that article applied that standard to 47 foods often claimed to be super, 41 of them met it.
Eat These 9 Superfoods for Weight Loss Results
If you’re seeking to lose weight in a healthy way, incorporating these nine superfoods into your diet can help you achieve that goal. This superfoods list includes nutrition facts as well as scientific data on the weight-loss benefits of all nine foods. Plus, we even shared a few of our favorite superfood recipes.
This famously healthy dark, leafy green is exploding with nutrients like iron, potassium, fiber, and even protein! A 1-cup serving provides 13% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) for manganese, 14% of your RDA for vitamin C, 15% of your RDA for folate, 56% of your RDA for vitamin A, and 181% of your RDA for vitamin K!
Plus, spinach contains green leaf membranes called thylakoids that a 2014 study found can decrease your cravings for sugary treats, fast food, and other not-so-healthy snacks by up to 95%, which increased participants’ overall weight loss by 43%.
Start your day right with this superfood feta and spinach omelette.
2. Blue Spirulina
Blue spirulina, a blue-green microalgae, is a serious nutritional powerhouse. It’s absolutely loaded with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
A tablespoon of spirulina provides 4 grams of protein, plus plenty of vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin K, iron, manganese, and antioxidants like carotenoids, superoxide dismutase, and GLA.
According to a 2017 study, adding spirulina to your diet can decrease your BMI, waist circumference, and cholesterol levels. The study’s authors also found that spirulina improved oxidative stress biomarkers and insulin sensitivity while decreasing systemic inflammation.
3. Chia Seeds
These tiny little seeds contain a wealth of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids—4915 milligrams and 1620 milligrams respectively in a single ounce. That small serving also offers up 10.6 grams of fiber and 4.4 grams of protein. All that for just 137 calories!
To date, there’s only limited scientific evidence on the weight-loss benefits of chia seeds. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, adding chia seeds to your diet can lead to decreased body weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference.
If you have a sweet tooth, you have to try this (keto-approved!) coconut-raspberry chia pudding recipe.
4. Coconut Oil
Hopefully, you already know that eliminating fat from your diet is not the secret to weight-loss success. It is important to be selective about where the fat in your diet comes from, however. Coconut oil is one of the absolute best healthy fats for weight loss.
Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), a kind of fat that research has shown can actually speed up your metabolism.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that consuming MCTs can lead to greater energy expenditure (in other words, more calories burned), which in turn leads to greater weight loss.
Popcorn, when you make it yourself at home using pesticide-free kernels, can be a super healthy, weight-loss-promoting snack. One reason for that, according to Lauren Harris-Pincus, a registered dietician and nutritionist who owns Nutrition Starring You, is that popcorn has fewer calories by volume than many other snacks.
A study found that participants who had popcorn as a snack expressed more satisfaction and stay full for longer than those who ate other snacks. That means snacking on popcorn can help you avoid overeating, which may make it easier for you to stick to your calorie intake goals.
Just remember to follow these five tips for making healthy popcorn.
6. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate appears on just about every superfoods list out there, and for good reason! This exceptionally nutrient-dense treat is a wonderful source of antioxidants called flavonoids, which research shows improve and protect the health of your heart.
Dark chocolate gives you a good portion of your RDA for certain minerals too. A 100-gram serving yields 20% of your RDA for potassium, 22% for zinc, 31% for phosphorus, 57% for magnesium, 66% for iron, 88% for copper, and 97% for magnesium!
Scientists have shown that the polyphenols in dark chocolate have beneficial effects on blood pressure, endothelial function, cholesterol levels, and inflammation markers. It also appears to improve fat metabolism and help you stay full for longer, according to an ongoing study focused on its weight-loss benefits.
Check out this list for plenty of ideas on how to incorporate dark chocolate into healthy desserts.
7. Wild-Caught Salmon
Wild-caught salmon absolutely qualifies as a superfood. The nutrients found in salmon significantly benefit your brain, heart, and bones. It’s low in calories and high in protein—half a fillet of wild-caught Atlantic salmon contains just 280 calories and a whopping 39.2 grams of protein! Plus, it’s a superb source of B vitamins, vitamin D, phosphorus, selenium, and potassium.
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that participants who ate three 150-gram servings of salmon per week lost an average of 2 more pounds over a four-week period. The authors concluded that adding a fatty fish like salmon to “a nutritionally balanced energy-restricted diet” appears to “boost weight loss.”
Our healthy baked salmon recipe features wasabi slaw for a fresh and spicy kick. It’s a snap to make and requires just 12 to 15 minutes of cooking time.
8. Pasture-Raised Eggs
Don’t let concerns about cholesterol prevent you from enjoying eggs, yolks and all. Eggs are a phenomenal source of protein, with 6.3 grams per large egg, as well as vitamin D, a nutrient not found in many foods.
Numerous studies have linked eating eggs to weight loss as well as other health benefits.
A study published in Nutrition Research showed that eating eggs for breakfast helps you eat fewer calories throughout the day by increasing satiety, stabilizing your blood sugar levels, and lowering levels of a hormone called ghrelin that spurs hunger cues.
Separate findings published in the International Journal of Obesity found that participants who ate eggs for breakfast had a 61% greater reduction in BMI, a 65% greater weight loss, a 34% greater reduction in waist circumference, and a 16% greater reduction in body fat percentage.
9. Almond Milk
Swapping almond milk, a plant-based substitute made from (you guessed it) almonds, for dairy milk can be an easy way to reduce your caloric intake.
Reducing your caloric intake is a key part of many weight-loss strategies, and making almond milk your milk of choice can facilitate that.