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Healthy foods for weight loss

Healthy Foods for Weight Loss

People around the world have been fighting obesity for ages, especially the last few decades. Obesity has been associated with many health issues, such as high blood pressure, glycemia, anxiety, and even cancer. But, maintaining a healthy diet of nutritious value is one of the best ways to lose those extra pounds that make you feel unhappy and unhealthy.

There are 4 factors that influence a balanced diet: variety, frequency, moderation, and hydration. If our goal is to reduce the percentage of body fat, we should prioritize the foods that produce a feeling of fullness while providing many nutrients with appropriate caloric levels. For example:

Fruits and vegetables

They have a reduced calorie count and are packed with vitamins and minerals. “Fruits, vegetables, and legumes vary widely in nutrient content so should not be expected to have similar physiological effects. Although dietary guidance is supportive of a more vegetarian eating pattern, including increased servings of fruits and vegetables, the scientific support for these recommendations is mixed in an evidence-based review. Prospective cohort studies find weak support for the protectiveness of fruits and vegetables against chronic diseases, yet intake of fruits and vegetables in U.S. cohorts is low. Additionally, few randomized controlled trials have been published on the addition of fruits and vegetables to the diet and changes in biomarkers or health status. Nutrients in fruits and vegetables, such as dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, including polyphenols, all provide support for the biological plausibility that fruits and vegetables play a role in health. Food form may play a role in satiety. Fiber added to drinks appears less effective than whole fruits or vegetables in enhancing satiety. Limited studies suggest that whole-fiber foods may slow gastric emptying compared with liquid foods with added fiber.”1

Fish, eggs, and meats

Besides having a certain amount of fat, the contribution of amino acids that they generate is indispensable for the protection of our tissues and the functioning of our metabolism.

“Proteins are essential components of the body and are required for the body’s structure and proper function. Proteins function as enzymes, hormones, and antibodies, as well as transport and structural components. Transamination and oxidation result in elimination of protein as water, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen. The continual process of synthesis and subsequent breakdown of protein in the body is referred to as protein turnover. The rate of protein turnover affects organ protein mass, body size, and ultimately the body’s protein and amino acid requirements.

Amino acids are the central units in protein metabolism. They are incorporated into various proteins and converted to metabolically essential compounds (ie, nucleic acids, creatine, and porphyrins). Of the ≈20 amino acids in human proteins, 12 are manufactured by the body and are known as nonessential amino acids. The remaining 8 (isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine) must be obtained from the diet and are thus termed essential amino acids. Proper protein nutriture is based on proper balance and sufficient intake of essential amino acids and intake of an adequate amount of nitrogen for the body to produce the nonessential amino acids. The nutritional quality of food proteins varies and depends on essential amino acid composition. Foods that contain essential amino acids at levels that facilitate tissue growth and repair are known as complete protein foods. Such foods are also classified as having high biological value, ie, a large proportion of protein is absorbed and retained. Biological value refers to an index in which all protein sources are compared with egg whites, which provide the most complete protein and have the highest biological value of 100. In general, foods with high protein quality or high biological value are from animal sources, such as eggs, milk, meat, poultry, and fish.”2

Nuts and legumes

They have a large amount of essential nutrients that are absorbed very slowly, which benefits hormonal control.

“Beans have a nutritional profile that suits all ages, providing cholesterol-free protein, fiber, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, resistant starch, and the more recently discovered phytonutrients. Their nutrient profile fits with the dietary needs of growing children and teenagers as well as adults. Protein is critical for growth and development in children and adolescents, and beans cooked until tender are an easy-to-chew protein source and an appealing finger food for young children. Children who eat beans have significantly greater intakes of fiber, magnesium, and potassium than do those who do not eat beans. Bean eaters between the ages of 12 and 19 years also weigh significantly less and have smaller waist measurements compared with non-bean eaters. For adults who want to moderate their fat and cholesterol intakes, beans are a healthful alternative to meat. Several studies show that beans may help lower blood cholesterol. Furthermore, soluble fiber and resistant starches in beans may help suppress appetite and manage blood sugar. Compared with other sources of carbohydrates, beans exhibit a low glycemic index (GI) and produce a relatively flat blood-glucose response.”3

There are lots of delicious foods that can help you shed some pounds:

Potatoes

They make you feel satiated for longer, which helps reduce the desire to eat snacks in between meals. Potatoes contain a lot of starch, which is excellent for reducing body-fat.

Kale and Spinach

These vegetables are known to have thylakoids. Thylakoids are found in green leafy vegetables and their use affects the hormones of hunger and satiety, so it could be part of a dietary strategy which prevents and treats obesity. Kale alone contains iron, calcium, fiber, and as fewer calories than most vegetables.

Avocados

They have unsaturated fatty compounds which are good for weight control since they tend to balance cholesterol levels.

Salmon

Salmon reduces inflammation thanks to being rich in healthy fats (omega 3) and high-quality proteins. They contain all the important types of nutrients and satisfies the appetite by keeping you satiated for many hours.

Lentils

They are believed to calibrate blood sugar levels and help in weight control.

“Lentils come in a variety of colors, including orange, green, and black. Not only do many lentils have relatively short cooking times, they do not require advance soaking. Even lentils that are relatively slow to cook require just 20 minutes of cooking time. To prepare lentils, place them in a small pot and add water, with a pinch of salt, to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft. Drain the lentils and use them as discussed below. To reduce preparation time even more, you can always prepare a double batch of lentils when you do cook them; cooked lentils can be stored in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

Split orange lentils are particularly easy to prepare; rinse them, put them in a pot with cold water and salt (3 cups of water for every cup of lentils), and bring to a boil. When the water boils (3–5 minutes), the lentils are ready. Drain the lentils, rinse them in cold water to stop the cooking process, and then use them in your recipe. Keeping these easy-to-prepare lentils on hand will enable you to use them whenever you like.

The texture of quickly cooked lentils should be a bit crunchy; if you want them softer, cook the orange lentils longer, up to 6–8 minutes. If you cook lentils for a long time, their texture becomes very soft, and they may almost seem pureed. Lentils cooked in this manner can be made into a thick, Indian-style sauce by adding spices such as curry, turmeric, cumin, and garam masala and served over brown rice.”4

Eggs

Eggs are an excellent source of protein and they also make you feel full. “If it weren’t for cholesterol, eggs would not be controversial. After all, as will be discussed in detail later in this report, eggs are tasty, nutritious, easy to prepare, useful in recipes, safe to eat when prepared correctly, and remarkably inexpensive. There would be no reason for anyone to object to the use of such a food — if it weren’t for cholesterol. Eggs are the largest single source of cholesterol among the foods commonly eaten in the U.S. A large egg contains about 215 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol — more than two-thirds of the Daily Value of 300 mg. More specifically, the yolk of an egg contains the cholesterol; the white contains none. Unlike many other foods that are high in cholesterol, such as fatty meats and full-fat dairy products, eggs are relatively low in saturated fat and calories. A single ‘large’ egg (the size most commonly sold in the U.S.) provides only 75 calories and 1.5 grams (8% of the Daily Value) of saturated fat. It supplies 71% of the Daily Value of cholesterol, however. Eggs account for about 33% of the cholesterol in the American diet but only 1.7% of the saturated fat. High levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream, especially low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, are associated with increased risks of atherosclerosis and its consequences, including heart attacks and strokes.”5

Apples, Bananas, Blueberries and Fruits of the Season

Most fruits are rich in fibers and antioxidants. “One of the most well known benefits of dietary fiber is the modulation of function of the intestinal tract. Meals rich in fiber promote satiety earlier, and are usually relatively low in calories compared to meals rich in other food types. Several works have also associated diets rich in dietary fiber with positive effects in disease prevention. Some works have established an inverse association between fiber intake and coronary disease. Total fruit and vegetable consumption was inversely associated with colorectal cancer risk. Current national dietary guidelines recommend an increased dietary fiber intake and suggest that fiber, independent of fat intake, is an important dietary component for the prevention of some diseases. Recommendations for adult dietary fiber intake generally fall in the range of 20 to 35 grams per day. The average fiber intake of adults in the US is less than half of this recommended level. Sources of fiber Whole grains (especially the pericarp) and also fruits and vegetables are considered very good sources of fiber.”6

They provide vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that help you stay healthy maintain an ideal weight. An obvious advantage is that they can be eaten raw or cooked.

Weight control involves exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Make sure to consult your doctor or specialist before embarking on a specific diet!

 

 References:

(1) Slavin, J. L., & Lloyd, B. (2012). Health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Advances in nutrition, 3(4), 506-516. Available online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3649719/

(2) St. Jeor, S. T., Howard, B. V., Prewitt, T. E., Bovee, V., Bazzarre, T., Eckel, R. H., & AHA Nutrition Committee. (2001). Dietary protein and weight reduction: a statement for healthcare professionals from the Nutrition Committee of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism of the American Heart Association. Circulation, 104(15), 1869-1874. Available online at https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/hc4001.096152

(3) Winham, D., Webb, D., & Barr, A. (2008). Beans and good health. Nutrition Today, 43(5), 201-209. Available online at http://admin.aghost.net/images/e0160001/ntodayoct08.pdf

(4) Polak, R., Phillips, E. M., & Campbell, A. (2015). Legumes: Health benefits and culinary approaches to increase intake. Clinical Diabetes, 33(4), 198-205. Available online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4608274/

(5) Meister, K. A. (2002). The role of eggs in the diet: Update. American Council on Science and Health. Available online at https://www.acsh.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/20040405_eggs20021.pdf

(6) Higgs, S., Spetter, M. S., Thomas, J. M., Rotshtein, P., Lee, M., Hallschmid, M., & Dourish, C. T. (2017). Interactions between metabolic, reward and cognitive processes in appetite control: Implications for novel weight management therapies. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 31(11), 1460-1474. Available online at https://ucanr.edu/datastoreFiles/234-1260.pdf

 

Robert Velasquez
2 July, 2019

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