“Superfoods” is one of those words you’ve probably heard many times without ever really considering what it means. We understand that it’s probably going to be super healthy, but what is the definition of a superfood actually? And how can superfoods help you to lose weight? This article will answer all these questions and more, so read on – here are 30 essential superfoods for weight loss!
What is a Superfood?
We’re up to date with the Super Stars. We all have our favorite Superhero. But what are Superfoods, actually? Superfoods are just what they sound like – foods or ingredients that, when it comes to nutrition, go above and beyond the norm to provide you with all the essential vitamins, minerals, and micro and macronutrients your body needs to stay (super) healthy.
Being the healthiest of the healthy, there are a lot of classic superfoods you might remember from your mom’s dinners – spinach and Brussel sprouts, for instance. But it doesn’t just stop there.
More and more superfoods are becoming more and more widespread. Exotic variants, things like Kohl Rabi, Matcha Green Tea, and Endives, have all come into their own as potent superfoods.
Spread your table with superfoods.
Naturally, there are a lot of plant-based superfoods out there, with vegans and vegetarians having no trouble getting their fair share.
There are, of course, also many dairy-based alternatives, strong in calcium and probiotics, like greek yogurt or kefir. In the form of salmon and shrimp, animal proteins also fall into the superfood list due to their strong sources of the essential fatty acid, Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
Why are Superfoods Important?
So we all know what Superfoods are, so just why are they so important? Unfortunately, even though we are experiencing one of the most affluent and well-connected periods in history, malnutrition is still a problem.
In fact, even in America, many adults do not receive the recommended amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables. This study from 2019 shows that only one in 10 Americans is getting in their recommended daily servings of vegetables.
Contradictorily, obesity rates in America are still exponentially high, with 42.4% of the adult population deemed obese, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So what’s going wrong? While we are eating more and more, we are eating nutrient-poor, calorie-laden foods. Things like white flour, refined sugar, and corn syrup -are high in calories but low in nutrition. The exact opposite of superfoods. And this isn’t just affecting our nutrition levels.
It’s leaving us overweight, obese, and with the devastating lifestyle diseases that go hand in hand with obesity-chronic diseases like heart disease, cholesterol, and diabetes.
Luckily, we can all use superfoods to reverse the effects of these conditions, promote weight loss – and improve nutrition.
Why use Superfoods for Weight Loss?
Superfoods are some of the healthiest foods out there and are generally very low in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Filling up your plate with superfoods like in the list we’ve compiled is a great way to get in all your nutrients while simultaneously losing weight! In fact, switching all the baddies (let’s say, a jam donut) for something like fresh strawberries helps your body in more ways than one.
- You skip the excess calories, leading to weight loss
- You avoid fat and processed sugars in the donut, leading to a healthier heart
- You fuel your health with the natural nutrients in the fresh fruit
- You fill your tummy with more nutritious produce
Alright, so we all know the benefits of Superfoods, but what are the best choices out there? We’ve brought together this list to help you identify some of the essential superfoods you can use to help you lose weight tonight at dinner!
Topping off our Superfood list is the humble radish. White or red, radish is a crunchy vegetable with a peppery taste that works great in salads. It’s also amazingly healthy, a solid source of antioxidants and minerals like calcium and potassium. At the same time, radishes can help you lose weight as they are super low in calories, with a cup (116g) containing only about 18 calories!
Long, lean, and incredibly delicious, asparagus is an often overlooked vegetable with many benefits to bringing to any table. Asparagus is strong in Vitamins A, C, and K. In fact, a serving of asparagus contains a whopping 57% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin K. That’s oK with us! Asparagus is also a great source of dietary fiber, which can help keep you full, and your bowel movements regular.
Satisfyingly sweet and ever so slightly sour, apricots are among the tastiest – and healthiest – summertime fruits. They contain Vitamins A, C, and E and are a substantial source of potassium, beta carotene, and lutein. Not only that, but apricots make for a pretty decent snack for any diet. Next time your craving something sweet, skip the junk food (and the belly fat!) and try munching on an apricot instead.
Rhubarb is a vastly underappreciated food. Rhubarb, not a fruit but the fleshy stem of the plant, has a tart, unique and unforgettable taste. But did you know that the rhubarb lurking in your grans’ famous crumble was a potent superfood?
Rhubarb is an especially rich antioxidant source, namely anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins. At the same time, rhubarb contains almost no fat and very little sugar. That makes it an excellent option for those trying to keep their blood sugar levels under check. Try rhubarb stalks as a snack or stewing with other natural fruits for a super healthy topping to your morning oatmeal or acai bowl.
Peas? That’s right, the humble pea itself deserves a place on the superfood list. Peas are perfect for your body and can help you lose body weight to boot. Green peas are a substantial source of Vitamin C and B Vitamins like Vitamin B6.
They are also a great source of plant based protein to help you build and maintain muscles. Not only that, but peas are an incredibly versatile vegetable. Instead of mashed potatoes, try adding mashed peas as a side dish. Or, for fewer calories, try a hummus-style dip made with peas!
Mushrooms, and specifically morel mushrooms, are a great plant-based iron source. They are also one of the best superfoods for weight loss, containing almost no fat, carbs, sugars, or calories. They also make an excellent substitute for meat while being low in saturated fat.
That makes morel mushrooms the perfect choice for those who do have problems with their blood pressure or are at risk of cardiovascular disease. Try making morel mushrooms the superfood star of your next dish! Check out our related article about the power of mushrooms for weight management!
Nothing quite beats a fresh strawberry, and you can enjoy them even more now knowing that they are, in fact, a pretty powerful superfood. Strawberries are full of essential vitamins and Minerals, namely manganese, magnesium, and ascorbic acid.
If fresh strawberries aren’t in season, try grabbing a bag of frozen strawberries instead. They make a great addition to healthy smoothies or overnight oats.
Think the only healthy seafood is salmon? Think again. Shrimp make it on the superfood list as they are super high in protein. Shrimp is also a source of healthy fat and essential nutrients, including omega 3 fatty acids, iodine, iron, selenium, B Vitamin, and Zinc. Keep things light by sauteeing or boiling shrimp to get all the flavor without adding excess oil or saturated fat.
Greek yogurt is a fantastic source of protein. Not just that, but like other fermented foods, greek yogurt contains high amounts of probiotics. These are healthy bacteria that help promote gut health.
Probiotics help aid many bodily functions, including digestion, alleviating symptoms of IBS, and even improving your body’s immune functioning. Greek yogurt is also a good source of healthy fat, which has many health benefits. Some healthy fat is essential in every diet to ensure proper weight management.
Whole wheat pasta, made with unrefined wholemeal flour, is a healthy dietary choice. Whole grains have a lower glycaemic index (GI) when compared to their ultra-processed counterparts. That means that energy is released slower so you can stay fuller for longer, keeping hunger pangs at bay and avoiding weight gain.
That doesn’t make whole wheat pasta just a healthier choice. It also makes it one of the best superfoods for weight loss. Check out our related article about whole grains for more information about these little superstars!
Think potatoes aren’t healthy? Think again! Potatoes, especially baked potatoes, contain very little oil or saturated fat. They are also a good source of nutrition, with one small potato (about 138g) containing:
- 738.3 mg Potassium (21% Recommended Daily Intake – RDI)
- Vitamin C (22% RDI)
- Iron (8% RDI)
- Vitamin B6 (20% RDI)
- Magnesium (9% RDI)
Did you know those eggs laying about at the back of your pantry are a superfood superstar? Eggs contain all the elements necessary to support life. Eggs also pack a protein punch, with a 50g egg clocking (clucking?) in around 6g of high-quality protein. Protein is a crucial component of any weight loss goal as it helps with the formation and maintenance of muscles. Adequate protein consumption may also help with fat loss, specifically stubborn belly fat.
Hibiscus tea is an aromatic infusion made from the inner parts of the hibiscus flower. It has a rich crimson color, a slightly sweet, slightly tart taste, and can be enjoyed either hot or cold. It’s also a fantastic antioxidant source. In fact, an often-quoted study of over 280 different types of beverages found that hibiscus tea is top of the class (that’s right, number one) for its antioxidant concentration.
That’s beating even matcha green tea; we’d like to remind you! Other studies also looked into the benefits of hibiscus tea for lowering blood pressure. Compared to a placebo, it significantly lowers blood pressure in at-risk folks and can even reduce the possibility of stroke or cardiovascular disease.
It should come as no surprise to find spinach on our superfood list. One of the healthiest of the healthy, spinach has been known for years as one of the best plant based superfoods available. The king of the green and leafy vegetables you always hear oh so much about, spinach contains everything from Vitamin A to Zinc.
While kale has grown in popularity over the last decade, it is still a comparatively expensive choice and may be hard to find in smaller locations. Spinach is delicious, easy to cook, and a cost-effective option for those looking to get their superfoods without breaking the bank. And did we mention it’s low in calories? For all these benefits, spinach only contains 23 calories per 100g.
Ramps, also known as wild onion, are another green and leafy. This one is a little harder to find, but if you can get your hands on it, ramps contain vitamin A, B vitamin, vitamin E, selenium, and chromium. They are also low in calories, fat, and sugar, making them a great choice if you are looking to burn fat.
Ramps also have a distinctive flavor, which some compare to a combination of onions and pungent garlic. That makes them a great addition to almost all recipes to amp up the nutrition (and the taste) factor!
Did you know that those dandelion greens (that’s right, those so-called weeds in your back garden are incredibly healthy and nutritious? All parts of the dandelion plant are edible, and the greens offer unique health benefits, all while being low in fat.
The leaves are best eaten when they are young, as they do have a tendency to become bitter as they age. Try sauteeing with garlic and a tiny bit of olive oil for a low calorie, nutritious and impressive side dish.
With almost no fat or sugar, artichokes are a strong source of both dietary fiber and potassium. Artichokes can also help you lose body weight as they have a natural diuretic effect which will help reduce bloating. The high soluble fiber intake will also facilitate the digestive process and minimize digestive discomfort, allowing you to reduce belly fat and reach your weight loss goal.
Stinging nettles have been known for centuries for their medicinal benefits. They have been used to treat everything from sore muscles to anemia. There is also considerable research being undertaken as to the beneficial effects stinging nettles may have on those living with diabetes. Significant care must be taken with handling the raw leaves, and thorough cooking is required to deactivate the stinging effect!
Red Leaf Lettuce
Red leaf lettuce is a broad term for any of the variants of lettuce with red pigment resulting in red leaves. Red leaf lettuce is an excellent addition to any salad and can also be used as a wrapping for other foods. Instead of calorie-laden sandwiches, try using red leaf lettuce as low carbohydrate cups for your favorite fillings.
Watercress is an aquatic plant belonging to the mustard family. It has been cultivated by humans for centuries and has a distinctive taste comparable to mustard greens.
Watercress is an amazing source of many vitamins, notably Vitamin K. An 100g serving of watercress contains 238% of your RDI. Vitamin K is an essential element aiding in the formation of muscles and bones. It also aids in wound healing as this vitamin plays a vital role in blood clotting.
Fiddlehead ferns are the cutest addition to our superfood list. These are the curled-up tips of the fern leaves and have been used traditionally in various cuisines. They can be treated like any other vegetable; however, over-harvesting kills the plant, which is why they are still one of the more exclusive plant-based superfoods. Try checking out local farmers’ markets or ask for specialty greengrocers during the months of spring.
One of the tastiest additions to our superfood list is the elegant chive. The chive has found its place as a firm favorite on the dinner table, but the advantages of chives extend beyond just its delicate taste. Chives are a nutritional powerhouse and are a substantial source of plant-based antioxidants.
They are also helpful for those trying to lose body weight as they add a lot of flavors, avoiding the need for other condiments that contain a lot of hidden sugar and oil.
Papaya, pawpaw, call it what you like. This orange fruit reminiscent of summertime getaways is delicious and nutritious. One cup of papaya contains up to 156% of your Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an essential part of our diets and aids in many of the body’s natural processes.
It also has fewer calories than you might think, with a serving containing less than 100 calories. Papaya will help you keep your blood sugar levels in check, reducing your likelihood of overindulging later.
Garlic! Love it or hate it, this pungent bulb has secured its place in our hearts and our cuisine, and we’re here to tell you why that’s an excellent thing! Having a very low-calorie count, as well as a strong flavor profile, garlic can be relied upon as a great way to flavor dishes without the need to add excess calories.
There is also ongoing research into garlic’s effects in lowering cholesterol levels in the body, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart disease while improving overall heart health.
This exotic-sounding (and looking!) vegetable is one of our favorite vegan superfoods for weight loss. Kohlrabi belongs to the same family as cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and brussels sprouts. Its popularity has skyrocketed over recent years, and it’s not hard to see why. Kohlrabi is a welcome addition to any healthy eating plan, low in calories.
It still contains trace vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, vitamin E, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, and vitamin B6. Still, feel stumped by this stubby veggie? While Kohlrabi can be eaten raw, we recommend gently steaming or sauteeing the peeled bulb to make most of its delicate taste.
Sorry to say it, but your mom was right. Brussels Sprouts are one of the most nutritious vegetables we could ask for. A serving of brussels sprouts contains
- Vitamin B6 10% RDI
- Vitamin C 81% RDI
- Vitamin K 137% RDI
They are also a decent source of soluble fiber and roughage to keep you feeling fuller for longer and hunger pangs at bay. Think you hate brussels sprouts? Try grilling halved Brussel sprouts with a bit of olive oil and salt. Or, next time you are having a BBQ, try throwing on some of these superfood superstars!
The endive is a little understood vegetable belonging to the chicory family. Endives are a dense mass of crunchy, slightly bitter leaves. Depending on the variant, they have an elongated leaf with a yellow or greenish hue. Endives are a powerful source of Vitamin K, with 100 grams of endive containing 220% of your RDI. Try grilling your endives in a low oven to get rid of some bitterness. That being said, endives can also be enjoyed raw and make a healthy addition to a fresh salad.
Baked, boiled, steamed, or mashed, there are many ways to enjoy this delicious root. Turnips are an often overlooked member of the veggie family, but we can’t see why! In most recipes, turnips make for a very healthy side dish or an alternative to carrots or potatoes. Turnips are also incredibly good for your body and part of any weight loss diet.
High in nutrients but with fewer calories, one of our favorite weight loss tips is swapping out potatoes and swapping in turnips. Doing so is a great way to save a lot of excess calories. And we mean a lot. With 77 calories in 100g serving of potatoes and only 28 in the same amount of turnips, if losing weight is your primary goal, we recommend giving these versatile veggies a go.
Cauliflower is one of the most versatile vegetables. This plant based superfood shines in many recipes and can be used as an alternative to rice, scrambled eggs, and a pizza base, among its many applications. Whether you want to get creative or just enjoy this veggie the good old-fashioned way, you can do so guilt-free.
Cauliflower is rich in many essential compounds and antioxidants. These include sulforaphane, choline, and glucosinolates, which are currently under investigation for their potential cancer-fighting properties.
Last but not least, on our 30 essential superfoods for weight loss list is the sunny, stainy beetroot. Beetroot, known for its bright red coloring, is actually a bulb grown under the ground. The bulb hides within it a store of superfood nutrients and vitamins, including Vitamins A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Iron, Manganese, and Magnesium. They are a very versatile vegetable. Once steamed, beetroots can be enjoyed in salads, soups, and cold dishes, as a part of a vegetable medley, or as a delicious side accompaniment.
So what’s your favorite superfood? Superfoods are your superheroes if you are trying to reach your weight loss goal, avoid weight gain, maintain a healthy weight, or are just in it for the health benefit.
Loaded full of essential vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, these superfoods should be your go-to ingredients as a part of any healthy diet and improve your overall sense of wellbeing. In the fight against malnutrition, superfoods to the rescue!
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Rosily Ryan is an experienced health and fitness writer, editor, and health activist in Sydney, Australia. She’s written for several publications like Pure Green Magazine.