The Natural Diet: Best Foods for Weight Loss
You can eat more and still lose weight.
The Real Fruits and Vegetables Bonus continued...
A palmful of potato chips won’t reduce your risk of certain types of cancer,
heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and lower blood cholesterol, but research shows
that the antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in produce like a sweet
peach, handful of berries, or a bowlful of bok choy may.
Of course, to get the full benefits of fruits and vegetables -- weight loss,
great taste, a reduced risk of chronic disease -- produce needs to replace at
least some of the fattier, calorie-dense foods in your diet.
But what if you’re not ready to cut out your favorite cookies or forego a
single chip? “Even if you change nothing else in your diet, you’re still
getting the phytonutrients, chemicals, and as-yet unknown nutrients [in
produce] that can help protect you from cancer, diabetes, and heart disease,”
says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic
Yet, once we start snacking on fruits and veggies, most of us will gradually
eat fewer calorie-rich goodies, says Gerbstadt, who adds that because produce
helps fill you up and gives your body a boost, “you naturally eat less chips,
cookies, and other foods that just don’t make you feel good.”
Fruits and Vegetables: Fresh, Frozen, Canned, or Dried?
So the great news is that fruits and vegetables can give weight loss a real
boost. Now the question is, how should you enjoy them: fresh or frozen, canned
“All of the above,” Gerbstadt tells WebMD. Though local, seasonal produce
may have a slight nutrient edge at times, "dried, canned, and frozen fruits and
vegetables are usually picked just before peak ripeness and then packaged,”
says Gerbstadt, “so you’re really getting very fresh food.”
Fresh and healthy -- so long as you avoid the butter sauce or
drenching of cheese, say the pros.
The USDA suggests we get two cups of fruit a day, and two and a half cups of
vegetables (for a 2,000 calorie diet).
- Fresh, frozen, or canned fruit and vegetables: “When you’re eating
canned fruit, watch out for additions like syrup,” Neville says, “Look for
fruit packed in water or juice.”
- Fruit juices: 100% fruit juice can have more calories per ounce than
sweetened soda, and because a lot of its fiber is missing, it also isn’t nearly
as filling as fresh fruit. Stick to whole fruits when you can.
- 100% vegetable juices: Vegetable juices usually have far fewer
calories than their fruity kin, but they often pack a sodium wallop, so keep an
eye on portions here as well.
In Search of the Super Food
So maybe you’re sold on fruits and vegetables as a great way to “cheat” in a
healthy eating plan. Now you might be wondering, which fruits and veggies will
give you the most bang for your nutrition buck?
The answer is: all of them.
“Every fruit and vegetable is a super food,” Gerbstadt says. “You can say
the colorful ones have more nutrients for you but…even the ones that don’t have
as much color, we’re discovering that all along they’ve had nutrients we need
-- we just didn’t have the lab test yet to analyze them.”
So while one lobbying board may tout the better-for-you benefits of
blueberries, and another may talk up the antioxidant power of pomegranate, in
the overall scheme of things it doesn’t matter so much which fruits and
vegetables you eat “it just matters that you get them inside you,” Grotto tells
And when you head down the produce aisle next time, take a laser-sharp focus
on flavor first, Grotto suggests. Buy the fruits and vegetables you
really love, “because no one cares if it’ll save their life if it doesn’t taste
However you find yourself enjoying those peaches and potatoes, the asparagus
spears and the spinach, one thing is important: Just do it!