Some foods are better than others when it comes to supporting weight loss, but just because they're righteous doesn't mean they aren't yummy. We asked Laurence Beeken, food information executive at Weight Loss Resources, for his top picks:
Strawberries are packed full of health benefits. Compared to other fruits such as apples and bananas, strawberries have more nutrients, and are known to burn stored fat (the anthocyanins stimulate the burning of stored fat), and are good for weight loss - the compound nitrate found promotes blood flow and oxygen in our body.
Laurence says: “Best eaten at room temperature to bring out the lovely summer flavour, strawberries are not only good as a sweet treat - try slicing them onto a fresh leafy salad and add a splash of balsamic vinegar to highlight their taste.”
Spring onions contain allicin, which may keep you from overeating by stimulating satiety in the brain. Spring onion has a milder, sweeter taste than the dried white bulbs you buy later in the season. Enjoy it diced on salad for a fat-fighting side or lunch.
Laurence says: “Milder than ordinary onions, remember that you can also eat the green leaves. Slice the whole onion thinly with a diagonal slant and toss into your omelette for a tasty savoury treat.“
One of the first foods that signals the start of spring is the appearance of fresh asparagus at local farmers’ markets. Asparagus is a good source of fibre and protein, both essential for good digestion and immunity.
It also contains a unique carb called inulin, which remains undigested until it reaches the large intestine, where it helps to absorb nutrients better.
Laurence says: “Purported to be an aphrodisiac, asparagus is one of those vegetables best served as natural as possible. Best cooked lightly in a steamer and served with just a quick grind of black pepper or a dash of lemon juice.”
Artichokes may seem intimidating, and those prickly leaves can lead to plenty of frustration, but this vegetable should not be discounted. One medium artichoke contains 64 calories, 10 grams of fibre and three grams of protein, and is also a very good source of vitamins C and K and folate.
Most often associated with Italian cooking, be sure to add fennel to your selection of fresh vegetables in early spring when it is readily available and at its best. Just an ounce of the bulb in your salads adds a gram of fibre for only nine calories. Fennel bulb is also a very good source of vitamin C, folate and potassium.
Laurence says: “Fennel has a mild aniseed taste and the texture of crisp celery. Try grating the bulb over summer salads for instant aniseed zing. Alternatively cut the bulb into wedges and stir fry with other crisp vegetables for an amazing side dish.”
Lettuce has been called ‘the perfect weight loss food’ because it contains fibre and cellulose. Besides filling you up, fibre improves your digestion. Improving your digestion is important for long term weight control. Fibre also helps remove bile salts from the body. When the body replaces these salts it breaks down cholesterol to do so.
Love it or hate it, broccoli is great for you! It is known as a smart carb and is high in fibre, which aids in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating. Furthermore, a cup of broccoli has as much protein as a cup of rice or corn with half the calories.