Controlling your weight isn’t about not eating. . . it’s about eating the right kinds of foods.
Studies show us which foods people eat when they have successfully lost weight and kept it off long-term. It’s probably no surprise that these foods are rich in nutrients, low in calories, and high in fiber and water. If your goal is reaching or maintaining a healthy weight for your body, there is a lot you can do. Aside from meeting your physical activity needs, getting enough sleep and controlling your stress, here are the top 50 FoodTrients foods to help support your weight:
Almonds are an incredible food to add if you’re watching your weight. Studies show that almonds specifically are associated with greater reductions in weight/BMI, waist circumference, fat mass and even systolic blood pressure for people who consume them when compared to people who don’t. To help your weight goals, include a handful of almonds a snack daily.
An apple a day may really keep the doctor away and keep your weight in check as well. Apples also 5 grams of fiber per medium-sized fruit to help you feel full as well as support cardiovascular health through decreased total and LDL/bad cholesterol. Studies show that people who eat more fruits and veggies experience reduce risk of long-term obesity and weight gain. What better reason to grab and apple for a snack today?
There is a myth out there that bananas aren’t the healthiest fruit, but studies actually show that they’re a fantastic low-calorie food that decreases lifetime risk of obesity and weight gain. Bananas are absolutely packed with vitamin B6 (1/4 of the daily requirement in one serving) and make a perfect pre- or post-workout snack because they contain electrolytes like potassium to help your body replenish. Of course, physical activity is also linked to maintaining a healthy weight.
Beans are included in dietary guidelines and evidence-based diets like Mediterranean and DASH diets for a good reason – they’re packed with nutrients, fiber, and protein and have also been linked to weight control. Studies suggest that the reason they work to support a healthy weight include a high fiber content, moderate protein content and low glycemic index. Black, pinto, cannellini, kidney, chickpea and beyond, all beans are helpful to maintaining a healthy weight.
Berries have been linked to many health benefits, one being a reduction in obesity risk. Researchers believe one reason may be the high antioxidant content from anthocyanins. All berries are also high in fiber and other vitamins and minerals you need to fuel the body. Swap them in to substitute for sugary desserts that could increase unwanted weight gain.
Include bran in hot or cold cereal, in salads and blended into pancakes, waffles or muffins for energy to support a healthy weight. Found commonly in whole grain muffins and cereal, there’s a reason bran, like other whole grains, is associated with weight control and reduced levels of inflammation. Researchers randomly assigned 50 overweight or obese adults to a whole grain or reﬁned grain diet for 8 weeks each. The participants lost signiﬁcantly more weight on the whole grain diet (-0.4 pounds) compared to the reﬁned grain diet (+2 pounds) because people naturally ate fewer calories on the whole grain diet.
All cruciferous veggies -including broccoli – deserve a place in a diet that helps achieve and maintain a healthy weight. This family of vegetables contains unique compounds that aid in the body eliminating stress hormones in addition to liver detoxifying sulfur-containing glucosinolates that contribute to balancing a healthy weight and reducing stress-related gain. Eat it raw, steamed or roasted for a delicious side-dish or snack.
Brown, wild or black, rice is an amazing whole grain that has been shown to help stabilize weight. Rich in minerals like manganese, selenium and phosphorous, brown rice is much higher in fiber than it’s processed white variety so it keeps you feeling full longer. Studies show that women who followed a higher fiber diet, eating foods like brown rice and other whole grains, were at reduced likelihood of having an increased waist circumference.
These members of the cruciferous family are so versatile; chop them in half and roast in the oven or shred them to add to a salad for a fresh spin on an important veggie for your health. Aside from vitamins, minerals, and fiber, Brussels sprouts contain unique anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help keep all systems working well. High in fiber, vitamins, and minerals yet very low in calories, Brussels sprouts are an important food for health and managing your weight.
Yet another powerhouse cruciferous vegetable, any color cabbage contains liver detoxifying compounds that can help modulate hormones that increase stress and can lead to weight gain. Cabbage is rich in stress vitamins and minerals and has been linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk in addition to helping maintain a healthy weight. A versatile food, include purple, red and green cabbage in salads, soups, and side dishes like coleslaw daily.
Don’t let anyone tell you that foods that are white aren’t healthy – cauliflower is an important food for your health as well as managing a desirable weight. Studies show that it contains the same beneficial sulfuric compounds as other crucifers so include it as “rice”, roasted, pureed, or even made into pizza crust for a spin on classic higher-calorie foods you enjoy.
Whether you sprinkle cashews into cereal or on a salad or just snack on them on their own daily, you may be aiding a healthy weight for your body. Studies show an inverse association between eating nuts like cashews and BMI. Clinical trials reveal that including nuts in the diet doesn’t equal weight gain; in fact, it’s the opposite. Studies indicate this is likely due to the high satiety property of nuts, leading people to eat less though nuts like cashews are rich in calories.
This crunchy snack doesn’t need to be boring – make sure to pack celery sticks on the go to dip in your favorite dressing or smear with nut butter. Celery is very low in calories but contains fiber as well as b-vitamins and minerals like potassium and magnesium. Using celery as your snack will slash calories you might otherwise get from other options like crackers or chips.
Add these tiny seeds to granola, salad dressing, or whip into oats or pudding – any way you like them, they may help you with your weight. With one of the highest fiber contents out there, chia seeds add about 5 grams per tablespoon which is supportive of the cardiovascular system and may help manage weight. There is research that supports that eating them may decrease blood pressure and blood sugar as well as reduce inflammation in the body.
Including beans in the diet is a baseline for many studies that explore long-term weight loss and maintenance. Chickpeas are incredibly versatile – put them on salads, stir into savory recipes, roast for a crunchy snack or blend to make hummus and other high protein dips. Studies suggest that the reason they work to support a healthy weight include a high fiber content, moderate protein content and low glycemic index.
Whatever kind of spicy chili pepper you enjoy the most, feel free to pop them into recipes. Hot peppers may actually help with fat oxidation after people have successfully lost weight. Eating foods that contain spice compound capsaicin may help you sustain the weight you’ve lost – what a fun way to stay healthy!
Cocoa itself is bitter and hardly contains any calories which makes it a wonderful food to add flavor to smoothies, nice-cream, and other recipes. This bitter bean contains more phenolic antioxidants than most other foods including flavonoids catechin, epicatechin, and procyanidins. Use cocoa powder to satisfy that chocolate craving without the added fat or sugar.
While studies are mixed, there is some evidence that the long-term consumption of caffeine decreases body weight. Many of these studies are done on animals so more research is needed. If you enjoy coffee, there’s a chance it could help support a healthy weight as long as you’re not loading it up with cream and sugar.
Dietary patterns that include soy foods like edamame have been linked to a healthy weight. Find edamame as an appetizer in Japanese restaurants or as a snack, dried or frozen in your local grocery store. A cup of edamame contains 8 grams of heart-healthy fiber in addition to antioxidant isoflavones daidzein and genestein; a type of legume, this is a fantastic food to add to your diet.
High fiber foods show up again and again in weight loss and weight management studies. There are few foods higher in fiber than flaxseeds so including these in the diet could help both your cholesterol levels as well as your weight. Better yet, they contain phytochemicals called lignans, as well as calming omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium for your health. Add flax seeds to cereal, granola, muffins, and salads for stress support.
Green beans are a summer favorite, but you can also find them frozen and canned – whichever way you enjoy them, they may support your weight management goals. A high fiber green veggie with a slightly higher carbohydrate level than other leafy or crucifers makes green beans satisfying and filling. Serve them raw, in salads, or blended into soups, stews or other savory recipes.
Similar to research on coffee, a combination of antioxidants combined with some caffeine in a no-calorie beverage makes green tea a weight loss powerhouse. Powerful antioxidants called catechins and amino acid L-theanine in green tea may target relaxation and the reduction in stress which can help reduce weight-associated hormones like cortisol from surging. Make sure to drink (unsweetened) green tea daily if you enjoy it.
One of the hottest current food trends, jackfruit is an amazing substitute for fatty meat dishes. A tropical, starchy fruit, you can use the unripe fruit to substitute pulled pork and meat recipes in a very believable way. By using this fruit rather than meat, you slash calories and fat content while maximizing fiber and nutrients.
This root veggie contains 36 calories in 1 cup! That amount also provides 5 grams of fiber and 150% of the vitamin C you need in a day. Kohlrabi contains all the aspects of a veggie that can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. It tastes a bit like a broccoli stem but is soft and versatile for cooking. You can snack on it raw with dip, slice it into slaw, toss it onto a salad, make chips, sauté it, or add it to soup for texture.
Plant-based dietary patterns are more strongly linked to healthier weights than diets that include meat and lentils are a perfect example as to why this is. Legumes like lentils are rich in fiber for satiety and weight control. These tiny legumes are a rich source of slow-burning complex carbohydrates as well as critical energy boosters like iron which transports oxygen to tissues around the body so you’re feeling ready for any activity you want to participate in.
Greens don’t have to be boring…and we don’t have to see them as “diet” food. Romaine, red, butter or even Iceberg, lettuce has been linked to health and longevity as well as to managing a healthy weight. Leafy greens like lettuce are super low in calories and carbohydrates yet loaded with fiber. Take advantage of their benefits by making big, beautiful salads, blending them into smoothies and beverages, and adding them to every wrap and sandwich.
This dark leafy green is a superfood for a reason; one cup provides nearly all of your vitamin C needs at 70% and all B-vitamins (aside from B-12 which are only found in animal foods). Nourish your body with this nutrient-rich green that’s both hearty yet very low in calories to help manage a healthy weight. Choose the variety you enjoy the most – curly, baby or dinosaur and use it fresh in salads, baked into chips, sautéed or wilted, or even blended up in a smoothie.
Not only do oats support the heart because the type of fiber in oats can help lower LDL bad cholesterol, it is also a whole grain that studies have shown are important to keep in the diet for weight control. For example, one research group found that women who consumed whole grains in a calorie-restricted diet lost more weight (3.6kg vs 2.7kg) and saw a more signiﬁcant decrease in body fat (3% reduction vs 2.1%) compared to those eating reﬁned/processed grains.
Though oil is rich in calories – you’ll need to consider the portions – it is still linked to dietary patterns that support a healthy weight. Studies show that people who eat a Mediterranean diet including fresh produce, whole grains, fish, and olive oil as the main type of fat have lower body weight and less belly fat than those following a typical Western diet.
This grab-and-go snack only offers 50 calories in a serving plus filling water and fiber to help keep you feeling fuller longer. With studies showing that people who eat more servings of fruits and veggies are more likely to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, you can snack on an orange daily to satisfy a sweet craving in a very healthy way rather than seeking sugary desserts.
An exciting study came out this year in the British Medical Journal that indicated that eating pasta in the context of a low-glycemic dietary pattern (read: lean protein, fruits, veggies, healthy fat and whole grains) helps to reduce boy weight. Everyone’s favorite carbohydrate sometimes received undeserved negativity. As long as you’re including it in a balanced diet, there’s likely room for pasta. Better yet, make it a whole grain variety and add lots of red sauce and veggies for flavor.
Both peanuts and tree nuts are associated in studies with a healthy body weight. One large human study found that those who ate one serving of peanuts (about 28 peanuts) two or more times per week, lowered their risk for cardiovascular and coronary artery diseases by 13-23%. Data suggest eating peanuts on a regular basis is associated with burning more calories, even at rest, resulting their high calorie content not causing weight gain.
Tree nuts are associated with positive outcomes for weight management. Pecans are rich in heart healthy monounsaturated fats as well. One study found that by adding in 2.5 ounces of pecans in the diet, participants saw a 10% decrease in LDL cholesterol and a 5% increase in good HDL cholesterol without gaining body weight.
These tree nuts may also support a healthy body weight because researchers believe their high fiber content may make the calories in pistachios hard for the body to metabolize and use for fuel. Eating pistachios may reduce fat-accumulating acute stress hormones by lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Pistachios contain a nice combination of protein, healthy fat and fiber so a portion is perfect for a snack or mid-day pick-me-up when you need energy.
That’s right: corn is a whole grain and popcorn is a very healthy snack. Studies show that women who followed a higher fiber diet, including whole grains regularly, were at reduced likelihood of having an increased waist circumference. One caveat here…make sure to keep the toppings healthy. Popcorn smothered in butter and salt won’t be helpful for weight control.
Really just dried plums, prunes are incredibly high in fiber and nutrients yet low in calories. They help If you need some quick carbs…or some quick digestive support, prunes are certainly a wholesome, natural option. Very high in fiber and natural sugars, just 1-2 can boost blood sugar to satiate that sweet tooth when you need some energy. Also, prunes are proven to support healthy digestion, moving things along if you’re feeling constipated.
Nuts and seeds alike, though rich in calories and fat, show up in studies time and time again as helpful for regulating a healthy body weight. Pumpkin seeds are great sources of magnesium, a mineral that has been linked to improved sleep which is also critical for a healthy weight. To slow yourself down a bit, make sure to buy the kind of pumpkin seeds you need to shell yourself.
This versatile whole grain is higher in fiber than many other whole grains at nearly 5 grams per cup. Whole grains like quinoa are critical to maintaining a healthy weight. In a twelve-week, randomized clinical trial, 79 overweight or obese postmenopausal women to eat a calorie-restricted diet incorporating either 480 calories of reﬁned grain foods or the same amount of whole grain foods. Those eating the diet with whole grains lost more weight (3.6kg vs 2.7kg) and saw a more signiﬁcant decrease in body fat (3% reduction vs 2.1%) compared to those eating reﬁned grains.
There is an interesting phenomenon with red wine – if you drink alcohol, a little of it may be a heart-healthy choice and some studies have even suggested that it can help regulate a healthy weight. Resveratrol and catechins, two antioxidants in red wine, have been shown in some studies to be beneficial to health but a little goes a long way – make sure to stick to the guidelines of 1 glass per day for women and 2 for men, maximum, to avoid unwanted weight gain.
An underestimated whole grain, rye is a wholesome whole grain. Researchers randomly assigned 50 Danish adults to a whole grain or reﬁned grain diet for 8 weeks each. The participants lost signiﬁcantly more weight on the whole grain diet (-0.4 pounds) compared to the reﬁned grain diet (+2 pounds). This is likely because people naturally ate fewer calories on the whole grain diet, as whole grains are more satiating. Additionally, the whole grain diet – especially rye – signiﬁcantly lowered inﬂammation.
Fatty fish like salmon can be a helpful food when reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. Rich in minerals and healthy omega-3s fats, the American Heart Association recommends two servings of salmon per week. Studies show that omega-3’s may decrease inflammatory markers which can help the body shed weight instead of holding onto it. Make sure to bake, poach, or broil your salmon with plenty of fresh herbs and lemon for flavor without added calories. No butter sauce needed!
Tempeh, tofu, soy milk and other soy products are critical for weight loss and weight management. Soybeans contain compounds that help many systems in the body with their high content of minerals, fiber, antioxidants and polyunsaturated fats. Studies have found that genistein, an antioxidant called ‘isoflavone’ in soy helps to protect cells from DNA damage and could be a factor in promoting human longevity as well as maintaining a healthy weight due to its high protein content and low calorie and fat content.
Any time of year, squash can be incorporated to your weight management program. All varieties are high in water and fiber yet low in carbohydrate content. Try subbing spaghetti squash instead of pasta to cut calories and maximize your veggie intake. This type of easy, simple substitution can help get you out of a plateau and making progress towards your weight loss goals if that’s the desire.
If you’ve never experimented with these firm, green fruits, now is the time. Acidic and bright in flavor, tomatillos are wonderful to roast or blend into a salsa. They are full of flavor but low in calories, contain antioxidants including vitamins A, C, and E and are high in potassium for blood pressure balance. Tomatillos create a zesty sauce you can use to flavor foods that is low in calories to help you maintain a healthy weight.
Did you know that plant-based dietary patterns are associated with a lower body mass index? In the Adventist Health Study-2, mean BMI was highest in meat eaters and lowest in those who avoided all animal products. Similarly, in the EPIC-Oxford Study, researchers found the highest mean BMI among meat eaters and the lowest among vegans. In the Swedish Mammography Cohort study, researchers found that the prevalence of overweight or obesity was 40% among omnivores and 25% among vegetarians. Choose the plant-based burger to support a healthy body weight.
If you have an option between choosing vinaigrette – oil and vinegar that sometimes include lemon, lime or orange juice, herbs, spices and an emulsifier like mustard – and a cream-based dressing like ranch, thousand island or blue cheese, choose the former. With zero grams of saturated fat, you can maximize flavor by slashing calories and still enjoying your favorite greens.
Not only do walnuts contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in addition to minerals manganese and copper, but they’re also linked to a lower body weight in study participants. Interestingly, weight loss trials where people could include nuts in their diets experienced greater compliance with their diets than those that did not. Include walnuts to stay on track.
Want to know the simplest weight loss strategy around? Replace any caloric beverages (coffee beverages, soda, energy drinks, sweet tea, juice, etc) with water. Studies show that replacing caloric beverages with noncaloric beverages as a weight-loss strategy resulted in average weight losses of 2% to 2.5%. A 2012 study presented in the Journal of Nutrition also found that young women who were mildly dehydrated reported feeling fatigued. If you need a boost, think of water first.
Don’t fear whole wheat! Embrace it. Studies show that women who followed a higher fiber diet were at reduced likelihood of having an increased waist circumference. That’s right – whole wheat equals less belly fat. Better yet, whole wheat foods contain a high fiber content and minerals like manganese, copper, magnesium and pantothenic acid to fuel the body.
There is research that supports that eating dairy helps with maintain a healthy weight. Large collections of studies show that dairy consumption within typical dietary patterns is inversely associated with obesity risk. Swap high fat dairy products for 0-2% fat option to cut calories but still get the nutrients and protein you’re seeking from these foods. Bonus! Many yogurts are rich in probiotics to support a heathy gut.
What are the foods you rely on to maintain a healthy weight? Let us know in the comments!
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