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Eat Them: 7 Best Foods for Weight Loss

Is eating to lose weight even possible? Yes, it is! Check out our list of the 7 best foods for weight loss to try today.

Woman with a thinking expression stands by a fully stocked fridge with the door open.

At 15% of the population, Malaysia is the most obese country in Southeast Asia. Obesity is known to increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. 

Yes, we love our food, but there is a way to enjoy our ultimate national pastime without compromising health. Here are 7 of the best foods for weight loss so you can enjoy your meals and still shed the kilos.

Eat These 7 Foods for Healthy Weight Loss  

The best foods for weight loss are affordable, nutritious, delicious, and have special properties conducive to weight loss.

1. Green Banana  

Green Banana
Resistant starch in green bananas enriches the diversity of gut flora and can stave off obesity.

Both yellow (ripe) and green (unripe) bananas are good for you. But green bananas have a higher content of resistant starch which is helpful for losing excess fat.

Researchers at the South China University of Technology found that feeding resistant starch from green bananas to obese rats decreased body weight by 9% and reduced the percentage of adipose tissue by over 31%. Their research also confirmed the mechanism by which this happens. Resistant starch enriches the diversity of gut flora, which we know is key to staving off the development of obesity.

Green bananas may taste more tart and bitter than ripe yellow bananas. You can easily add green bananas to your yoghurt or smoothie to still reap the benefits. 

2. Avocado

Woman holds an avocado that she picked from a supermarket aisle with wooden crates of avocadoes.
Nutrient-dense avocadoes are easy to incorporate into your diet to help with weight loss.

Avocadoes are native to the Americas but have long spread to other parts of the world, including Southeast Asia. High in fibre and nutrients like potassium and monounsaturated fats, avocado is a versatile fruit. 

A longitudinal study of over 55,000 individuals published in 2019 demonstrated that those who habitually consumed avocadoes gained much less weight than those who didn’t.

Consider adding this buttery fruit to your pantry. Avocado smoothies, for example, are creamy and have a pudding-like consistency. 

3. Oats 

Studies show that the soluble fibre in oats reduces body weight and adipose tissue. The beta-glucan found in the cell walls of the grain helps you feel full longer. This helps curb overeating.

Oats also enrich gut flora, which is a diverse gut microbiota that has been shown to regulate appetite and improve energy metabolism. It’s a great breakfast food that can be prepared in many delicious ways. Cook it into a porridge, add to a smoothie, or try overnight oats.

4. Coix seed

Hands holding a cup of coix seeds tea next to a plate of coix seeds.
High in soluble fibre and other gut-boosting nutrients, barley is among the best foods for weight loss in TCM.

Barley is another group of grains that are nutrient-dense and great for weight loss. Coix seed barley (yi yi ren, 薏苡仁), also known as job’s tears, is a common food used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for healthy weight maintenance. It can be cooked or infused as a tea. 

Coix seed boosts Spleen function. In TCM, the Spleen is responsible for transforming and transporting nutrients and body fluids through the whole body. When it’s functioning properly, it prevents the accumulation of excess body fluids and metabolic waste, and eliminates toxins, preventing obesity

5. Red beans 

Red beans
Red beans are an ancient weight-loss superfood used since the Tang Dynasty.

Did you know that red beans (hong dou, 红豆) have been used as a weight-loss food since the Tang dynasty in China? In TCM, red beans are used to fortify the Spleen and activate blood circulation. It’s known to encourage healthy bowel movement and reduce fluid retention. 

Research demonstrates that red beans can ameliorate the negative effects of a high-fat diet. A recent 2021 study in China, for example, was able to show that red bean supplementation significantly improved obesity in mice. The legume reduced fat accumulation, improved blood lipid levels, as well as help repair Liver damage.

6. Poria cocos 

Poria cocos (fu ling, 茯苓) is another TCM food that assists with weight loss. Like other weight loss TCM foods, it is a diuretic and therefore helps with fluid retention, but without harming qi. It can be purchased as dried cubes from trusted TCM brands. You can grind the dried cubes into a powder and cook them in soups. 

A recent study of 123 participants in Portugal found that fu ling was better than Orlistat, a common drug in treating obesity. The group that took fu ling had a 14.7kg weight loss compared to 6.1kg in the Orlistat group, in addition to better improvements to their lipid profile.

7. Hawthorn berry 

Hawthorn berry
Dried versions of hawthorn berries can be made into a tea and drank for weight loss.

Growing up in Malaysia, you may recall “haw flakes” – coin-shaped sweet-and-sour snack you had as a child. While we don’t recommend eating bowls of haw flakes, do give hawthorn berries (shan zha, 山楂) a try. 

This berry has been used as a TCM food for millennia for digestion as it improves qi (vital life force) and blood circulation. Recent research confirms that hawthorn berry extract can reduce body weight and excess adipose tissue. One study found that compounds in the fruit regulate fatty acid utilisation, reducing total cholesterol by 15% and LDL (bad cholesterol) by 20%. 

While finding fresh berries may not be as easy, you can easily purchase dried versions of hawthorn berries and consume them as a tea infusion. Consult the advice of a TCM practitioner to ensure the right dosage for you.

Of course, achieving a healthy body goes beyond these 7 best foods for weight loss. Developing and maintaining an overall balanced diet as well as regular exercise is still the tried-and-true method. But knowing which foods can better support your weight loss plan certainly won’t hurt. 

This is an adaptation of the article “Ways to Maintain a Healthy Weight“ which first appeared on the Eu Yan Sang website.


  1. Statista.com. 2021. Prevalence of obesity in the ASEAN region in 2019, by country. [online] Available at: <https://www.statista.com/statistics/1179519/asean-obesity-prevalence-by-country/> [Accessed 3 December 2022]
  2. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology. 2021. Effects of Banana Resistant Starch on the Biochemical Indexes and Intestinal Flora of Obese Rats Induced by a High-Fat Diet and Their Correlation Analysis. [online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7873301/> [Accessed 3 December 2022]
  3. Multi-Disciplinary Publishing Institute (MDPI) – Nutrients. 2019. Avocado Intake, and Longitudinal Weight and Body Mass Index Changes in an Adult Cohort. [online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6471050/> [Accessed 3 December 2022]
  4. ResearchOutreach.org. 2022. Effect of β-glucan from oats and barley on weight loss and adiposity. [online]. Available at: <https://researchoutreach.org/articles/effect-of-β-glucan-oats-barley-weight-loss-adiposity/> [Accessed 3 December 2022]
  5. Multi-Disciplinary Publishing Institute (MDPI) – Nutrients. 2021. Adzuki Bean Alleviates Obesity and Insulin Resistance Induced by a High-Fat Diet and Modulates Gut Microbiota in Mice. [online]. Available at: <https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/13/9/3240/htm> [Accessed 3 December 2022]
  6. Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences. 2019. The effects of Crataegus pinnatifida (Chinese hawthorn) on metabolic syndrome: A review. [online]. Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6556496/> [Accessed 3 December 2022]
  7. International Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2018. Effective fuling (Poria Cocos) for the treatment of obesity? [online]. Available at: <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/329950997_Effective_fuling_Poria_Cocos_for_the_treatment_of_obesity> [Accessed 3 December 2022]

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