The 8 Best Foods for Weight Loss

Looking to loss weight this year? While a workout plan and a balanced diet is essential, it's also important to eat delicious superfoods to benefit your overall health and wellbeing.

A woman measuring her slim waist in the kitchen

Many people complicate weight loss. It is not about cutting out a single food group, starving yourself, or exercising excessively. It is about consuming a balanced and healthy diet plan for weight loss for your overall health and wellbeing. Balanced eating aside, it’s also a great idea to complement your daily diet with some of the best foods for weight loss, including superfoods.

“Superfoods” are nutrient-dense foods that contain various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can greatly benefit and support the body. However, there is no official definition of the word by the FDA, making it more of a marketing term than a medical one. We do know they are beneficial to one’s health, and can even prevent disease, in addition to aiding with weight loss. Superfoods can also be incorporated into a balanced and healthy eating plan. This, in addition to a regular exercise regime, can be a great part of a weight loss plan.

For healthy weight loss, here are 8 nutritious superfoods to include in your daily diet. 

Best Foods for Weight Loss

An array of best foods for weight loss including berries and healthy vegetables
Vegetables and fruits are some of the best foods for weight loss that are also good for your health.

“The term ‘superfood’ refers to foods that benefit our health. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there isn’t this concept of superfood. Instead, we believe in eating the right food that is suitable for your own body constitution. The same superfood may be beneficial for some individuals but not the others,” says TCM Physician Ng Qing Xiang from Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinic in Singapore.

This list includes some of the best foods to incorporate into your diet for weight loss as well as its TCM benefits.

1. Quinoa

Looking to add a meat-free protein source into your diet? Quinoa (pronounced as “keen-wah”) can help you create a meatless healthy diet plan for weight loss. While it looks like a grain, quinoa is an edible seed that comes in various colors like white, yellow, red, and black.

This tiny seed contains a complete protein, including all the nine essential amino acids we need to consume for optimal health. This makes it an excellent meat replacement without saturated fats or nitrogen waste. Additionally, it is gluten-free and a good source of fiber, iron, chromium, magnesium, vitamin B1, vitamin E, and folate.

Quinoa can be a good substitute if you are on a diet and want to reduce your consumption of pasta or rice. It has a neutral taste and is easy to cook. However, remember to thoroughly rinse off the seeds before cooking to remove any saponins, the seed’s bitter-tasting natural pesticide. You can also enjoy quinoa with a well-balanced high-quality, protein drink made with whey, pea, and soy protein for a protein boost.

TCM Benefits: Quinoa tonifies qi (vital life energy) and yang (active energy). This seed strengthens kidney yang and pericardium functions while nourishing the whole body.

2. Seaweed

A woman eating a bowl of seaweed salad for promoting weight loss
Seaweed is readily available for quick, on-the-go snacking.

Asian cuisine often includes seaweed in dishes like soups, broth, stir-fry meals, and sushi. It is also a popular appetizer and side dish that many people enjoy due to its unique flavor. You can also find many types of edible seaweed strips – for example, kelp, nori, wakame, kombu, and sea lettuce.

Seaweed also contains essential amino acids, dietary fiber, and vitamins A, B, C, and E. It is also an excellent source of trace minerals like iodine. Iodine supports healthy thyroid function, which plays a role in metabolism and helps regulate different body functions.

Low-calorie and packed with nutritional benefits, seaweed is a wonderful addition to your weight loss diet. A study at Newcastle University found that seaweed can effectively prevent fat absorption in our bodies. It showed that alginate, a natural fiber in seaweed, helps reduce fat digestion by around 75%.

TCM Benefits: Seaweed tonifies yin (passive energy) and clears heat and dampness. It also resolves water accumulations, eliminates toxins, and relieves phlegm.

3. Flaxseed (Linseed)

Flaxseeds are a small but mighty superfood rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber protein, potassium, isoflavones, and lignans. They are also a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that the body converts to Omega-3 fatty acids. This provides benefits to the body as an anti-inflammatory and may help weight management.

The seed also helps with regulating bowel movement and managing heart health and cholesterol levels. A study shows that the linoleic acid in flaxseed helps lower systolic blood pressure and reduces the risk of hypertension.

Additionally, every tablespoon of flaxseed contains 2 grams of protein. This, combined with its high fiber content, helps you stay satiated for longer and helps to keep your weight down.

It’s best to consume ground flaxseed as you may not be able to digest whole flaxseeds completely. You can easily add ground flaxseeds into your smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, salads, or soups. They can also be found in oils or as supplements. 

TCM Benefits: Flaxseeds (ya ma zi) tonify yin and help replenish qi and blood.

4. Parsley

A bowl of wonton soup with parsley on a wooden table top with a wooden spoon next to it
A nutrient-rich soup with parsley is a great way to add flavor and health benefits to your diet.

Parsley is a popular herb, used for cooking and flavoring dishes like soups, stews, and lean proteins. However, it is also incredibly rich in vitamins A, C, K, and E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, iron, and zinc. It is also rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, and chlorophyll, which can improve detoxification and support weight loss. 

Interestingly, enzymes in parsley help break down food, releasing nutrients and aiding in digestion. This helps with regular bowel movements, reduces water retention and bloating, as well as supports healthy blood sugar levels. Good digestion and optimal glucose levels lead to better weight management, making this herb an excellent complement to your diet plan for weight loss.

In traditional remedies, parsley is a common detoxification ingredient due to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory characteristics. Research states that parsley has been used in traditional medicines to treat many diseases, including gastrointestinal disorders, hypertension, cardiac disease, urinary tract infection, diabetes, and dermal diseases.

TCM Benefits: Parsley (zhou ye ou qin) tonifies blood, improves digestion, regulates qi, clears toxins, and relieves dampness.

5. Vegetables

Vegetables provide many benefits to the body. In addition to vitamins and minerals, they are rich in fiber and are incredibly flavorful. Some of the top superfood vegetables include kale, broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, and sweet potatoes. Experiment by grilling, baking, sauteing or enjoying them raw to reap the benefits of these superfoods.

TCM Benefits: Vegetables, such as asparagus, eggplant, and spinach are cooling food. They nourish the yin and are suitable for those suffering from excessive heat.

6. Hawthorn Berry 

Renowned for its heart-healthy benefits, hawthorn berry is a powerful superfood that can help with obesity. A study has shown that the leaves, fruits, and seeds of the hawthorn berry can be beneficial in treating obesity, high blood sugar, and hypertension.

Hawthorn berries are also high in dietary fiber and contain prebiotic properties that are beneficial for our gut health.

This tart berry can be enjoyed as dried fruit, jam, fruit drinks, and in teas. Additionally, it is available as herbal supplements, liquid extractions, or tablets for easy consumption. 

TCM Benefits: Hawthorn berry is traditionally used in Chinese medicine to improve overall health and well-being. It relieves food stagnation, restores the heart, improves blood circulation, clears heat, promotes urination, and transforms blood stasis. 

7. Coix Seed

You may not have heard of this superfood but coix seed, sometimes called adlay or pearl barley, is an incredible grain native to Southeast Asia.

Due to its hypolipidemic and anti-inflammatory properties, this seed is widely used in Asian herbal medicine to treat various ailments. It contains coixenolide and coixol, that has been used in TCM to treat cancer as well as skin conditions.

Composed of starch, coix seed contains up to two times more protein than rice, making it a satiating food. This seed is typically bland-tasting but palatable. Consume it with rice mixed with brown sugar in small quantities. 

TCM Benefits: Coix seeds nourish the spleen and stomach as well as ease water retention. These seeds also help with detoxification and relieve swelling and rheumatic pain.

8. Green tea

two cups of green tea on a table top with green leaves inside the tea
Antioxidant-rich green tea is a great addition to your weight loss plan.

A popular drink, green tea comes from the  Camellia sinensis plant and is rich in antioxidants and vitamins such as vitamin B, folate, magnesium, and flavonoids. It is beneficial to reduce cholesterol, aid with type 2 diabetes, reduce Alzheimer’s disease risk, and aid in weight loss.

A study found that the flavonoid catechin in green tea can speed up the metabolism and break down excessive fat. As a part of your weight loss regime, you can include green tea in your day as a hot or cold beverage. However, green tea does contain caffeine where it should be consumed in the morning/early afternoon so it won’t disrupt your sleep.

TCM Benefits: Cooling in nature, green tea promotes blood circulation, disperse qi, and soothe liver qi.

As you can see, the best foods for weight loss are those that offer benefits to your body without compromising your health. Above all, consume regular, balanced meals and complement your diet with exercise, quality sleep, and healthy superfoods.

This is an adaptation of an article, “5 Superfoods To Help With Weight Loss”, which first appeared on Eu Yan Sang website.

References

  1. Medical News Today. 2021. Can superfoods help with weight loss?. [Accessed on January 18, 2022]
  2. American Heart Association. 2021. Get Smart About Superfoods Infographic. [Accessed on [Accessed on January 18, 2022]
  3. BBC News. 2014. Seaweed could be key to weight loss, study suggests. [Accessed on [Accessed on January 18, 2022]
  4. Medical News Today. 2020. What to know about flaxseed and weight loss. [Accessed on [Accessed on January 18, 2022]
  5. Iran J Basic Med Science. 2020. The effects of Crataegus pinnatifida (Chinese hawthorn) on metabolic syndrome: A review. [Accessed on [Accessed on January 18, 2022]
  6. Sage Journals. 2021. Coix Seed May Affect Human Immune Function. [Accessed on [Accessed on January 18, 2022]
  7. Medical News Today. 2018. Does green tea help weight loss?. [Accessed on January 18, 2022]
  8. National Library of Medicine. 2010. Green tea catechins, caffeine and body-weight regulation. [Accessed on January 18, 2022]

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