Say copper and the image that pops into mind is metal--pans, jewelry, wire, pennies. No one thinks of copper as a mineral that's found naturally in our bodies, but it is. We need copper to absorb iron, make red blood cells, and keep our immune system and bones strong. Now you can add weight loss to the mix.
Copper helps our bodies break down fat cells and convert them into energy, according to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. In fact, the more copper there is in our bodies, the more efficiently they burn fat, the new study, published online, found.
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The problem is that our bodies can't make copper naturally, so we need to get it through food. And although we only need 700 mg a day, about three-quarters of us don't get that much in our diets, according to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. To get more, researchers recommend eating more green vegetables, nuts, beans, and shellfish. These foods are particularly excellent sources of copper, according to the World's Healthiest Foods site: sesame seeds, cashews, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus (in season now), summer squash, pineapple, and grapes.
Talk to your doctor if you think you may be deficient in copper; a blood test will tell you for sure.
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