When you want to make a list of superfoods, it's hard to know where to start! There are so many amazing foods and superfood powders out there, and each one comes with its own long list of health benefits. But you have to begin somewhere — so dig into the list of fat-burning, thyroid-reviving, metabolism-boosting superfoods we've compiled below.
1. Asparagus invigorates the liver.
Tender asparagus is in season right now — and adding six stalks to a meal could increase fat burn by 25 percent for up to two hours, say Stanford University researchers. That’s because the veggie contains plant compounds (chlorophyll and cyanidin) that enhance the ability of liver cells to flush out metabolism-slowing toxins, plus quickly convert stored fatty acids into fuel.
2. Shrimp speeds a slow thyroid.
Enjoying 16 ounces of shrimp (or any other seafood) a week can help you shed up to eight pounds of stubborn fat in a month. So say Turkish scientists, who found that shrimp’s omega-3 fats and iodine energize a sluggish thyroid, increasing its production of the slimming hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine. Tip: To prevent damage to the delicate omega-3 fats, remove shrimp from heat as soon as they turn an opaque white.
3. Beef fires up fat-burn.
Beef’s rich stores of amino acids switch on the enzymes that promote lipolysis — the conversion of fat into fuel — inside adipose tissue. No wonder researchers in Australia found that when women enjoy four four-ounce servings of beef each week, they lose weight 30 percent faster. Bonus: Beef contains a healthy fat (conjugated linoleic acid) that fuels the growth of toned, trim muscle.
4. Sweet potatoes rev the energy enzyme.
Eating 1/2 cup of sweet potatoes a day can speed weight loss by 25 percent, even if you’re on a low-carb diet. Yale scientists say the spuds’ blend of beta-carotene, manganese, and copper boosts muscle cells’ conversion of stored fatty acids and blood glucose into ATP, the body’s key energy enzyme.
5. Walnuts energize mitochondria.
The tasty way to trim six inches off your waistline in six months, according to Canadian researchers: Nosh on 1/4 cup of walnuts daily. The credit goes to compounds in the crunchers called sterols that ignite the ability of cellular mitochondria to burn abdominal fat for energy, increasing the body’s breakdown of belly fat by up to 62 percent.
6. Red cabbage turns on skinny genes.
Red cabbage is packed with anthocyanins — nutrients that activate slimming genes inside subcutaneous fat (that jiggly under-the-skin stuff), say researchers at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. The effect is so powerful that you can shed up to four pounds of fat a month if you eat one cup of red cabbage a day.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.