Nutritionists Say You Should Eat These Winter Superfoods to Lose Weight
New year, new goals. And if you’re all aboard the Let’s Shed the Pounds This Year Train, then it’s hard to do better than the vegan diet for healthy, sustainable weight loss. But if you’re anything like us, sometimes you simply aren’t sure where to start. So many recipes, so many cookbooks...what should I add to my grocery cart? Well, that’s exactly why we reached out to the nutrition pros — to cut through the noise and share the best foods in season during the winter to load up on if you’re looking to lose weight. Read on, and please pass the pomegranate seeds.
“Broccoli is a superhero when it comes to fighting inflammation and helping to prevent disease. It helps to fight against heart disease and cancer, lower cholesterol, decrease the risk of age-related eye disease, aid in healthy digestion, and it helps to keep the brain healthy,” remark Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT & Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, aka The Nutrition Twins, authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure and co-founders of NutritionTwins.com and the 21-Day Body Reboot.
In terms of crushing your weight loss goals, it’s also quite low in calories—clocking in at only 31 calories a cup, “and it’s 89% water” say The Nutrition Twins. “You could eat it and fill up on cups of it and still not gain weight.”
Another cool thing worth noting? Recent research found that the phytochemical, sulforaphane found in broccoli (and especially broccoli sprouts) gives metabolism a boost by activating brown fat cells and also ‘undoes’ the damage of high-fat food on your gut microbiome to help reduce inflammation and stop weight gain,” say The Nutrition Twins.
Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, a plant-based registered dietitian and owner of Plant-Based Eats in Stamford, CT, loves using ginger in warming winter recipes, and we’re totally with her. “I find that by flavoring recipes with it, I can often reduce or even eliminate added sugar in a recipe because it has such a strong flavor,” she says.
Personally, we’re big fans of drinking hot water with ginger to promote weight loss and boost immunity. And it’s amazing how a fast weeknight dinner like a quick tempeh and veggie bowl over brown rice gets a gourmet boost by the addition of fresh sautéed ginger.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Trista K. Best, MPH, RD, at Balance One Supplements attributes two main characteristics that make sweet potatoes an ideal weight-loss food: “First, sweet potatoes are high in fiber. Fiber works towards weight loss efforts in two ways. One, fiber leaves the consumer feeling fuller which makes them less likely to overeat at mealtimes and eat less between meals. Two, fiber removes toxins from the body and keeps the bowels regular, both of which reduce inflammation and weight,” she explains.
Need more convincing? “Second, the low-calorie content of sweet potatoes makes them a great addition to just about any meal when trying to lose weight. They are extremely versatile and add robust flavor to many recipes,” she continues.
Try one of our tuber go-to's: Sweet Potato Mexican Fry Up.
These fruits are a winter nutrient powerhouse, according to The Nutrition Twins, who also note that they contain potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that have been shown to do everything from reducing inflammatory activity in breast cancer cells, colon cancer cells, and the digestive tract; reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity; fight against bacteria and fungus; improve memory, and possibly even protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
“Pomegranate arils are a deliciously sweet-tart burst of flavor that explodes in your mouth as you bite into them,” they comment, noting that they’re an ideal no-sugar-added treat to indulge in when you have a craving for sweets. “We love that our clients happily choose them over typical sugary, calorie-dense snacks like candy bars and cookies, which helps them to achieve their weight loss goals.” One cup of pomegranate arils contains seven grams of fiber, which helps you stay fuller for longer, making them an ideal add-on to oatmeal, salads, or your favorite plant-based yogurt.
The Nutrition Twins have eaten one of these winter superfoods nearly every day since high school, and we’re betting adding apples to our daily routine would do a whole lot of good for us, too. “Research shows that their flavonoids are great for your heart since they lower blood pressure and the risk of stroke while their soluble fiber helps to lower blood cholesterol, all important factors when it comes to heart health. They also protect against cancer, promote the good bacteria in the gut, and protect against mental decline. Several studies show apples can benefit weight loss,” The Nutrition Twins say of the 80-calorie fruit (that’s assuming your serving size is one medium-sized apple)
Bonus: “One study showed that people who started their meal with apple slices ate 200 calories fewer than people who didn’t!” they add.
Gorin often incorporates these wholesome nuts when cooking in the winter, and based on the nutrition profile she shared with us, we’re pretty impressed: “Pistachios are a good source of plant protein and fiber — and about 90% of the fats found in pistachios are unsaturated, for a trio of nutrients that may help keep you fuller longer,” she says.
”If you’re snacking on pistachios, you get even more weight-management benefits. A preliminary study in Appetite found that people eating in-shell pistachios consumed 41 percent fewer calories than people snacking on the shelled version.”
7. Butternut Squash
Best praises butternut squash for both supplying 40% of the daily vitamin C recommendation and 100% of the daily requirement for vitamin A in one serving. “These two nutrients are just the tip of all that butternut squash provides, but are possibly the most important for its ability to boost the immune system,” says Best. Additionally, with nearly three grams of fiber per cup, butternut squash is a good source of fiber, and with fiber intake linked to dropping weight, it’s a solid choice for a side dish or snack (try it roasted with cinnamon!) if you’re hoping to slim down.
“Butternut squash is versatile and can be used to enhance a wide variety of dishes and boost their nutrient content,” she adds. Well, we’re sensing this creamy vegan butternut squash soup in our near future, dear readers.