It’s been a long winter, to say the least. We don’t know about you, but we just keep telling ourselves to stay focused on things we can control, load up on immune-boosting foods, and sneak in as many virtual yoga classes as we can. With spring in sight (and we hope better days ahead for us all), stock up on these foods nutritionists adore to support your health and help promote weight loss. Spring is in the air—now it’s time to get it on our plates.
Strawberries are about 50 calories per cup and pack a ton of nutrients [that are] hard to find all in one food,” says Trista K. Best, MPH, RD, LDN at Balance One Supplements.“ From a nutritional standpoint, strawberries are unique in that they offer two grams of both soluble and insoluble fiber, ideal for gut health and weight loss,” she continues, referencing this study on strawberry supplementation on antioxidant biomarkers in obese adults with high cholesterol and adding that there is a growing understanding about the connection between the gut’s microbiome and weight loss with each passing year.
We’ll take that as our official permission to indulge in a slice of chocolate hazelnut and strawberry toast.
Kylie Ivanir, MS, RD, who runs her private practice Within Nutrition is a big fan of this nutrient-dense, cruciferous veggie. “Cabbage is great to eat raw because it maintains a lot of its Vitamin C that way. When cabbage is cooked, it damages the Vitamin C,” she explains. “Cabbage is high in fiber, which allows for greater satiety between meals, and therefore weight loss,” she continues, citing this study. To reap its benefits, eat it raw in either sauerkraut or a salad, says Ivanir.
Below, Ivanir walks us through making homemade sauerkraut: “Sauerkraut can be made by thinly slicing a cabbage head, then sprinkling the cabbage with salt, and then massaging the cabbage and working the salt into the cabbage leaves. Cabbage will eventually become wilted. Place cabbage into a jar or container and pour juices released from massaging the cabbage into the container,” she explains. “Weigh the cabbage down to ensure that all the cabbage stays submerged in the liquid. Place the lid on the container and leave it in a cool, dark place. Every few hours (during the first 24 hours) push the cabbage down to allow juices to rise to the top. Ferment the cabbage for three-to-10 days, and then store the sauerkraut in the fridge after the fermentation process is done.”
“Asparagus is low in calories but high in many nutrients and water content. Just one cup of asparagus provides 40 calories,” says Allison Gregg, RDN, LD/N, Nutritional Consultant at Mom Loves Best. “Asparagus also has a high fiber content at nearly 4 grams of fiber per one cup. This makes it a great component of any meal as it will help with feeling satisfied after eating.”
“Asparagus is high in prebiotics which acts as fertilizer for the good bacteria in our gut. Supporting anti-inflammatory bacteria optimizes our microbiome, and therefore a healthy metabolism and weight loss,” adds Ivanir. In addition to its weight loss properties, research shows that asparagus may also reduce high blood pressure.
This dark leafy green is one worth befriending in the spring — and any time of year for that matter. (Especially when it comes in the form of this tantalizing kale salad with roasted cauliflower and spiced rice).
“Kale contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds that make it essentially a fountain of youth and weight loss,” says Best, citing this study on kale’s nutritional benefits. “Kale is very low in calories per pound making it an ideal base to any salad or smoothie as it will add bulk without excess calories. This will help in weight loss efforts as the gut’s stretch receptors are activated giving a sense of satiety without extra calories,” she adds.
Ah, the simple breakfast of half a grapefruit with a sprinkle of sugar and the now-elusive bowl of Grape Nuts. So satisfying and soul-soothing. Turns out, your body is as happy as your spirit every time you feed it grapefruit, too.
“You can’t go wrong with fruit, especially a nutrient-rich citrus fruit like grapefruit. Consumption of grapefruit is associated with higher intakes of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, dietary fiber, and improved diet quality,” says Jorg Wijnen, RD, and Author. Website: pointing to this research. “Its low-energy and high-nutrient density make it an ideal food for weight loss.”
For more on grapefruit, check out how this nutritional star may protect your immune system and lower the risk of disease.
6. Broccoli or Broccoli Sprouts
“Broccoli contains sulforaphane which is an antioxidant that helps fight cancer and improve the inflammatory landscape of your body,” comments Ivanir. “Even better are broccoli sprouts which have about 10 times as much sulforaphane compared to broccoli alone. Sulforaphane allows the body to be more successful with weight loss because it is in an anti-inflammatory state,” she elaborates.
Personally, we think no snack is better than a few broccoli stalk slices with a light sprinkle of salt. Simple = better, friends.
“Arugula is a leafy green full of vitamins and fiber. Arugula acts as a more nutritious choice to the standard iceberg lettuce. Just one cup of arugula provides only five calories,” shares Gregg. “This makes it the perfect food for a large serving size for a small number of calories.”
Gregg’s go-to salad rec? Use arugula as a base with tomato, cucumber, and avocado mixed in, she says. Try it with a sprinkling of sunflower seeds for some crunch and maple-Dijon vinaigrette. Or, go the pizza route suggests Gregg and use arugula as a topping with mushrooms and tomatoes.