The 100 Healthiest Foods on the Planet

Spinach

Popeye’s favorite veggie is a great source of not only protein, but also vitamins A and C, antioxidants and heart-healthy folate. One cup of the green superfood has nearly as much protein as a hard-boiled egg—for half the calories. Looking to get the biggest nutritional bang for your buck? Be sure to steam your spinach instead of eating it raw. This cooking method helps retain vitamins and makes it easier for the body to absorb the green’s calcium content. Add a handful to soups, omelets, pasta dishes and veggie stir-fries, or simply steam it and top with pepper, garlic, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Or blend some into these 23 Best Protein Shake Recipes!

Mustard Greens

Another veggie worthy of a spot in your diet is mustard greens. When steamed, they provide a whopping 922 percent of your RDI for vitamin K, 96 percent of your vitamin A, and 47 percent of your vitamin C per cup, and they have a host of disease-fighting properties thanks to their high glucosinolate content. Glucosinolates are plant chemicals that your body converts into isothiocyanates, which have been shown to ward off cancer. In fact, according to a review in the journal Current Pharmaceutical Design, glucosinolates may protect against and may even represent a therapeutic strategy against several forms of the deadly illness.

Kale

Kale has definitely had its moment in the sun (and then some) but as far as healthy veggies go, it’s certainly worthy of praise. The cruciferous green (which is even available in McDonald’s these days) is loaded with health-boosting nutrients like vitamin A, phosphorus, and B vitamins like folate, and it boasts twice the vitamin C as spinach, another nutritional superstar. Furthermore, a study in the journal JRSM Cardiovascular Disease found that a high daily consumption of green leafy and cruciferous veggies (such as kale) significantly reduced incidence of several types of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death among women in the U.S. And since the veggie is as versatile as they come, feel free to add some kale to an array of meals ranging from egg dishes to tacos, and drinks such as juices and smoothies.

Watercress

The next time you’re making a salad, why not throw some watercress in there? The green veggie is an excellent source of folate, which has been shown to stimulate weight loss. In fact, a study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that those with the highest folate levels lose about 8.5 times more weight when dieting than those with the lowest levels of folate. What’s more? A separate study in the British Journal of Cancer found that higher dietary folate intake reduces the breast cancer risk. In addition to watercress, other good sources of folate include spinach, asparagus, and papaya.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed with the antioxidant lycopene, which studiesshow can decrease your risk of bladder, lung, prostate, skin, and stomach cancers, as well as reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. Just one cup of the sun-dried version will lend you 6 grams of satiating protein, 7 grams of fiber and 75 percent of your RDA of potassium, which is essential for heart health and tissue repair. They’re also rich in vitamins A and K. Use them as a pizza topping, a tangy addition to salads, or snack on them right out of the bag.

Artichokes

Ghrelin is your body’s “I’m hungry” hormone, which is suppressed when your stomach is full, so eating satiating high-fiber and high-protein foods is a no-brainer. The humble artichoke is a winner on both counts: It has almost twice as much fiber as kale (10.3 g per medium artichoke, or 40 percent of the daily fiber the average woman needs) and one of the highest protein counts among vegetables. Boil and eat the whole shebang as a self-contained salad (why not add a little goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes?), toss the leaves with your favorite greens and dressing, or peel and pop the hearts onto healthy pizzas and flatbreads and lose belly fat.

Peas

It’s enough to make Popeye do a spit take: Despite their wimpy reputation, a cup of green peas contains eight times the protein of a cup of spinach. And with almost 100 percent of your daily value of vitamin C in a single cup, they’ll help keep your immune system up to snuff. Layer them into a mason jar salad or add them to an omelet to boost eggs’ satiating power.

Peppers

You may have heard that spicy hot peppers can help you scorch calories, but did you know that mild peppers can have the same effect? Thanks to a metabolism-boosting compound, dihydrocapsiate, and their high vitamin-C content, sweet red and green peppers can help you lose weight. A cup of these bell-shaped veggies serves up to three times the day’s recommended vitamin C—a nutrient that counteracts stress hormones which trigger fat storage around the midsection. For fat-blasting ways to cook with any of these best vegetables, don’t miss the 150+ weight-loss recipes in the Zero Belly Cookbook!

Broccoli

In addition to warding off prostate, breast, lung and skin cancers, this flowery vegetable can also help you whittle your middle. According to experts, broccoli contains a phytonutrient called sulforaphane that increases testosterone and fights off body fat storage. It’s also rich in vitamin C ( a mere cup of the stuff can help you hit your daily mark), a nutrient that can lower levels of cortisol during stressful situations, helping those abs take center stage. The only downside? It can make some people with sensitive stomachs a bit gassy—which isn’t a good look if you’re planning to hit the beach or rock a tight-fitting outfit. That’s no reason to steer clear of this veggie on a day-to-day basis, though. Whip up our Garlicky Beef and Broccoli with Broccoli Noodles recipe to reap the belly-flattening benefits —just not the day before you need to look your leanest.

Carrots

Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and fiber, and that’s just the tip of the nutritional iceberg. Beta-carotene—the compound that gives carrots their orange hue—has been linked to a decreased risk for developing certain types of cancer. Per a The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study of over 3,000 women, those who had higher levels of beta-carotene in their blood had a 59 percent lower risk of a certain type of breast cancer (ER-negative breast cancer) than women with lower levels. Another related compound also found in carrots, alpha-carotene, reduced the cancer risk by about 39 percent.

Another study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer suggested beta-carotene may ward off lung cancer. According to scientists, beta-carotene and alpha-carotene are carotenoids that our bodies convert to vitamin A, which is important for immune function, maintaining healthy cells, and activating carcinogen-metabolizing enzymes.

Pickles

Pickles are low-cal, filled with fiber and covered in vinegar—which is all good news for your waistline. In fact, just one large pickle has 15 calories and 2 grams of belly-filling fiber, so eating three or four can actually leave you feeling pretty satiated for less than 100 calories! Every dieter knows that eating filling snacks are paramount to weight-loss success, but how does the vinegar help the fat-fighting cause? Studies show acidic foods help increase the rate at which the body burns off carbs by up to 40 percent—and the faster you burn off carbs, the sooner your body starts incinerating fat, which can help you get that lean look you crave. Add these tangy, pickled cucumbers to sandwiches and burgers or munch on them solo to start feeling more confident in your skivvies.

Potatoes

If you typically eat your potatoes warm out of the oven, you’re missing out on the spud’s fat-fighting superpowers. When you throw potatoes in the refrigerator and eat them cold, their digestible starches turn into resistant starches through a process called retrogradation. As the name implies, resistant starch, well, resists digestion, which promotes fat oxidation and reduces abdominal fat. Since eating cold baked potatoes doesn’t sound too appetizing, why not use the cooled spuds to make a potato salad instead? Here’s how: Bake red potatoes in the oven until they’re cooked through and allow them to fully cool. Then, cut them into small slices and dress them with Dijon mustard, fresh pepper, chopped green onions (more on this veggie next), dill and plain Greek yogurt. Mix everything together and put in the refrigerator to cool before consuming.

Sweet Potatoes

Although white potatoes offer some potassium and fiber, sweet potatoes actually reign supreme in the nutrition department. A large sweet potato contains around 4 grams of satiety-boosting protein, 25 percent of the day’s belly-filling fiber, and 11 times the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which has been shown to have cancer-fighting properties. A Taiwan-based study in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that higher consumption of vitamin A-rich vegetables, especially garland chrysanthemum and sweet potato leaves, might provide potential protection from lung cancer. All that nutrition and protection for less than 200 calories? Count us in!

Onions

Onions are rich in quercetin, a flavonoid that increases blood flow and activates a protein in the body that helps regulate glucose levels, torches stored fat and keeps new fat cells from forming. Not to mention, onions are basically the unsung hero of cardiovascular health—an important area of wellness for everyone, but especially those who hit the gym hard to accelerate their weight-loss efforts. The culinary staple can help lower cholesterol, ward off hardening of the arteries and help maintain healthy blood-pressure levels. The best part? Onions are super low-cal and easy to throw into just about anything, from soups, homemade burgers, sandwiches and tacos to pastas, salads, veggie sides, rice and omelets.

Spaghetti Squash

The average American consumes approximately 15.5 pounds of pasta each year—and most of it is the refined white stuff. Unfortunately, this type of noodle is usually void of fiber and micronutrients. Spaghetti squash, on the other hand, boasts only about 40 calories per cup—more than 75 percent fewer calories than a cup of plain pasta—and is an excellent source of vitamin A and potassium, which will keep your muscles toned and strong. The gourd also contains cancer-fighting beta carotene, and double the amount of omega-3 fatty acids found in butternut squash.

Mushrooms

Fungi are considered health food all-stars because they are a great source of potassium, which is vital for muscle health and recovery and can also lower blood pressure and decrease the effects of a high-sodium meal. In addition to being low-cal and fat-free, research has shown eating fungi can lead to increased immunity and protect against cancer. One study printed in the journal Nutrition and Cancer that compared the effects of mushroom extract on mice found that those treated with the extract experienced reductions in prostate tumor size and tumor cell proliferation compared to the control group of mice that were not treated.

 

Asparagus

It’s a natural diuretic, so asparagus, which contains less than 5 grams of sugar per serving, can help relieve bloating and other unpleasant feelings. The green veggie’s balance of amino acids and minerals may also help to alleviate hangover symptoms, according to a study in the Journal of Food Science.

Beets

These ruby-red roots contain a type of antioxidant called betalains that help repair and regenerate cells in the liver, your body’s primary detox organ. Beets are also high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium, which allows for healthy nerve and muscle function, and manganese, which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas. What’s more? Beets also contain nitrates which, according to a study in the journal Nitric Oxide, lowers blood pressure and helps those with chronic kidney disease.

Celery

According to a 2014 study published in the journal Obesity, chewing until your food is lump-less increases the number of calories the body burns during digestion: about 10 extra calories for a 300-calorie meal, meaning that just by slowing down the rate at which you chew, you could potentially burn approximately 2,000 extra calories each month. The study also found that chewing food more thoroughly increases blood flow to the stomach and gut, which may help to improve digestion and absorption of more nutrients from your food. Considering celery has long been lauded as one of the chewiest veggies around, making it virtually calorie-free, it’s worthwhile to add some to your diet. Try tossing the hydrating veggie into a tomato or chicken soup for an added crunch that will easily lower the overall calorie count of your meal. Aside from being super chewy, celery is also low-carb and relatively high in fiber—just one cup of the chopped veggie has 1.6 grams of the satiating nutrient.

Eggplant

According to a review published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research anthocyanins, flavonoids that give eggplants their unique color, will provide you with an array of impressive benefits. Said perks include but are not limited to obesity control, diabetes control, cardiovascular disease prevention, and improvement of visual and brain functions such as a sharper short-term memory and reduced inflammation. Go ahead and toss some of this yummy veggie into a stir-fry or make some baba ganoush—an eggplant-based spread with less calories than hummus.

Spirulina

Spirulina is a high-protein seaweed supplement that’s typically dried and sold in powdered form. The dried stuff is about 60 percent protein, and, like quinoa, it’s a complete protein, meaning it can be converted directly into muscle in the body and is thus a great weight loss tool. A tablespoon of the blue-green algae delivers 8 grams of metabolism-boosting protein for just 43 calories, plus half a day’s allotment of vitamin B12, which in and of itself can give you more energy and boost your metabolism. Try tossing some spirulina into a smoothie and watching the pounds melt off.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut isn’t just for hot dogs; this lacto-fermented cabbage, which contains natural compounds, may have potent cancer-fighting and belly-slimming properties. When unpasteurized, sauerkraut is rich in Lactobacillus bacteria—even more so than yogurt—which boosts the healthy flora in your intestinal tract, bolsters your immune system, and even improves your overall health. A 2013 study published in World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology found that mice fed a probiotic-rich sauerkraut extract had reduced cholesterol levels.

Avocado

Though somewhat villainized for being high in calories, avocados are more than worthy of a role in your diet. Just half of an avocado contains 4.6 grams of belly-filling fiber, and the green fruit’s satiating powers are so potent that a study in Nutrition Journaldiscovered that folks who added half a fresh avocado to their meal reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward. Furthermore, avocados contain metabolism-enhancing monounsaturated fats that have been shown to reduce hunger, and unsaturated fats, which seem to prevent the storage of belly fat. In fact, according to a review that appeared in the journal Phytotherapy Research, avocados may help combat metabolic syndrome, which is a clustering of risk factors including high blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and body mass index that may then lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Black Sapote

Known as the “chocolate pudding fruit,” black sapote tastes like … chocolate pudding. No wonder it’s an Eat This, Not That! favorite! Deceptively rich and creamy, a 100-gram serving has 130 calories and 191 mg of vitamin C, or twice that of an orange. (That’s a mic drop, chocolate pudding.) A study published in Food Research International found black sapote to be a good source of carotenoids and catechins, which spur the release of fat from fat cells and helps the liver convert fat into energy.

How to Enjoy It: Originating in South America, black sapotes can be found in Florida and Hawaii, and certain growers online will ship them within the U.S. Devotees swear by them for low-cal pies and smoothies. Speaking of smoothies, melt fat with each sip by making the The Best Weight-Loss Smoothie Ever.

Ruby Red Grapefruit

A 2012 study printed in the journal Metabolism found the eating half a grapefruit before meals may help reduce visceral (belly) fat and lower cholesterol levels. Participants of the six-week study who ate grapefruit with every meal saw their waists shrink by up to an inch! Researchers attribute the effects to a combination of phytochemicals and vitamin C in the grapefruit. Consider having half of a grapefruit before your morning oatmeal, and slicing a few segments to a starter salad.

Tart Cherries

Tart cherries have been shown to benefit heart health as well as body weight, in a study on obese rats. A 12-week study by the University of Michigan researchers found that rats fed antioxidant-rich tart cherries showed a 9 percent belly fat reduction compared to rats fed a “Western diet.” Moreover, the researchers noted that the cherry consumption had profound ability to alter the expression of fat genes. Enjoy some along with these 50 Best Breakfast Foods for Weight Loss.

Berries

Berries—raspberries, strawberries, blueberries—are packed with polyphenols, powerful natural chemicals that can help you lose weight–and even stop fat from forming! In a recent Texas Woman’s University study, researchers found that feeding mice three daily servings of berries decreased the formation of fat cells by up to 73 percent!

Açai Berries

Açai berries are such superstars, they deserve an entry all to themselves. Need proof? A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry discovered that the black-purple berries contain higher levels of antioxidants than pomegranates and blueberries. And a University of Florida study found that an açai extract triggered a self-destruction response in up to 86 percent of the leukemia cells it came in contact with—a promising finding for scientists working to cure cancer.

Kiwi

Backed up and bloated? Snack on kiwi. The green fruit can help you get in tip-top shape thanks to its ability to aid digestion. Though small, kiwifruit contains a hefty amount of actinidin, a natural enzyme that helps facilitate digestion by breaking down protein in the body. The tropical fruit also contains prebiotic fiber, which primes the gut for healthy digestion. In fact, according to a 2015 study published in Nutrition Research, a daily serving of green kiwifruit helps increase bowel movements.

Pink Lady Apples

Apples are one of the very best fruit-sources of fiber, which studies have proven to be integral to reducing visceral fat. A recent study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber eaten per day, visceral fat was reduced by 3.7 percent over five years. A study conducted by University of Western Australia researchers found that the Pink Lady variety had the highest level of antioxidant flavonoids.

Watermelon

Watermelon sometimes gets a bad rap for being high in sugar, but the fruit has some impressive health benefits. Eating watermelon may improve lipid profiles and lower fat accumulation, according to University of Kentucky researchers. Better yet, a study of athletes by the Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena in Spain found watermelon juice to help reduce the level of muscle soreness—that’s great news for any Eat This, Not That! warriors working on that six-pack! And staying hydrated with foods like watermelon is just one of the 17 Ways to Eat Your Water.

Grapes

Grapes are another fruit that’s often overlooked because of their high sugar content, but don’t let that deter you from snacking on a handful of these babies every now and again. That’s because both grapes and grape juice are rich sources of resveratrol, a phytochemical well studied for anti-cancer effects. Research suggests polyphenols in general, and resveratrol in particular, possess potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and in laboratory studies resveratrol prevented the kind of damage known to trigger the cancer process in cell, tissue, and animal models. According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, resveratrol was found to inhibit proliferation of cancer cells via apoptosis and by exerting anti-estrogenic effects, and reductions in breast cancer cell migration and invasion were observed after resveratrol supplementation.

Bananas

The humble fruit—botanically, actually a berry!—is perhaps the least-heralded supermarket staple, a superfood more associated with kids, monkeys and slapstick comedy than with steel-cut abs. But its powers are proven, and to investigate just how impactful they can be, Eat This, Not That! consulted our team of nutritionists to determine exactly what eating one banana does to your body. (Cool pro tip: The riper the banana the more nutrients it has!) Click here to see 21 Amazing Things That Happen When You Eat Bananas!

Pomegranates

Not only are pomegranates packed with protein and belly-filling fiber (which is found in the fruit’s edible seeds) but they also contain anthocyanins, tannins, and high levels of antioxidants, which research published in the International Journal of Obesity says can help fight weight gain. Toss some pomegranate seeds onto a salad for a burst of flavor, or mix them into a smoothie to boost the beverage’s nutrient content.

Lemons

In addition to smelling nice and looking pretty, lemon can also help encourage weight loss. Just one of the bright citrus fruits contains an entire day’s worth of vitamin C, a nutrient that has the power to reduce levels of a stress hormone called cortisol that triggers hunger and fat storage. Additionally, lemons also contain polyphenols, which researchers say may ward off fat accumulation and weight gain. Believe it or not, even the peel is beneficial because it is a potent source of pectin—a soluble fiber that’s been proven to help people feel fuller, longer. According to a studypublished in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, participants who ate just 5 grams of pectin experienced more satiety.

Oranges

Like their yellow relatives, oranges are chock-full of vitamin C—just one of the tasty fruits provides a staggering 130 percent of your vitamin C needs for the day. However, what sets oranges apart from lemons is their apparent ability to lower women’s stroke risk. According to research reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association in 2012, eating higher amounts of a flavonoid called flavanone (which is abundant in oranges and grapefruits) may lower one’s chances of having an ischemic stroke. The study found that women who ate high amounts of flavanone had a 19 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke than women who consumed the least amount.

Green Tea

Get this: Green tea literally blasts away flab! Researchers attribute the fat-burning properties of green tea to catechins, specifically EGCG — the name of a group of antioxidative compounds that blast adipose tissue by revving the metabolism, increasing the release of fat from fat cells (particularly in the belly), and then speeding up the liver’s fat burning capacity. It gets better: Research suggests that combining regular green-tea drinking with exercise may maximize the weight loss benefits. In one study, participants who combined a daily habit of 4-5 cups of green tea with a 25-minute workout lost 2 more pounds than the non-tea-drinking exercisers. Eat This, Not That! loves tea so much, we made it part of our revolutionary new diet plan, The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse.

 

White Tea

Generally speaking, tea is an excellent no-sugar alternative to sickeningly sweet sodas and juices, and, as you will soon learn, each variety of tea comes with its own weight loss benefits. For example, a study in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism found white tea can simultaneously stimulate the breakdown of fat in the body while blocking the formation of new fat cells—a belly-blasting double whammy!

Black Tea

Italian researchers found that drinking a cup of black tea per day improves cardiovascular function—and the more cups you drink, the more you benefit! Better cardiovascular function means you can breeze through that 5K you signed up for. And a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesrevealed that drinking 20 ounces of black tea daily causes the body to secrete five times more interferon, a key element of your body’s infection-protection arsenal.

Red Tea

Rooibos tea is made from the leaves of the “red bush” plant, grown exclusively in the small Cederberg region of South Africa, near Cape Town. What makes rooibos tea particularly good for your belly is a unique and powerful flavonoid called Aspalathin. According to South African researchers, polyphenols and flavonoids found in the plant inhibit adipogenesis–the formation of new fat cells–by as much as 22 percent. The chemicals also help aid fat metabolism. Plus, Rooibos is naturally sweet, so you won’t need to add sugar. It’s also not technically a tea—it’s an herbal infusion. Want to give your metabolism a kick? Check out these 55 Best-Ever Ways to Boost Your Metabolism!

Pu-erh Tea

Another star of The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse, this fermented Chinese tea can literally shrink the size of your fat cells! To discover the brew’s fat-crusading powers Chinese researchers divided rats into five groups and fed them varying diets over a two month period. In addition to a control group, there was a group given a high-fat diet with no tea supplementation and three additional groups that were fed a high-fat diet with varying doses of pu-erh tea extract. The researchers found that the tea significantly lowered triglyceride concentrations (potentially dangerous fat found in the blood) and belly fat in the high-fat diet groups.

Kombucha

Kombucha is a slightly effervescent fermented drink made with black or green tea and a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, known as a SCOBY. This fermented tea is filled with gut-healthy probiotics which can help balance good gut bacteria and help boost your immune system. In fact, researchers at Cornell University discovered that the trendy beverage may promote immunity on account of its powerful anti-microbial properties, which can fight off pathogenic bacteria. What’s more? Kombucha still has the healthy properties of tea, including superstar antioxidants.

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Grass-Fed Beef

When it comes to steak or burgers, go grass-fed. It may ding your wallet, but it’ll dent your abs. Grass-fed beef is naturally leaner and has fewer calories than conventional meat: A lean seven-ounce conventional strip steak has 386 calories and 16 grams of fat. But a seven-ounce grass-fed strip steak has only 234 calories and five grams of fat. Grass-fed meat also contains higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, according to a study published in Nutrition Journal, which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. (Where do burgers fit in? Find out how to lose weight at MickeyD’s with this essential list: Every Menu Item at McDonald’s—Ranked!!)

Bison

While grass-fed beef is an excellent choice, bison’s profile has been rising in recent years, and for good reason: It has half the fat of and fewer calories than red meat. According to the USDA, while a 90%-lean hamburger may average 10 grams of fat, a comparatively sized buffalo burger rings in at 2 grams of fat with 24 grams of protein, making it one of the leanest meats around. But wait, taking a chance on this unexpected meat will earn you two healthy bonuses: In just one serving you’ll get a full day’s allowance of vitamin B-12, which has been shown to boost energy and help shut down the genes responsible for insulin resistance and the formation of fat cells; additionally, since bison are naturally grass-fed, you can confidently down your burger knowing it’s free of the hormones and pollutants than can manifest themselves in your belly fat. Speaking of belly fat, blast it away with the help of these 11 Eating Habits That Uncover Your Abs.

Bone Broth

While bone broth might not be for everyone, it’s hard to deny the warm beverage’s numerous health benefits. The broth is made when animal bones (usually beef or chicken) are left to simmer in water for an extended period of time, which breaks down their collagen and other nutrients. Some of that broken down material from the cartilage and tendons is glucosamine (which you may have seen sold as a supplement for arthritis and joint pain). According to a study published in the journal PLOS One, when overweight, middle-aged adults took a glucosamine supplement, they were able to decrease serum CRP (inflammation biomarker) levels by 23 percent more than those who didn’t take a supplement. The stock is also full of anti-inflammatory amino acids (glycine and proline), and the ample levels of gelatin will help rebuild your gut lining to further assist with your anti-inflammatory gut microbes. In other words, drink up!

Pork

A longtime enemy of doctors and dieters, pork has been coming around as a healthier alternative of late—as long as you choose the right cut. Your best bet is pork tenderloin: A University of Wisconsin study found that a three-ounce serving of pork tenderloin has slightly less fat than a skinless chicken breast. It has 24 grams of protein per serving and 83 milligrams of waist-whittling choline (in the latter case, about the same as a medium egg). In a study published in the journal Nutrients, scientists asked 144 overweight people to eat a diet rich in fresh lean pork. After three months, the group saw a significant reduction in waist size, BMI and belly fat, with no reduction in muscle mass! They speculate that the amino acid profile of pork protein may contribute to greater fat burning.

Halibut

You already knew fish was rich in protein but you might be surprised to learn that halibut tops fiber-rich oatmeal and vegetables in the satiety department. The Satiety Index of Common Foods ranks it the number two most filling food—bested only by boiled potatoes for its fullness factor. Study authors attribute the filling factor of white fish like halibut to its impressive protein content and influence on serotonin, one of the key hormones responsible for appetite signals.

Wild Salmon

Don’t let salmon’s relatively high calorie and fat content fool you; studies suggest the oily fish may be one of the best for weight loss. In one study, participants were divided into groups and assigned one of three equi-caloric weight loss diets that included no seafood (the control group), lean white fish, or salmon. Everyone lost weight, but the salmon eaters had the lowest fasting insulin levels and a marked reduction in inflammation.

Pacific Cod

Fish and chips won’t help you lose weight, at least not out of the fryer. But research suggests a regular serving of Pacific cod, the fish that’s typical of fish sticks, may keep you stick thin. One study in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseasesfound that eating five servings of cod per week as part of a low-calorie diet for eight weeks resulted in an extra 3.8 pounds of weight loss compared to a diet with the same amount of calories but no fish. Researchers attribute the satiating and slimming properties to cod’s high protein content and amino acid profile, which can help regulate the metabolism. No wonder Captain Birdseye looks so smug!

Canned Sardines In Oil

The smaller the fish, the smaller the amount of harmful mercury. These tiny fish typically come from the Pacific. Despite their diminutive size, they pack a nutritional punch. A mere 3 ounces provides 12 percent your recommended daily intake of vitamin D, 835 mg of omega-3s, and 64 percent of selenium, a mineral that plays a key role in metabolism, immunity, and reproductive health. Plus, they’re packed with bone-building calcium. Canned versions are known to be high in sodium, so be sure to consume them in moderation or look for low-sodium canned versions.