Wouldn't it be nice if there were foods that might actually help you lose weight? Actually, there are—vegetables and legumes.

If you are looking to shed pounds, you would do well to bump up your consumption of these natural weight-loss aids. Calorie for calorie, veggies and legumes offer more than other foods. Here are reasons why they give so much weight-loss bang for the grocery store buck:

Vegetables and Legumes Stave Off Hunger

In addition to keeping you "regular", these foods keep you from being so hungry that you make less-than-optimal food choices. According to dietitian and diabetes educator Alison Massey of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, beans in particular are hunger-banishing stars thanks to fiber, protein, and some other nutrients. "Research suggests that the fiber in beans aids satiety (the feeling of fullness) by slowing gastric emptying and also impacting the release of gut hormones that cause feelings of fullness," she explains. Besides beans, go for veggies like artichokes, peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes (be sure to eat them with the skin still on).

Salads Fill You Up

Don't pass up the first course. Research shows that people who indulge in a low-calorie salad at the start of a meal will eat less of the entrée and fewer calories overall. The best salads are comprised of leafy greens and colorful vegetables. Be careful not to drench your healthful salad in a gloppy, fatty dressing—instead, go for a splash of olive oil and a dollop of balsamic vinegar.

Vegetables Are Full of Water

Diet lore suggests drinking several glasses of water every day to flush out your system. But don't just turn on the faucet. Your vegetable crisper likely contains foods that are good sources of water, too. "Ingesting some fruits and veggies hydrates the body," Massey says. "Celery, cucumbers, spinach, and tomatoes are all high in water content." The higher the water content in food, the lower the total calories tend to be.

Spice It Up

Spicy food can give you a weight-loss boost—albeit a mild one. Hot peppers contain a compound called capsaicin that causes the burning sensation you feel when you eat it. Some studies suggest that capsaicin may also offer a slight, temporary decrease in appetite. So indulge in the fiery flavor if you dare, but don't count on hot and spicy food alone to drop your dress size. As for claims that hot peppers actually increase your metabolism, Massey counters, "You can burn more calories if you start moving and incorporating exercise than you ever will by strategizing to incorporate 'metabolism-boosting' foods."

Alison Massey, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, reviewed this article.




Alison Massey, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, MD