This one’s not news, but the research continues to come in. One of the most impressive studies on nutrition and weight loss, conducted by Darius Mozzafarian of Harvard and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found yogurt to be a surprisingly important factor distinguishing people who maintain their weight as they age and those who gain relentlessly over time.
Using data from the enormous Nurses Health Study, Mozzafarian and his team analyzed the eating habits of more than 120,000 people to find commonalities between those who gained weight as they aged, and those who maintained their youthful silhouettes. Of all the foods linked with weight loss, yogurt ranked the highest. (Potato chips and potatoes themselves came in the highest for weight gain.) Scientists don’t know yet why yogurt seems so consistently linked with thinness, but are looking into the possibility that the healthy gut flora promoted by yogurt’s beneficial probiotics may play a role. (It’s also possible, though, that yogurt simply tends to be a staple of the diets of health-conscious people.)
2. Oat Bran
Oat bran is a key element in the Dukan diet popularized by Kate Middleton, Jennifer Lopez and others over the past year. In the UK and Europe, where this diet is a high-profile fad, people carry oat bran around with them to comply with the diet’s very specific requirement of 3 tablespoons a day. The Dukan Diet has even branded its own oat bran and oat bran bars. Oat bran has been easy for continental dieters to adopt because oat bran bars have been in the purses of dieting French women for decades. (I remember trying the dry zweiback-like bran bars for sale in the diet sections of French pharmacies in the early 1990s and wondering how people could stand them.)
So what’s all the fuss, and does oat bran work as promised? In general, yes, but mainly due to benefits that you can replicate with other foods. Oat bran is very high in fiber, so it makes you feel full and aids in speedy elimination. Oat bran, like oats themselves, also absorbs fats, which is why it’s recommended by doctors to lower cholesterol. While you’re welcome to try oat bran bars and see if you like them, you can get much the same benefit by following my previous advice and eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast every day.
3. Olive Oil
How can a fat help you eat less fat? Because olive oil is monounsaturated, making it a healthy part of the endlessly recommended Mediterranean diet. But more specifically because according to research at the University of Irvine, the oleic acid in olive oil is transformed in the small intestine into a compound called OEA (full name oleoylethanolamide) that relieves hunger and suppresses appetite by sending signals to your brain telling it you’re full.
Dress all those healthy salads you’re eating as part of your weight-loss plan with olive oil, and you’ll be doubling the benefit of all those antioxidant-rich veggies. A full analysis of all of the health-boosting benefits of olive oil is available from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition here.
Do you have more weight loss-friendly foods to add to this list? Please add them in a comment!hile there’s no such thing as the perfect diet, there are key foods that research has shown can help you lose weight. These foods work in different ways and for different reasons, but all have in common that people who eat them as part of a weight loss plan lose more weight faster than those who don’t. Here are 5 foods shown in recent studies to help the pounds come off more quickly. More foods to come as the studies come out.
These nuts are the perfect snack for the weight-conscious because they’re high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Don’t be fooled by the “fat” label, either; the fat in pistachios is unsaturated fat, the brain- and heart-healthy type.
Calorie counts are misleading too; not all calories are created equal. Researchers from the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition followed two groups of people on identical low-calorie diets for 12 weeks. One group ate 240 calories worth of pistachios as their afternoon snack, the other ate 220 calories worth of pretzels. The BMI (body mass indexes) of the pistachio group showed more improvement, and their cholesterol and triglyceride levels dropped as well. While shelled pistachios are more convenient, the longer amount of time required to shell them yourself makes the snack more satisfying.
The rich, meaty taste and texture makes them an ideal meat substitute, and cutting out at least some of the meat in your diet can be a powerful weight loss strategy. Last week a research team from the Weight Management Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health demonstrated this effect in a study showing that substituting mushrooms for meat in one meal a day resulted in a significant weight loss.
Researchers followed 73 participants, primarily 40-something women, for a full year in a randomized trial and found that the mushroom group was consuming 173 fewer calories and 4.5 grams less fat a day, leading them to lose an average of 7 pounds each. Let’s note that this study was funded by the mushroom council; many weig
ht loss food studies are, in fact, funded by groups representing producers and marketers of that food.