To a certain extent, your metabolism runs at a preset speed based on your genetics—thanks, Great Aunt Mildred. But by filling up on certain foods, you can give your body’s fat-burning skills a gentle nudge in the right direction. This is not a drill.
While it’s important to keep in mind that weight and metabolic rate are complicated, eating the right foods to stoke your metabolic furnace can have an impact on your overall calorie burn, says Edwina Clark, R.D., head of nutrition and wellness at Yummly.
As you fine-tune your overall strategy, here are 11 metabolism-boosters to get you started.
“Cells containing calcium actually burn off more fat than those that lack it,” says Caroline Apovian, M.D., director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at the Boston Medical Center. But since many calcium-rich foods are calorie-dense, be cautious of the grub you choose. Apovian recommends one cup of plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt, which provides about 18 percent of your daily calcium needs and contains only 100 calories.
Celery is low in calories and packed with fiber and water, so it takes quite a bit of effort to make its way through the body. And because celery acts as a diuretic, the energy that’s used by the body to increase urine production helps shift your metabolism into a higher gear, says New York-based registered dietitian Tracy Lockwood.
- RELATED: 6 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism as You Get Older
- RELATED: 5 Metabolism Myths Holding You Back from Weight Loss
- RELATED: 10 Metabolism Boosters, Ranked According to Effectiveness
- What Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, Says:
- Grapefruit and weight loss
- The Grapefruit Diet
- The Myth of Fat Burning Foods
- Nutrition 101: Eat To Burn Fat
- 18 Best Fat-Burning Foods
- The Classics
- Whole Grains
- Fat-Burning Meal Plan
- Nutrition Facts
- Health Benefits
- How to Choose
- Risks and Drug Interactions
RELATED: 6 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism as You Get Older
“Probiotic-rich fermented foods, like kimchi, are beneficial for gut health, promoting healthy digestion and less bloating,” says Rebecca Lewis, R.D., in-house dietitian at HelloFresh. This, in turn, can help your metabolism run more efficiently, since there’s not as much standing in the way of your body breaking down nutrients properly. And one small study of overweight and obese people, published in Nutrition Research, found that participants who ate fermented kimchi showed improvements in cholesterol and carbohydrate metabolism, along with increased weight loss.
(Learn how bone broth can help you lose weight with Women’s Health’s Bone Broth Diet.)
This tasty green does your metabolism a solid by providing your body with a huge dose of iron. “Because iron helps carry the oxygen our muscles need to burn fat, our muscles are able to do so at a faster rate,” says Lockwood. If you’re not a big fan of spinach, don’t fret: lentils, swiss chard, and soybeans can also do the trick, she says.
Try this spinach and artichoke dip:
“Even mild dehydration can slow your metabolism,” says Lewis. For brownie points (literally, more brownies): Drink cold water, which forces your body to use more calories to warm it up, according to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. It’s not a huge jump, but every little bit counts, right?
RELATED: 5 Metabolism Myths Holding You Back from Weight Loss
These are probably the most important foods for boosting metabolism since noshing on lean protein helps to build up your muscle mass. “This is critically important because the more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate, which is the total calories your body burns at rest in 24 hours,” says Susan Bowerman, R.D., director of worldwide nutrition education and training at Herbalife. The best sources of lean protein include poultry (breast), shellfish, beans, edamame, and tempeh.
“Fish is an excellent source of both iodine and selenium, two minerals that support the function of the thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism,” says Bowerman, so consider adding more salmon, tuna, mackerel, or trout to your repertoire.
Green tea contains a compound called EGCG, which slightly increases the body’s fat-burning process, says Apovian. Plus, the caffeine it contains can give your metabolism a (slight) boost. Opt for freshly brewed, unsweetened green tea for maximum impact, she suggests.
Whole eggs are packed with vitamin D, which helps rebuild and repair hard-working muscles, says Lockwood. The more muscle mass you have, the easier it is for your body to burn calories. Wild salmon and tofu are also excellent sources of vitamin D, she says.
RELATED: 10 Metabolism Boosters, Ranked According to Effectiveness
Spices like cayenne, red or green chili peppers, and sriracha are known as warming spices, which heat up the inside of our bodies to aid in fat breakdown, says Lewis. Research suggests that eating thermogenic foods like these can increase metabolism by up to 5 percent and increase fat burning by up to 16 percent. “The hotter the variety, the greater the affect, but the exact magnitude of the benefit may vary from person to person,” says Clark.
Noshing on avocado is a great way to boost your metabolism, especially when eaten in the morning. “Breaking your fast with foods that contain healthy fats, like the omega-3s in avocado, gets your metabolism going while keeping blood sugar levels stable (since they’re burned at a slower rate by the body). And that’s super important for weight loss since it prevents energy crashes and cravings,” says Baltimore-based registered dietitian Courtney Ferreira.
Krissy Brady Krissy is a regular contributor to Prevention, and she also writes for Cosmopolitan, Weight Watchers, Women’s Health, FitnessMagazine.com, Self.com, and Shape.com.
What Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, Says:
Does It Work?
Sorry, but grapefruit doesn’t burn fat.
There have been a few studies about grapefruit and weight loss. In one, obese people who ate half a grapefruit before meals for 12 weeks lost more weight than those who didn’t eat or drink any grapefruit products.
It may be that the water in grapefruit helps you feel full, and then you eat less. But if you’re hoping that grapefruit will melt fat, you’re going to be disappointed.
Trying to lose 10 pounds in 10 days isn’t healthy, nor is it recommended by experts. Even if it worked, you’d be likely to gain it all back, as with any fad diet. For lasting results, it’s much better to lose weight at a slower, steadier rate. Focus on a plan you can live with for life.
Is It Good for Certain Conditions?
No, this is not a recommended plan for any conditions. While you may lose weight, it’s unlikely you’d keep it off, because this diet isn’t doable long-term.
Grapefruit can interfere with certain prescription drugs, including statins (cholesterol drugs) and some blood pressure drugs. It increases the effect of these drugs and can cause adverse effects hours before and hours after taking these medications.
If you have a health condition, ask your doctor about whether you should avoid eating grapefruit or drinking its juice.
The Final Word
Don’t bother with this diet. Such a limited variety of foods in small portions is the prescription for boredom. It’s exactly the formula to cause most dieters to give up trying to lose weight.
Grapefruit can be part of a healthy weight loss diet because it’s nutritious, not because of any mysterious fat-burning properties. If you’re a grapefruit lover, reap the benefits of this super-nutritious fruit by enjoying a serving before meals. A half grapefruit or a glass of grapefruit juice before meals may help fill you up, so you’ll eat fewer calories at meals and potentially lose weight.
Grapefruit and weight loss
The grapefruit diet is apparently not a myth. That’s what a new study by the Nutrition and Metabolic Research Center at Scripps Clinic has suggested. Researchers there found that the simple act of adding grapefruit and grapefruit juice to one’s diet can result in weight loss.
The 12-week pilot study, led by Dr. Ken Fujioka, monitored weight and metabolic factors, such as insulin secretion, of the 100 men and women who participated in the Scripps Clinic ‘Grapefruit Diet’ study.
On average, participants who ate half a grapefruit with each meal lost 3.6 pounds, while those who drank a serving of grapefruit juice three times a day lost 3.3 pounds. However, many patients in the study lost more than 10 pounds.
‘For years people have talked about the grapefruit diet, and some even swear by it, but now, we have data that grapefruit helps weight loss,’ said Dr. Fujioka, principal researcher at the Nutrition and Metabolic Research Center at Scripps Clinic.
‘Our study participants maintained their daily eating habits and slightly enhanced their exercise routine; the only dietary change was the intake of Florida grapefruit and grapefruit juice.’
Additionally, the research indicates a physiological link between grapefruit and insulin, as it relates to weight management. The researchers speculate that the chemical properties of grapefruit reduce insulin levels and encourage weight loss.
The importance of this link lies with the hormone’s weight management function. While not its primary function, insulin assists with the regulation of fat metabolism.
Therefore, the smaller the insulin spike after a meal, the more efficiently the body processes food for use as energy and the less it’s stored as fat in the body. Grapefruit may possess unique chemical properties that reduce insulin levels which promotes weight loss.
Obesity continues to plague the American public and the health system.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 64 percent of U.S. adults are considered overweight or obese. Overweight or obese people stand a greater likelihood of developing life-altering and/or life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, arthritis, liver problems, and many others.
‘Our study shows grapefruit can play a vital role in overall health and wellness, and in battling America’s ever-growing obesity epidemic,’ stated Dr. Fujioka.
‘Whether it’s the properties of grapefruit or its ability to satiate appetites, grapefruit appeared to help with weight loss and decreased insulin levels leading to better health. It’s good the ‘Grapefruit Diet’ never lost its popularity among the public.’
The study linking grapefruit and grapefruit juice consumption to weight loss continues to broaden the health benefits associated with this citrus product.
You can learn more about how grapefruit can be beneficial to your health in our article, What are the health benefits of grapefruit?
The Grapefruit Diet
The Grapefruit Diet, which has also been called the Hollywood Diet, has been around since 1950. There are many versions of this quick weight-loss diet, based on the belief that enzymes found in grapefruit can help burn fat, thereby promoting rapid weight loss. Another claim is that dieters can expect to lose up to 10 pounds after 12 days on the Grapefruit Diet.
The Grapefruit Diet: How to Follow It
On the Grapefruit Diet, you will eat half a grapefruit (or drink a cup of unsweetened grapefruit juice) before breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Grapefruit Diet meal plan is low in carbohydrates and restricted to 800 calories per day or less.
A typical day on the Grapefruit Diet might include grapefruit along with:
- Eggs and bacon for breakfast
- Meat and salad for lunch
- Meat and salad for dinner
Dieters also can have a glass of tomato juice or skim milk before bed.
High-fat meats, coffee, and tea are permitted on the Grapefruit Diet. And dieters are encouraged to drink plenty of water, fast between meals, eat until fully satisfied at each meal, and avoid exercise while they are dieting due to the low-calorie intake.
The Grapefruit Diet: The Pros
Health professionals say there are some positive aspects of the Grapefruit Diet:
- Grapefruit may really help with weight loss. Whether there is something special in grapefruit that can help you lose weight is still controversial, but there is some evidence that grapefruit can be a good part of a weight-loss diet. One study found that, after 12 weeks, people who had fresh grapefruit with a placebo pill before their meals lost an average of 3.5 pounds, which was significantly more than the group that took the placebo alone.
- Most of us need to eat more fruit. “There is no doubt that grapefruit is a healthful food,” says dietitian Andrea Giancoli, MPH, a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Most people don’t get enough fruits and other plant foods, so adding some grapefruit to your diet is a reasonable thing to do when you are trying to lose weight.
The Grapefruit Diet: The Cons
While grapefruit may help with weight loss, the Grapefruit Diet’s extreme weight-loss plan is probably not an ideal option for reasons including the following:
- It overestimates the value of grapefruit. The Grapefruit Diet “touts that there is something magical about grapefruit,” says Giancoli. But if you add any kind of fruit to your diet and follow a low-calorie eating plan, you are going to lose weight. “If a person eats more fruits a day, whether they are grapefruits or oranges or apples or grapes, they are going to eat fewer calories and feel more full,” says Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and author of Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspiration.
- The weight loss is most likely temporary. “I wouldn’t follow any particular regimen that has you eat in a really odd way,” says Tallmadge. “Maybe you lose 10 pounds in two weeks, but you are going to gain it right back.”
- High-fat proteins are your main energy source. The Grapefruit Diet “cuts a lot of very healthful foods out and it potentially puts unhealthful foods in because it is really pushing meat,” says Giancoli, who adds that the diet’s lack of structure could have you eating too much bacon and other types of high-fat meats — some people may actually gain weight on this diet.
The Grapefruit Diet: Drug Interactions
There is a potential risk of drug interaction when eating large amounts of grapefruit. Eating grapefruit has been shown to increase your risk of drug toxicity and adverse effects associated with the following medications:
- Anti-arrhythmic medications
- Immune system suppressants
- Calcium channel blockers
Talk with your doctor to find out if you are at risk for these interactions. Worse than just gimmicky is a diet that actually puts your health in jeopardy.
While it’d be cool if there were a food—preferably a chocolate one—that naturally burned body fat, the truth is that this concept exists only in your dreams.
“It’s a myth,” says Dr. Caroline Apovian, MD, the director of nutrition and weight management at Boston Medical Center and a professor of medicine at Boston University. “Burning fat—no specific food does that. The only way to burn fat is to eat less calories than you expend or burn as energy.”
Turns out, other experts agree that rumors of magical, “fat-burning” foods have gotten out of hand: If you ate candy in place of a higher-calorie option every day for a month but ended each day with a caloric deficit, says Philadelphia-based weight-loss physician Dr. Charlie Seltzer, MD, you could, technically speaking, call that candy a “fat-burner,” he says. That’s because it’s only when your body runs out of grub to turn into fuel that it taps into the body’s fat stores. Over time, this can lead to measurable results.
“It depends on where you’re starting,” Dr. Seltzer says of which dietary changes prove effective. “But no food will enable you to burn body fat in a noticeable way.”
Before you “but…but…buttttt!” and begin mourning foods that have long been glorified as fat-fighters, here’s how some of the most infamous “fat-burners,” i.e., ingredients that promote fat loss, got their health halos in the first place—and which claims actually deliver.
JUMP TO: Celery / Chili peppers / Cinnamon / Coffee / Cold Water / Green Tea / Yogurt
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“It might regulate blood sugar metabolism,” says Dr. Seltzer, referring to science that has linked cinnamon and/or its extracts, in supplement form, to improvements in insulin sensitivity and positive effects on blood lipids and lean body mass. However, the theory is largely based on testing done on animals like rabbits, with no firm proof of significant effects among humans.
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Research suggests that supplementing with capsaicin, the active compound found in chili peppers, may reduce appetite, increase satiety, and suppress body-fat accumulation in response to doses ranging between six and nine milligrams a day, although many of the studies are based on small sample sizes. “You might burn an extra calorie or two, but I don’t think you’d notice a difference,” Dr. Seltzer says.
Meanwhile, Dr. Apovian suspects a practical mechanism might contribute to hot peppers’ role in helping people reach their fat-loss goals: “If you eat something, and it tastes too hot, you won’t feel like eating it,” she says.
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“You couldn’t physically eat enough celery for a notable fat-burning effect,” Dr. Seltzer says of the veggie stalks, which are at least 90 percent water. That said, there’s one caveat: “If celery keeps you from eating something else that has more calories, it might help your body maintain a calorie deficit that helps you burn fat,” he says.
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“It may increase your metabolism a little bit but it’s minor,” Dr. Seltzer says, citing caffeine as the likely mechanism. “You may notice a difference if you sub plain green tea for, say, a super value meal and a Coke.” Great! Except that tea isn’t food, and swapping meals for fluids is no way to live or see sustainable results.
This could be why the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health doesn’t stand behind green-tea extract as a weight-loss supplement (or any others they’ve reviewed)—particularly since supplementing with the stuff can deliver quantities that set some people, like those with liver disorders or related symptoms like abdominal pain and dark urine, up for liver damage. #notworthit.
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Although more research is needed regarding potential mechanisms, research suggests there may be something about yogurt, when eaten instead of less healthy foods, that supports weight loss. The magic sauce could have something to do with the way it affects bacteria in the gut or with its nutritional composition, particularly when it comes to high-protein varieties like Greek yogurt. That’s because your body uses more energy digesting protein than breaking down carbs and fat, according to Dr. Seltzer. As a result, you process fewer of the calories you eat from protein-rich foods than you might have otherwise taken in from other options that contain less of the nutrient.
“Protein is more satiating than simple carbohydrates,” Dr. Apovian adds, naming chicken and fish as lean, high-protein alternatives to dairy. But again, it all comes back to eating fewer calories overall—not one special menu item. Yogurt doesn’t go from your spoon to fat stores and obliterate ‘em.
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Research suggests that caffeine may make humans eat less and move more, which, as any weight-loss expert will tell you, is the real secret to burning fat. However, the substance’s physiological effects extend to the brain, so you can’t consume the stuff in excess without feeling jittery, unfocused, and a little loopy. In other words, don’t expect major, measurable effects from more frequent Starbucks runs—particularly without changing any other habits.
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Exposure to cold temperatures—i.e., in a pool or ski slope—does actually appear to increase the metabolism and increase fat burn, research shows. Small studies have also shown that drinking water (about two cups of warm liquid) could increase the metabolism by up to 30 percent beginning 10 minutes after consumption with results that persist for up to 40 minutes. But Dr. Seltzer doesn’t prescribe these strategies alone for significant results: “Temperature doesn’t make a giant difference unless you’re looking at it in a test tube,” he says, referring to the way science doesn’t always apply to humans in everyday life outside the laboratory. That said, drinking any temperature liquid can make you feel full, so you eat less and provoke a calorie deficit, Dr. Apovian says.
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The Bottom Line
The Women’s Health Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training Spiral-Bound Guide $19.99
“There are many ways to lose fat, and they all involve eating less calories than you need,” Dr. Apovian says, adding that although you can’t eat your way to more muscle mass, weight-bearing and resistance exercises can increase your strength and, in turn, amp up your metabolism at rest.
What matters is that any fat-burning tips you try are sustainable, since changes that don’t jive with your lifestyle (or leave you miserable) won’t deliver lasting results.
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Elizabeth Narins Senior fitness and health editor Elizabeth Narins is a Brooklyn, NY-based writer and a former senior editor at Cosmopolitan.com, where she wrote about fitness, health, and more.
The Myth of Fat Burning Foods
You’ve seen the headlines… Ads telling you to “Eat these 5 fat burning foods” and you’ll be able to achieve miraculous things, drop 10 pounds in two weeks, lose several inches off your waist, etc. The reality is, fat-burning foods are a bit of a misnomer. Food (the good, the bad, and the ugly) doesn’t make you burn or store less fat based on the food alone. If we were to call a food a “fat burning food” it would be a food that after you eat it, it will help you sustain a caloric deficit.
Based on that, a fat burning food is what makes you feel full for a longer period of time while helping your blood sugar to be regulated in normal ranges. These effects are usually caused by foods that are high in healthy fats (since fat causes satiation), high in fiber (which also causes satiation) and protein (which helps regulate blood sugar levels). To put it in simple words, foods like salmon, extra virgin olive oil, avocados and mixed with leafy greens to name a few.
With that said, let’s talk about the most common:
5 Weight Loss Myths
Count Calories: It is so much work and stressful, which can lead to you getting overwhelmed and discouraged. Instead, start by eating real whole foods, foods that don’t come in a package or a can. Switch to organic, grass fed, wild caught, pastured raised. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re 80% full (almost full).
Do Lots of cardio: We hear it all the time with our beginner patients that they spent over an hour at the gym without seeing results. Low intensity cardio or basically a cardio movement that you can do at the same pace, repetitively for 30 min or more, will eventually end up using your muscle instead of fat as source of energy. Recent research has shown that high intensity interval cardio is the most effective to use stored fat as energy source and not only that, but it keeps your body burning calories even after you’re done with your workout!
Fat makes you Fat: Fat has gotten such a bad reputation in the past. Luckily, the science is now proving that myth wrong. Healthy fats are a great source of nourishment for the body and they also keep you satisfied for longer. Yes it is true that fat has more calories than carbohydrates or protein, but what counts is your total daily caloric intake not an isolated food. If you combine HEALTHY fats with non-processed and low glycemic carbs and proteins, you will be providing high quality nourishment to your body, increase brain function and most probably end up eating less since you will be satiated.
You need to eat breakfast to lose weight: Recent research has demonstrated that cycling between periods of eating and fasting has many health benefits like reducing insulin levels, blood sugar levels, inflammation, blood pressure and reducing fat storage. This is called Intermittent Fasting. There’s different types of Intermittent Fasting and different ways how you can introduce this into your lifestyle, however, as beneficial as this approach can be, it is not for everyone, so make sure you work with a health care provider if you want to try this out.
Supplements and herbs will make you lose weight: The reality is that there is no magic pill to make you loose weight. What you eat will impact your weight anywhere from 70 to 80%. The rest is physical activity and supplementation. The reason why so many doctors an health practitioners use supplements with their patients is because it helps the patient get to their goals faster and with that, keeps them motivated and helps create a LIFESTYLE. Herbs and supplements can be very beneficial and helpful but if they are not combined with the proper food plan FOR YOU, they will just be a waste of money. So before purchasing any promising magic pill of committing to a supplement plan, make sure to commit to a healthy food plan first.
5 Foods That Can Help Boost Weight Loss
Medium-chain triglycerides have been shown to increase metabolic rate in several studies. One study in eight healthy men found adding 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 grams) of MCTs per day to the men’s usual diets increased their metabolic rate by 5% over a 24-hour period, meaning they burned an average of 120 extra calorie. In addition, MCTs may reduce hunger and promote better retention of muscle mass during weight loss.
Replacing some of the fat in your diet with 2 tablespoons of MCT oil per day may optimize fat burning. Medium-chain triglycerides have been shown to increase metabolic rate in several studies.
One study in eight healthy men found adding 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 grams) of MCTs per day to the men’s usual diets increased their metabolic rate by 5% over a 24-hour period, meaning they burned an average of 120 extra calorieIn addition, MCTs may reduce hunger and promote better retention of muscle mass during weight loss. Replacing some of the fat in your diet with 2 tablespoons of MCT oil per day may optimize fat burning.
In addition to providing a moderate amount of caffeine, green tea is an excellent source of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant that promotes fat burning and the loss of belly fat. Enjoy it warm with some sliced fresh ginger or cold with an orange peel and ice.
Apple Cider Vinegar
It’s been credited with reducing appetite and lowering blood sugar and insulin levels in people with diabetes. What’s more, vinegar’s main component, acetic acid, has been found to increase fat burning and reduce belly fat storage in several animal studies. To top it off, it’s a great natural way to aid with digestion.
Oolong tea contains caffeine and catechins, both of which have been found to increase metabolic rate and promote fat loss. According to a study in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, participants who regularly sipped oolong tea lost six pounds over the course of six weeks. What’s more? The tea’s antioxidants are thought to remove harmful free radicals and improve bone health.
Wild Caught Salmon
Salmon boasts significant anti-inflammatory properties thanks to its rich omega-3 fatty acid content, meaning it’s an excellent source of protein for those looking to jumpstart their weight loss. In fact, one International Journal of Obesity study that examined the effects of weight loss and seafood consumption showed that when men ate three 5-ounce servings of salmon per week for a month as part of a low-calorie diet, it resulted in approximately 2.2 pounds more weight loss than following an equicaloric diet that didn’t include fish. According to a study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, fishy fatty acids may also signal thyroid cells in the liver to burn more fat.
NEW YORK — In the battle of the bulge, belly fat is an especially tough opponent. But there are actually a number of foods that are great for your taste buds and your waistline. They help you fight belly fat. And you may find this hard to believe, but they’re so delicious, you probably already eat them!
On “The Early Show,” Self magazine Editor in Chief Lucy Danziger not only named the foods Self highlights, she discussed some things Self says you can do without being noticed that can also help, and the opposite – things Self says you may do that can sabotage your efforts.
Belly Fat-Fighting Foods
Merely half of one avocado contains 10 grams of healthy mono-saturated fats, which stop the blood sugar spikes that tell your body to store fat around your midsection.
Not only do healthy fats in avocado help thwart belly bloat, they also help our bodies better absorb carotenoids, cancer-fighting compounds found in colorful fruits and veggies like tomatoes, carrots, spinach and winter squash. In fact, people who ate salads with avocado had 15 times higher absorption of carotenoids, a study from The Ohio State University at Columbus found.
The fruit packs 422 milligrams of potassium, a mineral that can help limit the amount of belly swelling sodium in your body.
A cup encourages the growth of good bacteria in your gut, throwing out other bugs that can cause bloating.
Creamy Greek yogurt is yummy, but it’s also much more than that: Its combo of carbs and protein help stabilize insulin, a hormone that tells your body to store calories as fat when levels get too high.
Antioxidants can improve blood flow, delivering more oxygen to muscles — so ab revealing cardio is easier. Have some yogurt and berries before your workout to get those muscles ready for action.
5. Chocolate Skim Milk
A glass teams carbohydrates with protein to promote muscle building. Drink POST workout to speed recovery. Plus, you are getting that calcium to make your bones stronger. Chocolate milk is not just for kids!
6. Green Tea
Three cups daily may rev up your metabolism and burn 30 calories, a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows. The compound ECGC in the tea makes it easier to burn fat.
Supermarket shocker: Vitamin C in colorful produce, like oranges and red peppers can help you zap up to 30 percent more fat during exercise, research from Arizona State University at Mesa suggests.
8. Whole Grains
Carb lovers, Rejoice! The filling fiber in foods like oatmeal, brown rice, and bulgur aids in keeping your body’s insulin levels low. Researchers speculate this may shrink fat cells. Your body absorbs and burns these more slowly for longer-lasting energy than the refined carbs in white bread and rice.
Stealthy stomach slimmers
While you’re working out: On the elliptical or treadmill, keep your back straight, head forward and abs tight. Perfect posture will target your tummy as you sizzle calories.
When you’re in the car: Tighten and release abs repeatedly at red lights. It’s the ab equivalent of Kegels: a little move that yields results almost without your noticing.
When you’re at your desk: Give belly pooch the pink slip with pilates breathing: Gently suck in your gut as if you were buttoning a tight pair of jeans. Then breathe without allowing your abs to relax. Do this for 30 seconds. Repeat five times, advises Michele Olson, Ph.D., professor of exercise science at Auburn University.
When you’re walking Fido: Brace against leash tugging and banish your belly: Keeping torso upright with shoulders back, engage abs for five strides; relax them for five strides. Repeat until you’re back at your front door, says Torri Shack, a trainer in Los Angeles. Check out your (bow) wow abs!
When you’re in bed: Count on compliments, not sheep, with this mattress move: Place palms right below belly button. Exhale and allow stomach to expand. Then inhale, pulling belly button toward spine, drawing abdomen toward the box spring. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat four times.
Five Saboteurs of Sexy Stomachs:
Don’t make nice. These are your ab-versaries!:
Booze: Feel free to raise a glass-but only one. Women who had one drink a day or less had a smaller belly than both teetotalers and occasional drinkers who had two or more alcoholic beverages in a sitting, a study in the Journal of Nutrition reports. We’ll toast to that!
Time in front of the TV: We love a DVR-athon, too, but people who tuned in for two or more hours daily had weaker back and ab muscles (by up to 10 percent) than those who viewed less than two hours, regardless of their overall activity level, researchers from the University of Oulu note. An hour of tube time is fine, especially if it motivates you to hit the gym. Worthy of watching: Smallville’s Tom “Clark Kent” Welling and Justin “Green Arrow” Hartley, whose super fly abs sure make us want to breathe heavier.
Stressing out:: Feeling frazzled and frantic? Increased levels of the hormone cortisol, a result of chronic worry, lead to excess stomach fat, research shows. To de-stress and weigh much less, learn to breathe. Slowly inhale through your nose, counting to four. Then exhale from your mouth for a count of eight. Repeat until refreshed.
That darned bread basket!: Those fluffy white rolls? They’re your flat-ab foe! When facing a bread basket, check its contents before digging in. If you see whole grains, go for it-in fact, feel free to enjoy 3 ounces a day. (One slice of whole-wheat bread or 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice are each 1 ounce.) Dieters who did so lost more stomach fat than those who merely cut calories and ate refined grains, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals.
Late-night munchies: We hate to be a Debbie Downer, so think of us as Debbie Downsizer: Pass up p.m. snacks. Your body may not burn nighttime nibbles as efficiently as it does those you eat during the day, a study of high-fat diets in the journal Obesity finds. Declare “last call” two hours before bed. “If you’re really hungry, have a 150-calorie snack,” says self contributing expert Janis Jibrin, R.D. If not, sip tea, cut the lights and bid farewell to the fridge until morning.
Nutrition 101: Eat To Burn Fat
Some foods are worth more than the sum of their calories. These nutrient-dense picks will go a long way toward keeping you full, revving your metabolism, and speeding your weight-loss efforts. And no, you don’t have to live off of celery and cucumbers. Go shopping with this list of fat burning foods you’ll actually be stoked to eat, or use the full fat-burning meal plan
18 Best Fat-Burning Foods
This earthy-tasting nutritional powerhouse is loaded with compounds called nitrates. Nitrates help increase vasodilation (the widening of blood vessels) and boost your performance in the gym. The harder you work in the gym, the more calories you’ll burn, and the leaner you’ll get.
Top a salad with roasted or boiled beets, or toss them with feta cheese as a great side to your favorite protein.
These shellfish are loaded with lean protein, which is crucial for managing your weight. Steam them in water with a little white wine for a fast meal—the alcohol will burn off.
Plus, mussels take a while to eat. This means your internal satiety sensors have more time to register the food you’re eating, so you end up eating less.
Though mainly thought of as a seasonal dessert indulgence, pumpkin is packed with fiber, which slows digestion and keeps you feeling full longer. Canned pumpkin—which contains no added sugar—is available year-round and can be used to make treats that fit your diet: low-carb pancakes, a protein-packed pumpkin pie, or tossed in a smoothie with some whey, walnuts, and cinnamon.
Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats, which has been shown to help people lose deep abdominal fat when used to replace dietary saturated fat. Avocados are also a good source of fiber.
You don’t need to be fancy with your avocados: Slice one in half, sprinkle on a little salt, and eat with a spoon. Or, fill it with tomato salsa for a hit of Vitamin C.
5. Cheese Sticks
Arnold once said that milk was for babies but men drink beer. You may think the same is true for cheese sticks, but they’re not a childish snack. They’re portable, pre-portioned, and are an easy way to raise your protein intake. Pair them with a small piece of fruit for a great fat-loss snack on the go.
This fermented hybrid of milk and yogurt delivers a powerful combination of protein and probiotics. It’s 99 percent lactose free because the beneficial bacteria in kefir pre-digests the lactose for you, making it a good alternative to milk for the lactose sensitive.
If you don’t like cooking fish, pick up some sardines—they’re ready to eat straight out of the can. They also have an extended shelf-life and are very portable.
A Spanish study found that eating oily fish like sardines three times per week while dieting led to improvements in leptin. Leptin is a hormone released from fat cells that regulates appetite and body-fat levels, helping you lose weight.
This may be due to the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in this fish. A can of sardines has about 1.4 grams of omega-3 fats, comparable to the amount in a fish oil capsule. Getting a gram or two of omega-3s each day has all kinds of health benefits, including helping you feel full during weight loss.
Apples are satisfying, low in calories, and can help make your diet plan more effective. The pectin in apples can limit how much fat your cells absorb. They also contain plenty of antioxidants and soluble fiber to aid in digestion.
But don’t eat too many—their high natural sugar can cause you to crash and burn like other carbs, although the fiber helps slow it down to a degree. However, this fiber, along with the fruit’s natural acids, can cause intestinal upset if eaten in large quantities. Stick to an apple a day.
Add a few prunes to your breakfast oatmeal to support your weight-loss efforts. Prunes contain soluble fiber, which helps with blood sugar control and satiety. They’re also loaded with anthocyanins—powerful antioxidants most commonly found in pomegranates and blueberries.
While anthocyanins can be poorly absorbed by your digestive tract, that isn’t necessarily bad news, as unabsorbed anthocyanins are used to fuel the healthy bacteria in your gut. Curating the best bacteria in your gut is key for being healthy and losing fat.
10. Cold Cooked Potatoes
Cooking and then cooling potatoes—potato salad, anyone?— leads to the retrograde formation of resistant starch, which can help you lose weight. Resistant starch can help improve insulin sensitivity and enhance satiety, two important factors in optimizing fat loss.
While sweet potatoes hog the spotlight, regular potatoes are healthy, too, providing potassium, Vitamin C, and other nutrients, as well as clean carbs.
It sounds weird but baked, cooled potatoes are tasty right out of the fridge. Pair them with hardboiled eggs for a super quick breakfast.
11. Soy Protein
Again, protein is your best friend for fat loss. It burns more calories to digest than other foods. It fuels muscle growth, which itself can fast-track weight loss. The more lean muscle your body has, the more energy it takes to fuel those muscles, thus increasing metabolism. Protein also helps keep your blood sugar stable.
Soy is one of the best types of clean protein for promoting healthy weight loss. If you’re not big on tofu, try creamy soy milk with coffee or your breakfast cereal.
12. Green Tea
Green tea can help improve metabolism by as much as 4 percent in a 24-hour period. That might not seem like much, but if you have it with breakfast every morning it can keep your metabolism in a higher gear throughout the day.
Green tea is also known to reduce appetite. Learn more about how it can help you lose weight in the article, “Your Expert Guide to Green Tea.”
Variety is the spice of life, but don’t forget to include these weight-loss food standbys. They’re famous for a reason.
While the grapefruit diet is a waste of time, grapefruit itself can be a legitimate addition to a well-rounded weight-loss diet. A study conducted at the Nutrition and Metabolic Research Center at Scripps Clinic found that eating half a grapefruit with meals accelerated fat loss.
Grapefruit is high in fiber, water, and flavor, and has very few calories (half a grapefruit is only about 40 calories). It’s also a great source of vitamin C and other micronutrients.
Fresh grapefruit is the healthiest option. Try combining half a grapefruit with your breakfast and the other half with your lunch. Make sure to eat the white parts of the grapefruit as well, as this pith contains high amounts of soluble fiber. The next best thing is 100 percent grapefruit juice with no added sugar. Look for a grapefruit juice with a high amount of pulp.
14. Chicken Breast
Unless you’re vegetarian, chicken breast should always be part of your diet. It’s one of the best weight-loss foods you can eat. Chicken is a high-quality protein source that helps you maximize your lean muscle weight and minimize your fat weight.
15. Eggs and Egg Whites
Egg whites are low in calories and high in protein. This equals energy for fat burning and building muscles.
But what you may not know is the yolks are good for you, too. If you’re concerned about keeping your calories low, combine whole eggs with egg whites, or alternate them.
And eggs aren’t just for breakfast! A frittata with plenty of veggies makes a satisfying lunch or dinner.
Almonds offer the satiating trio of fiber, protein, and dietary fat. Research has also shown that almonds have 20 percent fewer calories than was initially thought.
Sprinkle chopped almonds on your (low-sugar) breakfast cereal or oatmeal. They’re also great to keep in your car or gym bag for hunger emergencies.
Whole grains like oats and rice contain an abundance of phytochemicals and antioxidants similar to those in fruits and vegetables. Use them along with potatoes and sweet potatoes to bolster your carb intake.
Whole grains are a great source of B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, and fiber—which helps regulate digestion, hunger, and metabolism, keeping extra pounds at bay.
Common whole grains:
- Wild rice
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat
- Whole oats
- Whole rye
- Popcorn (yes, popcorn—just skip the butter and cheese flavors)
An easy improvement when you’re trying to lose weight is to replace refined grains (like white flour) with whole grains whenever possible. For instance, swap your sugary breakfast cereal for oatmeal or a less-sweet cereal made with whole grains. Even healthy-sounding cereals can have a lot of sugar, so read the labels.
Among whole grains, oatmeal is one of the healthiest and most convenient to add to your diet. Aside from being easy to cook, oatmeal can help with weight management because it is rich in insoluble and soluble fiber.
Read the label on those pre-measured instant oat packets, though—most of them have lots of sugar. You can make your own instant oatmeal using “quick oats” bought in bulk. Sweeten with fruit or stevia and add a good fat like almond butter to make high-octane oatmeal that will keep you full for hours.
18. Brown Rice
In addition to oats, brown rice is another powerful whole grain for weight loss. Packed with fiber and essential nutrients, its carbs absorb slowly into the bloodstream, keeping you full. You can’t go wrong with this fat-burning complex carbohydrate.
Fat-Burning Meal Plan
Use this diet plan as a guide, but feel free to swap in other healthy foods you like better. Adjust the amounts up or down if needed – the most important thing is that you’re getting plenty of nutrient-rich fuel.
Meal 1Oats 1 cupBlueberries 1 cupFlaxseeds 1 tbspWalnuts 1/2 oz.Protein Powder 1 scoop Meal 2Yogurt 1 cup Eggs 6 Cranberries 1 tbsp Flaxseeds 1 tbsp Meal 3 Pita Bread 1 pocket Chicken 4 oz. Orange 1 Lettuce 1 serving Tomato 1 serving Almonds 1/2 oz. Mustard to taste Meal 4 Tuna 1 can Garlic 1 Eggs 1 Mustard to taste Quinoa 1/2 cup Orange 1 Meal 5 Spinach 3 cups Turkey Bacon 2 strips Black Beans 1/2 cup Mushrooms 1/2 cup Chicken 3 oz. Carrots 1 cup Balsamic Vinegar 1 serving Meal 6 Cheese 1 oz. Eggs 9 Canadian Bacon 1 strip Apple 1 Pear 1
Meal 1 English Muffins 1 Eggs (yolk) 1 Egg Whites 3 Grapefruit 1 Meal 2 Flaxseeds 1 tbsp Meal 3 Spinach 3 cups Turkey Bacon 2 strips Black Beans 1/2 cup Mushrooms 1/2 cup Carrots 1 cup Chicken (grilled) 3 oz. Balsamic Vinegar 1 serving Meal 4 Apple 1 Peanut Butter 1 tbsp Bell Pepper 1 cup Guacamole 2 tbsp Meal 5 Pita Bread 1 Chicken 4 oz. Bell Pepper 1 cup Guacamole 2 tbsp Meal 6 Yogurt 1 cup Cottage Cheese 1 cup Grapes 1 cup Flaxseeds 2 tbsp
Meal 1 Egg Whites 9 Spinach 3 cups Turkey Bacon 2 strips Garlic 1 Grapefruit 1 Apple 1 Meal 2 Cottage Cheese 1 cup Grapes 1 cup Flaxseeds 2 tbsp Meal 3 Walnuts 1/2 oz. Banana 1 Milk 1 cup Protein Powder 1 scoop Meal 4 Whole-Wheat Tortilla 1 Hummus 1/4 cup Spinach 1 cup Chicken 3 oz. Carrots 1 cup Meal 5 Sweet Potato 1 Pork 3 oz. Asparagus 1 cup Milk 1 cup Meal 6 Cottage Cheese 1 cup Pineapple 1 cup Wheat Germ 2 tbsp Almonds 1/2 oz.
Meal 1 Cottage Cheese 1 cup Blueberries 1 cup Flaxseeds 1 tbsp Cinnamon to taste Meal 2 Protein Shake 1 serving Chocolate Milk 2 cups Meal 3 Orange 1 Apple 1 Almonds 1/2 oz. Yogurt 1 cup Meal 4 Balsamic Vinegar 1 serving Banana 1 Tuna 1 can Black Beans 1/2 cup Meal 5 Green Pepper 1 Steak 3 oz. Barley (cooked) 1 cup Marinara Sauce 1 cup Mushrooms 1/2 cup Meal 6 Meal Replacement Shake 1 Flaxseeds 2 tbsp
Meal 1 Oats 1/2 cup Apple 1 Cottage Cheese 1 cup Walnuts 1 oz. Meal 2 Whole Wheat Bread 2 slices Banana 1/2 Peanut Butter 1 tbsp Protein Powder 1 1/2 scoops Meal 3 Bell Pepper 1/2 cup Eggs (yolk) 1 Egg Whites 6 Broccoli 1 cup Pear 2 Meal 4 Spinach 3 cups Turkey Bacon 2 strips Black Beans 1/2 cup Mushrooms 1/2 cup Chicken (grilled) 3 oz. Carrots 1 cup Balsamic Vinegar 1 serving Meal 5 Burger Patty (turkey) 4 oz. Milk 1 cup Carrots 1 cup Quinoa 1/2 cup Meal 6 Cottage Cheese 1 cup Pineapple 1 cup Flaxseeds 1 tbsp
Meal 1 Yogurt 1/2 cup Cottage Cheese 1 cup Grapes 1 cup Flaxseeds 1 tbsp Meal 2 Egg Whites 8 Garlic 1 Spinach 2 cups Squash 1 cup Apple 1 Orange 1 Meal 3 Oats 1/2 cup Blueberries 1 cup Flaxseeds 1 tbsp Protein Powder 1 scoop Meal 4 Salmon 3 oz. Barley 1/2 cup Cottage Cheese 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar 1 tsp Meal 5 Sweet Potato 1 Pork 3 oz. Broccoli 1 cup Orange 1 Meal 6 Meal Replacement Shake 1 Flaxseeds 1 tbsp
Meal 1 Oat Bran 1/2 cup Banana 1/2 Eggs (yolks) 2 Egg Whites 6 Meal 2 Yogurt 1/2 cup Cottage Cheese 1 cup Grapes 1 cup Flaxseeds 1 tsp Meal 3 Spinach 3 cups Turkey Bacon 2 strips Black Beans 1/2 cup Mushrooms 1/2 cup Chicken 3 oz. Carrots 1 cup Balsamic Vinegar 1 serving Meal 4 Walnuts 1 oz. Apple 2 Protein Powder 1 scoop Meal 5 Salmon (grilled) 3 oz. Brown Rice 1/4 cup Chard 2 cups Meal 6 Cottage Cheese 1 cup Almonds 1/2 oz. Cherry Tomato 1 cup Spices (basil leaves) 1 serving Balsamic Vinegar 1 serving
Hungry for more healthy foods? Check out these guides:
- 26 Healthy Snacks
- 40 High Protein Foods
- Top 10 Protein Bars
Grapefruits can be white, yellow, pink or red in color with a taste ranging from sour to sweet — most often a refreshing mix of the two. Whatever color you choose, the calories in grapefruit are low, but the flavor and nutrients are high. Just a half a grapefruit each day can ensure the average adult is meeting at least half of typical vitamin C requirements, one of the reasons grapefruit benefits many areas of health.
Grapefruit also contains health-promoting phytochemicals like lycopene and beta-carotene (in the pink and red varieties) as well as limonoids like limonin and flavonoids like naringenin. Not surprisingly, it makes the American Institute for Cancer Research’s list of “Foods that Fight Cancer.” (1)
Plus, multiple studies, including one published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, reveal that grapefruit is an extremely smart choice if you’re trying to lose weight with just half a grapefruit per day making a significant impact on weight loss efforts. (2)
Grapefruit has many health benefits, uses and forms. Along with consuming the entire fruit, grapefruit juice, grapefruit essential oil and grapefruit seed extract can all be used to benefit your health. In this article, we will focus on grapefruit as a whole citrus fruit and the grapefruit benefits you can obtain by consuming the fruit.
Grapefruit is an edible fruit that come from the grapefruit tree (Citrus paradisi), a citrus tree of the Rutaceae family. According to Harvard Medical School, grapefruit has a glycemic index of 25, making it one of the lowest glycemic fruit options. (11)
In addition to being a low-calorie food that’s also relatively low on the glycemic index, grapefruit is loaded with nutrients. Grapefruit nutrition does vary slightly depending on the color of the fruit. The pink or red color of a grapefruit equates to it having beneficial beta-carotene and lycopene.
To give you an idea of just some of the top nutrients in grapefruit, a half (123 grams) of a pink or red grapefruit contains about the following: (12)
- 51.7 calories
- 13.1 grams carbohydrates
- 0.9 gram protein
- 0.2 gram fat
- 2 grams fiber
- 38.4 milligrams vitamin C (64 percent)
- 1,415 international units vitamin A (28 percent)
- 166 milligrams potassium (5 percent)
- 16 micrograms folate (4 percent)
- 0.1 milligram thiamine (4 percent)
- 27.1 milligrams calcium (3 percent)
- 0.3 milligram pantothenic acid (3 percent)
- 0.1 milligram vitamin B6 (3 percent)
- 11.1 milligrams magnesium (3 percent)
As you can see, this is a definitely a nutrient-dense superfood, especially rich in vitamin C. There are roughly only 100 calories in a grapefruit, and it provides more than 100 percent of daily vitamin C requirements.
The benefits of grapefruit are numerous. Here are the top six major grapefruit benefits:
1. Weight Loss
Research continues to reveal that consuming grapefruit benefits weight loss in a a major way. The key may be an enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which appears to get activated by an organic compound in grapefruit called nootkatone. When AMPK gets activated, it encourages the body’s energy-producing processes, like glucose uptake, for example, which helps boost metabolism. That, in turn, can encourage weight loss. AMPK is generally activated during exercise to help muscles use stored sugar and fat for energy.
An animal study published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism demonstrated how long-term intake of nootkatone “significantly reduced high-fat and high-sucrose diet-induced body weight gain, abdominal fat accumulation, and the development of hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, and hyperleptinemia.” The study concluded that not only can grapefruit’s nootkatone likely help to prevent obesity, but it can also improve overall physical performance. (3)
Animal studies have also shown that grapefruit juice beats out anti-obesity drugs when it comes to weight loss. Specifically, one study compared grapefruit juice to sibutramine, which is no longer available due to concerns about it increasing heart attack and stroke risk. Not only was grapefruit juice more effective for weight loss than the sibutramine, but it also didn’t negatively affect neurotransmitters the way sibutramine did. (4)
If the animal studies aren’t convincing enough, there have also been human studies involving grapefruit benefits when it comes to weight loss. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food looked at the impact of grapefruit and grapefruit products on body weight and metabolic syndrome in 91 obese patients. Grapefruit capsules and grapefruit juice resulted in more weight loss than the placebo groups, but fresh grapefruit was definitely the star. The consumption of half of a fresh grapefruit before meals was associated with significant weight loss along with improved insulin resistance. (5)
2. Cellulite Reduction
Another one of the many desirable grapefruit benefits is its apparent ability to help discourage cellulite. According to the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, the primary way grapefruit can be used to reduce cellulite is through inhaling the vapor of the extract because it stimulates the nervous system by 250 percent. This grapefruit aromatherapy combined with a topical cream that contains caffeine has can reportedly have a slimming effect. (6)
Grapefruit also contains significant levels of anti-inflammatory and skin-cleansing agents, including the enzyme bromelain, which is known to help break down cellulite. So if you’re wondering how to get rid of cellulite, grapefruit just may do the trick.
3. Cancer Fighter
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, cell and animal studies have shown that grapefruit’s phytochemicals naringenin and limonin have shown an ability to reduce the growth of of colon, mouth, skin, lung, breast and stomach cancers.
The studies also showed that not only did proliferation slow down, but the highly desirable self-destruction of the cancer cells increased. It’s believed that these grapefruit compounds work in a two-pronged approach: “They decrease inflammation and increase enzymes that deactivate carcinogens.” (7)
Grapefruit’s super start antioxidant, vitamin C, has also been shown to prevent harmful changes to DNA caused by free radicals while also preventing carcinogen development. All this makes grapefruit one of the more effective cancer-fighting foods out there.
4. Immunity Booster
With its standing among the top vitamin C foods, you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t agree that eating grapefruit is a healthy way to start your day. The red and pink varieties are especially packed with bioflavonoids and provide you with an extra immunity boost.
Numerous scientific studies have shown that all of our immune system’s cells function at their peak when they get enough vitamin C on a steady basis. When these disease-fighting cells get the vitamin C they need from dietary sources like grapefruit, these vital cells are better able to identify and successfully wipe out any invading organisms (like the ones that cause illness). Many experts agree that not getting enough vitamin C can make the human body that much more likely to contract sickness and infections. (8)
5. Stroke Risk Reducer
According to a 2012 study by the American Heart Association, eating grapefruits and oranges appears to be useful in lowering the risk of a stroke, especially if you’re a woman. Citrus fruits, like grapefruit, are very high in a group of compounds called flavonoids, and this research shows that higher consumption of flavonoids may decrease the risk of an ischemic stroke.
The study had just under 70,000 female subjects and found that women who consumed high amounts of flavonoids in citrus fruits like grapefruit had a 19 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke than women who consumed the least amount. In addition, a prior study had concluded that citrus fruit intake, but not intake of other fruits, improved the risk of ischemic stroke and intracerebral hemorrhage. (9)
6. Skin Health and Appearance Enhancer
If you haven’t noticed, there are a variety of cosmetic and skin-cleansing products on the market these days that have grapefruit as a star ingredient. Grapefruit contains natural acids that cleanse the skin when used in skincare products. Grapefruit is loaded with vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant to protect the skin and also is essential to the formation of collagen, a major building block of our skin. Collagen production is key when it comes to keeping skin looking youthful and wrinkle-free.
Pink grapefruit is also rich in beta-carotene, which is amazing at slowing the aging of skin cells and has been known to also improve hyperpigmentation. Skincare experts also love how pink grapefruit contains lycopene, which is known to guard against sun-induced skin damage and mutation as well as inflammation in general.
Last but not least, grapefruit naturally contains a breakout-fighting and pore-cleansing ingredient you’ve probably heard of before: salicylic acid, making grapefruit a potential home remedy for acne. (10)
Overall, internal and external use of grapefruit is really a double punch when it comes to your skin’s health and appearance.
Related: Tangerine Fruit: Benefits, Nutrition & How It Compares to an Orange
How to Choose
If you’re interested in getting in on the benefits of grapefruit, you can find them at a grocery store near you any time of year. In the United States, grapefruits are typically in season in states like Florida and Texas from November through June. The peak of the season typically starts around late December and goes into April.
You can opt for organic grapefruit if you prefer, but grapefruits are not a part of the “dirty dozen.” They actually make the Environmental Working Group’s “Clean Fifteen” list. (13) What does that mean for you as a shopper? It means that you don’t have to feel guilty if you don’t buy organic when it comes to grapefruits because they’re one of the produce items least likely to be contaminated by pesticides. Of course, organic is best.
Grapefruit slices or a half of grapefruit are delicious themselves. If you happen to get a grapefruit that’s especially tart (the white ones tend to be tarter than pink or red grapefruits), you can always drizzle a little bit of raw honey on it.
How to eat a grapefruit:
- First, cut your grapefruit in half.
- Next, use a knife (ideally, a serrated knife) to cut all the way around the grapefruit’s perimeter (where the pulp and the rind meet).
- Now slice on either side of each segment so it’s readily able to be scooped.
- Place the grapefruit in a bowl and use a spoon to eat the segments.
Looking for other ways to obtain grapefruit benefits? You can also throw grapefruit into salads (fruit-based or savory green salads) as well as smoothies, fresh juices, and even meat and fish dishes that could use a burst of fresh, citrusy flavor. You can also add fresh grapefruit juice to homemade salad dressings and marinades.
Want to experience the many benefits of grapefruit today? Try some of these tasty recipes that include fresh grapefruit:
- Citrus Bliss Weight Loss Juice Recipe
- Immune-Boosting Smoothie Recipe
If you’re struggling with cellulite, you also may want to try my Grapefruit Cellulite Cream.
Grapefruit Interesting Facts
Grapefruit, the “citrus of paradise,” first came about in the 18th century. The name “grapefruit” is said to come from the grape-like cluster growth pattern. History credits Captain Shaddock for first cultivating seeds from the orange and pomelo that ultimately led to the naturally occurring crossbreed that we now enjoy. Early in the 19th century, some Florida farmers brought grapefruit to America, and later that century it became a popular commercial crop. (14)
Today, the major producers of grapefruit in the U.S. are Arizona, California, Florida and Texas. Other countries like Brazil, Israel and South Africa are also large grapefruit producers. Some popular varieties of Florida and Texas grapefruit include names like “Ruby Red,” “Flame,” “Thompson,” “White Marsh,” “Star Ruby” and “Duncan,” among others.
Grapefruit seed extract is made by mixing grapefruit seeds and pulp into a highly acidic liquid, which is typically combined with vegetable glycerin to reduce the bitterness and acidity. This extract is taken for all kinds of health issues, including candida, fungal infections, urinary tract infections and more. The main biological compounds in a grapefruit seed that are believed to be responsible for its ability to destroy infectious invaders are the polyphenols known as limonoids and naringenin. (15)
You can also get the grapefruit benefits of grapefruit seed extract by eating the seeds, pulp and white membranes of a grapefruit. The benefits of grapefruit juice are increased when it’s produced fresh and includes the seeds and membranes.
Risks and Drug Interactions
If you currently take any medications, it’s very important to check out the known grapefruit interactions with medications. There are many drugs that you absolutely cannot combine with grapefruit or grapefruit juice. In addition to doing your own research to verify that it’s safe for you to consume grapefruit, I also recommend checking with your doctor.
Why can grapefruit negatively or even dangerously react with some medications? You can thank its furanocoumarins, which are organic chemical compounds that block CYP3A4 enzymes in the human body. The problem is that these enzymes are required for the breakdown and elimination of over 50 percent of all drugs. Unfortunately, spacing out grapefruit consumption from interactive medications doesn’t seem to work either since CY enzymes can stay blocked after consuming grapefruit in any form for over 24 hours. (16)
Some studies indicated that people with cancer or a risk for cancer, especially women with hormonally sensitive cancers like breast cancer, should avoid excessive consumption of grapefruits and grapefruit juice. (17)
Another interaction to be mindful of is grapefruit and caffeine. Grapefruit may slow the body’s elimination of caffeine and, therefore, could lead to a higher likelihood of caffeine overdose effects like jitteriness and headaches.
Obviously, the cleansing prowess and many other grapefruit benefits have reached the mainstream, and rightfully so. The anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting and skin-brightening properties of grapefruit make it a superstar fruit that’s low in calories and sugar but high in vital nutrients and health-promoting benefits. Plus, a half of grapefruit a day just may keep the fat (and serious diseases) away!
This fat-burning food truly is a versatile fruit that can be utilized in many ways. No matter how you choose to consume it, grapefruit benefits the body in so many ways.