By April Benshosan
Think of these foods as Peter Pan’s dirty little secret.
We’ve discovered the Fountain of Youth—and it’s in your kitchen.
Although scientists haven’t figured out how to reverse the aging process, they have discovered how to make you live longer and look younger. And the secret is in your food. Meals high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and fat-melting nutrients can stave off any number of diseases, including obesity, and turn back your metabolic clock.
To keep your metabolism young and revving, and watch the pounds melt away, incorporate these wholesome foods into your diet. And to burn fat even faster, don’t miss these essential 55 Best-Ever Ways to Boost Your Metabolism.
These juicy blue spheres are rich in antioxidants called flavonoids—more specifically anthocyanins—which combat free radicals and inflammation. In fact, a review in the journal Frontiers in Immunology showed that chronic metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases all develop from chronic inflammation. So, munching on blueberries can help keep inflammation in check as well as your metabolism running smoothly.
2. Green Tea
This hulk-hued tea is the ultimate weight loss enabler and the perfect way to boost your metabolism. That’s because the tea leaves contain catechins called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG. A study in the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology&Research shows that the high EGCG and polyphenol content in green tea makes it a more potent anti-inflammatory than any other tea—so drink up! Kelly Choi first discovered the weight-loss powers of tea when her mother, suffering from a terrible battle with diabetes, asked her to help design a tea cleanse for her. As a former nurse in Korea, she already knew the power of this lifesaving drink. Sure enough, with the plan she and Kelly designed together—The 7-Day Flat Belly Tea Cleanse—she dropped an amazing 9 pounds in just a week, and brought her blood sugar under control.
3. Dark Chocolate
If you need something sweet to go alongside a hot mug of green tea, definitely go for chocolate with a cacao content of 70 percent or more. The heart-healthy dark stuff can prevent weight gain, lower blood sugar, and even combat insulin resistance and inflammation. That’s super good news because this inflammation-fighting treat can protect against oxidative damage to your metabolism.
Thanks to turmeric’s main antioxidant, curcumin, the exotic spice boasts a bright amber color and some seriously magical anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to maintaining a youthful metabolism, turmeric can also help prevent cognitive decline, liver damage, heart disease, and the effects of arthritis. See: you don’t have to cut calories like crazy. Just check out our exclusive report: 30 Ways to Eat More But Weigh Less.
If you’ve ever tried roasting beets, you can definitely agree that these sangria-colored root veggies are Mother Nature’s dessert. Not only are beets beyond delish, they’re also high in betaine, a nutrient that fights inflammation and speeds up your metabolism as well as does a bunch of other good stuff like boosting your mood and turning off genes that keep excess fat around.
6. Whole Eggs
Eggs are jam-packed with protein, which helps build lean muscle to keep your metabolism revving. Although the whites are filled with the muscle-building macro, don’t skip out on the yolks! The egg’s orangey center contains health-boosting and anti-inflammation vitamin D as well as fat-blasting choline.
7. Steel Cut Oats
Limiting your exposure to stress is a great way to keep your metabolism functioning, but since life happens, we can’t always control whether or not a hair pulling sitch will ruin our day. That’s why slow-digesting complex carbs like steel cut oats are perfect for stabilizing your blood sugar as well as contain mood-boosting vitamin B6. If you’re unsure of how to incorporate oats into your diet, start off by whipping up some quick, fiber-packed overnight oats.
8. Olive Oil
Due to its high phenol content, just two tablespoons of EVOO a day could significantly decrease systolic blood pressure in less than a month. And research shows that people who consume olive oil daily reaped the benefits of more serotonin, the happy hormone, than folks who ate other types of fats. In fact, staying happy and fighting stress is a wonderful way to help keep your metabolism from decelerating!
9. Wild Salmon
Fatty fish like wild salmon are a wonderful source of anti-inflammatory omega-3s, a type of polyunsaturated fat. As an added bonus, not only does the wild-caught fish pack in protein, it’s also got both EPA and DHA, two fatty acids that are already in an active form. They help attack inflammation via increasing the hormone adiponectin, which boosts your muscles' ability to use carbs for energy, burn fat, and rev your metabolism. Just remember to choose wild-caught over farmed (or Atlantic) salmon because the latter is packed with omega-6s that contribute to excess inflammation—which is why it’s one of the types of fish that cause belly fat.
A well-functioning gut garden is essential to fighting inflammation and keeping your metabolism in check because probiotics help produce beneficial microbes that break down foods and can also help you lose 10 pounds. As if that’s not impressive enough, UCLA researchers discovered that consuming probiotic yogurt resulted in the reduction of stress hormone levels following an emotional task. Make sure to choose a yogurt with low sugar—preferably under 10 grams. Additionally, the dairy treat is perfect as a protein-packed post workout snack to help you make those #gains.
11. Canned Tuna
This cheap protein is super versatile and packed with anti-inflammatory omega-3s. And since "Strength and resistance training have also been shown to leave the biggest boost on metabolism post-workout," according to Rachael DeVaux, RD, all you have to do is crack a can open and sprinkle it into your salad or make a tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread to reap the benefits, especially after a sweat sesh. A three ounce serving of skipjack tuna packs in an impressive 19 grams of protein for under 90 calories—which is ideal for gaining and preserving lean muscle mass in order to boost that metabolism.
These heart-shaped berries are loaded with more vitamin C than oranges! And besides for fighting off a pesky cold, this powerful antioxidant has been proven to help folks cope with stress. In fact, studies show that levels of cortisol (one of the hormones produced during stress) decreased rapidly in people given a vitamin C supplement. Additionally, people who consumed vitamin C experienced a drop in blood pressure faster than those who didn’t take it. We’ll take a handful of nutrient-packed strawbs over a supplement any day!
Most nuts have a high magnesium content, but pumpkin seeds and almonds boast the most. Magnesium is essential for helping our bodies cope with stress. And since most Americans don’t get enough of the nutrient, they’re likely to experience the physical ramifications, which include high blood pressure, insomnia, fatigue, or loss of appetite—which are all bad news for your metabolism. Nuts are also rich in mood-boosting selenium, tryptophan (the amino acid needed to serotonin production), and depression-zapping omega-3 fatty acids to help you look and feel your best.
If you don’t get sufficient shuteye, your metabolism is likely to get a hit. "Research has shown that sleep-deprived people have more difficulty regulating their blood sugar and therefore are often hungrier than individuals who are getting their eight hours per night," explains Dr. Lauren Beardsley, Associate Physician with Integrative Health. When you're sleep-deprived, your body can’t regulate the blood sugar well enough, so it ends up producing stress hormones and inflammatory free radicals. A study in the European Journal of Nutrition found that people who drank just a single ounce of tart cherry juice a day slept better those who didn't. Why’s that? Cherries’ high melatonin content acts as a natural sleep aid to help us hit the hay.
15. Red Peppers
Did you know that just one cup of red peppers contains over three times the recommended daily intake of vitamin C? That’s great news for your metabolism because this nutrient fights off free radicals and stress hormones. So next time you’re in a sticky situation, chop up the crunchy veggie and opt for dipping it into some wholesome hummus.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition proved that munching on high-glycemic carbs like jasmine rice or even rice cereal just four hours before bedtime canslash the time it takes for you to fall asleep in half compared to eating a low GI food. How’s that possible? High-glycemic carbs increase insulin and blood sugar levels quicker than low-GI foods do, which means they can help increase the tryptophan in your blood by drawing other amino acids to your muscles. And since tryptophan helps you fall asleep, we’re giving you the green light to treat yourself to some cereal and milk before bed. Just make sure it’s skim because whole milk takes longer to digest. And no, Rice Krispies treats don’t count!
Due to their high levels of potassium and magnesium, nanners can help you zone into sleep mode even faster than most fruits! In addition to containing tryptophan, a Journal of Research and Medical Sciences study showed that magnesium, which is found in bananas, helped older adults with insomnia fall asleep faster and stay asleep. And better sleep equals a better metabolism. For more cool things this yellow fruit can do, check out these 21 Amazing Things That Happen To Your Body When You Eat Bananas.
Consider this leafy green your new BFF. It’s jam packed with tryptophan, folate, magnesium, and vitamins B6 and C, which are all vital for synthesizing serotonin and subsequently melatonin—all compounds that are essential for a functioning metabolism. Spinach also contains the amino acid glutamine, which helps the body rid of toxins that can combat sleepiness. It’s best to eat Popeye’s favorite food raw rather than cooked so that its metabolism-boosting nutrients don’t break down in the heating process. Looking for ways to eat more of the muscle-building macro? Check out these 25 Ways to Increase Your Protein Intake.
19. Low Fat Cottage Cheese
Not only is this curdled cheese a dieter’s dream (it’s low in fat and high in protein), but it also contains casein protein—a slow releasing milk protein that will keep hunger pangs at bay—as well as tryptophan. Stir some anti-inflammatory raw honey into cottage cheese for a quick yet tasty snack.
If you’re one to peel your apple out of its skin, you’re missing out on some metabolism-loving pectin—a natural fruit fiber that helps the beneficial bacteria Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus grow, according to a study published in the journal Anaerobe. Plus, apple peels contain about 10 mg of the anti-inflammatory antioxidant quercetin that’s sure to keep your metabolism in beast mode. And to look slimmer in minutes, don’t miss these 44 Ways to Lose 4 Inches of Body Fat.
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