Power Foods for Midlife Bodies

Superfoods that fight cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis — and help you lose weight.

By Cynthia Sass, RD
"And since insulin is responsible for carrying carbohydrates into fat cells, moderating it can reduce your waistline." (Five grams of fiber per serving qualify as high fiber.) In addition to our picks, stock your pantry with dried figs (4.6 grams of fiber in two figs), split peas (eight grams of fiber in one-half cup) and kidney beans (4.5 grams of fiber in one-half cup).Low Energy DensityIn other words, a low number of calories for a reasonable portion size. "The quantity of a food has nothing to do with its calorie level," Grotto says. For example, one cup of romaine lettuce contains just 10 calories, whereas a cup of peanut butter has a whopping 1,600. Foods with a low energy density fill you up but don’t contain loads of calories you need to worry about burning off. Try asparagus (60 calories in 9 ounces), fresh mushrooms (20 calories per cup) and fresh radishes (10 calories per cup).SatiatingResearch has found that protein is especially satisfying. That is, it keeps you fuller longer so the return of hunger is delayed. "This may be because protein stays in your stomach longer and takes longer to be digested, or it may have to do with the interaction between protein and sensors in the stomach and brain," Grotto says. Pick up nonfat ricotta cheese (16 grams of protein per one-half cup), vegetarian chili (8 grams per serving), and frozen lima beans (12 grams per cup).ThermogenicThat’s the term for a jump in metabolism caused by eating certain foods. Metabolism is based on the number of calories your body burns at rest, while digesting food and when physically active. Studies have found that certain food compounds can trigger a slight boost in metabolism for up to several hours after we eat them. Protein may be one. In fact, one study found that consuming 30 percent of calories from protein, versus 15 percent, resulted in a 3.9 percent increase in the number of total calories burned per day. Other thermogenic compounds include green tea extract and capsaicin, the natural chemical that gives a hot pepper its fiery taste. Add some heat with jalapenos, crushed red pepper, and chili pepper sauce.Originally published in MORE magazine, April 2007.

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