Move over kale, coconut water, and quinoa, and make room for these waist-whittling eats. Here's what to pile on your plate this season. By Jane Bianchi, REDBOOK.
Will this beverage become the new coffee? Be prepared to see a lot more tea in your neighborhood, because a growing number of people in the U.S. are sipping on it. Tea purchases have risen nationally for 20 years, according to the Tea Association of the USA, and Canada-based DavidsTea has expanded from one store to 107, in both Canada and the U.S., in just five years. We love the brand's refreshing new teapop, which mixes tea with water, agave nectar, ice, and sparkling water for a fizzy kick. Buy the premade beverage from one of their stores, or make it yourself at home. Either way, opt for green tea, because catechin, the active ingredient, has been shown by scientists to boost metabolism.
Flavored sunflower seeds
Even more people will want to munch on this healthy snack while watching a baseball game this summer, because sunflower seeds are now available in more mouthwatering flavors than ever, says Phil Lempert, a food marketing expert and founder of SupermarketGuru. One popular brand, DAVID, offers 10 different flavors, our favorite of which is cracked pepper. Sunflower seeds are jam-packed with nutrients such as vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc, are high in protein and unsaturated-or good-fats, and contain filling fiber. Have a quarter-cup as a snack for 190 calories.
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"At almost every restaurant I go to and at almost every party I've attended lately, I see grilled watermelon, which looks striped and has a delicious, smoky taste," says Joan Salge Blake, RD, a clinical associate professor at Boston University's Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This summertime staple contains fiber, protein, and, of course, lots of water, so it'll keep you feeling full. Make some by splashing on a bit of olive oil and sticking it on the grill. To get fancy, chop the fruit into pieces and toss with crumbled feta cheese for a sweet-and-salty delight.
These tiny dietary wonders, which come from a plant in the mint family, contain lots of healthful omega-3 fats and fiber-both of which boost satiety and make you less likely to overeat later. They're getting a lot of attention these days, because research shows that they improve blood pressure and cholesterol, help prevent cancer due to antioxidants, and reduce blood-sugar spikes. Throw them on anything-including cereal, smoothies, or salads-or chow down on Chobani's new Flip Blueberry Power Greek yogurt, which features chia seeds as a topping, along with walnuts and hemp seeds.
Jerky isn't just a beef thing anymore, thanks to Jack Link's Turkey Jerky, which allows you to indulge in the same type of treat with less guilt. This one-ounce snack, made of lean, white-meat turkey breast and seasoned and smoked over mesquite for a savory taste, is 98-percent fat-free, has just 80 calories, contains 13 grams of filling protein, and packs only 5 grams of carbs-plus it has no added MSG. "Healthier snacks like these that are high in protein have been trending at food expos lately," says Lempert. Just don't overdo it, because the stuff is high in sodium, with 490 mg-or 20 percent of your daily recommended allowance-per serving.
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Sugar's gone from bad to good, thanks to July 2013 research from the journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, which reports that artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, saccharin, and aspartame are associated with obesity. Overdoing it on any sort of sweetener isn't smart, but if you need a fix, turn to a brand of all-natural agave nectar, such as Madhava Agave Nectar Light, which is organic, gluten-free, vegan, and kosher. It's low-glycemic, meaning it won't make your blood sugar spike as much as natural sugar does, and it's 1.4 times sweeter than natural sugar, so you can use less. For something more tart, try a fruity flavor such as blueberry and raspberry, or mix the maple-flavored amber variety with marinades and barbecue and tomato sauces.
Are you a part of the juicing craze? OnJuice is a new, all-natural line of beverages with standout flavors like Skinny Greens, which is made with organic kale, ginger root, cucumber, parsley, lime, and mint. A 16.9-ounce bottle contains 166 calories, 11 grams of sugar, less than 3 grams of fat, and 9 grams of protein, as well as folate, magnesium, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K. Put it this way: If you drink Skinny Greens, you might fit into your skinny jeans.
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Health foods with a spicy kick
The American palate is becoming more ethnic thanks to the growing number of Latino and Asian immigrants in the U.S., so you're likely to encounter more foods infused with spicy flavors such as sriracha peppers and chorizo. Many can help you drop pounds, such as Bumble Bee's new Gourmet Flavors line, which launched in February and includes tuna seasoned with jalapeños and olive oil. Tuna, of course, is also high in omega-3 fats and protein. Another good choice is Peanut Butter & Co.'s The Heat is On, which is flavored with chili powder, cayenne peppers, crushed red peppers, and paprika. Research shows that eating chiles may help you lose weight by boosting your metabolism, so use it on your next sandwich.
If you don't love the texture of Greek yogurt, try skyr, the traditional yogurt of Iceland. One popular brand, Siggi's, is appearing on a growing number of supermarket shelves. It's made by incubating skim milk with live active cultures then straining the whey, and the result is thick, creamy, concentrated yogurt. One container has 14 grams of protein, zero fat, 100 calories, and only 9 grams of sugar, making it a healthy snack that'll help you slim down.
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