With the New Year comes a new diet for many of us.

The more you focus on calories, the more important it is to make smart food choices.

Consider these seven "superfood" aids to weight control to favor as you try to shed – or keep off – unwanted pounds. 

#1 – Beans
Beans – black, kidney, red, navy, pinto, or otherwise – pack a powerful punch for weight loss.

First, they're incredible versatile and provide a pretty good dose of protein.

Second, beans are high in fiber, which means they take longer to digest and keep you feeling full, longer.

Finally, beans are rich in so-called "resistant" starches that moderate blood sugar levels for up to a day (see Beany Starch Curbed Men's Diabetes Risk and Beans Aid Weight and Blood Sugar Control).

This may explain why, compared with those who don't, people who eat a diet rich in beans have smaller waistlines and a reduced risk of obesity.

#2 – Salmon and other fatty fish
Want to lose weight? Think protein, protein, protein!

Compared with carbs, protein takes longer to digest, which keeps you feeling satisfied longer between meals.

Salmon and other omega-3-rich fatty fish are good for heart and overall health, while providing loads of and protein.

Preliminary research suggests that omega-3-rich fatty fish may help weight control efforts ... and help maintain calorie-burning muscle mass:
This doesn't mean that omega-3 fish oil is a magic bullet for weight loss.

One trial found no weight loss benefit from fish oil: see Weight Loss Lacking in Omega-3 Trial.

However, the fish oil used in the trial delivered omega-3 EPA and omega-3 DHA in a ratio about twice as high as the ratio commonly found in fish oil and whole fish. That odd choice could have skewed the results.

And the researchers did not take into account a critical factor: the amount of omega-6 fats in the volunteer's diets.

The average person's overload of omega-6 fats from vegetable oils opposes the effects of dietary omega-3s ... see Excess Omega-6 Fat Intakes Promote Weight Gain.

#3 – Almonds
A handful of almonds a day may help increase your weight loss success.

With every handful of almonds, you get a powerful dose of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin E.

This may explain why almonds appear to help to curb appetites and moderate blood sugar levels.

A recent study from Purdue University put over 120 adults on identical diets, with one group adding a 250-calorie almond snack per day. 

Both groups lost weight, and the almond-snacking group didn't experience weight gain from the extra calories.

In fact, the almond group had lower levels of abdominal fat and smaller waist measurements after just six weeks.

#4 – Eggs for breakfast
How you start your day can make a big difference in your weight loss success (or failure).

One of the best ways to get your day started right? Eggs for breakfast!

A protein-packed breakfast helps you to feel full, longer and keeps your metabolism working throughout the day.

A 2008 study compared adults who ate eggs vs. bagels for breakfast. 

Within those groups, some individuals ate eggs as part of a calorie-restricted diet, and some ate bagels as part of a calorie-restricted diet.

The remaining people had either eggs or bagels, but no calorie restrictions were placed.

After just eight weeks, the dieting egg group showed several benefits compared with the bagel group:
  • 65% greater weight loss
  • 34% greater loss in waist size
  • 61% greater reduction in body mass index (BMI)
The non-dieting groups showed no significant difference.

There was no difference in cholesterol levels between the dieting groups, whether they ate eggs or bagels.

#5 – Yogurt
Calcium appears to promote weight loss, in part by impeding the process that converts dietary sugars into body fat.

Among calcium-rich dairy foods, plain unsweetened yogurt is a particularly good choice – it's relatively low in calories, high in calcium, and rich in protein and beneficial bacteria.

A 2005 study from the University of Tennessee showed that dieters who ate three servings of yogurt every day for 12 weeks lost more weight – and significantly more body fat – than dieters who simply restricted calories.

#6 – Chili Peppers
Not only do they spice up a meal, chili peppers also moderate appetites and help you burn calories.

And an Australian study also found that chili peppers reduced the amount of insulin required to lower blood sugar after a meal.

The same study found that insulin requirements drop even lower when chilies are a regular part of your diet, and that these benefits get even better as a person's body mass index (BMI) increases.

The weight-control benefits of chilies flow from the hot compounds called capsaicinoids, and chilies are also rich in healthful carotenoid-class antioxidants.

#7 – Dark Chocolate
Weight control studies show that it's helpful to allow yourself the occasional "splurge” … and you can't do better than dark chocolate

The results of a small clinical trial from Denmark suggest that dark chocolate can dampen cravings for fatty, salty and sugary foods, and reduce calorie intake at a following meal … see Can Dark Chocolate Deter Overeating?.

Dark chocolate also boosts your brain's feel-good chemicals … which, if you're restricting calories, you may really need!

Keep in mind, the daily "dose” of dark chocolate is 1 oz. Not an enormous serving … just enough to give you a healthy, much-needed lift.

Look for a high percentage of cocoa for better results, less sugar, and more antioxidant power.

The rare, flavanol-type antioxidants in dark chocolate are particularly powerful allies in the fight against inflammation.

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