If end-of-the-year indulgence has left you feeling less than your best, don’t despair. These six oh-so-green foods are not only delicious, they have been shown to help keep you in fighting trim besides supporting overall good health.
Bonus: Each one comes with a bonus!
Talk about indulgence! Compared to most fruits, avocadoes are high in fat and high in calories – about 230 per cup, sliced. But for all its creaminess, that fat is the heart-healthy monounsaturated variety. A Centers for Disease Control study reports that people who eat avocados are leaner than people who don’t, and they eat more nutritious diets overall. A UCLA study found that participants who ate a slice of avocado on a hamburger had better circulation and less inflammation after the meal than those who didn’t.
Bonus: Add an avocado to a salad, and its fat will help your body make the best use of the vitamins and minerals in the other ingredients.
With apologies to kale, brussels sprouts have taken over as the hottest thing in vegetables. Like other cabbage relatives, they are low in calories (about 25 per half-cup cooked) and high in good-for-digestion fiber, which makes you feel full longer. Brussels sprouts also contain crazy-high levels of vitamin C, which an Arizona State University study indicates helps the body burn fat more efficiently during exercise.
Bonus: Brussels sprouts are tough on cancer! The compound that gives Brussels sprouts their distinctive taste, sulforaphane, also inhibits an enzyme required for cancer cells to develop.
If you want proof this southern classic has come into its own, consider that a luxury department store offered a family-size serving for $66 this holiday season — and sold out. But you don’t have to spend a fortune to get the benefits of this suddenly popular green, leafy vegetable. It’s high in fiber, low in calories, and contains plenty of calcium and vitamin C. Collards also have a very low glycemic index, meaning that unlike some foods they support consistent levels of blood sugar, staving off that hangry feeling.
Bonus: Collard greens contain almost as much bone-strengthening calcium as milk, about 270 milligrams per cup, cooked.
When you think vitamin C, you probably think orange, but the fact is green peppers contain almost 30 percent more than oranges of the world’s best-known vitamin. And no diss to citrus, but peppers are also a whole lot lower in sugar and calories. What does vitamin C have to do with staying lean? Without it, your body can’t burn stores of fat.
Bonus: Green peppers are good for your eyesight. A cup of slices contains more than 300 micrograms of the carotenoids essential to prevent macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of blindness as people age.
In spite of their down-under moniker, the kiwi fruit comes originally from China and was introduced to the United States only in the late 1960s. Characterized by a rough exterior, brilliant color and crunchy black edible seeds, kiwis are packed with fiber and can be indulged in without fear of causing a blood-sugar roller coaster. Like peppers, they contain more vitamin C than oranges.
Bonus: Studies show kiwis’ distinctive combination of antioxidant compounds may help prevent cancer.
You love them in your mojito, but did you know the juice has long been considered a great way to start the day? According to Indian tradition, replacing your morning cup of coffee with a cup of hot water and lime juice aids in digestion, diminishes sugar absorption and encourages your metabolism to burn fat more efficiently all day. Anyway, the jolt of sour can’t help but wake you up!
Bonus: Lime juice is a good astringent. Just infuse a cotton ball with it and give your face a gentle pat down to exfoliate, refresh and cleanse.
Indulgence doesn’t have to mean butter, sugar and alcohol. Redefine the word to incorporate the trending foods above, and indulge in a healthy, lean you for the new year.