Superfoods can do you no wrong – right? Well, not always. Overdoing certain foods will work against you, even if they’re healthy. This is why portion control matters! To fully benefit from superfoods, know which ones to moderate.
What Is A Superfood?
Superfoods are those that are jam-packed with nutrients, such as fiber, protein, and antioxidants. When eaten regularly, these foods help maintain weight and good health. But here’s the thing: “Superfood” isn’t a medical term. It’s a buzzword that fuels the marketing industry.
“Superfood” has a health halo effect, making the food seem like it is fool-proof. But, as with so many others, more of superfoods also isn’t always better. They might be healthy, but a high intake can actually lead to weight gain.
Superfoods That Can Make You Gain Weight
Nuts are like the mascots of superfoods. They have healthy fats, making them a smart choice for decreasing cholesterol and heart disease risk. The high protein and fiber content will even control appetite.
However, nuts are also high in calories, so going overboard will bring on the pounds. One cup of unsalted mixed nuts already has 795 calories, more than 30 percent of your daily energy intake.1 To reap the benefits, moderation is key. The American Heart Association suggests 1.5 ounces (a small handful) or 2 tablespoons of nut butter a day.2
2. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is convenient, but watch out for added sugar. Many brands use it to boost flavor, but fruits are a natural source – why add more? Sugar offers extra, unnecessary calories. The average American already eats 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day! This equals 88 grams of sugar or 350 calories.3
If you love dried fruit, invest in a dehydrator so you can make it at home. Otherwise, enjoy it in moderation and eat fresh fruit when possible.
3. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is all the rage. It’s one of the richest sources of medium chain fatty acids, or MCFAs, which your body can use as fuel.4 5 MCFAs even promote diet-induced thermogenesis, a fat-burning process that aids weight loss.6
But, if you’re not careful, calories and “bad” fat will add up. Just 1 tablespoon has 121 calories and 11.22 grams saturated fat!7 For a person eating 2,000 calories, saturated fat intake should be no more than 11 to 13 grams each day.8
4. Dark Chocolate
Is chocolate even a superfood? You bet! But, according to a study, eating dark chocolate twice a week is linked to a lower BMI and high antioxidant intake.9 Anything more than twice a week may have the opposite effect, so eat with caution. It’s also vital to go dark, as milk chocolate is full of sugar. Aim for twice a week and buy something with 72% cocoa or higher.10
Here’s another cult favorite that you should eat with caution. Avocados are high in fiber, so they’re ideal for weight management. Eating half an avocado with lunch will actually prevent snacking later on.11 But, don’t go crazy with the guac, though. One avocado has 322 calories, and it can pile up fast.12
To enjoy avocados without gaining weight, make avocados your main source of fat for the day. This is an excellent technique for avoiding saturated and trans fats.
The bottom line? Moderation matters. These superfoods are amazing, but only if you eat them wisely.
|↑1||Basic Report: 12135, Nuts, mixed nuts, dry roasted, with peanuts, without salt added. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑2||Go Nuts (But just a little!). American Heart Association.|
|↑3||Added Sugar in the Diet. Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health.|
|↑4||St-Onge, Marie-Pierre, Aubrey Bosarge, Laura Lee T. Goree, and Betty Darnell. “Medium chain triglyceride oil consumption as part of a weight loss diet does not lead to an adverse metabolic profile when compared to olive oil.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 27, no. 5 (2008): 547-552.|
|↑5||Babayan, Vigen K. “Medium chain triglycerides and structured lipids.” Lipids 22, no. 6 (1987): 417-420.|
|↑6||Takeuchi, Hiroyuki, Seiji Sekine, Keiichi Kojima, and Toshiaki Aoyama. “The application of medium-chain fatty acids: edible oil with a suppressing effect on body fat accumulation.” Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition 17, no. S1 (2008): 320-323.|
|↑7||Basic Report: 04047, Oil, coconut. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑8||The Skinny on Fats. American Heart Association.|
|↑9||Golomb, Beatrice A., Sabrina Koperski, and Halbert L. White. “Association between more frequent chocolate consumption and lower body mass index.” Archives of internal medicine 172, no. 6 (2012): 519-521.|
|↑10||Mursu, Jaakko, Sari Voutilainen, Tarja Nurmi, Tiina H. Rissanen, Jyrki K. Virtanen, Jari Kaikkonen, Kristiina Nyyssönen, and Jukka T. Salonen. “Dark chocolate consumption increases HDL cholesterol concentration and chocolate fatty acids may inhibit lipid peroxidation in healthy humans.” Free Radical Biology and Medicine 37, no. 9 (2004): 1351-1359.|
|↑11||Wien, Michelle, Ella Haddad, Keiji Oda, and Joan Sabaté. “A randomized 3×3 crossover study to evaluate the effect of Hass avocado intake on post-ingestive satiety, glucose and insulin levels, and subsequent energy intake in overweight adults.” Nutrition journal 12, no. 1 (2013): 155.|
|↑12||Basic Report: 09037, Avocados, raw, all commercial varieties. United States Department of Agriculture.|