Sweet, juicy plums are loaded with soluble fiber, which swells up in the intestines and quickly dampens appetite. Enjoy two or three daily, and you could effortlessly cut your food intake by as much as 20 percent, say Yale researchers. An added perk: Plums contain neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids -- antioxidants that nourish eye tissues, helping to prevent macular degeneration (one of the leading causes of blindness nationwide), according to a study in the Korean Journal of Ophthalmology.
Spring’s sweet, tender baby lettuce varieties is now readily available bagged -- and also as heads at some farmer’s markets and well-stocked stores. Baby lettuce is low-carb, fat-free and contain just five calories per cup. Plus, one heaping cup of these tender shoots contains roughly 90 micrograms of vitamin K -- an often-overlooked nutrient that’s essential for keeping bones strong and break-resistant, say researchers at the University of North Carolina.
They’re not the prettiest things in the produce department, but they have a rich, smoky flavor that works beautifully in meat dishes, soups, stews and more. And, according to the National Institutes of Health, shiitakes are rich in selenium -- a mineral that helps ramp up your ability to burn fat for fuel. How? “By converting thyroxine (T4) -- your body’s weakest thyroid hormone -- into the metabolism-boosting, fat-blasting version called triiodothyronine (T3),” says Larrian Gillespie, M.D., author of “You’re Not Crazy, It’s Your Hormones.”
Sometimes called scallions or green onions, these mild young shoots won’t bring tears to your eyes or leave a pungent smell on your skin after you cut them -- and both their white bulbs and tall green stems can be added to recipes for a dash of flavor and color. Spring onions are rich in sulfur -- a nutrient that helps your pancreas burn carbs for fuel before they can be stowed away as fat, say Stanford University researchers. Sulfur is also a powerful tissue-healing anti-inflammatory that helps protect your tummy from the ravages of ulcer-causing H. pylori bacteria, say researchers at the State University of New York at Albany
If you’ve never been a fan of spinach because of its strong taste, give baby spinach a try. It’s surprisingly mild, plus much easier to prepare, since there are no mangy stems to trim off. And baby spinach is rich in lipoic acid -- an antioxidant that shuttles blood sugar and fatty acids into cells so they can be burned for energy instead of stuffed into fat cells, adds Dr. Gillespie.
Snow peas have flat, edible pods (no shelling required!), plus a sweet flavor and crisp texture that make them great for snacking. And since almost 25 percent of a snow peas’ calories come from sugar-stabilizing protein, eating one cup -- raw or cooked -- shuts down the munchies for two hours straight. Chefs also love to toss them into their stir-fries and you should try tossing them into your sauté dishes too.
Butter (Boston Bibb) Lettuce
As the name suggests, it has a slightly sweet, buttery flavor. And if you’re looking for a slimming side dish, butter lettuce (sometimes called Boston Bibb lettuce) can’t be beat. According to USDA researchers, you’d have to eat six cups of the stuff (packed!) to match the calories in a single slice of bread. To make sure you get the tastiest possible head, scratch and sniff the stalk -- the sweeter the smell, the sweeter the flavor.
Just one teaspoon of fresh ginger and you’ll feel full almost twice as quickly, say researchers at Florida’s University of Miami. Credit ginger’s two powerful appetite suppressants -- gingerol and zingibain, say the study authors. Bonus: Ginger is also an amazing anti-inflammatory, and eating it daily dampens pain, swelling and stiffness for up to 75 percent of women studied.
This delicate, peppery-tasting green is low-carb, low-fat and contains a paltry two calories per half cup. It’s also a good source of magnesium, phosphorous and the B complex vitamins, which work hand-in-hand to reduce tissue inflammation and flush out trapped fluids, say Stanford University researchers. Raw watercress adds a delicious zing to sandwiches and salads -- or it can be steamed and served just like any other green.
Also called Asian pears, these tasty treats combine the shape and crispness of an apple with the texture, flavor and golden-yellow hue of a pear. And Penn State studies suggest eating one every morning with breakfast can help you nosh 190 fewer calories each day -- and shed 15 pounds each year. The act of chewing, plus the rich, satisfying flavor of these unusual pears, soothes the hypothalamus -- the region of the brain that fuels powerful hunger pangs and cravings, say Stanford University researchers.