Of course, there is no such thing as a miracle food, and losing weight is only possible through a change in overall diet and exercise. Nonetheless, there are those who swear by certain foods or supplements when it comes to helping them shed pounds. Is it a placebo effect, or is there something going on at a molecular level? Perhaps a little of both. We take a look at five of the more exotic foods that are all the rage with dieters these days.
These berries have been cropping up in health food shops and even skin creams throughout the West in recent years, but they are nothing new in China and Tibet, where traditional medicine has long used them to protect the eyes and the liver, improve circulation and regulate the immune system. When it comes to weight loss, goji berries can come in handy as a rich source of amino acids, essential fatty acids, minerals, betaine and vitamins (B1, B2, B6, C and E, among others). Since cutting back on calories could potentially lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies and undermine the success of your diet plan, moderate snacking on these Chinese berries may indeed help some individuals to reach their weight loss goals.
Bolstered by the endorsement of celebrity weight loss coach Valérie Orsoni, sobacha is bound to gain a strong following in 2014. A tea made with toasted buckwheat kernels, sobacha contains a number of antioxidants, including rutin. It is also touted as an appetite suppressant and recommended to those following Orsoni's BootCamp program.
This Japanese seaweed, which becomes green when cooked, is yet another traditional Eastern food making its way to the West. Fans of oysters will recognize a similar taste in this low-calorie plant, which is much richer in calcium than milk. Wakame also contains iron, vitamins B12 and C and potassium. Pharmaceutical companies use it to produce appetite suppressants, but for those looking to lose weight and keep it off, preparing recipes with wakame is certainly the preferable solution.
Well known to vegetarian chefs as a replacement for animal gelatin in recipes, agar-agar is also known in Japan as a dieting aid. Stir 1g of agar-agar into boiling liquid, such as tea or soup, and consume immediately (if you allow it to cool, it will solidify) to experience a feeling of satiety that can prevent overindulging at mealtime. Be careful not to overdo it, though: agar-agar is also a powerful laxative.
The fruit of the South American açai palm is often included among the so-called “superfoods” due to its high antioxidant and fiber content, and it is now widely available juiced, pureed, or in capsule form. Many dieters swear by açai berries as an appetite suppressant, although this claim has yet to be proven by scientists.