Fruit gets a bad rap when it comes to weight loss. Here's why avocado, dragon fruit, coconut, kiwi and even banana—yes, banana—are all diet foods.
Fruit can be a real pleasure when you're cutting back on calories—it's wholesome, nutritious and provides a sweet hit of pleasure. A few surprising fruits even come with weight loss benefits.
Dieters tend to steer clear of bananas because they're considered a high carbohydrate fruit. But almost-ripe bananas contain resistant starch. "This starch is not digested the same way as most starches," explains Amanda Li, registered dietitian at Toronto's Wellness Simplified
. "It passes through the intestine unchanged as an insoluble fibre so you absorb less sugar from it." Insoluble fibre also helps control hunger pangs.
Snack on green bananas that are just starting to turn yellow. Eat with cereal or yogurt to mask the hint of bitterness.
There are two reasons why dieters should add fresh—not dried, packaged—coconut meat to their fruit salad and fruit smoothies. "There's the satisfaction factor," says Li. Coconut meat's high in healthy fat, which helps slow down digestion of the sugars in the other fruits, keeping you feeling fuller longer, she explains. Plus, it contains medium-chain triglycerides, a type of dietary fat that's processed by the body for a quick source of energy rather than stored as fat.
Don't want to crack one yourself? Look for freshly frozen coconut meat
in health food stores. Some grocery stores also prepare fresh coconut meat.
Yes, avocado is technically a fruit, and Li says it's a terrific diet food because it contains high percentages of both healthy fat and fibre (seven grams, in fact, in one fruit). "The fat and fibre work together to keep you feeling full longer," she adds. Bonus—avocado's fat is chiefly monounsaturated, which offers protective heart benefits.
Guacamole's an incredibly satisfying snack. Dig into Edamame Guacamole
with toasted whole wheat pita chips.
"I love dragon fruit. Not only is it pretty looking, it's got good volumetrics," says Li. She's refering to the diet principle created by Dr. Barbara Rolls
that substitutes deprivation for lots of healthy foods you can feel full on. Dragon fruit fits the bill, according to Li, because one whole fruit contains just 60 calories and only eight grams of sugar. "That's terrific compared to other fruits, she adds, pointing out that one apple is 80 to 100 calories.
Cut the dragon fruit in half and scoop the pulp—seeds, too—straight out of the shell with a spoon. "It's refreshing, like cucumber, only sweeter," adds Li.
Kiwi is a handy diet food because it's portable
. "You can throw a couple in your purse and go," says Li. And because you can eat the skin along with the flesh, you're getting five grams of fibre per fruit, says Li. Kiwi is also loaded with vitamin C and contains a natural enzyme that helps the body digest protein.
Kiwi is a great diet snack on its own, but also delicious on salads and in meat marinades.