Need a before-dinner nosh? Skip the bread basket and ask your server for a dish of olives, which are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. One study found a diet high in monounsaturated fat and protein helped people with type 2 diabetes lose weight and improved cardiovascular disease risk. Extra-virgin olive oil also gets a gold star.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) of 2001-2008 found that folks who regularly ate avocado had “improved overall diet quality, nutrient intake, and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.” Avocado is very versatile: Slice it into salads, mash it into guacamole, or scoop it straight out of its skin, even the overripe ones.
Chocolate’s health benefits comes from heart-healthy oleic acid, the same stuff in olive oil. One 18-week study found that women who watched their diet but indulged in a daily sweet treat lost more weight. Not all varieties make the cut. Look for organic dark chocolate with an 85% or higher cacao content, preferably raw, with 5 grams or less of sugar per serving.
This fabulous fish comes loaded with the antioxidant astaxanthin, protein, and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. If you aren’t eating wild fish regularly, take a fish oil supplement. One meta-analysis of 21 studies found that people who combined fish oil with other healthy choices significantly reduced abdominal fat.
One 24-week study found that people who add almonds to a healthy diet have “a sustained and greater weight reduction,” compared with those who ate carbohydrate-rich foods. Besides heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, fiber, and hard-to-get nutrients like magnesium and vitamin E, almond butter just tastes amazing. Read those ingredient lists: You want a raw almond butter that contains only almonds, not added sugar and the other nasty ingredients some commercial brands include.