This tropical tree fruit is a source of resveratrol, and new animal research indicates that the antioxidant may be key to trimming inches. The 2015 study, done at Washington State University, reported that mice that were fed a diet containing 0.1 percent resveratrol were able to convert their excess white body fat (the type that can lead to health risks) into metabolism-revving beige fat. The researchers suggest that two or three servings per day of fruit with resveratrol could supply a healthy dose. (Think: jackfruit, red grapes and blueberries drizzled with yogurt.)
Eat more: You can buy jackfruit fresh (they can be as large as a watermelon), frozen, dried or freeze-dried. Trader Joes even sells chips. Thanks to its thick texture, the fruit is also being used as a meat substitute. Look for products from The Jackfruit Company and Uptons Naturals, in flavors that range from curry to barbecue.
Everyday Hero: Pulses
If you haven’t heard much about pulses, that’s about to change. The United Nations named 2016 the International Year of Pulses. And the research on the health perks of this familiar (and cheap!) food group—which includes beans, lentils, chickpeas and yellow split peas—keeps piling up. (Disclosure: I wrote a book, Slim Down Now, about the weight-loss power of pulses.) One study in the British Journal of Nutrition revealed that having an extra five cups of pulses per week is about as effective at reducing waist circumference as cutting 500 calories a day. The pulse eaters also experienced a boost in protective HDL cholesterol. The high fiber content of legumes is another boon: Previous research has shown that increasing daily fiber intake by about 16 grams leads to a loss of 4.4 pounds over 20 months.
Eat more: You can squeeze in a serving by snacking on roasted chickpeas or lentil crackers. Another simple trick: Toss pea protein powder into a smoothie.
Another reason to heart your daily brew: It spikes your metabolism—and can make a workout extra effective. A 2015 Spanish study found that fit people who consumed caffeine before they exercised torched 15 percent more calories in the three-hour period afterward than those who didn’t. The magic caffeine dose for a 150-pound woman: About 300 milligrams, just under the amount in two cups of joe.
Eat more: For an easy slow-cooker meal, combine brewed coffee with chicken breast, veggies (like sweet potatoes, bell peppers and tomatoes), low-sodium broth and a little molasses, olive oil, garlic, pepper, sea salt and chili powder. You can also blend instant-coffee crystals into a smoothie, or stir them into yogurt or oatmeal (1 tablespoon contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine).
Overnight Fix: Kiwi
It turns out that this furry little fruit may be a potent sleep aid, and adequate shut-eye has long been linked to a leaner midsection. When researchers in Taiwan asked insomniacs to snack on two kiwis one hour before bed, they found that these folks were nodding off faster and snoozing more soundly than before. The scientists speculate that the effect comes from kiwis high levels of antioxidants and serotonin, which helps regulate the body’s internal clock.
Eat more: Whip up a sleepy-time smoothie by blending two kiwis with a cup of warm, unsweetened vanilla almond milk (calorie cost: 119). Or slice and garnish the tart flesh with 2 tablespoons of coconut flour (144 calories).