You’ve probably noticed that certain foods “stay with you” longer than others, giving you a full, satisfied feeling much longer. Well, you aren’t imagining it; it turns out there’s a scientific basis for those satiated feelings. Many studies have found that there are compounds in some foods that cause the body to release hormones that make you feel full, triggering the brain and body to suppress the appetite. There’s no crash diet that can take the place of sensible eating, but there are foods you can eat that will increase your odds of beating your cravings. Valerie Berkowitz, MS, RD, Julie Upton, MS, RD and numerous other health experts recommend specific foods to help keep a hungry appetite in check.
Click next to see what foods you should consider working into your diet to keep your stomach happy and the pounds melting off. As always, watch portion sizes; some of these foods are high in calories:
You’ve heard about the benefits of fish and fish oil for their antioxidant omega-3 fatty acids, but eating fish has an additional benefit — it helps to suppress the appetite. Eating oily fish such as salmon and mackerel helps to increase the amount of leptin in the body; leptin is a key hormone that is known for its hunger-suppressing qualities. Tuna and herring are also high in those healthy omega-3s. While a fish oil supplement is a great way to receive the antioxidant benefits of fish omega-3 (experts recommend taking around 1,000 milligrams per day), you won’t receive the same appetite controlling benefits as eating the actual fish. You can still take the supplement, but consider working some oily fish into your diet a couple of times per week.
Who would’ve guessed that the sweet and delicious mango is also diet-friendly? A Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences study showed that those who ate mangoes regularly tended to do better on diets and weigh less than those who didn’t eat this tropical stone fruit. Mangoes contain a number of bioactive ingredients that have been shown to assist in controlling the blood sugar and reducing weight and body fat. Mango seems to help the body to maintain better insulin levels, which also contributes to preventing weight gain. A whole cup of cubed or sliced mangoes has only 100 calories; try it for breakfast, dessert or pureed in a smoothie.
While avocados are higher in fat and calories compared with other fruits (and yes, avocado is a fruit), eating them in moderation offers excellent appetite suppressing qualities and other health benefits. It turns out avocados contain oleic acid, a compound that seems to naturally quiet the appetite. Oleic acid within unsaturated fats is converted into OEA, a lipid hormone responsible for feelings of fullness and satiety. (Oleic acid is also found in olive and grapeseed oils.) Avocados can be delicious sliced on sandwiches, cut into salads or mashed into fresh guacamole. Just watch your portions; one half of an average sized avocado packs a whopping 160 calories and 15 grams of fat.
Beans, oatmeal, lentils, chickpeas, high fiber breads and other whole grains are excellent for suppressing the appetite due in large part to their high fiber content. Beans and legumes have the added benefit of containing vegetarian proteins as well, which are slow-to-digest. Fibrous foods also tend to have a low glycemic index, which helps to keep the blood sugar regulated and effectively reduces sugar and carbohydrate cravings. High-fiber vegetables are also an effective appetite suppressant. Celery, for example, is packed with fiber, as are dark leafy greens, cauliflower and broccoli — so bring on the fiber at each and every meal.