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Suppressing Your Appetite

I received an email in mid-December asking about appetite suppressants.  My response was around ten times longer than it needed to be.  This is a habit of mine, as some of you well know.  After replying, I thought of two or three or ten more bits of information that I could have included.  Rather than harassing a potential customer with multiple barrages of information, sending them into an information overload induced stupor, I decided that this topic would make for a decent Health Tip article.  Especially considering how often “weight loss” is added to our lists of New Year’s Resolutions.  So here we are.  Everything you ever wanted to know about suppressing your appetite.

Drugs

The first thing people usually think of when hoping to suppress their cravings is a chemical solution.  Everyone wants that magic pill that will take care of their problem with minimal effort, but we want it to be healthy.  No luck there.  Appetite suppressants in pill form (aka anorexiants, anorectants, anorexigenics, etc.) are almost always classified as prescription drugs.  In fact, loss of appetite is often a side effect of drugs, which pharmaceutical companies then leverage to rebrand their products as weight loss aids.  These pills are usually chemically similar to either amphetamine or anti-depressants, both of which carry a long list of risks and adverse effects.  If you’re ok with taking on these risks, you can speak with your healthcare provider to see if an anorexiant is right for you.

Lifestyle Changes

For a more natural way to suppress that appetite, you have a lot of options.  I would recommend using several, or even all of them in concert together.  The best way to control your appetite is to cut back on serving sizes, and eat multiple small meals or snacks each day, rather than three big meals.  Furthermore, eating slower gives your body time to send “I’m full” signals to your brain.  Studies have shown that cutting your food into pieces ahead of time helps slow down the rate at which we eat, and makes us eat less.  Aerobic exercise tends to make us hungry, but it can also contribute to repairing the neurological pathways that tell us when we’re full.  So there’s more to the whole “diet and exercise” mantra than you knew!

Hydrate

These are all great ways to make us eat less, but it’s still not answering the whole, “What’s a good appetite suppressant?” question.  Well, the only surefire, healthy way to suppress your appetite is to put something in your stomach for it to work on. That may sound silly if you’re trying to eat less, but even drinking water can make cravings subside. Once your digestive tract has something to occupy its time with, it will stop sending hungry signals to your brain.  Water should be your go-to solution for satisfying cravings because often times we mistake our body’s “I’m dehydrated” signal for “I’m hungry”.  That means we grab our favorite snack food the moment we feel those cravings when what our bodies really want is water.  No matter how much you snack, it’s not going to rehydrate you, so the cravings don’t subside. 

Give Your Stomach Something to Think About

Water is processed pretty quickly, so if you are actually hungry, the effects won’t last long.  The good news?  There are other things you can eat that will occupy your stomach for longer. Proteins and fats take longer to digest than carbs.  Studies have shown that protein eaten in the morning can keep you satisfied for much longer than when it’s eaten later in the day.  A little egg white omelet goes a long way.  As for fats, oleic acid is an excellent healthy fat that can suppress your appetite while lowering your bad cholesterol.  Almonds, sunflower seeds and other nuts and seeds are all good sources of oleic acid.  Insoluble fiber works well, too, and doesn’t carry the calories that fats and proteins have. Beans, legumes, whole grains, and vegetables are all high in insoluble fiber, so they’ll keep you satisfied for longer, with the added benefit of providing essential nutrients.

Avoid Simple Sugars

Now that we’ve covered a few natural appetite suppressants let’s talk about something that doesn’t satisfy your cravings.  Always avoid foods high in sucrose and fructose. While this may seem obvious, it’s not just the calories you need to worry about. Fructose and sucrose are digested differently than glucose (the sugar your body uses for energy).  They do not set off the chemical reaction that tells your brain that you’ve eaten sugar.  Your brain needs glucose to run, so when it is low on energy, it will tell your body to crave sugars.  But no matter how many candy bars you eat, that signal won’t shut off.  A slice of bread, however, will work almost immediately.

Natural Appetite Suppressants

For supplemental appetite suppressants, Garcinia Cambogia and Hydroxycitric Acid have shown good results in some studies.  The total body of evidenced, however, has been mixed.  Some results support them as appetite suppressants and diet aids while other studies that found no conclusive evidence. Likewise, some doctors swear by them and others dismiss them as a fad. We’ve had excellent feedback from our customers about our b-slim boost and Slender Mist products that utilize Garcinia Cambogia and HCA, but testimonials aren’t the same as clinical trials.

Putting It All Together

There are a lot of natural ways to suppress your appetite, but most of them involve eating.  Some other foods linked to diminished appetite include potatoes and grapefruit.  At this point, you may have started noticing a pattern.  All of the foods associated with appetite suppression are staples of a conventional “healthy diet” while the processed sugars we associate with an unhealthy diet do nothing to satisfy our cravings.  So looking for a way to eat less may be going about it all wrong.  If you find a way to eat healthy, the eating less part will follow naturally.  And you’ll feel healthier, more satisfied and proud of your accomplishment.  So pick up those nutritious and delicious foods, and eat to your heart’s content!  It won’t be long before your heart starts feeling content much faster.

The 6 Categories of Superfoods

Teriyaki salmon dinner with green onions and sesame seeds

Animal Products

Animal products are not an option for vegetarians and vegans, but they are valuable sources of nutrients for those on more omnivorous diets. While many animal products can do more harm than good, there are some superfoods that cannot be overlooked.  Eggs, for instance, deliver 6 grams of protein, despite being only 72 calories.  Since there are 4 calories per gram of protein, this means one third of an egg’s caloric contribution comes from protein.  If you only eat the egg whites, that protein jumps up to 85% of the egg’s calories!

Eggs In a Basket

3 Oz. of turkey breast pack 20 grams of protein into just 90 calories, for 89% of its caloric contribution, and 3 Oz. of salmon will provide all of the omega-3 fatty acids you need for the day. If you dress your fish or poultry with some greek yogurt, you’ll take your entrée’s nutritional value to a whole other level.  Perhaps some of the most nutrient rich food sources available are liver and kidneys.  As a society, we’ve moved away from the days when livers and kidneys were common staples of the dinner table, and that’s a shame.  A diet consisting of only liver or kidneys with a green such as spinach on the side would deliver all of the micronutrients and macronutrients your body needs to survive.

Dairy is also important, as it provides one of the most crucial micronutrients, calcium.  While some people love the taste of milk, there are many who dislike it, or can’t process it.  If you’re just not a fan, then try to include more cheeses or greek yogurt into your diet.  Cheeses with stronger flavors are often better for you.  American cheese is rather bland because it’s made with low fat milk, sugars and chemicals, whereas sharp cheddar, gouda, goat cheeses, brie and others rely more on whole milk, healthy bacteria and minerals to provide flavor.

For those who can’t or don’t want to consume animal products, supplementing with B-complex vitamins, especially B-12, and iron may be necessary.  For those who can’t process milk, this next gategory is also a great source of calcium.

Greens

Enough can’t be said about all of the benefits of ensuring a diet rich in green vegetables… although we did say quite a bit in our last Brief.  Some of the superfoods we didn’t cover last week include spitulina, blu-green algae and wheat or barley grass.  True nutrient power houses, each and every one of them.

Seaweed clinging to rocks along the shore

Seaweed

The greens of the sea, seaweed gets it own category for very good reasons.  The environment below the ocean’s surface is obviously very different than the environment above, but did you know that sea water is actually very close in composition to our own blood plasma?  This environment leads to vegetation that is rich in minerals, omega-3’s, alkalizing agents that lower our bodies’ acidity and much, much more.

Seaweeds such as kelp, nori, wakame and others tend to be ‘acquired tastes’.  But they are tastes that are well worth acquiring, since they are all extremely beneficial as detoxifiers, anti-oxidants, purifiers and nutrient sources.  When choosing seaweed products from a store, be sure to pay attention to where the products were sourced from.  Seaweeeds take on the properties of the waters they grew in, so products sourced from polluted waters can do more harm than good.  Certified organic products can be more expensive than their countrparts, but this is an instance when it’s well worth it to pay that extra cost.

Botanicals

aloe vera plant

Many herbs and other botanicals are not considered ‘greens’ or vegetables because they don’t carry enough macro-nutrients (carbs, fats, proteins, sodium and potassium), but that doesn’t mean they can’t be superfoods.  Basil, cilantro and parsley are packed with flavor, and micronutrients as well.  Most edible botanicals carry valuable cancer fighting phytonutrients, and many have additional medicinal properties.  Don’t exclude botanicals when you think of superfoods.  Many, such as aloe vera, ginseng, echinacea and nettle are valuable enough to be worth adding to your morning smoothy, or even supplementing with products like ImmuneX or Breathe EZ.

Nuts & Fruits

These are our fan favorite superfoods.  Many people have allergies that prevent them from taking advantage of the proteins and healthy fats provided by nuts.  Fortunately, though, most fruits are extremely low in allergens.  While oranges with their high Vitamin C content, and coconuts with their fantastic electrolyte balance are both well known, there are some other fruits you should take note of.

Coconut & Nuts

Acai, noni, maca, goji berries and raw cacao (aka chocolate!) are all gaining popularity in health food stores and nutrition blogs throughout the world.  This is neither a fluke nor a fad.  These superfoods pack a huge punch into small, delicious packages.  The minerals, enzymes, anti-oxidants and phytochemicals in these foods make them some of the most healthy snack foods you can get your hands on.

Bee Products

Honey dripping from honey dipperThe last category might come as a surprise, but we hope it’s a pleasant one.  The close relationship between bees and the flowers they pollinate are why their products are loaded with so many nutrients.  They are basically nature’s supplement manufacturers.  The long shelf life of honey can be attributed to its natural preservatives, which fight off bacteria and other microorganisms.  Bees produce much more than just honey, though.  Bee propolis and bee pollen are common nutritional supplements, but royal jelly is where the bee’s supplement manufacturing really shines.  Royal jelly is brimming all the nutrients required for life.  This includes a hefty dose of B-complex vitamins, with royal jelly being the highest concentrated source of Vitamin B5, a nutrient that prevents fatigue and the effects of stress.  This is why we used it as the finishing touch for our ATP: Super-Cell Food!

Bee pollinating echinacea flower.

Bringing It All Together

You don’t often hear the words “superfood” and “delicious” used in the same sentence.  But when you look at the six major categories of superfoods, a healthier and tastier diet starts to come into view.  The best diets are those that incorporate a lot of variety.  Eating your kale salad twice a day can be more than a little tedious, and it’s tough to stick with a diet like that.  Look into all six categories of superfoods, and you’ll find a diet that’s easy to stick to.  Pick and choose your superfood.  Mix it up from meal meal, day to day.  Satisfy your hunger with your favorite snacks from these categories.  Supplement your diet with the nutrients you’re missing.  Do these things, and you’ll have the energy you want, without being restricted to the depressing and often unhealthy fad diets that have flooded the market.

14 Vegetables With a Higher Nutrient Density Than Kale

These days it seems the whole world has gone kale krazy.  But is kale really the most super of all superfoods? The Centers for Disease Control doesn’t think so. In fact, they don’t even rank it in the top ten supervegetables.  Kale lands in fifteenth place, with a respectable 49.07 Nutrient Density Score.  Here’s the CDC’s top 15:

Rank Vegetable Nutrient Density Score
15 Kale 49.07

So, this means you can stop eating kale, right?

Closeup of Kale Leaves

Sorry kale haters, but 49.07 is still a highly respectable Nutrient Density Score.  Your biggest takeaway here is that kale is not your one stop shop for daily nutrients.  In fact, the healthiest (and most enjoyable) diets are those with a lot of variety.  So mix your kale with some other tasty greens, to ensure a healthy and happy diet!

 A Cautionary Kale:  Although it’s in 15th place, kale is still action packed with nutrients, including a whopping 1180 times the recommended daily intake of Vitamin K.  People on blood thinners should consult their health care providers about what not to eat because greens like kale and spinach might be doing more harm than good!

14 Chives 54.80
Chives Grwoning in the WildEasily the healthiest topping you put on your baked potato (and arguably the only healthy topping you put on your baked potato). Allium vegetables, such as garlic, scallions, onions and leeks, have long been pushed for their beneficial properties, but chives just might be the healthiest of the bunch! Their potent flavor makes it difficult to consume a full serving of them, but sprinkling a little on your meals can add a flavor kick that’s packed with vitamins and minerals.
13 Endives 60.44

Three Endives Lined Up in a RowAs far as green, leafy vegetables go, endives don’t seem very green or leafy. That doesn’t stop them from being packed full of nutrients, despite containing hardly any calories.  The endive the CDC is referring to here is the Belgian endive pictured on the right.

Endives are a great source of folate, vitamin K, choline, minerals, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as additional vitamins though they’re found in much smaller amounts.

12 Mustard Greens 61.39

Bunch of Mustard Greens Against a Plain White BackdropMustard Greens have been shown to lower cholesterol, and they fall just short of collard greens and kale in this ability.  Like many green, leafy vegetables, mustard greens contain cancer-fighting agents, and they are second only to Brussels sprouts in glucosinolate, one such compound.

A terrific source of vitamins and minerals, and packing a strong peppery bite, mustard greens are great as a side dish or mixed in with other greens in a salad.

11 Turnip Greens 62.12

Basket of Turnips With Their Greens Still AttachedTurnip Greens can be rather bitter, but a major reason for this is the considerable amount of calcium they provide.  In fact, one cup of steamed turnip greens can provide 20% of your daily calcium requirements.  This is especially impressive when you take into consideration that calcium has far and away the highest daily requirement of all the micronutrients.

Calcium is not their only benefit, though.  Turnip greens still come packed with other minerals, vitamins, protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

10 Collard Greens 62.49
Closeup of a Collard green leafSadly, cooking collard greens in bacon fat does not make them more healthy, only more fattening and delicious.  When cooking greens, the optimal method is always to steam them.  Boiling and other methods leach nutrients from them.  Heat tends to destabilize and destroy many vitamins, but the effect is not as pronounced when steaming vegetables.  In fact, steaming vegetables can increase the variety of helpful sulfur containing compounds.
9 Romaine Lettuce 63.48
Row of Lettuce Ready for Harvest

Everybody knows that romaine lettuce is far healthier than the relatively useless iceberg lettuce.  Or at least they do after reading that last sentence.  Romaine lettuce is a staple in most salads, so it’s nice to see that this mild and fresh tasting lettuce is so nutrient rich.

Use romaine lettuce as a base for your salads, and then add other greens and herbs around it for a variety of exciting flavors.  Cilantro did not make this list, but it’s still a very nutritious herb that pairs well with a little romaine.  Add in some leaf lettuce and one of the more “peppery” vegetables, such as mustard greens and you’re off to a tasty and healthy start.  You don’t need to rely on your vinaigrette to enhance the flavor of your salad!  Variety is the spice of life, after all.

8 Parsley 65.59

Plethora of ParsleyOne of the tastiest plants to make this list, parsley is the most popular herb in the world.  It’s great as a seasoning or added to salads, but parsley can also be used in uncommon ways, such as adding it to a sandwich in place of lettuce.

Not just flavorful, parsley is noted for being rich in vitamin C, antioxidants and carcinogen neutralizing agents.  It has been also been associated with good heart health.

7 Leaf Lettuce 70.73

Leaf Lettuce CloseupLeaf lettuce is second only to Popeye’s favorite in nutrient density among the most common green, leafy vegetables.  While spinach dominates in nearly every category, an NDS of 70.73 is nothing to sneeze at.  That’s more than twice the NDS of broccoli.

Maybe parents should be telling their children to eat their lettuce, instead?

6 Chicory 73.36
Chicory on Burlap

The chicory family includes radicchio, escarole and cultivated dandelion (which has a more subtle flavor than the wild dandelion weeds).  The taste of each is similar, despite their differences in appearance, and each one is packed full of nutrients.

Beyond the usual vitamins and minerals, chicory is an excellent source of potassium, a valuable electrolyte.

5 Spinach 86.43

Spinach LeavesIt’s no surprise to find spinach in the top five vegetable powerhouses.  A great source of calcium and vitamin K, spinach outstrips most green, leafy vegetables in nearly every nutrient category.

Long known for its versatility on the breakfast, lunch or dinner table, spinach is just as versatile as a nutrient delivery system.  Its well-rounded repertoire makes it a valuable addition to any meal.

4 Beet Greens 87.08
Beets with Greens at a Farmers Market

With the obvious exception of Soylent, most foods that end with the word “green” tend to be quite healthy, but none more so than beet greens.  The vibrant green colors of the leaves and deep reddish-purple of the stems and veins are our visual clues that these wonderful vegetables are packed with a variety of nutrients.

With a high concentration of iron, and more protein than most greens, beet greens contain sizable percentages of many of our daily requirements.  While their folate levels aren’t overly impressive at 5% of the RDI, including one cup of beetroot with a serving of the greens can boost those levels to nearly 40% of the RDI.  Adding beetroots will also provide additional fiber, minerals, vitamin C and vitamin B6.

3 Chard 89.27
Swiss chard in a Variety of Colors

One of the prettier vegetables on the market, chard contains all of the carcinogen binding chemicals, bioflavonoids and phytonutrients we’ve come to expect out of our green, leafy vegetables, but with the addition of syringic acid.  Syringic acid is a nutrient that’s been found to help regulate blood sugar levels.

Combine these amazing abilities with a nutrient density score of a whopping 89.27, and you’ve got yourself a vegetable that’s not just pretty to look at, it’s pretty darn good for you to eat it as well.

2 Chinese Cabbage 91.99
Chinese Cabbage

Like regular cabbage, only taller.  Oh, and also packed with an incredible amount of nutrients.  Chinese cabbage, or bok choy, contains very good amounts of 21 different nutrients.  This includes omega-3 fatty acids and even high concentrations of zinc.

Chinese cabbage is a great addition to any diet, but it’s especially useful if you’re looking for dietary sources of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories.

1 Watercress 100.00
Watercress

And the Winner Is!

Watercress tops off the list at #1 with the unmatched nutrient density score of 100.  You don’t hear a lot of talk about watercress outside of the nutritionally well informed, but it’s long been known as a superfood.  Despite being very low in calories, it contains a wide variety of nutrients, without going overboard on the vitamin K as many green, leafy vegetables do.  In fact, watercress doesn’t go all out in any single ingredient.  Where it shines is in its  jack-of-all-trades nature.