Seven fat-burning superfoods

Fat-burning foodsPic: Getty

A healthy diet, sensible portions and regular exercise are essential for weight loss, but for many slimming down can be a long and laborious process. Scientists continue to search for weight loss aids though, and research suggests these foods could give your body's fat-burning abilities a boost.

This spice has long been used for everything from circulation to joint pain, but researchers have discovered that it could be of great help if you're fighting belly fat. It helps to control blood sugar levels, thereby reducing the amount of insulin that is produced after eating, and that means you're less likely to store body fat.

Low-fat dairy
As unlikely as it may seem, a calcium-rich diet could make you leaner. Danish researchers found that a diet high in calcium increased the excretion of fat in the faeces, allowing the body to break down and release fat that could otherwise end up on your hips or tummy. Plus it's satisfying and aids healthy digestion.

A 'negative calorie' superfood in a class of its own, grapefruit helps to lower insulin, regulate blood sugar and metabolism, and tucking into this fresh fruit will burn more calories during digestion than those you consume. If you prefer yours juiced, go for one with plenty of pulp.

Green tea
It is thought the antioxidant EGCG, found in green tea, helps to burn calories and keep increase the metabolic rate, thereby acting as a weight loss aid. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers reported a four per cent increase in 24-hour energy expenditure provided by green tea extract. Since the body's own rate of burning calories (thermogenesis) is estimated to contribute eight to 10 per cent of daily energy expenditure, the researchers suggested that the green tea effect could translate to a 35 to 43 per cent increase, helping to melt away those pounds during the day.

High in soluble fibre and packed with antioxidants that promote smooth digestion, apples are also great fat fighters thanks to pectin. This helps to prevent cells from absorbing fat, while also encouraging water absorption, thereby removing fat deposits from the body. One Brazilian study found that people who ate at least three apples a day lost an average of three pounds over the course of 12 weeks. Not a miracle cure by any means, but every little helps.

Seaweed is the latest fat-busting superfood to be identified by scientists. According to researchers at the University of Newcastle's Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences, a substance called alginate, found in sea kelp, can suppress the digestion of fat in the gut, with one type of alginate found in a brown sea kelp known as 'tangle' boosting anti-fat absorption by an impressive 75 per cent.

Those famous omega-3 fatty acids are once again the key to salmon's fat-burning abilities. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin found that people with low leptin levels boasted faster metabolisms and the ability to burn fat more quickly. And the omega-3 fatty acids in salmon help to reduce leptin - a hormone that plays a role in regulating energy and metabolism - paving the way for a slimmer figure.

Have any of these superfoods helped you to lose weight? Leave your comments below...