Last updated: Apr 24, 2008

Ever wish eating helped you lose weight? Wish granted! We've got the scoop on five superfoods that actually help shed pounds—and easy and delicious ways to add them to your diet.





Pears
Why you need them: Pack the fruit bowl with pears if you want to lose pounds, reports a study out of the University of Rio de Janeiro. In the study, which was published in the journal Nutrition, women who ate three pears a day consumed fewer total daily calories and lost more weight than those who didnt. Rich in fiber (one pear packs 15% of your daily recommended amount), pears help you feel full and keep you from overeating.

Best way to work them in: Eat a pear before a meal to help curb hunger. Ditch the peeler, though; most of the fruits beneficial fiber is in the skin.




Grapefruit
Why you need them: According to researchers at Scripps Clinic in California, eating half a grapefruit before each meal may help you lose weight—up to one pound a week—even if you change nothing else about your diet. The studys author, Ken Fujioka, MD, says a compound in grapefruit helps regulate insulin, a fat-storage hormone. “Anything that helps lower insulin can help people lose weight,” he explains. “Grapefruit seems to be one of those foods.”

Best way to work them in: Peel and segment; cut into chunks and add to spinach salad. Its also a great companion with shrimp or peeled, sliced jicama.



Almonds
Why you need them: Eating a handful of almonds a day, along with a healthy diet, might help you zap fat, suggests research published in the International Journal of Obesity. Diet-study participants who ate almonds daily for six months lost 18% of their body fat. Those who followed a diet with the same amount of calories and protein but swapped almonds for an equal number of calories in complex carbs (like wheat crackers) lost only 11%.

Best way to work them in: Theyre a great at-your-desk snack—22 almonds add up to one serving. Another idea: chop them finely and add them to oatmeal or yogurt.



Chocolate
Why you need it: Cant resist a little rich chocolate? No need to: Dark chocolate—and other foods high in antioxidants—may help prevent the accumulation of fat cells in the body, a precursor to heart disease and obesity, according to new research from Taiwan published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

Best way to work it in: Melt a half-ounce of dark chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds and spread it on half a graham cracker; its just 98 calories.




Navy beans
Why you need them: Theyre loaded with resistant starch, a powerful fat burner (one half-cup serves up nearly 10 grams of resistant starch). If you eat navy beans and other foods rich in resistant starch at just one meal a day, youll burn 25% more fat than you would otherwise, according to researchers at the University of Colorado.

Best way to work them in: Saute diced onion and garlic in olive oil, add two cans of drained navy beans; puree and serve.