Want to fill up, whittle your waist, and possibly ward off diabetes all at the same time? Listen up: A recent study from the UK found that mice fed high-fat diets gained less weight if their diets were also supplemented with beta-glucan or inulin, two types of fermentable carbohydrates found in foods such as oats, barley, Jerusalem artichokes, mushrooms, asparagus, onions and bananas.
Fermentable carbohydrates are a type of fiber that's broken down—or fermented—by the bacteria in your colon. "When this fermentation takes place, short chain fatty acids [SCFAs] are formed," says Lona Sandon, RD, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. "These seem to produce more of the appetite-controlling hormones that help us feel full." They may also help lower levels of dangerous body fat: Preliminary research on obese women found that higher blood levels of the SCFA acetate were associated with lower levels of visceral fat, the dangerous kind that's packed around your organs and is linked to diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
More: The Truth About Fiber
There's one initial drawback: gas, if you're not used to eating so much fiber. "Increase your consumption of these foods gradually to reduce symptoms," says Sandon.
Curious how you'll get your fix of these fat fighters? We thought you might be. Here, tasty recipes that take out all the guesswork.
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If you thought fighting fat was all oats were capable of, think again. Just two servings can lower LDL cholesterol by more than 5 percent in just six weeks. The key to this cholesterol buster is beta-glucan, a substance in oats that absorbs LDL, which your body then excretes. (What's healthier-steel-cut oats or rolled oats? Watch your favorite superfoods battle it out in our Health Food Face-Off Series.)
Despite their name, Jerusalem artichokes aren't from Jerusalem-and they're not artichokes. They are small tubers that resemble gnarly potatoes. Also called sunchokes, they have a nutty taste when cooked.