Burn Fat Faster
Some studies have shown that capsaicin, the compound that gives peppers their zing, may boost metabolism. Plus, experts at Canadas Laval University found that when study participants ate appetizers containing capsaicin-rich hot sauce, they consumed roughly 200 fewer calories with their meals than those who skipped the spicy stuff. To get optimum salad-bar benefits, load up on chili peppers or jalapeños. A quarter cup has 15 calories.
Quash a Cold
If the bar offers sunflower seeds, sprinkle liberally! ""Theyre high in zinc and selenium, minerals that naturally up the body's potential to ward off illness,"" explains Leslie Bonci, a registered dietitian at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. A quarter cup has about 190 calories.
Enhance Your Eyesight
Popeye was right: For its health-boosting benefits, spinach cant be beat! Besides being loaded with iron, fiber, folate and vitamins A and C, the leafy green stuff contains zeaxanthins compounds proven to ward off macular degeneration, says Bonci.
Curb the Snacking Urge
Topping your salad with skinless chicken breast can ward off weight gain, says Joy Bauer, registered dietitian and author of Joy Bauers Food Cures: ""The protein in chicken increases lean muscle mass, raising your metabolism, and it keeps you feeling satisfied, so youre less likely to snack between meals."" Bauer advises tossing in half a cup 115 calories, 2.5 grams of fat.
Ensure Heart Health
Since their plentiful stores of fiber have proved to lower cholesterol, its a good idea to load up on legumes kidney beans, black beans, lima beans and chickpeas are worthy salad-bar staples explains Donna Winham, professor of nutrition at Arizona State University Polytechnic in Mesa. And because theyre packed with satiating protein, youll feel full until its mealtime again, she notes. A half cup has 120 calories.
Strengthen Those Bones
That shredded mozzarella packs a bone-strengthening punch, says John La Puma, M.D., author of Chef MDs Big Book of Culinary Medicine. A one-ounce serving of part-skim mozzarella has about as much calcium as six ounces of low-fat milk. (Two tablespoons contain 79 calories and 3 grams of fat.)
Dried cherries contain anthocyanins, anti-inflammatory compounds that help alleviate body aches. And researchers at the University of Texas say theyre also rich in melatonin, an antioxidant that can enhance the quality of sleep. (A half cup contains 280 calories.)