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The latest research shows that one of the best ways to lose weight and boost your health is to eat a host of colors. Trouble is, eight in 10 people in the United States don't consume enough of a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, which means they face a nutrient deficit, according to a recent analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys and the USDA. Here's a kaleidoscope of inspiration to punch up your next meal.
Move over, Wheaties. The new breakfast of champions is red chili peppers -- seriously. People whose morning meal included the spicy vegetable were less hungry after breakfast and ate less fat at lunch, a study in the British Journal of Nutrition found. "Capsaicin, the compound that gives peppers their bite, increases the production of appetite-suppressing hormones called catecholamines," says Sasson Moulavi, MD, a physician in Boca Raton, Florida, who specializes in weight control.
Fresh idea: Add diced red chili peppers to scrambled eggs or top a whole wheat English muffin with low-fat ricotta cheese and chopped chilies.
Whiten Your Teeth
Brush, floss...and snack on strawberries? Yup. It turns out that the fruit contains salicylic acid, a natural tooth whitener. "Strawberries are a potent plaque fighter, and they actually contain a mild bleaching agent that's used in many commercial products," says Janice Cox, coauthor of Eco Beauty.
Fresh idea: Puree a handful of fresh strawberries and add it to iced green tea.
Step Up Your Sweat Session
Go longer by tossing beets into your salad. Researchers discovered that this vegetable helped cyclists increase their endurance by up to 16 percent. "Beets seem to reduce the amount of oxygen the body uses during exercise," says exercise physiologist Stephen Bailey of Exeter University in England. "The result is muscles that can tolerate high-intensity exercise longer."
Fresh idea: Drizzle beets with red wine vinegar and olive oil, then roast. Or saute with onions and garlic.