One of the most basic principles of health, which includes getting to a healthy weight, is to eat a diet of whole, nutrient dense foods rather than processed "diet" foods.  Believe it or not, many people who are overweight are actually malnourished. 

Focusing on superfoods might change the way you look at weight loss.  Feeding your body the right nutrients is not only key to living a healthy life, it will also help you lose unwanted pounds.  Though there is no legal or medical definition, superfoods are nutrient powerhouses that pack large doses of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. Eating them may reduce the risk of chronic disease, and prolong life.  People who eat more of these foods are healthier and thinner than those who don't. 

If you look around, you can find lists of exotic superfoods found in the rain forests or other remote places.  But superfoods can be regular everyday items you buy at your local grocery store, farm, or make at home.

1. Eggs.

Many people avoid eating the yolk for fear of its fat and cholesterol, but don’t be afraid. One egg provides 13 essential nutrients, all in the yolk (so don’t throw it away!).  

With eggs it is worth paying extra for true free-range eggs, sometimes referred to as "pasture-raised." These eggs come from hens that roam freely outdoors where they can forage for their natural diet, which includes seeds, green plants, insects, and worms. You may also want to look for certified organic eggs, as, unless you personally know the farmer, this is your only guarantee that the chickens are raised without antibiotics and GMO corn or soy.

2. Salmon (and Other Cold-Water, Oily Fish).

Salmon is an excellent source of essential animal-based omega-3 fats (EPA and DHA), which are anti-inflammatory and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.  It also scores well in terms of mercury contamination, which can be a concern with fish.

Just be sure to avoid farmed salmon, as its nutritional composition is inferior to wild caught (beware that virtually all salmon labeled "Atlantic Salmon" currently comes from fish farms).

An affordable option is to buy canned wild Alaskan salmon. In restaurants, mislabeled salmon will typically be described as "wild" but not "wild Alaskan," as authentic wild Alaskan is easier to trace.

Other cold water oily fish like mackerel, herring and sardines are also great sources of omega-3 fatty acids.  Aim for a pound of fatty fish per week.

3. Bone broth and stews.  

Bone broth has been used as a medicinal food in almost every culture around the world.  Broths -- and stews made with tough cuts of meat and cartilage -- are an excellent source of several amino acids that are difficult to get elsewhere.  They’re rich in minerals that support the immune system and contain healing compounds like collagen.  The collagen in bone broths and stews heals the gut lining, supports joint health and reduces intestinal inflammation.  It also supports nail, hair and skin health, keeping the skin smooth, and reducing wrinkles. 

4. Dark leafy greens.

Dark leafy greens (which include kale, collards, spinach, and mustard greens, among others) are full of nutrients.  Leafy greens top the charts in vitamins A, C and K, potassium and fiber. Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, collards and cabbages are natural defenders recognized for their potential roles in cancer prevention. Kale, spinach and turnip greens are high in lutein, a phytochemical that may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.

5. Fermented foods.

Fermented foods are foods that have been made using a fermentation process that naturally preserves them.  They are an easy, cheap, and effective way to introduce beneficial bacteria --essential for good gut health -- to your digestive system.  

Some fermented foods include sour kraut, pickles, kim chi, yogurt and kefir.  I like to make my own kim chi but if you're buying kim chi or pickles and you want to be sure to get the probiotic benefits, check the label to see that they are in fact fermented (not pickled using vinegar).  Try a little kim chi or sour kraut before each meal.

6. Liver.

Ok, I know you may not have grown up absolutely loving liver.  It can be an acquired taste, but it really does have a boatload of nutrition.  Liver could be considered nature’s multivitamin.  Three ounces twice a week, and there’s no need to supplement with a multivitamin at all. If you don’t like the taste of liver, you can chop it into pill-size pieces, freeze it and take it as you would a pill.

7. Sweet Potatoes

You may not think of sweet potatoes as a superfood, but hear me out. Sweet potatoes contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese. They’re also high in beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A linked to a significant decrease in the risk of certain types of cancer, including lung and breast cancer). In fact, one sweet potato fulfills 438% of your daily vitamin A needs. And they’re a good source of fiber.

8. Seaweed.

Here's another one you may not be used to eating.  But, seaweed is much more nutrient dense than any land vegetables and is is loaded with minerals and nutrients that are difficult to get elsewhere, including folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and selenium. More importantly, seaweed is a great source of iodine.

9. Coconuts and Coconut Oil.

I know it’s natural to be squeamish around fat in general, given how it’s been vilified for the past 40 years.  But healthy fats are crucial to good health and necessary even in weight loss.  Eating healthy fats will reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering your triglycerides and raising your HDL.  And they improve and stabilize energy and mood. They also help you absorb fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K.

Populations that consume large amounts of coconut do not have high levels of heart disease, and are in excellent health. The fat in coconut is actually different than most other fats. It consists largely of medium-chain fatty acids, which are metabolized differently, going straight to the liver where they may be turned into ketone bodies. Studies show that medium-chain fats suppress appetite, helping people eat fewer calories and can boost metabolism by up to 120 calories per day.

10. Pastured, full-fat dairy (preferably raw).

If you tolerate dairy, this is a great source of fat soluble vitamins like A, D, and K2, minerals like calcium and phosphorus, trace elements, beneficial bacteria, long-chain saturated fats and CLA.

Full fat dairy—and in particular raw, unpasteurized—is far preferable to low-fat varieties, both for overall health and weight loss. In one study, women who consumed at least one serving of full-fat dairy a day gained 30 percent less weight over a nine-year period than women who ate only low-fat (or no) dairy products.
Saturated fats --like those in full-fat dairy--provide the building blocks for your cell membranes and a large number of hormones and hormone-like substances that are essential to your health.  When you eat these fats as part of your meal, they slow down food absorption so that you can go longer without feeling hungry.

11.  Sprouts

A powerhouse of nutrition, sprouts can contain up to 30 times the nutrition of organic vegetables. Sprouts are rich in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes that protect against free radical damage and support cell regeneration.  And they allow your body to extract more vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fats from the foods you eat. During sprouting, minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, bind to protein, making them more bioavailable.  
Sunflower seed and pea sprouts, and broccoli sprouts tend to top the list of all the seeds that you can sprout.  Best of all, you can easily and inexpensively grow sprouts at home, and you don't have to cook them. They are eaten raw, usually as an addition to salad or juice.

12. Broccoli

It's no coincidence that more than 300 research studies on broccoli have converged on its ability to improve three metabolic problems in the body: chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and inadequate detoxification.  It’s been proven over and over to contain amazing compounds that heal the body and prevent cell damage.  For example, a compound in broccoli, glucosinolate glucoraphanin, can significantly improve blood pressure, kidney function, and gut health. It has anti-diabetic and antimicrobial properties, and kills cancer stem cells.