It might sound counterintuitive, but there are plenty of studies that show that potent compounds in food can actually stop fat cells from expanding.  You might have heard of superfoods – highly nutritious whole foods that deliver high levels of the vitamins and minerals we need every day – but it turns out that some of them contain special compounds that can do even more!

Let’s look at three compounds that have been studied for their ability to stop fat cell growth or even shrink fat cells and even improve insulin levels.

Anthocyanins reside in high amounts in the pigment of plants like kale, black beans, blackberries, kale, raspberries, blueberries, red cabbage and red onion – and have been deemed beneficial for everything from brain degeneration to heart health. In one study “anthocyanin-treated mice showed a 24% decrease in weight gain” compared to those not given a dose. And it seems that anthocyanins from the skin of black beans can give your liver a “fat-fighting boost” when added to your diet.

To get your highest dose of anthocyanins, kale is one of my top picks.  It’s a high-fiber, leafy green, part of the cruciferous family known for their cancer-fighting compounds. There are many fun ways to include it in all your favorite meals, tossing it into beef for tacos, adding it to ramen noodles, and even stirring it into homemade chocolate chip cookie dough.

Turmeric is known throughout the health world as a panacea of healing – everything from cancer to psoriasis.  You might have tasted it, since it’s an essential ingredient in powdered curry. But did you know that research shows, its active ingredient curcumin, can also inhibit the growth of fat cells? The study also showed that “the curcumin-treated group also had less blood vessel growth in fat tissue. Blood glucose, triglyceride, fatty acid, cholesterol and liver fat levels also were lower.”

In terms of flavor, turmeric on its own can have an overpowering, stringent flavor so it’s best mixed, in small doses, with other foods.  Pair it with anthocyanin-rich berries or cherries to get the double fat-busting effect!

Turmeric Cherry Smoothie

1 cup frozen or fresh, pitted cherries
1 cup non-fat, plain yogurt
8 ice cubes
1/4 cup toasted whole almonds
2 tablespoon ground flax
1 tablespoon granulated sugar or honey
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients until smooth. Serve immediately.

Nutritional stats per serving: 232 calories, 12g protein, 20g carbohydrates, 12g fat (1g saturated), 2mg cholesterol, 5g fiber, 96mg sodium.