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For Your Health: Herbs to Promote Weight Loss

6/7/2011 12:59:23 PM

Tags: Weight Loss, For Your Health, Medicine Cabinet, Tips, Cayenne, Flaxseed, Kelp, Green Tea

S.McCabeShedding those extra pounds can be really hard work, and while many dietary supplements claim to bring you quick and easy weight loss, there is no substitute for doing it the old-fashioned way, with a balanced diet and exercise. However, there are certain herbs that can aid you in losing weight when coupled with an active, healthy lifestyle. These herbs can stimulate your body to burn more calories, curb your food cravings and reduce hunger by making you feel fuller.

Cayenne pepper raises your core body temperature. When taken on a daily basis, it can increase your metabolism up to 25 percent, rejuvenating the body and boosting your energy. Cayenne may also affect the breakdown of carbohydrates after a meal, resulting in more stable blood sugar levels, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. For these effects, you only need to drink 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper in warm water each day. You can also find cayenne capsules at drugstores and online.

6-7-11 cayenne
Cayenne peppers can be eaten raw or in powder form, or as a dietary supplement.
Photo by Bad Alley/Courtesy Flickr

Green tea also has the ability to speed up your metabolism. Catechins, a type of polyphenol antioxidant found primarily in green tea, help prevent your body from absorbing the fat from the foods you are eating and help increase the rate your body is burning existing fat cells. Green tea can also heighten your endurance levels, allowing you to exercise for longer periods of time. And green tea isn’t just useful for weight loss. It also can help lower your cholesterol, control your blood sugar, protect your liver and reduce your risk of certain cancers. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends drinking 2 to 3 cups of green tea a day to fully take advantage from its many health benefits.  

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Green tea is known for its extraordinarily varied healing properties.
Photo by Dano/Courtesy Flickr

Kelp, which can be used as a salt substitute or eaten by itself, is an excellent source for iodine. Although iodine makes up less than a hundredth thousandth percent of your body, your thyroid (which regulates your metabolism) depends on this mineral to function properly. Adding kelp to your diet can strengthen your thyroid and therefore speed up your rate of metabolism. Because we already ingest iodine from fertilizers and table salt, kelp is a better, more natural alternative to iodine supplements, says Earl Mindell, author of the Vitamin Bible for the Twenty-First Century. However, if you add more iodine to you diet, make sure to add more vitamin A as well, because without vitamin A, your thyroid cannot easily absorb the iodine.

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Kelp can be added to soups and salads as a naturally salty complement to your meal.
Photo by Buzz Hoffman/Courtesy Flickr

Flaxseed is very versatile and is an easy addition to any diet. Two tablespoons of flaxseed contains 21 percent of your daily recommended fiber, which is low in calories and is a major aid in weight loss.  Flax expands in your stomach, so it will keep you full longer. It is also packed full of essential vitamins and nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, good fats that help you maintain a healthy heart. Studies have shown flaxseed to protect against some forms of cancer, diabetes and heart disease, as well. Flaxseed can be found whole or ground, although it is easier for your body to digest the ground form. Spreading your flaxseed intake throughout the day will help to control your appetite and blood sugar levels.

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Add flaxseed to any of your meals throughout the day to help keep you full.
Photo by AlishaV/Courtesy Flickr

These are just a few herbs that can jump-start your diet.  Just remember to also eat healthy, get plenty of exercise, and consult with your doctor before you make any significant dietary changes. Good luck!

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