Not long ago, cancer researchers made a very surprising (and very slimming!) discovery: Tumor-shrinking compounds in foods like peaches, tomatoes, and broccoli also seem to make fat disappear. Turns out, these miracle compounds, called anti-angiogenics, block blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to stored fat.
“When you cut off the blood supply, you actually starve the fat cells,” explains mega-selling Eat to Beat Disease ($18, Amazon) author William Li, MD. New weight-loss drugs are on the horizon — but there’s no need to wait. “Mother Nature has everything you need at your local farmstand,” reveals Dr. Li, noting that berries, kale, even apple cider may prove more potent than any Rx. And women filling up on these natural fat fighters already report dropping up to 2 pounds a day!
While virtually every fruit and veggie contains crucial nutrients, if you’re looking to cut off blood supply to fat, Dr. Li says these 16 superfoods are best: artichokes, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, leafy greens, purple potatoes, tomatoes, apples, unfiltered apple cider, berries, cherries, grapes, nectarines, peaches and plums.
Each is loaded with a magic mix of natural chemicals that early evidence shows can shrink fat cells by up to 50 percent and spur significant weight loss in mere weeks. Now, Dr. Li’s not suggesting you only eat seasonal produce. The vitamin K-2 in cheese (especially Gouda and Muenster) and dark-meat chicken has proven to be a potent fat-starving compound, as have fatty acids in seafood. And lab tests show a number of other year-round staples also have fat cell–starving properties, including nuts, black beans, soy, olive oil, dark chocolate, herbs, tea, and red wine.
The bottom line: These fat-destroying compounds are found in such tasty and nutritious foods that adding more to your diet is just plain smart, insists Dr. Li, who has served on the faculty at Harvard, Tufts and Dartmouth. Looking for the fastest fat loss possible? You’re in luck, because it’s the perfect time of year for a “farmstand detox!”
The 'Farmstand' Detox Diet Plan
Here’s how it works: Use Dr. Li’s list of 16 foods to stock up at your local farmers market or any store with fresh produce. Then treat your body to a week (or more!) during which all your sittings are built around fat-starving foods. “You don’t have to follow a set plan to benefit,” insists Dr. Li, who recommends eating until lightly full at three meals and two snacks a day. But if you do prefer set guidelines, he encourages following any diet plan you like — "Paleo, Whole30, Ornish, plant-based, even a keto diet." Just turbocharge it by making lots of fat-starving choices!
As you begin eating more of Dr. Li’s superfoods, you’ll naturally load up on other key nutrients, like fat-burning vitamins, belly fat–blasting antioxidants, and prebiotic fiber that boosts gut bacteria linked to effortless weight control. Eating more good stuff also means crowding out ultra-processed foods.
“Many times, processing removes a food’s beneficial compounds and replaces them with chemical preservatives,” he shares. That makes ultra-processed food highly inflammatory. “Any area that’s inflamed will actually grow blood vessels very quickly,” says Dr. Li. If you cut yourself, this helps you heal. But if your body is constantly inflamed, it helps fat (as well as tumors and other disease-causing tissue) expand rapidly. Science is now telling us that the food choices we make literally control the growth of blood vessels. “So based on your choices, you’re either dialing up or dialing down body weight.”
The Farmstead Detox — Sample Day
For an easy detox, simply build sittings around fat-starving superfoods, aiming for at least two servings per sitting (you can get a free shopping list at DrWilliamLi.com.) Use a liberal hand with herbs and spices, especially cinnamon, oregano, rosemary, and turmeric. Eat three meals and two small snacks/treats until lightly full. As always, get a doctor’s okay to try any new plan.
Breakfast — Enjoy a bowl of berries or any fruit from Dr. Li’s list. If desired, add nuts, dark chocolate shavings, cinnamon, and a little yogurt or ricotta.
Lunch — Toss zoodles or wholegrain pasta with leafy greens and steamed veggies, herbs, grated cheese, and olive oil; top with grilled salmon or chicken.
Snacks — Tuck into your favorite veggie soup, such as carrot curry or minestrone. Alternatively, sip unfiltered apple cider with a handful of spiced nuts.
Dinner — Top a whole-grain or cauliflower pizza crust with fat-fighting toppings like tomato, cheese, greens and/or prosciutto.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.