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It’s a new year, which has many Americans looking for a change. For some, it’s time to slim down and seek diet advice. However, most advice comes in the form of foods to cut out. For a refreshing change, consider these five foods to add in.

1. Milk: While you may already include milk in your diet, are you drinking enough? Researchers have found that overweight and obese adults who consumed three servings of dairy each day lost twice as much weight as those only getting one serving or less. Milk is an easy dairy choice; 1 cup equals 1 serving, but an 8-ounce container of yogurt or 1½ ounces of cheese also count as 1 serving. Consider low-fat (1 percent) or non-fat milk and milk products.

2. Mushrooms: These fungi can either enhance foods or stand alone. Save money and calories on meat by replacing all or half the meat with mushrooms. Mushrooms are satisfying and have practically no calories or fat, thereby helping you to lose weight.

3. Beans: Beans, such as black, pinto or kidney, are an economical way to lead your weight loss efforts. They are a good source of protein and fiber, keeping you full for longer. Look for lower-sodium canned beans and rinse before using to wash away about 30 to 40 percent of the sodium. Like mushrooms, beans can be used to replace all or half of the meat in a recipe.

4. Raspberries: All fruits are good for weight loss because they are low in calories and have virtually no fat, but raspberries trumps them all in terms of dietary fiber. Just 1 cup has 8 grams of fiber, which is more than a serving of bran flakes or oatmeal. Top cereals or yogurt with fresh raspberries or blend them to make smoothies.

5. Fish: Not only is fish a good protein source, but it’s also very lean. Generally, the little fat that is in fish is good fat, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Fish is a good swap for red meats, which contain higher amounts of saturated fat, the bad fat that can raise cholesterol levels. Aim to eat fish twice per week to save on calories.

While there is no such thing as magical foods that automatically shed pounds, when eaten as part of a healthy diet, these foods may help you lose that excess weight.

Smith, a registered dietitian, is a nutrition and wellness educator for the University of Illinois Extension, McLean County. Contact her at 309-663-8306.

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