If you're willing to experiment with some foods that might not have the best reputation, then there are plenty of potential ways to help your health. In fact, the gross things that are good for your metabolism might put off even the most dedicated health nuts at first. But if you give these things a shot, you just might find a new favorite dish. Or, at least, you might find something worth tolerating in the name of health.
To be clear, though, the metabolism is a complex system. You can't just eat a berry or something and have it go into overdrive. Basically, the word metabolism refers to the bodily processes that convert food into energy, according to the Mayo Clinic. It's also a highly individual process. A person's medications, age, and diet can affect the metabolism in different ways, as further explained by the Mayo Clinic. The best way to understand your own metabolism would be to visit with your healthcare professional for advice.
But in general, there are a few foods or types of food that may offer a metabolic boost for most people. Read on to see whether you can stomach these dishes, or whether they're just a bit much for your palate.
In general, foods rich in protein can increase the metabolism, because they require more energy to digest, according to Healthline. One overlooked source of protein is this small, strongly flavored fish. In fact, a two-ounce can of anchovies can provide 13 grams of protein, according to the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. The fragrant fish is kind of a nutritional powerhouse.
2. Brussels Sprouts
Although it's an iconically "yucky" veggie, the humble Brussels sprout is a high-protein vegetable, according to Healthline. And again, protein is a great way to boost the metabolism. If you've only had them boiled, then the roasted honey-balsamic Brussels sprouts recipe from Bustle just might change your mind.
3. Caterpillar Fungus
A particular type of fungus may also be linked to metabolic benefits. "One of the supplements I regularly recommend is 'Cordyceps' - a medical fungus grown on the backs of caterpillars," said Dr. Warren Willey. "It’s a strong antioxidant that helps increase energy levels, improves stamina and endurance, can treat/benefit muscle aches and soreness, and help detox the liver." That said, current studies about the effects of cordyceps on metabolism are still somewhat inconclusive, according to a roundup of research from Very Well Health.
OK, so I love this stuff, but I totally understand that not everyone is a fan. Still, it's worth a try. "Probiotic-rich fermented foods, like kimchi, are beneficial for gut health, promoting healthy digestion and less bloating," said Rebecca Lewis, R.D., in-house dietitian at HelloFresh, in Women's Health. And a healthier gut tends to promote a faster metabolism, as further explained in Women's Health.
This underwater plant may offer some surprising health benefits. "Seaweed or supplements with seaweed extracts can be a great addition to one's weight loss routine. This is due to the active compound fucoxanthin that can be found in it. It works by being stored in white fat cells (bad fat) and interacts with the mitochondria in a way that increases the metabolic rate," says Nick Rizzo, Training and Fitness Content Director for RunRepeat.com. He has spent years conducting research and development for nutritional supplement companies.
6. Boiled Green Peas
High-fiber foods are also worth keeping in mind. "It takes a lot of energy to push fiber all the way through," said Dian Griesel, Ph.D., in WebMD. "The more your body's working naturally for you, the more your metabolism's staying high." And simple boiled green peas have a staggering 9 grams of fiber, according to the Mayo Clinic. (I'm pretty neutral on the things, but I know people who hate green peas with a fiery passion.)
Consider munching on some bugs. "Insects are the best 'gross' food for your metabolism, such as mealworms, crickets and termites among others (very popular in Africa, Asia and South America). They are the original superfood thanks to their nutritional values and are consumed by an average of 80% of the world's nations," says French/Congolese Luxury Private Chef Mick Élysée. Although people raised on a Western diet might not buy it, insects can be a fabulous source of protein, according to a study from the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering. Basically, the healthiest, metabolism-boosting foods might come from some unexpected places.