Photograph by Ted Cavanaugh
Ready to throw back to some heavy metal?
A couple of things: one, dietary copper actually exists. And two, it can help your body torch more fat. Yup, meet the new kid on the metabolism-boosting block…
Seriously. A research team led by a scientist at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and at UC Berkeley has found that copper plays a key role in metabolising fat. “We find that copper is essential for breaking down fat cells so that they can be used for energy,” said lead researcher and scientist Chris Chang. “It acts as a regulator. The more copper there is, the more the fat is broken down. We think it would be worthwhile to study whether a deficiency in this nutrient could be linked to obesity and obesity-related diseases.”
According to Chang, copper could actually play a role in restoring a natural way to burn fat. The best part? You don’t need to take a supplement – in fact, he warns against supplementation as too much copper can lead to imbalances. But it is found in a bunch of common foods – the good kind. (One is even considered naughty!) “Copper is not something the body can make, so we need to get it through our diet,” said Chang.
“The typical American diet, however, doesn’t include many green leafy vegetables. Asian diets, for example, have more foods rich in copper,” he continues. And we know the majority of us South Africans can be a bit slack with getting in our greens… So, here’s the easy way to get more of these copper-rich fat-burning foods into your diet.
Four copper-rich fat-burning foods
Since copper isn’t usually listed on nutrition labels, here’s how to get more of your suggested daily fill of 1.2mg easily from four top sources.
53%: Slice 1 cup Portobello mushrooms and add to your week-night stir-fry.
17%: Saute 1 cup chopped kale or beetroot leaves and scramble with your eggs.
42%: Have 30g dark chocolate (about 3 squares, 70 percent cocoa or higher) for your sweet fix.
52%: Toss a quarter cup toasted sunflower seeds into your trail mix.