Integrative Nutrition Blog

5 Ways to Add Fat-Burning Copper to Your Diet

October 1, 2016

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You’re probably familiar with these popular ways to rev up your metabolism: engage in intense cardio, drink lots of water and eat more protein. But here’s one you may not have heard: eat more copper!

A research team at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley has discovered that copper plays a big role in metabolizing fat.

“We find that copper is essential for breaking down fat cells so that they can be used for energy,” says Chris Chang, a faculty scientist at Berkeley Lab’s Chemical Sciences Division who led the study. “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.”

But don’t worry—you won’t have to chew on copper wire or pennies to get your fat-burning fix!

Here are five copper-rich foods to add to your diet:

Oysters
Eastern oysters win the award for food with the highest natural concentration of zinc and copper, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. These oysters have 4,851 micrograms of copper in every 3 cooked ounces. Pacific oysters have less zinc and copper but are still worth eating for the copper intake.

Millet
We’ve previously written about millet as one of the superfoods you can actually afford. This grain is notably rich in copper, magnesium and phosphorous. The World’s Healthiest Foods says that one cup of cooked millet provides 31 percent of your daily copper. However, some studies indicate that millet could have an adverse effect on thyroid function, so consume in moderation if you’re concerned.

Kale
Eat your greens for a powerful dose of copper. Not only does kale contain vitamins K and C, but it also has 1,004 micrograms of copper per cup, which more than fulfills your daily intake. Check out these recipes and tips in celebration of National Kale Day (yes, that’s a thing), which falls on Oct. 5 this year.

Asparagus
Like kale, this veggie packs a punch of vitamin K, along with 33% DV of copper. As if that weren’t enough, it also provides ample calcium and magnesium. Check out this fresh asparagus and purple potato frittata

Dark chocolate
Luckily, there’s an indulgent dessert food also filled with copper. According to SF Gate, each ounce of 70 percent dark chocolate contains 25 percent of your daily copper value. A study from Nutritional Research found that dark chocolate candy and other chocolate products were the most common sources of daily copper intake in the American diet. “Americans who eat chocolate get an average of about 10 percent of their copper from chocolate foods," according to Nancy Betts, co-author of the study. So go ahead—treat yourself to a little dessert tonight!

What’s your favorite copper-rich food? Let us know here!

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