Peppers, kale, and cauliflower are not only popular low-calorie foods, these vegetables are rich in fiber, and they also offer numerous health benefits.
Have you ever heard the theory that certain foods have a negative caloric effect, meaning they burn more calories during the digestive process than they contribute?
Here’s a list of our favorite almost-zero-calorie foods.
Calories: 27 per cup
Asparagus is traditionally known as a detoxifying food, because it contains high levels of an amino acid that acts as a diuretic, flushing excess fluid out of your system. It also helps speed the metabolism of alcohol and other toxins (it’s a surprising hangover remedy).
Asparagus is also a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, E, and K, B6, folate, iron, copper, and even protein. We love the tender shoots in their most natural form, raw and tossed into salads, or steamed.
Calories: 31 per cup
Broccoli is amazingly low in calories, but it always makes our list of the top superfoods for a reason. Not only is it packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, it contains powerful antioxidants that may improve your odds of breast cancer survival and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
The chemical in broccoli responsible for the protective effect is called sulforaphane, and yes, it gives broccoli its slightly bitter flavor.
Calories: 38 per cup
Brussels sprouts are super-low in calories but loaded with cancer-preventing phytonutrients and fiber. These veggies, sometimes called little cabbages, get a bad rap, but they taste great with a sweet or tangy sauce.
Calories: 22 per cup
Crunchy, sweet, and affordable! How can a food that is so humble, with so few calories, be so incredibly good for you? Cabbage packs vitamins, minerals, fibers, and several phytonutrients thought to prevent cancer. Glucosinolate is a metabolic detoxifier and sulphoraphane is a powerful anti-carcinogenic.
Purple cabbage also contains anthocyanins and other natural chemicals that boost cellular repair and block cancer growth. Eat up!
Calories: 5 per cup
You can literally eat pounds of any variety of lettuce and never gain an ounce. Romaine lettuce alone is a great source of B vitamins, folic acid, and manganese, which helps regulate blood sugar and is essential for proper immune system function.
Choose other dark green or purple varieties such as green or red leaf for the most nutrients, and toss with a zesty homemade vinaigrette.
Like other cruciferous veggies, cauliflower is full of cancer-fighting phytonutrients and is a great source of vitamin C and folate. Nibble on raw or lightly steamed florets to maximize cauliflower's nutritional power. Cauliflower is one of the top superfoods, that may improve your odds for breast cancer survival.
Calories: 15 per cup
Meaty and incredibly low-cal, mushrooms are also incredibly diverse. White button, Portobello, shiitake, and Maitake are just a few of the varieties you'll find in your grocery store. Fortunately, just about all mushrooms contain some form of immune-boosting antioxidants, along with potassium, B vitamins, and fiber.
Shiitakes, for example, contain lentinan, a nutrient that is thought to have anticancer properties. All mushrooms are good sources of vitamin D, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, potassium, copper and selenium.
Calories: 22 per medium tomato
They contain lycopene, an antioxidant rarely found in other foods. Studies suggest that it could protect the skin against harmful UV rays, prevent certain cancers, and lower cholesterol. Plus, tomatoes contain high amounts of potassium, fiber, and vitamin C.
Calories: 36 per cup
The potatoes skinnier cousin, turnips are a great source of fiber and vitamin C, and have a low glycemic load. We love them diced and tossed into soups or stews, or sliced raw and used in crudite (they taste surprisingly mild and crunchy!).
Calories: 20 per cup
This miracle squash is the ultimate high volume food, meaning you can fill up on very few calories. It’s easy to grow, especially in the summer, packs lots of vitamin A, and is so simple to prepare raw or cook with you may want to eat it all year!
Calories: 7 per cup
Tender and flavorful, this leafy green is rich in iron, folic acid, and vitamin K. It also contains disease-fighting antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin C, as well as the phytochemical lutein, which protects eyes against age-related macular degeneration.
Use as a substitute for lettuce in salad or lightly sauté with shredded carrot, sliced mushrooms, and garlic for a savory omelet filling.
Calories: 30 per cup
This low-calorie squash is rich in potassium and loaded with beta-carotene (a powerful antioxidant), and its natural sweetness brings flavor to baked goods without any added guilt. It’s a great source of vitamins A, C, and E, and packs potassium (great for lowering blood pressure) and copper.
Eating pumpkin may even be good for diabetes; studies found two compounds in this vegetable, trigonelline and nicotinic acid, improved glucose tolerance in rats.
Calories: 19 per cup
These brightly colored vegetables are packed with potassium, folic acid, antioxidants, and sulfur compounds that aid in digestion.
Don't forget the leafy green tops, which contain six times the vitamin C and more calcium than the roots. Thinly slice and toss in a fresh green salad or julienne for coleslaw.
Calories: 22 per 1/2 cup
Carrots are very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. It is also a good source of thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate and manganese, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium.