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Calories are important. It gives our body the energy to function and, of course, to stay alive. So for anyone looking forward to having a change in their diet, be it for any reason; to lose weight, start a healthier lifestyle, or simply because you want to cut down on certain food items, the primary concern is calories.
The first step towards this step is getting yourself familiarised with the different types of low-calorie foods available in the market. In this article, we will familiarise you with low-calorie foods, such as certain fruits and vegetables. So, the next time you are planning on having a light meal, you know what to pick from your fridge.
Foods With Almost Zero Calories
Foods with low calories help with weight control, boosts mood and well-being and help improve blood sugar levels . However, it would be best if you remembered that low-calorie foods do not mean you are eating foods that are low in nutrients. Instead, eating low-calorie foods helps you from not consuming high-calorie foods and providing you with all the nutrition and energy that you need.
Here is a list of common foods with zero or almost zero calories:
Cucumber has 16 calories in 100 grams. This refreshing fruit (yes, cucumber is a fruit) is full of water and some essential nutrients, but with a meagre amount of calories . Cucumber helps in digestion, prevents dehydration and aids in burning out the extra fats, and keeps the calorie intake to the minimum level. Cucumbers are also packed with Vitamin K, Vitamin C, potassium, and a compound called silica, which helps build and maintain connective tissues like muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. You can eat it raw, juiced or in salads.
Beetroots are low-calorie foods that contain betalain, an antioxidant that gives beet its colour and is only found in a few selected foods. If you plan to consume beets as a zero-calorie food to slim down, you should ensure that you consume it raw, boiled, or grilled. Adding other ingredients to make it spicy or pickled will only add to the calories. The total calories per 100 g serving in beet is 43 .
Tomatoes have just 22 calories per cup. You can either eat it raw or cook it. Eating more tomatoes can help improve your skin health and remove toxins from the body . They contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that combats heart attack and stroke. It also prevents cholesterol and hypertension, apart from aiding in weight loss.
This low-calorie veggie has low-fat content and is loaded with potassium and fibre. Both potassium and fibre can reduce the number of fat cells in the body at a faster rate. Cabbage contains only 22 calories per cup (89 grams) . Cabbage soup is one great way to eat cabbage, as it is a filling meal while containing far fewer calories than most soups. Cabbage is also very often consumed raw or in the form of salads and sandwiches. Be careful not to add cheese or any other high-calorie ingredient to compliment cabbage; otherwise, you will consume high calories.
A one-cup serving (128 grams) of carrots has only 53 calories. Carrots can not only improve your brain and eye health, but they can also help with quick weight loss, as they contain vitamin A and fibre that can boost your metabolic rate and flush out the fat cells from the body .
One cup (100 grams) of cauliflower has 25 calories. Cauliflower or gobi is another nutritious vegetable that comes with many health benefits, including reducing cancer risk. The fibre and vitamin C content in cauliflower can also aid with a healthy weight loss process. Moreover, these vegetables are full of anti-inflammatory nutrients that improve cardiovascular health and the digestion process. This protein-rich food should be cooked carefully to maintain its diet-friendly nature .
Broccoli is full of antioxidants that also help prevent the growth of cancer cells. It is packed with phytonutrients and fibre, so it helps keep your digestive system humming along, which is key to maintaining a proper weight. It even contains plant-based proteins, which can help you if you are planning to build your lean muscle mass. The total calories for every 100 g of serving are 34. One cup of raw broccoli contains as much fibre and vitamin C as an orange .
Onions are widely used in salads and in a lot of foods that we consume every day. Onions are often referenced as a healthy food that can aid you with weight loss as it has very low-calorie content. The total calories per 100 g serving are 40.
Radish is highly nutritious and has rich medicinal properties. The vegetable is incredibly low in calories and also helps to cleanse the toxins accumulated in the kidneys. Radishes have several beneficial nutrients and only 19 calories per cup.
Consuming zucchini as part of your daily salad or using it to make healthy sandwiches can help you maintain a healthy weight and aid in weight loss, as it is low in calories and can also boost your metabolic rate. Zucchinis are also suitable for intestinal health. Zucchini is also relatively low in calories, with only 18 per cup.
Spinach is a superfood is packed with several vitamins and minerals. It is rich in potassium, zinc, phosphorus and selenium and vitamin K., The best part about spinach, is that it contains amino acids that are beneficial for repairing muscle tissues. A one-cup (30 grams) serving of spinach has only seven calories.
Both iceberg and Romaine lettuce are healthy leafy vegetables that are extremely low in calories . The calorie content of romaine is very low since it's high in water and rich in fibre. One leaf (6 grams) of romaine lettuce has just a single calorie, and one p (72 grams) of iceberg lettuce has only ten calories.
13. Bell Pepper
Bell peppers or capsicum can be consumed raw. Many nutritionists point out that consumption is more beneficial because cooked ones have lesser nutritional value than in comparison . There are only 46 calories in one cup (149 grams) of chopped, red bell peppers. An excellent source of vitamins, antioxidants and few minerals, bell peppers are something you can incorporate into your daily diet without any hesitation.
One of the best sources of vitamin D, mushrooms are the only plant source of vitamin D. Mushrooms are not only low in calories, but they are also rich in nutrients. These are not only a rich source of protein but also contain antioxidants. They provide a great boost to your immune system and have only 15 calories per cup (70 grams) .
Celery is packed with a combination of mineral salts, vitamins and amino acids that hydrate your body twice as effectively as a glass of water. The stringy nature of celery makes it seem as if it only exists to hold the water it contains. Celery also contains phthalides, which can relax the muscle tissues in the artery walls and increase blood flow, thereby helping you lower blood pressure. One of the popular low-calorie vegetables, celery, has only 18 calories in one cup (110 grams) of chopped celery.
16. Brussels Sprout
Brussels sprout, a type of cruciferous vegetable, is the finest source of protein amongst the surfeit of green vegetables. Possessing a taste somewhat similar to cabbage, Brussels sprout can be dubbed as a total health package. This nutritionally rich veggie only has 38 calories per cup (88 grams).
Asparagus contains aspartic acid, which aids in neutralizing excess ammonia found in your bodies, contributing to the weakness. It is also a rich source of vitamin C and E, and folate. All types of asparagus are healthy, but purple asparagus is a tad bit healthier. One cup (134 grams) of asparagus has only 27 calories. It is either steamed or grilled and other food ingredients to form delicious cuisines, but make sure not to add any oil or butter while cooking, as it can increase the calorie amount.
Garlic has antiviral and antibacterial properties and also stimulates the production of white blood cells within the body. Garlic helps to kill free radicals in the body and thus prevents damage to the cell and has been used for centuries to remedy various illnesses. One clove (3 grams) of garlic has only five calories .
Dried fennel is a common ingredient in most Indian foods. Fresh fennel bulb is a good source of vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin critical for immune health. Fennel can be enjoyed raw, roasted or braised. There are 27 calories in one cup (87 grams) of raw fennel .
Lime and lemons are both citrus fruits rich in vitamin C. In the 1700s, lemons were consumed as a preventive measure against scurvy. Moreover, the alkaline nature of this fruit helps in better digestion of foods, which keeps the body healthier, despite eating lesser amounts of foods in each meal. One fluid ounce (30 grams) of lemon or lime juice has only eight calories, and 29 calories in 100 grams.
Low in fibre and calories, watermelon has about 5 grams of carbohydrates. There are 46 calories in one cup (152 grams) of diced watermelon. Watermelons have high water content and consuming a large bowl of watermelon can help you prevent dehydration. This summer-time fruit is loaded with citrulline, an amino acid that the body converts to arginine, and arginine aids in weight loss. Watermelon has a low number of calories, despite being so naturally sweet. It has also been shown to be able to boost your metabolism. You can add watermelon to your diet by consuming it as a refreshing snack, juice or add it to salads.
These highly nutritious berries contain vitamin C, manganese, folate and potassium, which are highly beneficial to one's health. Compared to other berries, strawberries have a high antioxidant capacity, which may reduce your risk of chronic disease as well. There are less than 50 calories in one cup (152 grams) of strawberries .
Raw papayas are also a great source of vitamin C and vitamin A, folate, dietary fibre, calcium, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids. One cup (140 grams) of papaya has only 55 calories.
Packed with vitamin C, consuming grapefruit can help keep your blood sugar levels balanced . Grapefruit is better when consumed at room temperature; hence, it is better to avoid keeping it in the fridge. It also helps in activating the body metabolism, leading to a faster burning process of extra fats. There are 52 calories in half a grapefruit (123 grams).
Commonly known as shakalu or saakalu, jicama is a common Indian street food. It is a tuber vegetable that resembles a white potato and can be eaten raw. One cup (120 grams) of jicama has only 46 calories (28) .
This citrus fruit resembles mini oranges and is high in vitamin C content. One clementine fruit has only 35 calories.
Apples are high-fibre fruits, meaning that eating them could boost heart health and promote weight loss. The pectin content in apples helps maintain good gut health. Consume apples with its skin to get most of its benefits. Apples have high levels of quercetin, a flavonoid that may have anti-cancer properties. Several studies have pointed out a link between eating apples regularly and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and diabetes. One cup (125 grams) of apple slices has 57 calories .
28. Herbs & Spices
All the herbs and spices are extremely low in calories. Some common herbs include parsley, basil, mint, oregano and cilantro, and some common spices are cinnamon, paprika, cumin and curry . Most herbs and spices have fewer than five calories per teaspoon.
Plain beverages, that is, the ones where you don't add anything to them, are always a good option for low-calorie foods. For example, plain water contains no calories. Likewise, most herbal teas and carbonated water have zero to very few calories. In contrast, black coffee has only two calories per cup .
Here are some more foods with low/zero calories:
- Lean meat: Lean meat has 125 calories in 50 grams. Red meat is known to be harmful to individuals who are obese due to its high-calorie content. Still, chicken is lean meat that contains minimal calories and a large amount of protein. However, always eat in a controlled manner .
- Seafood: Most sea fishes have around 100 calories in 3 ounces. All the sea fishes, like tuna, sardines, trout, mackerel and salmon, are rich in protein content and contain a large amount of omega-3 fatty acids .
- Sugar snap peas
1. Tasty Options For Fresh Vegetables
- Vegetables that have more water and fibre content in them are known as low-calorie ones. So, it is best to opt for such vegetables, and you may combine them for making tasty salads.
- 2 stalks of celery leaves contain only 13 calories and 1.2 g of fibre.
- 2 cups of finely shredded fresh lettuce leaves contain 18 calories and 1.4 g of fibre. The average-sized cucumber contains 40 calories and 2 g of fibre.
- 1 fresh tomato contains only 25 calories and 1.3 g of fibre.
- 1 juicy carrot contains 30 calories and 2 g of fibre.
- ½ cup of pods of the snap peas provides 30 calories and 3.4 g of fibre.
- While 1 cup of chopped jicama sticks has 45 calories and 6 g of fibre.
So, all these vegetables can be safely included in the daily diet for fulfilling the hunger and may be served with fresh homemade yoghurt or a dip of sour cream and spicy dips to make the salads more delicious.
2. Healthy Fresh Fruits Intake
Though all fruits do not yield low calories, many delicious low-calorie fruits are available in the market.
- According to dieticians, 1 peach contains 37 calories and 1.6 g of fibre.
- 1 orange provides 60 calories and 2.3 g of fibre.
- 1 grapefruit contains 74 calories and 3.4 g of fibre.
- 1 cup of finely sliced fresh strawberries provides 50 calories and 2.5 g of fibre.
- 1 cup of chopped watermelon may contain 51 calories and 0.4 g of fibre.
- 1 cup of sliced ripe papaya may provide 54 calories and 2.5 g of fibre.
- Only 3/4th cup of chopped fresh apricot contains 55 calories and 2 g of fibre.
So, all these fruits can be consumed daily for adding nutrients to the body while keeping a low-calorie intake.
On A Final Note…
There is no scientific evidence to prove that negative-calorie foods burn more calories than they provide - but we know for a fact that foods that are already low in calories provide fewer calories than expected. Thereby aiding your healthy weight loss journey or letting you eat without worrying about gaining that extra weight.