While eating a healthy diet, you should eat foods that are both calorie-dense and low in calories. In a perfect world, we could eat lots of fruits and vegetables while still enjoying the foods we love. But the world is not perfect, and if you are looking to shed some pounds or maintain weight loss long term then you will need more calories in your diet than many vegetables can provide. Zero-calorie foods are here to help by making zero-calorie options for some of your favorite foods. From zero-calorie nut butter to flavourful sour cream alternatives, enjoy it all with zero-calorie foods.
To make your diet healthier and to keep calories low, focus your plate on fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Here is a table of zero-calorie foods that are perfect matches for the most common high-calorie foods. For example, strawberries work well as a side dish to ice cream.
Here are some great low-calorie foods that also pack in nutrition, vitamins, and minerals. Use them in your meal plan for healthier eating and weight loss success.
Here are 25 foods that are very low in calories
Rutabaga is a vegetable that tastes similar to turnips. It is less starchy than potatoes and popular among those who are counting their carbohydrate intake. Rutabagas (also known as swedes) contain high levels of vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. One cup (170 grams) of cooked rutabaga has 100% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C and provides only 51 calories. (1)
2. Romaine lettuce
Romaine lettuce is rich in vitamins and minerals, including iron, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. The calorie count of romaine lettuce is quite low, as it is high in water and rich in fiber. You can enjoy a cup of romaine lettuce (shredded) for just 8 calories.
Radishes are crunchy root vegetables that make an excellent salad addition. They come in a variety of colors and varieties, such as French Breakfast, Cherry Belle, and Easter egg radishes. They contain 19 calories per cup (116 grams) with zero fat. (2)
A type of vegetable that has been used for centuries in cuisines around the world, onions are low-calorie vegetables that have been linked to several health benefits. Research shows that consuming a diet high in foods from the allium family, such as onions and garlic, may reduce your risk of heart and kidney disease. Onions can be cooked or raw — they are delicious any way you like them! One medium onion contains approximately 70 calories.
Kale is a leafy green vegetable that has gained popularity in recent years for its impressive nutritional profile. You can find kale in salads, smoothies, and vegetable dishes. Kale is exceptionally nutritious, providing high amounts of provitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, and copper. One cup (130 grams) of cooked kale contains only 49 calories and over 100% of the DV for vitamins C and K. Furthermore, kale’s calcium content far surpasses those of most other leafy greens. (3)
Grapefruit, complete with its tart flavor, can be enjoyed on its own or on top of yogurt, salad, or even fish! Citrus fruits like grapefruits are rich in nutrients and beneficial plant compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. For this reason, adding citrus fruits to your diet may help promote the health of your heart, brain, and more. There are 37 calories in half a grapefruit (123 grams).
Chard is often called a “silverbeet” because of its white stalks and veins. This green, a relative of Swiss chard, is also rich in vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting and bone health. Chard contains only 7 calories per cup. That is 249% of the recommended daily value for vitamin K in one leafy green package.
Carrots are root vegetables that are commonly eaten raw. They have a smooth texture when fresh and crunchy texture when cooked. Carrots can be orange, yellow, purple, or white depending on the variety consumed, but all carrots offer the same basic nutritional value. Carrots are crunchy, slightly sweet, and highly nutritious. These veggies are high in fiber, containing over two grams in every one-cup (122-gram) serving. What is more, carrots are rich in carotenoids, including lutein and beta carotene, which help to protect vision, enhance immune function, and promote healthy skin.
Cauliflower is a white-colored vegetable with green leaves and a purple stem. Cooked and eaten as a vegetable, many people know it as broccoli’s twin. With nutrient density far beyond some veggies and grains, cauliflower remains one of the most underrated vegetables. It has been used widely as a substitute for high-carb vegetables such as potatoes, rice, or pasta. A cup (155 grams) of cooked cauliflower provides 40 calories and only 8 grams of carbs.
Mushrooms are a common variety in most grocery stores. They are tasty, versatile, and can be used on their own or with other foods to create a healthy dish. The fiber and potassium content in white mushrooms helps lower levels of bad cholesterol, and selenium promotes healthy thyroid function. Although most cooked mushrooms contain around 100 calories per cup of raw vegetable, white button mushrooms only have around 44 calories per cooked cup.
Cabbage is one of the lowest-calorie vegetables around and is known for its cancer-fighting potential. It comes in a wide variety of colors and can be eaten raw in salads, sauerkraut, or even stuffed inside taco shells for a quirky twist on tacos. Cabbage is low in calories, with 22 calories per cup (89 grams) cooked. It is also a good source of vitamins C and K, dietary fiber, potassium, and manganese.
Clementines are a fabulously convenient snack! They are also delicious, bursting with real orange flavor. Their thin skin is easy to peel and section. And a single fruit packs 40% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin C in just 35 calories. (4)
It is easy to take in cucumber’s low-calorie benefits. The small, crisp vegetable is a refreshing addition to salads and sandwiches and is commonly used in casseroles, soups, and sauces to fill out the dish and provide flavor, moisture, and body. Cucumbers also make a low-calorie base for high-protein dishes like chicken or tuna salad. You do not need a calculator to see that cucumbers are very low in calories — a half-cup (52 grams) has only 8.
Fennel is a bulbous vegetable with a faint licorice taste. It is a good source of several nutrients, including vitamin C and potassium. Dried fennel seeds are used to add an anise flavor to dishes. Fennel can be enjoyed raw, roasted, or braised. A low-calorie food, the fennel has a faint licorice flavor and makes a flavourful addition to risotto and chicken recipes. There are 27 calories in 1 cup (87 grams) of raw fennel.
15. Brussels sprouts
They are little cabbages that can help you lose weight. Brussels sprouts are hip now, but they were once considered a fall and winter delicacy in Belgium, where they grow better in the cool weather. A staple on a Belgian winter dinner table, Brussels sprouts may contain even more cancer-fighting antioxidants than their popular relative’s broccoli and cabbage. One cooked cup (155 grams) of these nutritional powerhouses contains just 70 calories and 129% of the DV for vitamin C.
16. Iceberg lettuce
Iceberg lettuce does not have many calories compared to other vegetables. One cup (57 grams) of iceberg lettuce has only 8 calories. It is a good source of some nutrients, including vitamin K, provitamin A and folate. Iceberg lettuce can be eaten raw or cooked.
Apples are low in calories and are a good source of fibers, vitamin C, and potassium. Apples are not only low in calories but also packed with fiber and flavourful antioxidants. The high amount of fiber will help fight against cravings, regulate your digestion, and help you feel full longer. Apples may be one of the first foods that come to mind when you think of eating healthy, but did you know that a cup (109 grams) of sliced apples provides almost three grams of fiber and about 62 calories.
Broccoli is incredibly nutritious and is a good source of vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. It is also low in calories, making it the ideal food for people who want to lose weight. Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and a wide spectrum of antioxidants. Its high vitamin C content can help you protect against free radicals in the body. It is also rich in phytochemicals such as sulforaphane, which may be able to kill cancer cells. A cup (155 grams) of cooked broccoli contains over 100% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C.
Celery provides a healthy snacking option that is great for when you are watching your weight. With its high-water content, celery is very low in calories at only 17 calories per cup (120 grams)! That is about half the calories of other snacking vegetables like carrots and broccoli. To keep things interesting, mix it up with peanut butter and raisins for a classic snack combination.
Beets are a delicious and nutritious addition to any diet. Beets contain phytonutrients such as betalain and phenolic compounds, which may have heart-health-promoting properties. Beets are packed with nutrients and antioxidants. One serving of cooked beets provides 17% of the recommended daily intake for folate and 12% of the recommended daily intake for manganese.
Peppers make up one of the largest vegetable groups in the world. The bell pepper—or sweet pepper, as they are called in some countries—is particularly high in antioxidants, such as vitamin C and lycopene. Choose red or green depending on your preference. Eat your fill; peppers have only 24 calories per cup (92 grams) of sliced red bell peppers.
The papaya is a small, elongated fruit that ranges in color from an orange-red to a deep red or yellow. Papayas – a single, five-sided fruit – are a healthy choice as they contain many vitamins and minerals, including provitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and potassium. A small (157-gram) papaya has only 68 calories.
The vegetable known as asparagus can be found in various colors including green, white, and purple varieties. Asparagus is low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This healthy veggie is perfect on its own or alongside a variety of dishes. Not all calories are created equal. Choose foods with fewer calories in each portion size to minimize the amount of energy they contain. For example, a cup of cooked asparagus contains only 38 calories.
Arugula is a leafy green with a peppery flavor. This type of arugula is often used in salads and has a nutty and slightly bitter taste. You can use it either raw, or you can start to cook it quickly if you want to reduce the bitterness. Arugula is a perfect low-calorie snack. It has only 5 calories per cup, but packs in vitamin K and folate. Add it to any salad for a healthy crunch.
Jicama resembles a white potato and is usually eaten raw with a texture like that of a crisp apple. It is high in fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. Like an apple, it is best stored in the refrigerator to maintain freshness. One cup of raw jicama has over 29% of the daily recommended value for vitamin C and only 49 calories.
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