There are all kinds of low-calorie diet foods lurking on your grocery store shelves. You can tell by the bright shiny labels that figuratively shout out how the product is low in calories, sugar-free, low-fat, worth so many points or whatever.
But just because something is low in calories and claims to be good for weight watching doesn’t mean it actually has anything in it that’s good for your body.
All calorie values and nutrition information have been verified and confirmed current with the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Data Central database.
Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, which are all high in nutrients and antioxidants. Broccoli is particularly high in vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, manganese, and potassium. It’s also high in fiber and totally low-cal. One cup of chopped broccoli contains only 31 calories.
Kale is incredibly nutritious. It’s high in most vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C and calcium. It’s also an excellent source of fiber and contains beneficial antioxidants. It’s no wonder kale is included on almost every list of superfoods. As for calories, 1 cup of raw chopped kale has as little as 7.8 calories. Perfect for a big salad or side dish.
Carrots are good for any healthy diet because of their versatility and mild taste. They’re not as bitter as other vegetables, and they can be served as a side dish or raw as an appetizer or snack. Carrots are high in vitamins A and C, plus they provide potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, vitamin E, and vitamin K. One cup of sliced carrots has about 50 calories.
Spinach can be served as a healthy side dish, or it can be used as the base for a salad. Spinach contains iron and several vitamins. One cup of raw spinach leaves has only seven calories and a cup of cooked spinach has only about 65 calories.
5. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts look like cute little cabbages. They’re good for you because Brussels sprouts are high in most vitamins and several minerals, plus they have quite a bit of dietary fiber (talk about a perfect side dish). One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts has only 56 calories.
Grapefruit is a healthy citrus fruit that’s loaded with potassium, vitamins C and A, and fiber. It’s also low in calories. One-half a grapefruit has 52 calories. Grapefruit makes a sweet addition to breakfast or can be eaten as a snack.
6. Chicken Breast
Lean chicken breast meat without the skin is an excellent source of protein, and also provides niacin, selenium and vitamin B-12. One 3-ounce portion of chicken breast meat has about 100 calories before it’s cooked. Keep your chicken low-cal by combining it with other healthy ingredients. Keep portion size in mind too. One serving of chicken breast meat is about the size of a deck of cards.
Tomatoes contain vitamins A and C, many B vitamins, and some minerals. Plus they’re high in fiber and totally diet-friendly. One tomato has about 35 calories. Add tomato slices to salads and sandwiches or snack on a handful of cherry tomatoes. Another low-cal choice is a serving of five cherry tomatoes for a total of 20 calories.
Zucchini can be served raw as an appetizer or snack, or they can be sautéed in a little bit of olive oil for a healthy low-cal side dish. One cup of chopped zucchini has 20 to 30 calories. It also has lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
There are many varieties of mushrooms, and they all vary a bit in their nutritional value. Some, like chanterelles, are high in Vitamin D. But, in general, mushrooms are an excellent source of B vitamins, minerals, and fiber. And mushrooms are very low in calories.
One cup of raw white mushrooms has only 15 calories. Mushrooms can be added to salads or used as ingredients in a variety of recipes.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring or bland when you incorporate these fresh and delicious choices. Finding whole foods that you enjoy can help you sustain a nutritious meal plan without feeling deprived.
Source: US Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Food Data Central. Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service 2020 https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/index.html