Any healthy diet is incomplete without fruits and vegetables, which add the much-needed punch of essential vitamins and minerals in our daily meals. Fruits and vegetables are an absolute must for all low-calorie diets in particular.
Most low-calorie diets tend to give you results in the form of quicker weight loss, as they recommend more inclusion of fibre and protein-rich 'good' foods and reduce consumption of poor quality or junk foods. All calorie-restricting diets must be rich in vegetables, as fresh veggies can ensure a steady supply of healthy nutrients to your body as well as ensure that you stay full for longer and don't suffer from hunger pangs.
A growing body of evidence has also indicated that increasing portion of fruits and vegetable in daily diet may reduce risks of a number of diseases including heart ailments. This is because vegetables are low in sodium content, sugar, fat and cholesterol.
Excessive sugar, salt and saturated and trans-fats are the common culprits of weight gain. Vegetables don't contain any of these and are in fact full of phytonutrients and antioxidants, which fight inflammation and hence, also aide weight loss.
A number of vegetables are negative calorie foods, which means that digesting these takes up more energy than the number of calories they actually supply to the body. Additionally, vegetables are rich in fibre, which keeps you full for longer and also regulates blood sugar levels, ensuring that you don't experience hunger pangs often.
It is important to remember that weight loss can only be achieved in a healthy way by adopting an active lifestyle, which includes both workouts (or exercise) as well as a healthy diet. Here are some of the best low-calorie vegetables to include in your diet:
1. Broccoli: One of the most favoured low-calorie vegetables, broccoli is used abundantly in vegetarian meals and is even served alongside any meat protein. The cruciferous veggie is extremely low in calories and contains just 34 calories per 100 gm (as per USDA data), along with high amounts of vitamin C and dietary fibre.
2. Cauliflower: Another cruciferous vegetable that can be consumed in a low-calorie diet, cauliflower is incredibly popular in low-carb diets like ketogenic diet. The veggie contains just 25 calories per 100 gm portion (as per data by USDA), along with good amounts of potassium, fibre and Vitamin C.
3. Cabbage: Cabbage or patta gobhi contains the same amount of calories as cauliflower and is slightly richer in fibre than the former. Cabbage can be cooked to make soups, broths and can even be added to sandwiches and salads.
4. Carrot: One of the best negative calorie vegetables available widely in India, carrot or gajar is considered a superfood and can be turned into anything and everything, from subzis to soups to halwas, barfis etc. It can be eaten raw and/or included in salads as well. It contains negligible fats and cholesterol, along with good amounts of Vitamin A and potassium, as well as good amount of fibre.
5. Spinach: One of the most nutritious leafy green vegetables, spinach is a healthy addition to any diet. Spinach contains just 23 calories per 100 gm portion (as per USDA data) and can be cooked into salads, soups, pastas and even smoothies. It also contains protein and iron, as well as important B vitamins.
6. Cucumber: Cucumber mostly contains water and is one of the best low-calorie veggies to add to your diet. It contains a miniscule 15 calories in a 100 gm portion (as per USDA data) and can be easily added to your diet in the form of salads or sandwiches. It also contains good amounts of potassium and is particularly healthy for consumption during summers.
7. Bottle Gourd: Bottle gourd is incredibly low in calories and has high water content. It contains just 15 calories per 100 gm (as per USDA data), no fat or cholesterol, as well as negligible sodium content.
8. Mushroom: Although mushrooms are technically a fungus, they are cooked and consumed in the manner of vegetables and are considered extremely nutritious. Mushrooms contain a mere 22 calories in every 100 gm portion (as per USDA data), along with very good amounts of potassium, which is a mineral responsible for protecting the heart. Mushrooms also have good fibre content.
9. Sweet Peppers: Sweet peppers are probably underappreciated when it comes to low-calorie vegetables. A 100 gm portion of capsicum contains just 20 calories (as per USDA data)! The same portion also contains almost 5 gm or fibre along with high amounts of Vitamin C.
10. Lettuce: This delicious, crunchy leafy veggie is added to salads and sandwiches. Lettuce contains high amounts of Vitamin A and just 15 calories in a 100 gm portion (as per USDA data)!