Best Vegetables for Losing Weight Have Lowest Calorie Density, High Fiber

We've all read the advice that we should all be eating more unprocessed vegetables, especially when we are trying to lose weight.

The new MyPlate guide recommends that fruit and vegetables should represent half the 'plate' at every meal.

The old Food Guide Pyramid suggested that children especially should be eating 3-5 servings of vegetables a day. This should include plenty of variety and at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.

For weight loss programs, vegetables are valuable not only for their nutrients and fiber, but also because they provide bulk when substituted for carbohydrates and high-fat protein foods (Calorie Density).

Research has shown that the world-wide obesity epidemic is simply due the most people unwittingly eating too much highly processed foods that are jam-packed with calories and fat.

Substituting fresh vegetables for other foods, can help to reduce the amount of calories, carbohydrates and fat consumed. This can be very helpful for weight loss programs.

However, fresh vegetables can be expensive and so how can you ensure that you are getting enough 'bangs for your bucks'.

This article examines what criteria to use when choosing the best vegetables for weight loss programs and for those wanting to get the most benefits for the vegetables they consume.

Learn how to choose the best vegetables for weight loss programs using the tables and lists for various criteria.
Learn how to choose the best vegetables for weight loss programs using the tables and lists for various criteria. | Source
Good vegetables are like old friends
Good vegetables are like old friends | Source
Most vegetables are good for you, but which are the best of the best?
Most vegetables are good for you, but which are the best of the best? | Source
The humble vegetable even features in art works
The humble vegetable even features in art works | Source

General Advice for Choosing Vegetables

  • Fresh vegetables are always the best choice, but supplies are seasonal. Next best is frozen, then canned, both entailing some loss of nutrients.
  • Choose prepared vegetables that don't have bread or batter coverings or rich sauces.
  • Buy frozen pre-bagged vegetables such as leafy greens, baby carrots, peas, Asian vegetables or green beans. These vegetable items can be which can be quickly added to a salad, mail meal, as a side dish, or included in a stir-fry, curry or casserole.
  • Juice from vegetables is a good way to increase consumption, but means that less fiber will be consumed. Making your own juice, or adding fresh vegetables to smoothies can be a better alternative.
  • The way the vegetables are cooked is extremely important - don't boil the vegetables, which destroys many nutrients and leaves the others behind in the cooking water that you throw down the kitchen sink.
  • Skip the French fries and other deep-fried vegetables like zucchini sticks, tempura and onion rings. Choose a whole baked potato (including the skin), sweet potato, or a salad with a lot of variety instead.
  • Try to eat more raw vegetables.
  • Be aware that many products that have "vegetable" on their packaging or in their names may be alien foods rather than natural food. Many processed so-called vegetable items on the supermarket shelves contain large amounts of fat, carbohydrate, salt and sugar or are very high in salt. Fruit candies, fruit jams, sauces, vegetable chips, vegetable spreads, ketchup and many vegetable based drinks have dubious value and do not count in terms of getting your daily quota of vegetables.

Best Vegetables in Terms of Calorie Density

Calorie Density is simply the relative number of calories in a given volume of food. It is a way of measuring the bulk of the food. Choosing a vegetable with a low calorie density will mean that you will feel full and will be less likely to consume other high calorie foods. Dietary fiber is a component of this, but many foods with low calorie density do not have particularly high fiber contents. Fiber tends to be broken down slowly or resists digestion so that you 'feel fuller for longer'.

The table below shows a list of vegetables ranked by calorie density (lowest first). Tomatoes are included here because, while strictly a 'fruit', most people eat them as vegetables. Tomatoes are a wonderful health food. The vegetables listed first have the smallest number of calories in a standard volume of 100 ml. The calories in 100 g of these vegetables is also shown.

The best fruits for this category are:

  • Collard leaves & stems
  • Cabbage, shredded
  • Kohlrabi
  • Beet greens
  • Tomato, ripe red
  • Asparagus
  • Mustard greens
  • Yellow snap bean
  • Fennel
  • Turnip greens
  • Spinach, raw
  • Sweet green pepper
  • Eggplant

Vegetables with the Lowest Number of Calories per Volume (Calorie Density)

Food
Cal/100g
Cal/100ml
Collard leaves & stems
40
12
Cabbage, shredded
18
13
Kohlrabi
29
13
Beet greens
24
14
Tomato, ripe red
22
15
Asparagus
23
15
Mustard greens
31
16
Yellow snap bean
27
16
Fennel
28
17
Turnip greens
28
17
Spinach, raw
26
18
Sweet green pepper
22
18
Eggplant
25
20
Pumpkin
26
20
Mung bean sprouts
35
21
Turnip
30
21
Okra
36
22
Pepper, Sweet red
31
22
Kale leaves & stems
38
23
Onion, green
36
23
Red cabbage
31
25
Winter squash
50
25
Green snap bean
32
26
Beet
43
30
Bamboo Shoots
27
31
Carrots, raw
46
32
Brussels sprouts
45
36
Leek
52
36
Celeriac
40
39

Vegetables Containing the Highest Dietary Fiber for a 100g Serve

The table shown the vegetable with the fiber contents per 100g.

The top 15 vegetables for Fiber were:

  • tomatoes (sundried)
  • grape leaves(raw)
  • fireweed, leaves (raw)
  • artichoke (raw)
  • taro (cooked)
  • lotus root (raw)
  • parsnips (raw)
  • squash, winter, acorn (baked)
  • horseradish-tree, pods (cooked)
  • chicory greens (raw)
  • taro (raw)
  • lambsquarters (raw)
  • yam (cooked)
  • Brussels sprouts (raw)
  • beet greens (raw)

Vegetables with the Highest Amount of Fiber (g)

Fiber in 100g Serve
Dietary Fiber (g)
tomatoes (sundried)
12.59
grape leaves(raw)
10.71
fireweed, leaves (raw)
10.43
artichoke (cooked)
8.58
wasabi, root (raw)
7.85
artichoke (raw)
5.39
taro (cooked)
5.15
lotus root (raw)
4.94
parsnips (raw)
4.81
squash, winter, acorn (baked)
4.39
horseradish-tree, pods (cooked)
4.24
chicory greens (raw)
4.14
taro (raw)
4.04
lambsquarters (raw)
4
yam (cooked)
3.97
Brussels sprouts (raw)
3.75
beet greens (raw)
3.68
collards (raw)
3.61
parsnips (cooked)
3.59
taro leaves (raw)
3.57
kohlrabi (raw)
3.56
turnip greens (cooked)
3.47
dandelion greens (raw)
3.45
eggplant (raw)
3.41
broccoli (cooked)
3.33
sweet potato (baked, with skin)
3.33
squash, winter, butternut (baked)
3.22
burdock root (raw)
3.22
mustard greens (raw)
3.21
chrysanthemum, garland (raw)
3.2
endive (raw)
3.2
okra (raw)
3.2
horseradish-tree, pods (raw)
3.2
lotus root (cooked)
3.17
cabbage, savoy (raw)
3.14
water chestnuts, chinese (raw)
3.06
sweet potato (raw)
3
fennel, bulb (raw)
2.99
saiuerkraut (canned)
2.96
carrots (cooked)
2.95
beet greens (cooked)
2.92
carrots, baby (raw)
2.88
dandelion greens (cooked)
2.86
dock (raw)
2.86
collards (cooked)
2.84
broccoli raab (cooked)
2.8
onions, spring or scallions (raw)
2.8
beets (raw)
2.79

Vegetables with Lowest Calories per 100g Serving

The table shown below lists the best fruits for various other criteria that is important for weight loss and dieting.

The Best Vegetables with the lowest calories per 100g are:

  • arugula
  • cress; garden
  • turnip greens
  • taro shoots
  • bamboo shoots
  • cabbage; Chinese
  • watercress
  • lettuce; butterhead
  • cabbage; napa
  • cabbage; Chinese
  • gourd;white-flowered
  • lettuce; iceberg
  • mustard greens
  • taro shoots
  • nopales
  • tomato
  • radishes
  • squash; summer
  • endive
  • celery

Vegetables with the Highest Ratio of Protein to Fat

Foods with low fat, but high protein are important for vegetarians, and especially vegans who must get all their protein and amino acids from plants

The Vegetables with the highest ratio of protein to fat are:

  • gourd; white-flowered
  • sweet potato
  • lotus root
  • watercress
  • shallots
  • chard; swiss
  • artichoke
  • arrowhead
  • potato
  • okra
  • cabbage; savoy
  • potato, skin removed
  • asparagus
  • beet greens
  • kohlrabi
  • water chestnuts

Vegetables with the Best Combination of Macro Nutrients

This ranked list of vegetables has been derived by using a formula that gave a positive weighting for protein and fiber, but a negative weightings for calories, fat and carbohydrate. The contribution of each of these macro nutrients was standardized.

The best Vegetables for Overall Macro Nutrient contents were:

  • peppers; sweet; red
  • tomatoes; sundried
  • peppers; sweet; green
  • onions; yellow
  • cassava
  • rhubarb
  • palm hearts
  • potato; microwaved
  • taro
  • arrowhead
  • gourd; dishcloth
  • potato; baked
  • shallots
  • burdock root
  • potato, skin removed
  • yam
  • corn; sweet; yellow
  • arrowhead

Vegetables with the Best Combination of Vitamins

The contents of all the major vitamins were used to produce this listing. Equal weightings were used for the major vitamins such as C, A, K, D and the B group vitamins.

The best Vegetables for overall content of Vitamins were:

  • spinach
  • mustard greens
  • chrysanthemum; garland
  • collards
  • asparagus
  • endive
  • lettuce; cos or romaine
  • taro leaves
  • turnip greens
  • fireweed; leaves
  • chicory greens
  • grape leaves
  • broccoli
  • beets
  • collards
  • artichoke
  • broccoli
  • okra
  • amaranth leaves
  • cabbage; savoy
  • beets
  • tomatoes

How to Use Vegetables to Lose Weight

Losing weight is not rocket science - it is mostly will power and reduction in amount eaten rather than fancy diets. The key aspect is that you need to change your lifestyle and eating habits for the longer term. Most diets fail because people lose weight and then put it all back on when they enter the 'maintenance phase'.

Best Vegetables for Weight Loss for Various Criteria

Serving 100 g
Calories
Highest Protein vs Fat Level
Protein to Fat ratio
Best Macro Nutrients
Best Vitamins
arugula
4
gourd;white-flowered
36
peppers; sweet; red
spinach
cress; garden
11
sweet potato
29
tomatoes; sundried
mustard greens
turnip greens
12
lotus root
26
peppers; sweet; green
chrysanthemum; garland
taro shoots
12
watercress
26
onions; yellow
collards
bamboo shoots
12
shallots
25
cassava
spinach
cabbage; Chinese
12
chard; swiss
24
rhubarb
asparagus
watercress
12
artichoke
22
palm hearts
endive
lettuce; butterhead
13
arrowhead
21
potato; microwaved
lettuce; cos or romaine
cabbage; napa
13
potato; russet
21
taro
taro leaves
cabbage; Chinese
13
potato; microwaved
21
arrowhead
turnip greens
gourd;white-flowered
14
okra
20
gourd; dishcloth
fireweed; leaves
lettuce; iceberg
14
cabbage; savoy
20
potato; baked
chicory greens
mustard greens
14
potato; baked
20
shallots
grape leaves
taro shoots
14
potato; steamed
19
burdock root
broccoli
nopales
15
cabbage; savoy
19
potato; steamed
beets
gourd; white-flowered
15
potato, skin removed
18
potato, skin removed
collards
tomato; yellow
15
asparagus
18
potato; white
radish seeds
radishes
16
potato
17
potato; red
artichoke
squash; summer; scallop
16
beet greens
17
yam
broccoli; leaves
squash; summer; zucchini; with skin
16
kohlrabi
16
corn; sweet; yellow
okra
endive
16
potato; red
15
potato; russet
amaranth leaves
tomato; orange
16
water chestnuts; chinese
15
arrowhead
broccoli raab
celery
16
nopales
14
corn; sweet; yellow
cabbage; savoy
nopales
16
purslane
14
potato
beets
purslane
16
sweet potato leaves
14
water chestnuts; chinese
tomatoes
cardoon
17
potato; white
14
chicory roots
mustard greens
lettuce; cos or romaine
17
mustard greens
14
corn; sweet; white
broccoli raab
squash; summer; zucchini; with skin
18
palm hearts
14
taro
lettuce; butterhead
tomato; red
18
sweet potato
13
squash; winter; hubbard
broccoli; flower clusters
squash; summer; scallop
18
Brussels sprouts
11
squash; winter; spaghetti
turnip greens
squash; summer; crookneck and straightneck
19
fiddlehead ferns
11
radish seeds
broccoli; stalks
chard; swiss
19
onions
11
sweet potato; without skin
cabbage; Chinese
peppers; sweet; green
20
squash; winter; butternut
10
sweet potato
artichoke
gourd; dishcloth
20
taro shoots
10
corn; sweet; white
cardoon
asparagus
20
squash; winter; butternut
10
leeks
parsnips
beet greens
21
burdock root
10
sweet potato
onions; spring or scallions

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson

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Comments 1 comment

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

Wow ! You had listed a long list of vegetables info here. Great job and worth reading for good health. Voted up, useful

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