Have you ever heard the theory that certain foods have a negative caloric effect, meaning they burn more calories during the digestive process than they contribute? (Celery and apples are often cited as examples.)
Turns out the negative calorie theory is a myth. But that doesn’t mean some foods aren't incredibly low-calorie and super-nutritious.
This delicate, peppery green is amazingly low in everything you don’t want, especially calories, fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. 4 Calories per cup.
Asparagus is traditionally known as a detoxifying food, because it contains high levels of an amino acid that acts as a diuretic, flushing excess fluid out of your system. 27 calories per cup.
Broccoli is amazingly low in calories, but it always makes our list of the top superfoods for a reason. Calories per cup 31
Clear beef, chicken, miso, seafood, or vegetable broth is a dieter’s secret weapon, nourishing and filling your body for almost zero calories, especially if you toss in leafy greens and lean meat. 10 calories per cup.
Brussels sprouts are super-low in calories but loaded with cancer-preventing phytonutrients and fiber. 38 calories per cup.
Cabbage packs vitamins, minerals, fibers, and several phytonutrients thought to prevent cancer. 22 Calories per cup
Romaine lettuce alone is a great source of B vitamins, folic acid, and manganese, which helps regulate blood sugar and is essential for proper immune system function. 5 calories per cup.
Beets are sweet but have very few calories—so you can have something sweet without the guilt. They also are rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants. 37 calories per half cup.
Like other cruciferous veggies, cauliflower is full of cancer-fighting phytonutrients and is a great source of vitamin C and folate.
Black coffee is one of the lowest-calorie drink choices around, and it’s a great weight loss ally. Coffee alters levels of gut peptides, the hormones naturally released to control hunger or fullness.
Remember The Grapefruit Diet? There may be something to that. Studies reveal that, on average, women who consumed any amount of grapefruit or grapefruit juice weighed nearly 10 pounds less and had a 6 percent lower body mass index (BMI) than their non-grapefruit-eating counterparts. 39 per half fruit.
Meaty and incredibly low-cal, mushrooms are also incredibly diverse. White button, Portobello, shiitake, and Maitake are just a few of the varieties you'll find in your grocery store.
They contain lycopene, an antioxidant rarely found in other foods. Studies suggest that it could protect the skin against harmful UV rays, prevent certain cancers, and lower cholesterol. Plus, tomatoes contain high amounts of potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. 22 per medium tomato.
The potatoes skinnier cousin, turnips are a great source of fiber and vitamin C, and have a low glycemic load. We love them diced and tossed into soups or stews, or sliced raw and used in crudite (they taste surprisingly mild and crunchy!). 36 per cup.
A cleansing cruceriferous vegetable with the fresh crunch of salad greens and the powerful cancer-fighting properties of Brussels sprouts and broccoli, watercress contain sulforaphane and other compounds linked to lower disease risks. 4 per cup.
This miracle squash is the ultimate high volume food, meaning you can fill up on very few calories. It’s easy to grow, especially in the summer, packs lots of vitamin A, and is so simple to prepare raw or cook with you may want to eat it all year! 20 per cup.
Tender and flavorful, this leafy green is rich in iron, folic acid, and vitamin K. It also contains disease-fighting antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin C, as well as the phytochemical lutein, which protects eyes against age-related macular degeneration. 7 calories per cup.
Lemons & Limes
Citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C and, eaten whole, are a great source of fiber. 20 per fruit
Garlic fights colds, battles cancer, and may even ward off urinary tract infections. 4 per clove.