The theory behind zero calorie foods or negative calorie foods says that they contain such a little amount of calories that the energy you get eating them is enough to burn more calories than you actually gain.
This means that you don’t take on any extra calories, and in some cases you end up burning calories as you eat them during the digestive process.
It turns out the negative calorie theory is a myth. But it doesn’t mean some foods aren’t extremely low-calorie and super-nutritious. Whether or not this is an accurate statement, it’s clear that the following foods have such a slight caloric load they won’t count in your daily total and they offer amazing health benefits worth spreading.
Total calories per cup: 16
Crunchy and a little salty, packed with fiber, celery is well known for being low in calories, but its health benefits go far beyond use as a diet food. Celery contains useful phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate, crucial for a healthy pregnancy. It’s a convenient vegetable that can be incorporated into cooked dishes, stir-fries and salads. Unlike some vegetables, celery retains most of its nutrients even if it is steamed.
Total calories per cup: 53
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries—whatever berry you like the most—are full of anti-inflammatories, which reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. What makes berries so special is their high levels of phytochemicals — those naturally occurring nutrients that help protect cells from damage. These antioxidant powerhouses are bite-sized immunity boosters, especially when they grow in the wild.
Photo Credit: Mike McCune
Total calories per cup: 42
Carrots are perhaps best known for their rich supply of the antioxidant nutrient that was actually named for them: beta-carotene. However, these delicious root vegetables are the source not only of beta-carotene, but also of a wide variety of antioxidants and other health-supporting nutrients. They are very low in saturated fat and cholesterol and are good source of thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate and manganese, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium.
Total calories per cup: 19
These brightly colored vegetables are packed with folate, fiber, riboflavin, and potassium, as well as good amounts of copper, vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese, and calcium. Radishes are a natural diuretic, purifying the kidney and urinary systems and relieving inflammation. Don’t forget to use their leafy green tops, which contain six times the vitamin C and more calcium than the roots.
Total calories per cup: 15
Everybody knows that the key to getting enough vitamins and minerals in the diet is to eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables – the more color, the better. However, this philosophy tends to leave mushrooms in the dark. In many cases, if a food lacks color, it also in turn lacks necessary nutrients. Mushrooms – which are commonly white – prove quite the contrary.
All mushrooms contain some form of immune-boosting antioxidants, along with potassium, B vitamins, and fiber. Shiitakes, for example, contain lentinan, a nutrient that is thought to have anticancer properties. All mushrooms are good sources of vitamin D, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, potassium, copper and selenium.
Photo Credit: flowercarole
Total calories per medium size tomato: 22
You can call it ether fruit or a vegetable, but there is no doubt that a tomato is a nutrient-dense, super-food that most people should be eating more of. Did you know that tomatoes do not have to be a deep red color to be an outstanding source of lycopene? Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment that has long been associated with the deep red color of many tomatoes. But it can be found in every color that tomato appears in. 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.
Tomatoes are a treasure of riches when we talk about antioxidant benefits. They provide an excellent amount of vitamin C and beta-carotene; a very good amount of the mineral manganese; and a good amount of vitamin E.
Total calories per cup: 7
Spinach comes out at the top of almost every ranking list for nutrient richness. Bright, tender and vibrant-looking, spinach leaves are not only more appealing to the eye but more nourishing as well. Recent research has shown that spinach leaves that look fully alive and vital have greater concentrations of vitamin C than spinach leaves that are pale in color. This leafy green is also rich in iron, folic acid and vitamin K. It also contains disease-fighting antioxidants beta-carotene, as well as the phytochemical lutein, which protects eyes against age-related macular degeneration.
Total calories per clove: 4
Garlic fights colds, battles cancer, and may even ward off urinary tract infections. A diet rich in garlic can help thanks to the bulb’s natural antimicrobial properties. You can increase the health benefits you receive from garlic by letting it sit after you’ve chopped it or crushed it. This method helps it retain a third more of its cancer-fighting sulfur compounds than if it were cooked immediately.
Photo Credit: Rebecca Siegel
Total calories per cup: 5
Kale is possibly the healthiest superfood around, right behind the spinach, packing a widevariety of phytonutrients that may prevent cancer, including breast cancer. Scientsits present us a theory that the phytonutrients in kale trigger the liver to produce enzymes that neutralize potentially cancer-causing substances.
Kale is also a great source of B vitamins, folic acid, and manganese, which helps regulate blood sugar and is essential for proper immune system function.
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. Drinking as many as three 8-ounce cups a day has proven health benefits.
Caffeine may help protect brain cells from the damage that causes Parkinson’s, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. And the antioxidants in coffee could help prevent liver disease. What’s more the caffeine in coffee can speed up metabolism and fat-burning, which helps lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Total calories per cup: 31
This super veggie is packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals and contains powerful antioxidants that may improve your odds of breast cancer survival and reduce the risk of colon cancer. Broccoli can provide you with some special cholesterol-lowering benefits if you will cook it by steaming. The fiber-related components in broccoli do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they’ve been steamed.
Photo Credit: liz westl
The chemical in broccoli responsible for the protective effect is called sulforaphane, and it gives broccoli its slightly bitter flavor.
12. Lemons and limes
Total calories per fruit (without peel): 20
Although lemons and limes may not be what you would choose for an afternoon snack, we consider them as powerhouses when we want to bring out the flavor of other foods. They contain zero saturated fats or cholesterol, but are good source of dietary fiber.
Citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C and, eaten whole, are a great source of fiber. Studies show that loading up on C-rich citrus at the first sign of illness may reduce a cold’s duration by about a day. We also love adding a splash of lemon or lime juice to recipes.
Total calories per medium size fruit: 51
Studies show us that, on average, women who consumed any amount of grapefruit weighed nearly 10 pounds less and had a 6 percent lower body mass index (BMI) than the women who didn’t eat this powerful fruit.
Grapefruit strengthens your heart, also contains vitamin C, folic acid, and potassium, along with pectin, a soluble fiber that may be a strong ally against atherosclerosis. Pink and red varieties also have vitamin A and lycopene, a phytochemical that protects arterial walls from oxidative damage.
Photo Credit: liz westl
Total calories per cup: 5
You can eat enormous amounts of any variety of lettuce and never gain an ounce. Romaine lettuce, for example, is a great source of vitamin B, folic acid, and manganese, which helps regulate blood sugar and is essential for proper immune system function.
Its crispy, green leaves are one of the incredible sources of essential nutrients that benefit health. Regular inclusion of lettuce in salads is known to prevent osteoporosis, iron-deficiency anemia, and believed to protect from cardiovascular diseases, ARMD, Alzheimer’s disease and cancers.
Total calories per cup (chopped): 27
Diets containing cauliflower help cancer prevention, particularly with respect to the following types of cancer: bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer. This connection between cauliflower and cancer prevention should not be surprising, since cauliflower provides special nutrient support for three body systems that are closely connected with cancer development as well as cancer prevention. These three systems are following: the body’s detox system, its antioxidant system, and its inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system.
So, which of these zero calorie foods is your favorite?
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