“Everything in moderation…including moderation” goes the old saying. It is important to eat foods in moderation, however, there are some health foods we can enjoy more freely than others and not carry an ounce of guilt with us about overindulging.
10 Health foods to freely enjoy
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With just 6 calories for a medium stalk of celery, you can binge on this health food all you want! Celery contains dietary fiber, which helps you eat less by leaving you full longer. Celery also has nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, folate, manganese, vitamin B6, and vitamin B2. We cannot underestimate the importance of each of these nutrients. For example, calcium plays a role in bone health, nerve transmission and muscle contraction.
Potassium is also involved with nerve transmission and muscle contraction, as well as hormone secretion and producing energy in our cells. Magnesium is a very important mineral that activates over 300 enzymes in our bodies, which means it is necessary for a lot of reactions to occur in our bodies. About 40% of Americans have less than optimal magnesium.
Berries are a great source of antioxidants, including vitamin C, as well as dietary fiber, vitamin K, and manganese. 1 cup of berries has about 84 calories. Vitamin C helps protect our cells from getting damaged by free radicals, and it also has several other roles in the body.
Vitamin C breaks down cholesterol, helps detoxify chemicals from the body, boosts our immune system, produces important neurotransmitters in the brain, and helps form collagen. Ladies, if you want to have nice skin, be sure to eat some whole foods with vitamin C in them (and limit the added sugar in your diet)! Follow the link to learn more about the health benefits of berries.
3) Spaghetti squash
Instead of binging on white or wheat pasta, try having some cooked spaghetti squash. This is a great, lower carb alternative to pasta noodles that tastes great. 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash has 42 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates.
Spaghetti squash has an excellent nutritional profile: dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, manganese, and B vitamins (vitamin B6, B5 and B3). In comparison, 1 cup of cooked wheat pasta has 174 calories and 37 grams of carbohydrates. Go ahead and load your plate up with some spaghetti squash! Follow the link for more healthy alternatives to pasta.
4) Brussel sprouts
These little green cabbages are packed full of nutrients: vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, copper, manganese, and the B vitamins (vitamin B1, B2, and B6). A ½ cup of cooked Brussel sprouts has 28 calories and 2 grams of fiber.
You can go to town with this fabulous vegetable! 1 cup of radish slices has just 19 calories, 4 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of dietary fiber. These also provide vitamin C, folate, potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper, manganese, and vitamins B2 and B6.
1 cup of cucumber slices has just 16 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates. These provide potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and vitamin B5. Sprinkle them with some quality salt for a delicious summer snack.
Try some spiralized zucchini noodles in place of your traditional spaghetti noodles. You can eat 4 cups of cooked zucchini and still not even come close to the calories and carbohydrate content in just 1 cup of cooked pasta noodles. A zucchini pasta recipe can be found in this list of high protein, low carb recipes.
These are a great option when you want to have a large volume of food with less calories and great nutrition. Zucchini has fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, and the B vitamins (vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B6).
8) Sugar snap peas (snowpeas):
These make a wonderful, crunchy snack! You can eat 2 cups of raw sugar snap peas for about 80 calories and 6 grams of fiber. These also provide some vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, manganese, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and B vitamins.
9) Kiwi fruit
Feel free to indulge in a few kiwi fruits every now and then! One kiwi fruit has about 50 calories and 3 grams of dietary fiber. This fruit is loaded with vitamin C, and also contains vitamin E, potassium, copper, and vitamin K.
10) Cherry tomatoes
Looking for a little sweetness? Try some cherry tomatoes. 1 cup of cherry tomatoes has 27 calories, 6 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of dietary fiber. If you eat the whole pint of cherry tomatoes, that is ok! This is much better than indulging in something with more calories, added sugars and less nutrition. Cherry tomatoes are a good source of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, vitamin E, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and the B vitamins (B1, B3, and B6).
Our body recognizes whole, real food the best versus processed “food.” We get fuller faster on these foods because of all the great nutrition they supply our bodies with. Go ahead and fill your plate each day with some of these 10 health foods to get a large volume of food with great nutrition and low calories!
Self Nutrition Data. Retrieved from http://nutritiondata.self.com. Accessed May 26, 2015.
Zimmerman M. Burgerstein’s Handbook of Nutrition. New York: Thieme; 2001.