Because fruits and veggies are packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals, they are heart-healthy additions to any meal plan. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 suggests you eat 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of veggies if you’re consuming 2,000 calories per day, and 1.5 cups of fruit and 2 cups of veggies when reducing your caloric intake to 1,600 calories per day. While all fruits and vegetables are heart-healthy, some are much lower in calories than others, which is clearly beneficial when you’re trying to shed pounds.
One cup of raw spinach only contains 7 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database, but because spinach contains lots of water and fiber, it still helps fill you up. Spinach is also rich in vitamin A, iron, folate and vitamin K. You can eat spinach leaves as part of a vegetable salad, or juice it along with other low-calorie veggies and fruits.
Cucumbers are excellent low-calorie additions to reduced-calorie meal plans. A cup of sliced cucumbers provides just 16 calories, and is a good source of vitamin K. Try topping vegetable salads with cucumbers, making a cucumber and vinegar salad, dipping cucumbers in hummus, adding cucumbers to sandwiches or just eating them plain.
Celery is similar to cucumbers when it comes to calorie content, containing 16 calories in each chopped cup. Celery is rich in vitamin A, vitamin K and potassium. Try adding chopped celery to salads and soups, or topping celery sticks with peanut butter for a nutrient-rich snack.
When you’re trying to reduce your caloric intake to shed pounds, eat sweet-tasting low-calorie watermelon in place of dessert. With the exception of starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, peas, corn, and legumes, fruits are generally slightly higher in calories than veggies. Watermelon is one of the lowest-calorie fruits available, containing about 46 calories in each 1-cup portion.
One cup of strawberry halves contains 49 calories, and a cup of whole strawberries provides 46 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Try topping plain Greek yogurt or oatmeal with strawberries, dipping strawberries in whipped cream for dessert, making a fruit salad with berries and melon, or adding blended strawberries to a protein-rich smoothie.
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