Fruits and vegetables are an important part of every healthy diet, but they can be especially helpful if losing weight is one of your goals. All fruits and vegetables are nutritious and packed with vitamins and minerals that your body needs, but certain types are low in calories and high in fiber, two qualities that can help you achieve weight-loss success. Discuss a weight-loss program with your doctor or a registered dietitian to develop the best plan for you.
A successful weight-loss program requires that you maintain a calorie deficit, taking in fewer calories than your body needs. A deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories is a common goal that will lead to 1 to 2 pounds of weight loss per week; however, a smaller deficit can also lower your weight over time. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, a moderately active woman between the ages of 31 and 50 needs about 2,000 calories daily to keep her weight stable, so she would lose 1 pound a weight if she took in 1,500 calories daily. Eating a reduced-calorie diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables is an effective way to achieve this goal.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Most types of leafy green vegetables are low-calorie foods and also rich in dietary fiber. Fiber helps keep your digestive system working well, prevents constipation and also helps you feel full for some time after a meal. The Dietary Guidelines recommends that men consume 38 and women 25 grams of fiber daily. Good choices include spinach, with 41 calories and about 4 grams of fiber in 1 cup of cooked, drained vegetable, and green cabbage, which has 50 calories and 4 grams of fiber in a wedge that's about 1/6 of a head.
Low-Calorie, High-Fiber Fruits
Eating fresh, whole or cut-up fruits is a healthy way to add flavor to your diet. Many types of flavorful fruits are also low-calorie, high-fiber foods, making them good choices for a weight-loss program. Good examples include berries such as strawberries, with 50 calories and 2 grams of fiber in a serving of eight medium berries. Citrus fruits are also good choices -- for example, one-half of a medium grapefruit contains 60 calories and 2 grams of fiber, while one medium tangerine provides 50 calories and 2 grams of fiber.
Choose green peppers often in your salads -- one medium pepper has only 25 calories but contains 2 grams of fiber -- and use green beans, with 20 calories and 3 grams of fiber per 3/4 cup, or asparagus, with 20 calories and 2 grams of fiber in five spears, as part of lunch or dinner. Although apples and pears are a bit higher in calories than some other fruits -- one large apple and one medium pear provide 130 and 100 calories, respectively -- they're also quite high in fiber, with 5 grams per apple and 6 grams per pear, so choose these healthy fruits as occasional snacks.