No foods are off limits on the Weight Watchers program, but all foods are allotted a point value that corresponds loosely with the calories they contain. To help its followers make healthy choices, Weight Watchers has compiled a list of fruits and veggies worth zero points that can be eaten anytime, without tracking or measuring.
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About Weight Watchers Points
Instead of calorie counting, Weight Watchers — which has rebranded as WW — helps followers lose weight by counting points. Most WW followers are familiar with PointsPlus, which is a system that assigns points based on foods' calories, fiber, carb and protein content. But in December 2015, WW updated to a system called SmartPoints, which uses calories, protein, saturated fat and sugars to determine point values. And in 2017, the WW Freestyle Program was born, with an expanded list of zero-point foods that members don't have to track.
The goal of the new points system is to help followers make healthier choices, including foods high in protein and low in saturated fat and sugar. While the points formula has changed, the points value for fruits and veggies hasn't, according to Weight Watchers.
Points for Fruit
Fresh fruit: All fresh fruits on the WW diet have zero points, including apricots, apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, plums, pineapple and grapes. Canned fruit in its own juice also has zero points, along with frozen fruit without added sugar.
Dried fruit: But dried fruit is a different story. A quarter-cup serving of raisins, dried figs or dried apricots has 4 points, while the same serving of dates has 6 points. Dried fruit does have a place in a healthy diet, but be mindful of the portion you consume. According to Harvard Health Publishing, dried fruit is easy to overeat because it's smaller than fresh varieties and may also contain added sugar, which ups the calories.
Canned fruit: Canned fruit in syrup also has points. A half-cup serving of peaches in extra light syrup has 3 points, for example, while the same serving packed in light syrup has 4 points. A half-cup serving of mandarin oranges packed in light syrup has 5 points, and a half-cup serving of fruit salad in heavy syrup has 7 points.
Fruit juice: Fruit juice contains points, too. WW assigns 6 points to a cup of orange juice, 7 to a cup of pineapple juice and 10 to a cup of prune juice.
Points for Non-Starchy Vegetables
Like fresh fruit, non-starchy vegetables are also assigned zero points on the Weight Watchers plan. Non-starchy vegetables are naturally low in calories and carbs, and they're also a good source of fiber. Examples include: broccoli, spinach, carrots, celery, lettuce greens, green beans, Brussels sprouts, kale, zucchini and cauliflower. Winter squash, including acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash, are also zero-point foods on Weight Watchers.
Keep in mind, though, that vegetable juice is not a points-free food — WW assigns it 2 points per cup (sorry, V-8!).
Points for Starchy Vegetables
Starchy vegetables are higher in calories and carbs than non-starchy ones, so they're not deemed zero-point foods. Point values can vary; a half-cup serving of peas or corn, for example, has 2 points, while a half-cup serving of a plain sweet potato or lima beans has 3 points. A medium, plain baked potato has 5 points.
Beans, lentils and split peas are also types of starchy vegetables, but due to their protein content, they are sometimes counted as a protein. On Weight Watchers, a half-cup serving of any cooked beans or legumes — including chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, split peas and lentils — has 3 points. Adding beans to your diet is smart, though, as it may help you lose some weight — and keep it off, according to a May 2016 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This research found that just one daily serving (about 3/4 cup) of beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas contributed to a half pound of weight loss.
- Weight Watchers: "200+ ZeroPoint™ Foods"
- Weight Watchers: "Weight Watchers Reimagined"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Is eating dried fruit healthy?"
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Effects of dietary pulse consumption on body weight: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials"
- American Heart Association: "American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids"