Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low-calorie nutrient dense foods that when consumed regularly contribute to good health. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, a low-calorie food is any food that is 40 calories or less per serving. The American Heart Association recommends eating eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Fruits and vegetables are versatile and can be enjoyed several ways.
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Chopped celery only contains 16 calories per cup. If you would rather skip the chopping and eat celery whole, one large stalk provides 10 calories. Celery is an easy snack to grab and pairs nicely with low-calorie dips or peanut butter. Often used in recipes, celery can be added for additional flavor and nutrients.
Leafy vegetables, often used in salads and on sandwiches, can be found in several varieties. One cup of chopped iceberg lettuce provides you with only eight calories. Butterhead lettuce contains seven calories per cup. Typically, darker varieties of leafy greens contain more nutrients. Spinach provides you with seven calories per cup along with iron, vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese and folate. Kale contains 33 calories per cup; roast kale chips or add kale to soups for more nutrients. Arugula, another type of lettuce, provides you with only 4 calories per cup.
One of the richest sources of folate is asparagus. One cup of asparagus not only provides you with 70 micrograms of folate, but also contains only 27 calories.
Broccoli and Cauliflower
One cup of broccoli contains 31 calories and provides you with a source of the essential nutrients iron, vitamin C, folate, vitamin A and vitamin K. Cauliflower, also a cruciferous vegetable, delivers 27 calories per cup.
White mushrooms contain 21 calories per cup. Portabella mushrooms have 19 calories per diced cup. If eating portabella mushrooms whole, such as in a sandwich, one portabella mushroom contains 18 calories. Mushrooms are one of the few foods that provide a natural source of vitamin D. They are also a significant source of selenium, riboflavin, potassium and niacin. Mushrooms are a great addition to stir-fry dishes and in most Asian dishes.
Most fruits contain more calories when compared to vegetables, due to their high natural sugar content. A half of a grapefruit provides you with 37 calories. Grapefruits are an excellent source of vitamin C.
Lemons and Limes
Lemons and limes, often added to beverages for flavor, contain less than 40 calories per fruit and contain a significant amount of vitamin C.
Tangerines, which are in the mandarin orange family, contain about 40 calories per small fruit. As a citrus fruit, tangerines provide you with a significant amount of vitamin C. This low-calorie fruit is a healthy snack choice and a great addition to salads.