Veggies tend to be weight-loss friendly. Why? Most are low in calories — and all offer filling fiber, which helps to tide you over and decrease those urges to snack. Plus, “the water content of vegetables increases the volume of the food,” says Shahzadi Devje, RD, CDE, MSc, a certified diabetes educator in Toronto. This helps to keep you fuller for longer. But some are even better than others.
Here are seven vegetables that are particularly helpful for weight loss:
“It’s lower in calories, packs a nutritional punch and is versatile to use in all sorts of recipes,” says Devje. Like other leafy greens, spinach is considered a powerhouse vegetable, per a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says it’s strongly associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases — including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancers. Enjoy spinach in a healthy green smoothie, in a lupini bean salad or in a Mason-jar salad.
“This is one of my favorite vegetables for its versatility,” says Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, a culinary dietitian in Atlanta. “It’s also a great way to get in some extra fiber. I like to roast broccoli that’s tossed with extra-virgin olive oil and spices. I’ll eat it as a side dish or make it part of a main by adding it to pasta.” Cook up roasted cauliflower and broccoli, a healthy broccoli slaw or beef with broccoli.
Enjoy this winter squash any time you can get your hands on it. “It serves as an ideal low-calorie alternative to conventional spaghetti,” says Devje. A cup of the cooked squash contains just 42 calories, per the USDA Nutrient Database. “It’s also low in fat and provides fiber to help you stay full for longer,” she says. Add the veggie to chicken spaghetti squash, marinara spaghetti squash or chickpea kale curry stuffed spaghetti squash.
“These cruciferous vegetables are loaded with fiber to help you feel full fast and stay satiated for a while,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, a dietitian in Dallas. “They’re very low in calories but have the ability to make you feel less hungry after eating them.” A cup of Brussels sprouts has just 38 calories, per the USDA National Nutrient Database. Whip up grilled Brussels sprouts, Brussels sprouts with grape honey glaze or sauteed shredded Brussels sprouts.
“With almost 9 grams of fiber per cup, green peas can help you meet your fiber goals and feel full with ease,” says Moore. “I usually keep frozen green peas on hand to add bright green color to soups, puree into a pea pesto, or simply enjoy as a side dressed with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper.” You can also add the green gems to green pea soup, healthy farro fried rice or green peas and mushrooms.
This veggie contains just 27 calories per cup, per the USDA National Nutrient Database. “It provides fiber, which helps to slow digestion and promote a feeling of fullness,” says Devje. “Cauliflower is also fat-free, cholesterol-free and low in sodium.” Whip up some healthy cauliflower rice, cauliflower tacos or carrot cauliflower soup.
“With a bit more fiber than white potatoes, sweet potatoes have a satisfying sweet flavor that plays well with foods like kale and black beans,” says Moore. “My favorite way to enjoy sweet potatoes is to simply roast them, with the skin on.” After all, the skin is where a good amount of the veggie’s filling fiber sits. Cook up baked sweet potato fries, sweet potato crust pizza or sweet potato beet hash.