1. Summer Squash
Summer squash (or zucchini) is an amazingly versatile vegetable. That and its low caloric weight make it the perfect cooking ingredient for those who seek to lose weight. You can grill or pan-fry zucchini with a dash of olive oil and garlic for a healthy side dish, cook and puree it into quick and fresh cream soup, or whip out a spiralizer and make them into zucchini noodles, or “zoodles.”
The advantage of zoodles is that they go well with any pasta sauce, but don’t contain refined carbs like regular pasta. A medium zucchini contains only 33 calories, half of your daily vitamin C needs, and 2 grams of fiber. If you're looking for a delicious new way to eat zucchini, check out this recipe: Zucchini Fritters
2. Chili Pepper
Are you a fan of spice? If so, you’re in luck. There’s actual scientific evidence of eating chili peppers being beneficial for weight loss. The ingredient capsaicin, which is what makes peppers spicy, has been shown to burn fat and suppress the appetite in studies.
According to one study, eating just 1 gram of red chili pepper a day in food reduced participants’ appetite and boosted fat burning. Other studies also conclude that a combination of chili peppers, exercise, and a healthy diet boosts fat burning and metabolism. Sprinkling some chili powder into your food as a spice is as easy as it gets, so why not try it?
Do you think of the avocado as a vegetable or a fruit? While it’s botanically categorized as are a fruit, most of us add it to savory dishes and think of it as a vegetable. No matter where you land on this fruit or vegetable debate, I think we can all agree that avocados are a miracle food ingredient.
Avocados have a particularly high amount of monounsaturated oleic acid - the same healthy fat that can be found in olive oil - and they provide the body with tons of other beneficial nutrients and fiber too. There’s also evidence suggesting that avocados increase how well you absorb nutrients, namely carotenoids, from other veggies too, so tossing a few pieces of avocado in your salad is an excellent idea.
And lastly, studies in American adults show that people who eat avocados also weigh much less, which suggests that avocados may also promote weight loss.
While you may not think of the humble eggplant as a good ingredient for weight loss, you’ll quickly understand its potential once you realize that eggplants are a delicious swap for dietary enemies like mayo, bread, and steak. There are just 20 calories in 1 cup of eggplant, so you can easily eat plenty of it and feel full.
Due to its dense and meaty texture, eggplants you can be made into bread or stuffed with other veggies and baked. But if you want to start easy, simply bake one big eggplant on low heat until soft and whirl it in a blender with spices to make baba ganoush, a delicious yummy dip that can be used as a spread in place of butter or mayo. Learn one more yummy and healthy eggplant recipe here - Roasted, Stuffed Baby Eggplants.
If you’re not a big fan of eggplants in your burgers and tacos, another weight loss-friendly alternative to consider is mushrooms. The superpower of mushrooms, too, is their versatility and low-calorie count. Just pan-roasting some oyster mushrooms with a couple of eggs and onion is a quick protein-rich but low-calorie breakfast.
A portobello cap can also be pan-roasted or grilled and eaten as a burger patty. But unlike a burger patty, which is around 215 calories, a portobello mushroom contains only about 25 calories, no fat, and no cholesterol. Even if you only swap meat for mushrooms occasionally, it’s still a great way to cut calories.
If the main issue you have while dieting is the constant sugar cravings, consider including more beets in your diet. This naturally sweet and extremely nutritious root vegetable can be juiced or oven-roasted to bring out its natural sweetness.
Apart from curbing sugar cravings, though, beets are also capable of boosting your athletic performance and energy levels. In one study, cyclists who drank beetroot juice for 1 week improved their performance during exercise. Although beets are a bit higher in calories - 1 cup of beets contains 76 calories - they’re still worth it.
After all, there are so many antioxidants and phytochemicals in these vegetables that it has both anti-inflammatory and even blood pressure-lowering benefits, among many others. So adding beets or beetroot juice to your diet is excellent, especially if you’re losing weight.
7. Leafy greens
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and others should be part of everyone’s diet, really. But when it comes to weight loss, these foods are especially crucial, as they pack a punch in terms of nutrients while also containing loads of fiber and very few calories.
To put it simply, leafy greens add volume and fill you up without increasing the calories. One ingredient in leafy greens we’d like to highlight due to its weight loss benefits is calcium - a mineral that was shown to promote fat burning in studies.
8. Cruciferous vegetables
Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage are known together under the name cruciferous vegetables. Compared to most veggies, cruciferous vegetables are higher in protein. They may not contain as many proteins as fish, legumes, or meat, but they will be able to make sure that you’re eating enough protein, even if you haven’t included other protein-rich foods in your meal.
Cauliflower is an especially popular choice among dieters, as it can be cooked and made into a grain-free pizza dough. Lastly, all cruciferous veggies are also very rich in fiber and anti-inflammatory antioxidants, so they’re the perfect ingredient to include in your diet if you want to lose weight.
9. Boiled Potatoes
Potatoes are not believed to be a good ingredient for weight loss. And there is some truth to this statement, as losing weight while eating french fries daily would be challenging, if not impossible. But if you choose a different cooking method for potatoes - namely boiling them - they can actually become quite beneficial for weight loss and healthy eating.
For one, potatoes are rich in potassium, which is essential for controlling blood pressure. Boiled potatoes are also the most filling food in existence, which means that eating small amounts of boiled potatoes can actually make you feel fuller for longer.
If you want to boost the weight loss benefits of boiled potatoes, allow them to cool after boiling. This helps them develop something called resistant starch. This is a fiber-like substance that isn’t digested like most starches and has weight loss and other health benefits.
As you may have noticed, there are quite a lot of unexpected vegetables on this list. Boiled potatoes, mushrooms, and cruciferous vegetables are key to losing weight while also eating plenty of food. This brings us to the main tip of this section - try to eat before you get very hungry.
Waiting to eat until you’re "hangry" makes it easier to slip into unhealthy eating patterns, such as eating mostly snacks, sweet drinks, and junk food. You can’t enjoy a treat here and there, but the bulk of your diet should consist of nutritious foods in moderate portions. For more weight loss do’s and don’ts, consider reading one of the following articles:
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