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How Do Vegetables Affect Your Weight Loss Program?

Knowledge of vegetable nutrition facts allows you to make healthy dietary choices, which in turn helps keep your weight loss program on track. Generally speaking, most vegetables are great for weight control. However, vegetables may differ markedly from the point of view of their calorie content and the predominant type of carbohydrates they contain.

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Vegetables come fresh, frozen, canned, dry/dehydrated, or as vegetable juice. Fresh vegetables may be consumed raw or cooked. It's important to know that the mode of preparation may affect the calorie content of the respective vegetable, as well as the availability of these calories to the organism. (For example, cooked potatoes have a high glycemic index as compared to raw potatoes - since the carbohydrates in potatoes are altered by the cooking process. As such, potatoes are not indicated for a weight loss diet.)

Vegetable Nutrition Facts
The Composition of Vegetables:

  • Vegetables generally contain high amounts of fiber, and low amounts of sugars or fats.
  • Some vegetables (such as corn or potatoes) contain high amounts of starches (complex carbohydrates).
  • Dry beans and peas contain (in addition to carbohydrates) sizable amounts of protein.
    Some dry bean varieties (such as soybeans) also contain a relatively high amount of unsaturated fats.

Vegetable Nutrition Facts
Vegetable Calorie Content:

Let's take a look at the Various Types of Vegetables and the amount of calories they bring in:
  • Green leafy vegetables (such as lettuce, kale, cabbage, spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens, etc) bring in an extremely low calorie amount, since they almost completely lack starches or sugars. These vegetables contain mainly fiber, which is not digestible and as such doesn't bring any calories into the body.
  • Starchy vegetables (such as corn, potatoes, green peas and green lima beans) bring in a sizable calorie amount (see our vegetable calorie guide for the specific figures).
  • Orange vegetables (such as squash, carrots and sweet potatoes) also bring in a sizable calorie amount, since they also contain starches. Note: Orange vegetables contain carotenes with antioxidant effect, which are beneficial for cardiovascular health and cancer protection.
  • Other vegetables (such as tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, mushroom, radish, celery, asparagus, artichoke, beets, green and red pepper) bring in a fairly low calorie amount (comparable to leafy greens or slightly higher).
  • Dry Beans and Peas (such as black beans, black-eyed peas, mature lima beans, soybeans, tofu (which is the curd made from soybeans), navy beans, lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans, split peas, chicken peas) contain a sizable calorie amount, a large part of which is protein.
    In fact, this class of vegetables is deemed an appropriate substitute for meat. Soybeans and chicken peas also contain a significant amount of fats (most of which are unsaturated fats, i.e., 'healthy fats').
  • Canned vegetables and vegetables juices may differ in calorie content from the raw vegetables they were derived from. For the exact calorie content of each individual product, it's best to read the Nutrition Facts label on the container.
    Generally, canned vegetables are healthy, low calorie foods - with zero saturated fat content and a very reasonable sugar content. Most of them are also a good source of fiber, which is an added advantage for weight control.
  • Vegetable juices are low in calories as well and a good fiber source, but may contain a higher amount of sugars per serving than the corresponding fresh vegetables (due to the removal of the solid parts of the respective vegetables).

Vegetable Nutrition Facts
Vegetable Portion Size:

So, how much vegetables should you eat? The answer is: About 3 servings per day. The number of servings can be increased at your discretion, as long as you don't exceed your daily calorie allowance. If you are physically active your calorie allowance will increase, permitting you to increase your total food intake.

What counts as a serving of vegetables?
Generally, one serving of vegetables is represented by the following:
  • 2 cups (16 oz) of raw leafy greens
  • 1 cup (8 oz) of any other vegetables (raw, cooked, or canned)
  • 1-2 cups (8-16 oz) of 100% vegetable juice

Important: When eating cooked vegetables, keep in mind that your calorie intake increases with adding butter, margarine, oil, or various sauces.

Miscellaneous: Prepackaged salads, coleslaw, broccoli slaw, etc are ok as long as they contain no added dressings or shortenings. Any item containing a creamy dressing (e.g., creamy coleslaw) no longer qualifies as a 'vegetable serving' from a calorie standpoint, since the dressing brings its own calories. If using such products, be sure to read the nutrition label for calorie content and portion size. Also, make sure the saturated fats are as low as possible (preferably zero), and sugars are below 6-7 grams per serving.
Party Trays containing fresh vegetables usually come with creamy dressings, which may be high in calories. So, as a rule of thumb: The less dressing with your vegetables, the better!

Vegetables make great snacks or main meal dishes. They are highly recommended in any weight loss program, and indispensable for a healthy lifestyle. Generally speaking, vegetables have a slight calorie advantage over fruit, due to their lower content of sugars.

Vegetable Nutrition Facts
Vegetable Calorie Guide:

Here is a guide to the calorie content of various vegetables:
  • Asparagus: Raw 1 cup - 27 calories; Boiled 1 cup - 40 calories
  • Artichoke: Raw Medium - 60 calories; Raw Large - 75 calories; Boiled 1 cup - 84 calories
  • Beets: Raw 1 cup - 58 calories; Boiled 1 cup - 74 calories
  • Broccoli: Raw 1 cup - 31 calories; Boiled 1 cup - 54 calories
  • Brussels Sprouts: Raw 1 cup - 38 calories; Boiled 1 cup - 56 calories
  • Cabbage: Raw 2 cups - 40 calories; Boiled 2 cups - 68 calories
  • Carrots: Raw 1 cup - 50 calories; Boiled 1 cup - 55 calories
  • Cauliflower: Raw or Boiled 1 cup - 28 calories
  • Celery: Raw 1 cup - 14 calories; Boiled 1 cup - 27 calories
  • Cilantro: Raw 1 cup - 4 calories; Dried (Herb) 1 tablespoon - 0 calories
  • Collard Greens: 25 calories per 2 cups
  • Corn: 1 ear small - 63 calories; 1 ear medium - 77 calories; 1 ear large - 123 calories; 1 cup kernels - 150 calories
  • Cucumber: Raw 1 cup sliced - 16 calories
  • Dried Beans and Peas: Boiled 1 cup: 210 - 300 calories, with:
    • Soybeans and Chicken Peas at the high end of this range;
    • White Beans, Navy Beans and Pinto Beans in the middle;
    • Lima Beans (both green and mature), Kidney Beans, Lentils, Black Beans and Split Peas at the low end.
  • Dried Beans and Peas: Raw /Seeds 1 oz: 90 - 130 calories (600 - 700 calories per cup)
  • Eggplant: Raw 1 cup cubes - 20 calories; Boiled 1 cup cubes - 35 calories
  • Fresh Beans (Green Snap Beans or Bean Sprouts) : 1 cup - 34 calories
  • Kale: Raw or Boiled 2 cups - 70 calories
  • Lettuce (all types): Negligible calorie amount per serving (below 20 calories for 2 cups)
  • Mushroom (average): Raw 1 cup - 15 calories; Boiled 1 cup - 44 calories
  • Mushroom (Portabella): Grilled 1 cup sliced - 42 calories
  • Mustard Greens: Raw 2 cups - 30 calories; Boiled 2 cups - 42 calories
  • Onion: Raw 1 cup - 48 calories
  • Parsley: Raw 1 cup - 22 calories; Dried (Herb) 1 tablespoon 4 calories
  • Pepper (green): Small - 15 calories; Medium - 24 calories; Large - 33 calories
  • Pepper (red): Small - 19 calories; Medium - 31 calories; Large - 43 calories
  • Potato (baked, with nothing added): Small - 130 calories; Medium - 160 calories; Large - 280 calories
  • Potato (1 cup mashed with nothing added) - 240 calories
  • Pumpkin: Raw 1 cup - 30 calories; Boiled 1 cup - 50 calories; Pumpkin Pie 1 slice (1/6 of 8" pie) - 230 calories; Pumpkin Seeds Roasted 1 cup - 285 calories
  • Radish: Raw 1 cup - 20 calories; Boiled 1 cup - 25 calories
  • Spinach Leaves: Raw 2 cups - 30 calories; Boiled 2 cups - 82 calories
  • Squash (winter, butternut): Raw 1 cup - 63 calories; Boiled or Baked 1 cup - 82 calories
  • Sweet potato (Baked): Small - 54 calories; Medium - 103 calories; Large - 162 calories
  • Sweet potato: Raw 1 cup - 115 calories; Boiled 1 cup (mashed) - 250 calories
  • Tofu (Soybean Curd): 1/2 cup - 183 calories
  • Tomato: Small - 16 calories; Medium - 22 calories; Large - 33 calories
  • Turnip Greens: Raw 2 cups - 36 calories; Boiled 2 cups - 58 calories`
  • Zucchini: Raw 1 cup - 18 calories; Boiled 1 cup - 30 calories

Note: All calorie counts are approximate.

Vegetable Nutrition Facts
Vegetables to be cautious about in a Weight Loss Program:

  • Potatoes have a high glycemic index (80 to 95, dependent on the preparation), and bring in a fairly high calorie content (as much as 280 calories for a large baked potato, with nothing added on top). This may pose the risk of ingesting excess calories.
  • Some of the 'Orange Vegetables' (such as squash and sweet potato) also bring in a fairly high calorie amount. Note: In reasonable portions, orange vegetables are beneficial for health (especially cardiovascular health and cancer protection), due to their high content of carotenes.
  • Dried Beans and Peas contain a sizable calorie amount, and are excellent sources of protein. Some varieties (such as soybeans and chicken peas) are also rich in unsaturated fats. All vegetables in this class are healthy and nutritious. As long as adequate portions are respected, dried beans and peas are great foods for weight control. However, in order not to exceed daily calorie allowances, one should be aware of the calorie content they bring in.
  • Finally, beware of the many vegetable dips scattered throughout the grocery aisles. Fruit and vegetable dips bring in unnecessary sugars and fats, which may negate a large part of the weight control benefits.
    Suggestion: Try using a fat-free salad dressing for a vegetable dip. And for a fruit dip, try a tablespoon of honey.

We hope the vegetable nutrition facts on this page make it a bit easier to choose the right items for your weight loss program. Vegetables are one of the staples of a successful diet. So, especially if you are a veggie lover, make these vegetable nutrition facts work in your favor.

Return from "Vegetable Nutrition Facts" to "Grocery Food Facts"








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