Diet not working for you? The problem could be that you aren’t balancing out your high-density foods with your low-density foods. What’s all this talk about density anyway? Aren’t we talking about dieting?
The energy density of food is dependent on what it is made of. You can tell a lot about how much energy density a food has by looking at how many calories it has. A calorie isn’t good or bad. It’s simply a unit of energy. The number of calories a food has is the number of calories going into your body. How quickly you burn these calories depends on various factors such as whether you’re a man or woman, your age, weight, activity levels, height, your metabolic rate, and other factors.
To calculate low energy density, you need to divide the calories in a quantity of food by its weight.
For example, if a portion of food has 340 calories and weighs 142 grams, its energy density will be 340cal/142grams = 2.4 cals/grams.
By the above chart, that would be a medium energy density food.
A low energy density food has fewer calories, and a high energy density food has more calories. Most of the energy density in food comes from fat and carbohydrates. Low-energy-density foods also have these components, but they have more water and fiber, making them less dense. Any calories you don’t burn get stored as fat. To gain less weight and stay healthy, it is better to eat more low energy-density foods, which is one reason they are amazing.
Read on to know a bit more about these 15 low energy-density foods that are good for you:
“Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” – Mark Twain.
As per recent studies, cooking raw cauliflower helps boost its ability to regulate cholesterol in the blood by binding together with bile acids.
Cauliflower contains glucosinolates, which support various processes in our bodies, including cardiovascular, digestive, immune, inflammatory, and detoxification systems.
Antioxidants lower the risk of infection and can reduce susceptibility to some forms of cancer. Cauliflower is rich in these, and therefore had all the advantages of antioxidants in its arsenal.
Cauliflower is rich in manganese, which helps in oxygen-related metabolism.
At 29 calories per cooked cup of Cauliflower, this food has a low energy density of 0.09 cal/gram.
It helps to control obesity when eaten regularly and cooked healthily.
“I was Popeye mad when I was a kid, and I'd eat spinach until the cows came home.” – Paul O’Grady.
It has around half of the recommended daily serving of magnesium you need, regulating blood sugars.
It is chock-full of alpha-lipoic acid. This reduces glucose levels and increases sensitivity to insulin.
This powerful leaf has the antioxidant clout to reduce your cancer risk by fighting off nasty free radicals.
Guess what lowers dangerously high blood pressure? Potassium, folate, and magnesium in spinach. It’s one of the many natural remedies that can contribute to reducing your need for medication, but that’s for you and your doctor to decide, of course.
Spinach is a green powerhouse of iron, calcium, and a whole host of vitamins and minerals, including but not limited to folate, riboflavin, and magnesium.
It is full of fiber, which helps keep you full longer.
It is rich in iron, which is probably it’s most famous benefits, and a cup contributes about 1/3rd of the daily recommended daily requirement of iron.
Vitamin A helps to lubricate the skin and hair, and Vitamin C strengthens them. Spinach has both these beauty essentials.
It has more potassium than bananas. Potassium helps with bone health, normal digestive, and muscular functions.
It has lutein, a vitamin that nurtures and protects your eyes from general macular degeneration as you age.
At 41 calories per cooked cup of spinach, this food has a low energy density of 0.12 cal/gram.
Spinach contains Thylakoids, which control the photosynthetic process in plants, and according to a 2014 Swedish study, help with weight loss.
It helps with recovering from injuries because the Vitamin K present in spinach helps with blood clotting.
“If only one could tell true love from false love as one can tell mushrooms from toadstools.” - Katherine Mansfield.
Like the other culinary superstars on this list, mushrooms contain many antioxidants, which help reduce cancer incidence.
They contain selenium, which helps the liver in detoxifying some cancer-causing substances in the body. Selenium also assists in raising general immunity.
Mushrooms contain dietary fiber.
At 42 calories per cooked cup of mushroom, this food has a low energy density of 0.12 cal/gram.
They contain beta-glucans, which are great for insulin resistance, lowering obesity, and boosting immunity.
"Among Chinese cabbages, the bok choi varieties really stand apart; their texture can be as crunchy as that of celery if cooking times are short, but if you leave them in the pan a little longer, they develop a creamy texture that is unique among greens. For my money, their flavor is superior to that of any other cabbage." – Mark Bittman.
The folate in bok choy helps to reduce cell damage by repairing DNA.
It’s rich in antioxidants, namely beta-carotene, and helps to reduce the risk of cancer.
Bok choy helps promote bone density due to the presence of vitamin K. It also helps to control levels of uric acid, which can cause Hyperuricemia and painful joints. Vitamin K also promotes quick healing.
The phosphorus and magnesium in bok choy help to promote heart health and flush out cholesterol.
At 20 calories per cooked cup of bok choy, this food has a low energy density of 0.06 cal/gram.
The folate in bok choy helps to keep anemia in check.
The choline in bok choy reduces inflammation.
“When I had a job catering, I catered a wedding for the Smashing Pumpkins bassist in Indiana. And I served Billy Corgan shrimp off a tray.” – Amy Poelher.
Apart from looking good on a stick, shrimp makes up for almost your entire daily value of Selenium, which fights cancer, and promotes immunity.
At 289 calories per cup of raw shrimp, this food has a low energy density of 0.85 cal/gram.
It contains a huge amount of phosphorus, which helps filter out the waste produced by kidneys, helps tissue and cell production, and is in charge of how your body stores energy.
It also helps with RNA and DNA production.
Astaxanthin, present as the primary color pigment in shrimp, reduces inflammation – the main culprit responsible for disease and aging.
While they are high in cholesterol, eating shrimp in moderation, i.e., no more than 3 ounces a day, will merely contribute to half your recommended amount of cholesterol, according to the USDA and the American Heart Association.
“Right now, I want to chill for a while. Take a hiatus from all the craziness. To clean my house, see my family. Just see some movies and pick some strawberries.” – Lauren Ambrose.
Besides being very pretty and a sweet choice, strawberries are a great source of fiber and fructose, which help to feel full and slow digestion.
Rubbing a strawberry on your teeth can have a whitening effect. Catherine Zeta-Jones swears by it.
Vitamin C in strawberries is great for your skin and helps produce collagen. It can also help promote a strong immune system.
The flavonoids in strawberries fight cardiovascular disease and work against eye disease.
At 50 calories per cup of raw strawberries (166 grams), this food has a low energy density of 0.3 cal/gram.
The low glycemic index of strawberries makes it a diabetic-friendly choice.
“My wife Gwenaelle prepares an 'energy shot' for me for breakfast. It's a mix of linseed, cereal, and raisins, with fresh fruit like kiwi. She also adds yogurt for added texture and some pollen and honey for an energy booster.”- Alain Ducasse.
Kiwifruit has been found to promote better sleep in a study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Collagen, which is dependant on Vitamin C, supports the elasticity and youthful appearance of skin.
Potassium helps to reduce blood pressure, which, in turn, reduces the chances of a heart attack. It also helps maintain good bone density levels, prevent muscle mass loss, and reduce kidney stones' formation.
Kiwis have been found to have a mild, laxative effect that results in lower chances of constipation.
“For my money, celery hasn't got a mean bit of fiber in its body, and we all need to start being much nicer to it.” – Yotam Ottolenghi.
The cholesterol-lowering compound 3-n-butylphthalide (BuPh) has been shown to reduce cholesterol and lower lipid.
The celery seed extract is widely known to be effective in treating high blood pressure.
It lowers inflammation and free radical damage, and oxidative stress. This can reduce the likelihood of suffering from chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
Celery is a powerhouse of antioxidants such as phenolic acids and flavanols. As a result, celery is great at treating a huge spectrum of debilitating conditions ranging from joint pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and urinary tract infections to gout and skin disorders.
At 19 calories per cup of raw celery, this food has a low energy density of 0.06 cal/gram.
Celery helps to replenish depleted levels of gastric mucus and is therefore instrumental in preventing and treating ulcers.
“I love to eat cucumber sticks with yogurt. It's a great snack to have at home, especially when I'm having house guests.” – Gabriela Isler.
Since you need to count your calories as you lose weight, a cucumber only has 14 calories per cup. That means you can eat more of it without feeling guilty. Cucumbers are great vegetables for weight loss.
Cucumbers are full of water.5 ounces of cucumber can make up 26% of your daily water intake.
They contain fisetin, which has an anti-inflammatory effect, which helps protect the brain from age-related neurological diseases, fighting against Alzheimer’s.
They are very effective in preventing wrinkles and are used in cosmetics.
Munching on a cucumber can help repel bad breath.
“I'm Irish, so I'm used to odd stews. I can take it. Just throw a lot of carrots and onions in there, and I'll call it dinner.” – Liam Neeson.
Carrots are rich in Vitamin A and are fantastic for improving eyesight and preventing night blindness.
Munching on a carrot can prevent bad breath and promote the production of saliva.
The carotenoids in carrots are great for blood sugar regulation.
They are good for dry skin diseases due to substances present in carrot oil.
“Chicken, brown rice, and veggies is a great healthy dinner option. It's full of whole grains and protein, and will keep you full for a long time.” – Mia Hamm.
They are good for digestion because of their high fiber content,
They contain lactic acid, which helps to promote good bacteria in the large intestine.
They can help reduce triglycerides and bad cholesterol.
They help reduce weight gain when consumed over time.
They assist in a healthier distribution of fat, including reducing the dreaded visceral fat (which centers around the stomach and affects major organs in that area).
“Most of my memories of Texas are of mosquitoes, watermelons, crickets, and my brother teasing me.” – Robin Wright.
Watermelons are great spheres of goodness, with a very low-calorie density of .3 calories per gram.
Watermelon contains lycopene, which is known for its cancer-fighting abilities.
It is also a rich source of both Vitamin C ( good for the skin and immunity) and Vitamin A (good for eyesight, immunity, bone density, and lowered cholesterol)
According to a study published in the Nutrition Journal in 2007, watermelon consumption was found to increase the conversion rate of citrulline (found in watermelons) to arginine, an essential amino acid in human beings helps in weight loss and increasing muscle mass. You’d need to eat a large amount of watermelon, though – almost 1.5 liters per day for three weeks, so you’re probably better off consuming it in proportionate amounts in a healthy diet.
“No good fish goes anywhere without a porpoise.” – Lewis Carroll.
Fish is high in protein and low in (bad) fat.
It is a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are good for:
Maintaining heart health by preventing artery-clogging clots from forming.
It helps in brain development and has neurological benefits.
It may help reduce inflammation in the body and assist with joint pain.
It is best to eat fish sourced naturally and low in environmental contaminants (such as mercury).
“Broccoli gets such a bad rap. This is perplexing to those of us who love that green, treelike, stalky vegetable.” – Kate Christensen.
It is not without reason that Broccoli has its fans. It has a lot of benefits in its arsenal.
It is a rich, low-calorie source of fiber (soluble and insoluble), so it keeps you full longer.
It contains folate, which helps generate new cells.
It’s full of Potassium, which is good for the nerves and heart contraction.
It contains vitamin C, promoting collagen's skin health and production, which keeps skin soft and supple.
No matter what you do, the worst thing you could do to broccoli is to boil it. Try steaming or stir-frying it. It’s bound to be tasty.
“Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why.” - Bernard Baruch.
Sinking your teeth into an apple may stimulate saliva production, which could lead to lower chances of tooth decay.
Apples and other fiber-rich foods can help protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's.
The antioxidant benefits of apples extend to:
Boosting your immune system
Help prevent and repair oxidative damage that occurs in cells, which is particularly important for athletes.
They help prevent gallstones due to their high fiber content.
They help out with digestion, especially regarding constipation, diarrhea, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Now that you have read about all these wonderful low energy density foods that are good for you, maybe you could try to incorporate them into your diet and see the difference to your health!
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