With a diverse array of healthy, natural, and organic foods more readily available than ever before, eating well doesn’t have to be boring. While the phase “low-calorie foods” might conjure thoughts of drab and flavorless fare, some of nature’s perfect health foods are also the most enjoyable. The trick is to zero in on foods that are rich in nutrients and flavor, but low on caloric density. To help you craft the perfect grocery-shopping list, we’ve taken the guesswork out of the equation and put together a few of our favorites. Whether you enjoy the ritual of cooking or favor eating on the go, we’ve gathered the top low-calorie foods to incorporate into your diet.
Read on to discover the 15 best low-calorie foods that are dense in nutrients without compromising on flavor.
There’s a reason supermodels are often spotted eating grapefruit. This delicious low-cal favorite attacks cholesterol and fat stores while boosting energy levels, making it a go-to superfood. One grapefruit contains just 52 calories.
Green Bell Pepper
Green bell pepper is one of the most versatile vegetables out there, adding texture and color to bowls, omelettes, and much more. Opt for organic when you can. At only 30 calories a cup, this is a vegetable to keep on rotation.
While there may be no such thing as negative calories, celery comes close. Rich in vitamin K, this healthy snack clocks in at only six calories per stalk.
Mussels are one of the leanest, most environmentally sustainable and calorically friendly seafoods at only nine calories a mussel. They’re also a healthy go-to when eating out—just don’t pair the moules with frites.
A brilliant alternative to traditional wheat noodles, soba noodles are made from buckwheat, making them about 50% less calorically dense at only 130 calories a cup. They’re also a naturally gluten-free option.
Cauliflower has caught as one of the trendier veggies as of late (thank you, cauliflower rice). This superfood has become a go-to grain substitute in everything from pizza crust to taco shells. A cup of cauliflower is about 27 calories, and is also packed with potassium and vitamin C.
At only 27 calories a cup, asparagus helps flush out water weight while delivering a range of essential nutrients like iron and vitamin A. Toss it in the oven and sprinkle with lemon juice for a healthy dish on its own, or serve it up as a side.
Mushrooms have a habit of surviving just about anything, and with their dense nutrient content, they can help you do the same. A natural immune-system booster packed in protein and vitamin C, white mushrooms are about 21 calories a cup.
A staple of Ethiopian cooking, this versatile low-calorie fine grain is a perfect substitute for denser grains like quinoa and rice. Rich in B vitamins, iron, and more, teff is also gluten-free. A serving of teff only contains about 101 calories, so eat up.
At about 45 calories per cucumber, this water-saturated vegetable offers the perfect addition to salads, side dishes, and sauces like tzatziki and hummus.
Rich in protein and omega 3s, shrimp are proof that eating healthy can still be a treat. Four ounces of shrimp contain about 135 calories. Opt for wild-caught sourcing to get the best nutrients.
This peppery green is flavorful and antioxidant-rich, and measures just about four calories per cup. Watercress is also dense in vitamins A, C, and K.
Derived from the root of the konjac yam plant, these versatile noodles are fairly nondescript flavor-wise but are the perfect canvas for all your favorite spices and sauces. An ounce of shirataki noodles contains only 15 calories.
Not only one of the tastiest low-calorie foods, blackberries are also extremely high in fiber, meaning you’ll feel full longer and crave less. A cup of blueberries only contains about 84 calories, making it a perfect on-the-go snack.
Unsweetened Almond Milk
A staple of vegan diets and low-cal breakfasts, unsweetened almond milk is only about 30 calories per cup and low in fat—as good a reason as any to experiment with nondairy dining.
Up next, keep reading for 15 of the best metabolism-boosting foods.