When it comes to slimming down, vegetable intake can help you lose weight and reduce the risk of weight gain.
Actually, multiple sources of evidence have shown that vegetable consumption is associated with a sustained weight loss on the long run. For example, a 2014 randomized controlled trial examined the weight-reducing effect of higher vegetable intake in healthy overweight adults and found that certain types of vegetables with low energy-density contribute to reducing weight circumference, preventing weight regain and promoting weight maintenance (1). These weight loss benefits are particularly attributed to their high fiber and water contents which give you a longer feeling of fullness.
What is more is that vegetables are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B6, potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid) and plant protein, all of which provide potent health benefits.
If you do not like vegetables, lucky for you, there are many delicious ways to enjoy them —veggie soups, snacks, fish-free sushi, veggie lasagna, veggie tacos, and more— all while maximizing their nutritional value.
Here are 7 science-based belly fat-burning vegetables to include in your weight loss diet.
Give the 4th one a weigh, give it a weigh now!
In general, leafy greens vegetables with high nutrient value are a valuable part of any healthy diet. Among them, spinach stands out as a great weight-loss food and one of the highest sources of dietary nitrate.
One cup (30 grams) of spinach has just 5 calories and contains 167 mg of potassium, as well as 60% and 15% of the recommended DV for vitamins A and C, respectively.
A group of researchers from Lund University conducted a study on the anti-obesity effects of green-plant membranes in 38 overweight women and found that daily supplementation of spinach extract, namely thylakoids, has a favorable effect on obesity-related risk factors and stimulates the production of satiety hormones that give you a longer feeling of fullness (2).
- Broccoli and Cabbage
Like other vegetables, broccoli and cabbage are very healthy, nutritious and filling. They are packed with high-quality dietary fiber and other health-promoting nutrients.
One cup (91 grams) of chopped broccoli rabe contains just 30 calories but provides almost 90% of the recommended DV for vitamin A. Raw broccoli also provides 148% of the recommended DV for vitamin C.
A large-scale study in 133468 U.S. adults examined the relationships between change in intake of certain fruits and vegetables and weight variations and found that higher intakes of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage have an energy-expenditure lowering effect and are inversely related to weight change (3).
- Lingzhi Mushroom
Throughout history, Lingzhi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum L.), also known as Reishi, has been recognized for its culinary and therapeutic values, especially in Eastern medicine.
This type of mushroom is incredibly nutritious. It is packed with a wide range of key nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. In a 100 grams serving of reishi mushrooms, there are 432 mg and 225 mg of potassium and phosphorus, respectively, and offer sufficient protein amounts of protein, higher than most vegetables.
An animal study published in the Nature Journal examined the underlying mechanisms of action of Lingzhi mushroom on the gut microbiota and found it exerts a prebiotic agent which modulates the gut microbiota and thus reduces body weight and body mass index (4).
- Red Chili Pepper
Besides being highly nutritious, spicy foods containing red chili pepper have been shown to have potent anti-obesity effects by reducing appetite and causing sustained fat oxidation.
A 0.5 cup (75 grams) of chopped red chili pepper contains just 30 calories but provides 179% of the recommended DV for vitamin C, as well as 20% for vitamin B-6.
One study on the role of capsaicin, an active compound extracted from chili pepper with analgesic and anti-obesity properties, in weight management and the prevention and treatment of obesity reported that dietary supplementation of chili peppers is a safe and cheap means to treat overweight and obesity (5).
Overall, the incorporation of natural fat burners such as red chili peppers into a well-balanced diet has favorable effects on belly fat.
Carrots (Daucus carota L.) are not just good for your eye health, they are also weight-loss friendly. This crunchy vegetable is low and fat but laden with all sorts of vitamins, minerals and beneficial carotenoids, most notably beta-carotene. One cup (122 grams) of carrot slices has only 50 calories yet still packs almost 3.4 grams of dietary fiber and almost 407% of the recommended DV for vitamin A.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin has been reported to boost metabolism and play a key role in the treatment of obesity. A 2015 animal study investigated these advances and found that vitamin A supplementation indeed impacts inflammation in obesity and improves insulin sensitivity in obese rats (6).
Moreover, since carrots have a low energy-density they can increase post-meal fullness and decrease your overall calorie intake.
Botanically, cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) is a fruit, but it is mostly used as a vegetable. This green-skinned veggie provides you with fair amounts of beneficial nutrients, including vitamins C and K, potassium, magnesium and manganese. One 100 grams serving of sliced unpeeled, raw cucumber contains 15 calories and provides 5%, 4% and 2% of the recommended DV for vitamin C, potassium and dietary fiber, respectively.
Consumption of cucumber has favorable effects on weight management. This is particularly due to the fact that it is low-calorie and high in water, meaning it promotes satiety.
Since cucumber does not provide sufficient amounts of nutrients, it is best to incorporate it into a well-balanced weight loss program to avoid the occurrence of any nutrient deficiency.
Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) is a low-carb vegetable with an amazing nutrient profile that contributes to optimal health through its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. One extra-large asparagus spear (24 grams) contains just 5 calories and provides 0.5 grams of dietary fiber and proteins, as well as 2% of the recommended DV for vitamin C.
Several sources of evidence have shown that vegetables that are low in energy and high in fiber and water are filling. Thanks to its richness in water and both soluble and insoluble fiber, these advances apply to asparagus which produces a satiating effect that promotes weight loss.