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Insights Into Negative Calorie Foods

Most dieters are acquainted with calories. Even though a calorie is a measurement of heat energy, foods contain calories and every activity we have burns them. Having a diet that is excessively high in calories usually means that a person may experience weight gain. It is no wonder that people who are wanting to lose weight often focus on the calories that are in the foods they eat. Different foods contain varying numbers of calories. 

Diets that are based on caloric intake must also consider the activities of the person on the diet. For example, a healthy 150-pound person who sits for a half-hour burns about 40 calories. The same person who takes a leisurely walk or who cleans the house burns about 103 calories in a half-hour. If the person works in the garden, they can expect to burn 153 calories in a half hour. 

All of this is old news. What lots of people don’t consider, though, is that calories are also burned when food is digested. Depending on the food, some of the things we eat can actually take more calories to burn than the food contains. These are called negative calorie foods because the net result of consuming them is negative calories in the caloric intake. You might be surprised to learn that there are quite a few negative calorie foods. One example that has already been written about is celery, but there are more.

#1 Beets or beetroot

Beetroots are negative calorie and are quite high in vitamin C, folate, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. They have a glycemic load index of 5, which is still quite low.

#2 Turnips

If you like turnips, they are also negative calorie, while being healthy. Turnips are good sources of vitamin C, B6, folate, and potassium.

Note here that these are only some of the negative calorie foods. There are more foods that take more calories to digest than the food contains. As interesting, all of these foods have a glycemic load index of under 5, which makes them excellent for diabetics.

    • You’d probably like turnips. They have a texture similar to a radish; nice and crunchy. However, they don’t really get hot like radishes can just before they start bolting.

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#3 Spinach

High in vitamin A, C, K, and folate, spinach is also high in manganese and has a glycemic load index of 0, so it is great for diabetics. This is a negative calorie food.

    • It is sort of funny, too, regarding Popeye. It was once thought that spinach was extremely high in iron, and it was that which led to the Popeye cartoon. It turns out that it is high in iron and not quite as high as chard, but it isn’t *extremely* high in iron. When the amount of iron was first figured out and written down, a decimal point was put in the wrong place, indicating that spinach had 100 times more iron than it has. :))

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#4 Kale

Kale, which is a negative calorie food, is extremely high in vitamins A, C, and K. It is also higher in calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and copper than spinach.

#5 Radishes

Radishes are vegetables that are often forgotten or ignored, but they are negative calorie and are high in vitamin C. They are also high in Omega-3 fatty acids and have a glycemic load index of 1.

    • I love radishes on a veggie tray. I also like growing them just so I can occasionally pull one up, brush off the dirt, and eat it on the spot when I’m working in the garden.


#6 Celery

Celery is undoubtedly one of the best known negative calorie foods. This has been covered in another article.

#7 Tomatoes

As popular as they are, raw tomatoes are also negative calorie. Tomatoes have iron, vitamin C, and several anti-oxidants, yet they have a low glycemic load index.

    • That is the biggest reason I tend to grow so many tomato plants each year. Everyone in the household loves them and in the rare instance when we have extra, they are easy to can. :))

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#8 Asparagus

Asparagus is very high in vitamin C and Folate. It is also high in vitamin A, E, K, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper, Manganese, and Selenium. Asparagus has a glycemic index of 1.

    • Asparagus tends to grow best where the winters are cold and the summers are hot. They can be canned so they aren’t mushy, but most commercial companies that sell asparagus usually over-process it, which results in the mushy texture.

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#9 Broccoli

Broccoli is another negative calorie food that is healthy. A cupful has 135% of the daily allowance of vitamin C. It is also high in vitamin A, folate, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. The glycemic index is 3.

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#10 Zucchini or courgette

When people think of negative calorie foods, they don't often think of zucchinis, but these are negative calorie. They are also high in vitamin C, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and folate. Zucchinis have a GLI (Glycemic Load Index) of 2.


What do you think?

11 Points

Written by Rex Trulove


    • It might be worthwhile, for your health, to figure out ways to include the others in your diet more often. There are several vegetables that I don’t care for if they are prepared in one way, but I love them if they are prepared in another way. The challenge, and it can be fun, is to find the ways to prepare the veggies so you’ll like them. That is a matter of personal taste, no pun intended.

    • My wife and daughter love beets, but they prefer them pickled. I use beet juice when I make pickled eggs, mostly because of the beautiful shade of pink they turn the eggs. However, I don’t think that qualifies as eating beets. LOL