Vegetables, well, don’t we either love them or hate them? Vegetables are, generally speaking, one of the foods with the lowest amount of calories. However, for such few calories, vegetables are some of the richest sources of much-needed nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
You could literally eat a ton of vegetables a day, and never gain any weight, because most of the weight in vegetables is made up of water, ranging from 70 – 97% water content. Perhaps this is why vegetarians are almost never overweight?
Vegetables like cucumber, lettuce, watercress, and celery have only trace fat and among the lowest calories of any food. Other vegetables like olives and avocado may have some fat, and others like potatoes may have some starch, but again, these do not compare anywhere with other foods.
The Benefits of Vegetables
Vegetables generally contain a lot of beta-carotene (which is converted into vitamin A in our bodies) and vitamin C. Orange and dark green colored vegetables are usually high in beta-carotene. Carrots contain very beta-carotene, while chili, capsicum, broccoli, cauliflower, and parsley have high amounts of vitamin C – even higher than oranges.
Besides vitamins, potassium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, and zinc are common in vegetables. Potassium and phosphorus rank as the two minerals most vegetables have a good supply of. The phytonutrients in vegetables have attracted attention for their important roles in maintaining cellular health. Cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are some vegetables that have been found to have anti-cancer properties.
Vegetables also supply high-quality dietary fiber, although it is somewhat different from the fiber in grains because it is higher in pectin and gums, which are water soluble. This soluble fiber slows down food movement through the intestines but adds little to fecal bulk. Insoluble fiber, found in grains, adds to fecal bulk and aids in bowel movement.
The Downside of Vegetables
Many vegetables (and fruits) contain salicylates in varying amounts, which can trigger reactions in people who are allergic to them. Symptoms of salicylate sensitivity include headaches, rashes, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, runny nose, joint pains, and sleeping problems.
Salicylate sensitivity appears to affect quite a large number of people, who don’t realize what the cause of their problems is.
People with salicylate allergy are advised to avoid high salicylate vegetables and fruits like citrus fruits, tomato, radishes, eggplant, avocado, broccoli, silverbeet, red chili, and capsicum. Low salicylate vegetables are carrots, potatoes, most beans, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, leeks, celery, and lettuce.
List of the calorie content of various vegetables per 100g:
- Asparagus – 17 calories
- Broccoli – 24 calories
- Brussel sprouts – 35 calories
- Cabbage – 16 calories
- Capsicum – 20 calories
- Carrots – 25 calories
- Celery – 12 calories
- Chilli – 23 calories
- Cucumber – 10 calories
- Eggplant – 17 calories
- Garlic – 90 calories
- Green peas – 60 calories
- Leek – 23 calories
- Lettuce – 6 calories
- Onions – 30 calories
- Parsley – 12 calories
- Potatoes – 65 calories
- Spinach – 13 calories
- Tomato – 14 calories
- Turnip – 12 calories