13 Most Healthy Vegetables for Weight Loss

Include these vegetables in your meals to eat less, get more nutrients, and lose weight.

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by
Laura M. Ali, MS, RDN, LDN
— Signos
Health & Nutrition Writer
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Updated by

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Science-based and reviewed

Published:
July 24, 2024
February 28, 2023
— Updated:
October 26, 2023

Table of Contents

Filling up on veggies can be one of the easiest and most effective ways to jump-start or maintain weight loss. Veggies are full of fiber and water and are low-calorie foods. They are packed with nutrients, making them excellent for your weight loss strategy.

In this article, we’ll look at 13 of our favorite vegetables that are a good choice for a healthy weight loss plan.

Why Eat Vegetables for Weight Loss?

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One of the keys to weight loss and maintaining weight loss is eating fewer calories. Research has consistently shown that people who eat a high-calorie or energy-dense diet are heavier than those who eat more nutrient-dense foods that are lower in calories and filling.1,2,3 

You know that most veggies are low in calories, making them one of the best tools for weight loss. But they help with so much more than that. They are also filled with fiber and nutrients that support your metabolic health.  

Most vegetables are also low in the glycemic index, and their fiber content helps slow the absorption of sugar, keeping your blood sugar more stable. 

Filling half your plate with vegetables or snacking on them for a snack are easy ways to decrease the calories you eat while filling you up and satisfying your cravings, so you are raiding the vending machine or hitting the drive-through on your way home.

Signos’ Top 13 Vegetables for Weight Loss

So you may be asking, aren’t all vegetables healthy due to their calorie, water, and fiber content? Here, we look at the 13 best vegetables for weight loss and why we think they are the healthiest choices for your weight loss journey. 

1. Cauliflower 

Cauliflower has become the darling vegetable for weight loss. It is low in calories, fiber-rich, and full of nutrients for metabolic health. It also has a low glycemic index. With its bland flavor, it can pick up the flavor of the food it cooks, making it easy to use instead of higher-carb foods.  

Nutrition Facts

1 cup of raw cauliflower pieces has:4

Calories: 27

Carbohydrates: 5g

Fiber: 2g

Sugar: 2g

Protein: 2g

Total fat: 0g

Vitamin C: 50mg

Potassium: 320mg

Folate: 61mcg

It also has a low glycemic index of only 15 and a very low glycemic load.5

2. Avocado

While avocados are higher in fat than most vegetables, they can be a great addition to a weight loss plan. They are also high in fiber and rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for heart, brain, and eye health.6 Because of their high fiber and fat content, they are satiating and can be added to eggs, salads, or grain bowls. 

Nutrition Facts

¼ avocado has:7

Calories: 50

Carbohydrates: 4g

Fiber: 3.5g

Sugar: 0.3g

Protein: 1g

Total fat: 7.5g

Vitamin E: 1mg

Potassium: 240mg

Vitamin K: 10.5mg

The glycemic index of an avocado is 10, making it a very low glycemic index choice.5

Avocado-on-top-of-kitchen-counter

3. Cabbage

Cabbage has been a focus for weight loss enthusiasts for years. Cabbage does have a lot going for it. It is very low in calories and has a decent amount of fiber. It’s filling and can be a healthy part of a weight loss diet. 

Nutrition Facts

1 cup of raw, shredded cabbage has:8

Calories: 17

Carbohydrates: 4g

Fiber: 2g

Sugar: 2g

Protein: 1g

Total fat: 0g

Vitamin C: 25mg

Folic Acid: 30mcg

Vitamin K: 50mg

The glycemic index of cabbage is 15, which classifies it as low glycemic.5

4. Zucchini 

Summer squash, including zucchini, is low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates but is packed with vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. Because of its mild flavor, it is easy to incorporate into many dishes. Most recently, zucchini has become a favorite pasta substitute called zoodles.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup chopped, raw zucchini has:10

Calories: 21

Carbohydrates: 4g

Fiber: 1g

Sugar: 3g

Protein: 1.5g

Total fat: 0g

Vitamin C: 22mg

Folic Acid: 30mcg

Potassium: 324mg

The glycemic index of zucchini is 15, which classifies it as low glycemic.5

5. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables

Whether used as the base for a salad, as a side dish, or added into a soup, eggs, or casserole, dark leafy greens are low in calories and fat and filled with nutrients. Examples of dark green leafy vegetables include romaine lettuce, spinach, collard greens, and kale.

Nutrition Facts

Two cups of chopped romaine lettuce have 16 calories, 2 g of fiber, and 20% of the daily value for vitamin A.11 It has a glycemic index of 15.5 

One cup of cooked spinach has 41 calories and 4 g of fiber.12 Spinach is also an excellent source of calcium, potassium, and vitamin A and is one of the highest sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. Spinach also has a glycemic index of 15.5 

Adding one serving of green leafy vegetables daily has been associated with weight loss and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.9,13

6. Carrots

Carrots are an easy and filling afternoon snack. They are easy to pair with healthy, high-protein dips like hummus. You can shred them and add them to a wrap to provide more bulk or toss them into a salad for extra nutrition. 

Nutrition Facts

1 cup of carrot strips or sticks has:14

Calories: 50

Carbohydrates: 11g

Fiber: 3.5g

Sugar: 6g

Protein: 1g

Total fat: 0g

Vitamin A: 112% DV

Potassium: 390mg

While carrots are a little higher in sugar than other vegetables, they are still low in the glycemic index with a level of 30.5 However, cooked carrots are slightly different. When cooked, the sugar concentrates, resulting in a high glycemic index of 85. The good news is that their glycemic load is only 4.5, which is low and often a better predictor for how your blood glucose will respond to eating them.5

Beta-carotene, a potent antioxidant found in carrots, may also play a role in regulating glucose metabolism. Research on the relationship between beta-carotene and insulin resistance is still evolving. Still, some studies suggest vitamin A deficiency may decrease insulin secretion and elevate blood glucose.27,28

7. Bell Peppers

Also known as “sweet peppers,” bell peppers are over 90% water, very low in calories, and high in fiber. Because of their water and fiber content, they increase satiety and can add a lot of bulk to meals. They contain more sugar than many other vegetables, but because they are so high in fiber and water, they don’t raise your blood sugar significantly.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup of chopped bell peppers contains:15

Calories: 39

Carbohydrates: 9g

Fiber: 3g

Sugar: 6g

Protein: 1.5g

Total fat: 0.5g

Vitamin A: 25% DV

Potassium: 314mg

The glycemic index of peppers is 15, which classifies it as low glycemic.5

8. Broccoli

This cruciferous vegetable can be enjoyed raw or cooked. One cup of cooked broccoli has 50 calories but a whopping 5 grams of fiber. Adding a serving of broccoli to higher carbohydrate meals has been found to reduce blood sugar and insulin response.16 

Broccoli is also rich in antioxidants, specifically, an isothiocyanate called sulforaphane, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure and reduce the risk of obesity as well as dementia.17 

Nutrition Facts

1/2 cup of cooked broccoli has:18 

Calories: 27

Carbohydrates: 5.6g

Fiber: 2.5g

Sugar: 6g

Protein: 1.9g

Total fat: 1g

Vitamin C: 83% DV

Potassium: 229mg

The glycemic index of cooked broccoli is 45, which is considered low.5

9. Brussels Sprouts

Like broccoli, Brussels sprouts are also a cruciferous vegetable full of fiber. They have become very popular recently due to their versatility and purported health benefits. 

They are also rich in nutrients, including carotenoids that help reduce inflammation and protect your heart, brain, and GI system.19 Their fiber content has also been shown to help with blood sugar control and weight loss.17

Nutrition Facts

1/2 cup of cooked Brussels sprouts contains:20

Calories: 28

Carbohydrates: 5.5g

Fiber: 2g

Sugar: 1g

Protein: 2g

Total fat: 0.4g

Vitamin C: 80% DV

Potassium: 250mg

Folate: 12% DV

The glycemic index of brussels sprouts is 15, which classifies it as low glycemic.5

10. Green Beans 

Green beans are rarely singled out for their health benefits. Raw or cooked green beans are low in calories and a good source of fiber. Adding them to meals has also contributed to long-term weight loss. 

Nutrition Facts

1 cup of cooked green beans contains:21

Calories: 44

Carbohydrates: 10g

Fiber: 4g

Sugar: 4.5g

Protein: 2.4g

Total fat: 0.3g

Vitamin C: 20% DV

Potassium: 180mg

Folate: 10% DV

The glycemic index of green beans is 30, which classifies it as low glycemic.5

11. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are widely available, and due to their savory, or umami, flavor, they make an excellent substitution for meat in many dishes. 

They contain a high water content and are very low in calories. One cup of sliced crimini mushrooms has only 15 calories. 

Mushrooms are also one of the few foods that can be a good source of vitamin D. When grown under ultra-violet light, they absorb vitamin D, making them an excellent source for our diet. 

Mushrooms are also a good substitute for red meat. In one study, swapping mushrooms for red meat for a year resulted in weight loss, reduced waist circumference, and reduced body fat percentage.22 

While many types of mushrooms are available, one of the most common is baby bella or crimini mushrooms. 

Nutrition Facts

1 cup of sliced crimini mushrooms contains:23

Calories: 16

Carbohydrates: 3g

Fiber: 0.5g

Sugar: 1g

Protein: 1.8g

Total fat: 0g

Vitamin D: 100% DV

Potassium: 323mg

The glycemic index of raw mushrooms is 15, and cooked mushrooms are 36, both of which are low on the glycemic index.5

12. Onions

Onions are low-calorie vegetables often added to recipes for flavor and texture. Research has shown that onions can help individuals reach weight loss goals.24 Also, the anthocyanins in onions can help lower the risk of several diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. 

Onions can also enhance bone density, reduce blood sugar, and help maintain healthy bacteria in the gut.25

Nutrition Facts

1 cup of sliced raw onion contains:26

Calories: 46

Carbohydrates: 11g

Fiber: 2g

Sugar: 4.9g

Protein: 1.3g

Total fat: 0.1g

The glycemic index of raw onions 10, which is low on the glycemic index.5

13. Chilis

Chilies, known as peppers or hot peppers, are an incredible addition to any weight management or weight loss diet due to capsaicin. Capsaicin activates the transient receptor potential vanilloid-1 (TRPV1), which regulates energy metabolism and fat storage in the human body.29 Research has shown that capsaicin can increase metabolism and promote fat burning. Green chilies can boost metabolism by as much as 50%.29 

Nutrition Facts

1 cup of raw, hot green chili peppers:30

Calories: 40

Carbohydrates: 9.46g

Fiber: 1.5g

Sugar: 5.1g

Protein: 2g

Total fat: 0.2g

The glycemic index of raw green chili pepper is 15, which is low on the glycemic index.5

Tips and Tricks to Eat More Vegetables 

Adding more vegetables to your diet shouldn’t be stressful. There are easy ways to get a few more in throughout the day with some tricks.

Filling Half Your Plate With Vegetables

One of the easiest ways to ensure you get some extra vegetables in is to fill half of your plate with them. Divide your plate into quarters. One quarter for protein, one for whole grain starch, and the rest can be filled with vegetables. Low on time? Sauteed vegetables and stir-fries are easy preparation methods that can transform raw vegetables.

Add Vegetables to Breakfast

Sure, it's easy to add vegetables to dinner and even lunch, but have you ever thought to add them to your breakfast, too? Toss some leafy greens into your morning smoothie, chop some peppers and spinach, and mix them into an omelet. 

You’ll get your day off to a great start and get some extra veggies in immediately.

Enjoy Them as Part of a Snack

Just like adding vegetables to your breakfast, you can also include them as an afternoon snack. Plus, they will fill you up, helping to reduce cravings and keeping you satisfied until dinner.

Add Them to Smoothies

One of the easiest ways to boost your veggies is to add them to smoothies. Avocados add a creamy texture to a fruit smoothie, and baby spinach, kale, and even parsley can be tossed into a green smoothie that you can enjoy on your way to work or as you get caught up on your morning email.

Add Them to Your Soup

Soups can be an excellent vehicle for getting more vegetables in. Firmer vegetables like carrots, cabbage, and green beans hold up well to cooking in soups, plus the vitamins that leach out of the vegetables stay in the broth, so you are still getting all the nutritional benefits from them. You can also toss dark leafy green vegetables in at the end of the cooking to add some extra bulk and nutrient-rich veggies into your meal.

Mix Them Into Ground Meat, Sauces, Pasta Dishes, and Casseroles 

Mushrooms and carrots are easy to chop up and mix into ground meat, sauces, and casseroles. They can replace ground beef in these dishes or add bulk to the sauce or casserole. Cauliflower and zucchini can replace rice or pasta in some meals, cutting back on calories and fat. Rice the cauliflower by shredding it in your food processor and then use it like rice; run a zucchini through a spiralizer; or cut long thin strips and use it instead of spaghetti.

There are many ways to add vegetables to your daily routine. If it seems overwhelming, start slowly and add one more serving to your day. Even one extra serving can add many health benefits and help with weight loss and blood sugar control.

Learn How to Improve Your Nutrition and Monitor Your Glycemic Index Levels with Signos’ Expert Advice.

Eating more vegetables is just one of many ways to improve your health and help with weight loss and blood sugar control. Learn more about CGMs and how Signos can improve health on our blog. To find out if Signos is a good fit for you, take a quick quiz and learn more about Signos and nutrition on our blog.

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References

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About the author

Laura is an award-winning food and nutrition communications consultant, freelance writer, and recipe developer.

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