Eating Less Energy Dense Food Helps Cut Calories
~ May 2008 No.220 ~
It is not a coincidence that when people go for diet counselling as a way to lose weight, one of the first recommendations is to increase intake of fruits and vegetables. Traditionally, fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and often fibre, and so it just makes sense to have them as part of a good diet. In addition, fruits and vegetables contain many phyto-ingredients such as antioxidants that have been implicated in the reduction of certain cancers. But, on top of that is the fact that most fruits and vegetables are largely water and water contains no calories.
In more scientific terms, many fruits and vegetables are not energy dense. The amount of calories in 100 g is not high compared to other foods. So these foods provide an easy way to cut the calories. Even if you eat a lot of lettuce, you are not consuming a lot of calories - and it is the calories that are the concern. Eating a big bowl of salad greens or nibbling on a piece of raw fruit may be a good way to fill up and not put on the kilograms. By themselves, fruits and vegetables are low in fat and, therefore, calories. The calories you get from fruits and vegetables come from the sugars they contain. So even though a juicy orange is mostly water, that refreshing sweet taste comes from fructose, which does add a few calories.
How you eat those less energy foods can change their impact on your overall diet. If your salad contains lettuce and cheese, and avocado and oil in the dressing, then that low calorie salad suddenly is not so low. Fruits by themselves are great. Fruit dipped in chocolate, or added to a big bowl of ice cream.
The order in which you eat your salad may also be important. Starting the meal off with lettuce and a few slices of fruit or raw vegetables may be a good way to avoid filling your plate later with rich creams and sauces. Because water adds no calories to your meal, find ways to include as many less energy dense foods in your diet as possible.
|Food Item||% water||Calories/100 g|
|Grapes (red, raw):||80.54||69|
|Lettuce (green, leaf):||95.07||15|
|Onion (sweet, raw):||91.24||32|
|Pepper (sweet, green):||93.89||20|
|Source: USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory|