23 Healthy Foods That Are Super Low in Calories

There are all kinds of low-calorie diet foods lurking on your grocery store shelves. You can tell by the bright shiny labels that figuratively shout out how the product is low in calories, sugar-free, low-fat, worth so many points or whatever.

But just because something is low in calories and claims to be good for weight watching doesn’t mean it actually has anything in it that’s good for your body. 

You want to watch your weight and still eat foods that taste good. But don’t sacrifice good nutrition while you're whittling your waistline. These 25 whole foods are nutritious, versatile, and super-low in calories, so there’s no need to settle for heavily processed 'diet' junk food ever again.

*All calorie values and nutrition information have been verified and confirmed current with the US Department of Agriculture's FoodData Central database.

1

Kale

Kale

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Kale is incredibly nutritious. It's high in most vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C and calcium. It's also an excellent source of fiber and contains beneficial antioxidants. It's no wonder kale is included on almost every list of superfoods. As for calories, one cup of raw chopped kale has as little as 7.8 calories. Perfect for a big salad or side dish.

2

Arugula

Arugula in a bowl

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Arugula is another green leafy vegetable that's high in several vitamins and minerals, including beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, and magnesium. Two cups of arugula have only ten calories, so it makes a perfect base for a big salad (topped with fresh fruits, nuts, and a light dressing). Or arugula can be wilted in a little bit of olive oil and garlic and served as a side dish. 

3

Carrots

Carrots

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Carrots are good for any healthy diet because of their versatility and mild taste. They're not as bitter as other vegetables, and they can be served as a side dish or raw as an appetizer or snack. Carrots are high in vitamins A and C, plus they provide potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, vitamin E, and vitamin K. One cup of sliced carrots has about 50 calories.

4

Broccoli

Broccoli

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Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, which are all high in nutrients and antioxidants. Broccoli is particularly high in vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, manganese, and potassium. It's also high in fiber and totally low-cal. One cup of chopped broccoli contains only 31 calories.

5

Swiss Chard

Chard

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Swiss chard is another leafy vegetable with colorful stems that's rich in nutrients and low in calories. One cup of chopped cooked chard has 35 little calories, but it also provides calcium, iron, potassium, and Vitamins A, C, and K. Swiss chard doesn't require a lot of effort to prepare and can be boiled or sauteed with a little olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.

6

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

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Cauliflower is related to broccoli and kale, and although it doesn't have the dark green pigment of other cruciferous veggies, it's still high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. One cup of chopped cauliflower has only 25 calories and is perfect as a steamed side dish or served raw with a light veggie dip. 

7

Spinach

Spinach

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Spinach can be served as a healthy side dish, or it can be used as the base for a salad. Spinach contains iron and several vitamins. One cup of raw spinach leaves has only seven calories and a cup of cooked spinach has only about 65 calories.

8

Green Beans

Green beans

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

It seems like green beans don't usually get much attention, which is too bad because they provide vitamins A and C along with minerals, B vitamins, and fiber. Of course, they're also low-cal. One cup of cooked green beans has only 44 calories.

9

Brussels Sprouts

Brussel sprouts

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Brussels sprouts look like cute little cabbages. They're good for you because Brussels sprouts are high in most vitamins and several minerals, plus they have quite a bit of dietary fiber (talk about a perfect side dish). One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts has only 56 calories.

10

Chicken Breast

Chicken

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Lean chicken breast meat without the skin is an excellent source of protein, and also provides niacin, selenium and vitamin B-12. One 3-ounce portion of chicken breast meat has about 100 calories before it's cooked. Keep your chicken low-cal by combining it with other healthy ingredients. Keep portion size in mind too. One serving of chicken breast meat is about the size of a deck of cards.

11

Grapefruit

Grapefruit

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Grapefruit is a healthy citrus fruit that's loaded with potassium, vitamins C and A, and fiber. It's also low in calories. One-half a grapefruit has 52 calories. Grapefruit makes a sweet addition to breakfast or can be eaten as a snack.

12

Cod

cooked cod on a dish

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Cod has a mild flavor compared to the more-oily ocean fish such as salmon and tuna and it's also lower in calories. A 3-ounce portion of cooked cod has about 90 calories (that's baked, not deep-fried). Cod is also high in Vitamin B-12, niacin, selenium, and protein.

13

Mushrooms

Mushrooms cropped

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

There are many varieties of mushrooms, and they all vary a bit in their nutritional value. Some, like chanterelles, are high in Vitamin D. But, in general, mushrooms are an excellent source of B vitamins, minerals, and fiber. And mushrooms are very low in calories. One cup of raw white mushrooms has only 15 calories. Mushrooms can be added to salads or used as ingredients in a variety of recipes.

14

Shrimp

Shrimp

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Shrimps contain selenium, niacin, vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, protein, copper, choline, and zinc. They're also super low in calories, with four large cooked shrimp (steamed or boiled) coming in at about 26 calories. Cooked cold shrimp can be added to a salad or served as an appetizer with cocktail sauce.

15

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Tomatoes contain vitamins A and C, many B vitamins, and some minerals. Plus they're high in fiber and totally diet-friendly. One tomato has about 35 calories. Add tomato slices to salads and sandwiches or snack on a handful of cherry tomatoes. Another low-cal choice is a serving of five cherry tomatoes for a total of 20 calories.

16

Zucchini

Zucchini

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Zucchini can be served raw as an appetizer or snack, or they can be sauteed in a little bit of olive oil for a healthy low-cal side dish. One cup of chopped zucchini has 20-30 calories. It also has lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

17

Celery

Celery

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

A pile of fresh celery sticks make an excellent addition to a raw veggie plate or can be topped with a little peanut butter and eaten as a healthy snack. Celery contains fiber, calcium, potassium and Vitamin C and low in calories. One long celery stalk has ten calories, and one cup of chopped celery has only about 19 calories.

18

Radishes

Radishes

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Radishes have a peppery flavor and a pleasant crunch that can add interest to salads, or they can be served with a light veggie dip or hummus. Radishes contain vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin K, and several minerals. And they're crazy-low in calories. Each radish has one calorie.

19

Strawberries

Strawberries

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Who needs a sugary dessert when you've got a lovely pile of strawberries? Strawberries are high in Vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. And they're diet-friendly. One cup of strawberry slices has 49 calories. Serve them after dinner or add them to a bowl of oatmeal or low-fat yogurt.

20

Scallops

seared scallops on a plate

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Scallops are perfect for a healthy weight loss diet. They're low in calories, and provide protein, minerals and vitamin B-12. Two large scallops have only about 36 calories. Serve sauteed scallops with a little lemon, cooked greens, or a large salad for a low-calorie dinner.

21

Blueberries

Blueberries

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Blueberries are super high in antioxidants, fiber and vitamins, and minerals. They're also naturally low in calories. One cup of fresh blueberries has 84 calories. Serve blueberries as a low-cal dessert, add them to cereal, or use them in smoothies.

22

Clementines

Clementines

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Clementines are those cute little oranges that are easy to peel and super tasty. They're high in Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, plus they're low in calories (each little Clementine has 35 calories). They're perfect for an afternoon snack or an addition to a healthy breakfast.

23

Watermelon

Watermelon

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Watermelons are a staple at summer picnics for good reason, they're sweet and refreshing. Watermelon is also an excellent source of Vitamins A and C, plus potassium, and low in calories with one cup of watermelon balls having only 46 calories. Serve watermelon as a tasty sweet mid-afternoon snack or after dinner as a healthy dessert.

A Word from Verywell

Following a low-calorie diet doesn't have to be boring or bland when you add these delicious foods to your healthy diet.

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  1. US Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service 2020 https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/index.html