Cauliflower is a win for weight loss because it’s easy to sub in for higher-calorie, lower-nutrient foods like white rice or pizza crust.
Before we jump into the best veggies for weight loss, it’s important to note there are no bad veggies. In fact, we recommend you up the amount of vegetables you’re eating overall, even if they aren’t on this list, because doing so can be helpful for both weight loss and your health.
Eating more vegetables is something most us need to work on — less than 10 percent of us get the recommended two to three cups per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That’s too bad, because these low-calorie dirt candies are packed with good-for-you nutrients, including fiber, which can help you feel fuller longer (aka less likely to reach for a snack). In fact, a February 2015 Annals of Internal Medicine study found that simply aiming to eat 30 grams of fiber a day can help you lose weight as effectively as a more complicated diet.
With all that in mind, here are the six best veggies to add to your plate when your main goal is to drop pounds.
Are You Getting Enough Fiber?
When you’re trying to lose weight, look for veggies you can enjoy in different ways. While kale gets a lot of attention, spinach is a nutritional powerhouse too and has a milder taste, so it’s easy to add to smoothies and sauces or sneak into your favorite dishes (you’d barely notice a little spinach in your lasagna, for example).
With so many options, it’s easy to eat more of this leafy green. And that’s a good thing, since a cup of cooked spinach packs 4 grams of fiber and just 41 calories.
As a bonus, the CDC notes spinach is strongly associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
This veggie is an excellent choice for weight loss because it adds volume to meals, which means you’ll feel full sooner and for longer.
You can easily add broccoli to mac and cheese, soups and pasta or rice dishes. When you swap higher-carb and higher-calorie items (i.e. pasta, rice and potatoes) for broccoli in a recipe, you end up with a meal lower in calories and carbs, with more volume and fiber.
One cup of broccoli has just 31 calories, 6 grams of carbs and more than 2 grams of fiber, per the USDA.
Get your noodle fix with spaghetti squash rather than white pasta.
This winter squash is an excellent swap for spaghetti in your favorite recipes. The texture is a bit different, but you’ll still get the experience of slurping “noodles” without all the carbs and calories.
Spaghetti squash also provides a good amount of fiber (2.2 grams per cooked cup).
Try it with a zippy pesto, stuffed with quinoa and cheese or baked into a casserole — get those recipes here.
Before you cringe, hear us out: When cooked correctly, Brussels sprouts can be a delicious addition to a variety of dishes. Take Brussels Sprouts Tater Tots, for example: Shredding them and then air-frying or roasting them can bulk up meals without the bitterness you might associate with these little brain-shaped sprouts.
Like other veggies on this list, Brussels sprouts are a good source of fiber with very few calories. According to the USDA, they provide about 35 calories and nearly 3 grams of fiber per two-thirds cup.
Cauliflower might be one of the most versatile veggies. It can be transformed into rice, pizza crust, tots and mash, just to name a few. Cauliflower can even make a great replacement for buffalo wings or chicken nuggets. All of the options make it easier to eat more cauliflower on a regular basis and to swap out foods higher in calories and lower in nutrients.
Cauliflower provides about 25 calories and a gram of fiber per cup, according to the USDA.
Green peas aren’t just for soup. This flavorful veggie can be added to pasta salads and casseroles to add a nice serving of fiber. Peas have 70 calories and 4 grams of fiber per two-thirds cup, according to the USDA.
Peas also pack plant-based protein — 4 grams per two-thirds cup. Protein is beneficial for weight loss because it helps you feel full, requires more energy to metabolize and increases satiety hormones, according to an April 2015 paper in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Green peas also add sweetness to dishes, which can increase the satisfaction of a meal. If you’re looking for a new twist on breakfast, try this recipe for Spring Pea, Zucchini and Fresh Mint Oatmeal.