Everything that you need to know about calories

Vegetables | Jithin

What are calories? What is their role in our life? How many calories do you need in a day? The leftover calories can stay in our body as fat. Gradually this can lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart attack. So it is important to check your calories when you consume food each time to maintain good health and for the prevention and control of lifestyle diseases.

What are calories? What is their significance?
Just like a vehicle needs fuel to run, our body needs calories to function. The body uses the calories for energy. Heartbeat, breathing, and other chemical reactions in the body require small quantities of calories. The recurring activities of the larger muscles in the body like walking, running, jumping, swimming, etc. require more calories. In Kerala, a man requires an average of 1800-2000 calories per day while a woman requires 1800 calories. Those who indulge in more physical activities requires a little more than the prescribed calories. But in the current scenario, we are consuming more calories than we require. Since physical activities like running, jumping etc are very less, the excess calories get stored as fat in our body. Gradually it converts into ailments like obesity, diabetes, and heart attack. As a rule, you should burn the calories you consume in excess every day.

The calories will be different in each food. Junk foods-puffs, samosas, desserts, soft drinks, and red meat are all high in calories while vegetables and whole grains are low in calories. When you eat food, your body uses energy to digest it. For example, if the body uses 40 calories to digest the 40 calories you eat, you call that food zero calorific. Let’s see which are the 10 zero-calorie food.

Beetroot is effective in reducing stomach and obesity and increasing the amount of blood in the body. Beetroot is rich in vitamins, minerals, plant compounds and also contains folate, potassium, manganese, and iron. Not just that this vegetable is low in calories. 100 gms of beetroot contains only 37 calories. It is also rich in antioxidants. It’s beneficial to eat beetroot raw as well as cooked and also contains a lot of fiber.

New Apple
Image Credit : AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Apple is a fruit rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and also contains pectin. Pectin is a type of structural fiber found in the primary cell wall and intracellular layer of plant cells mainly in fruits, such as apples, oranges, lemons, and so on. Citrus fruit contains 0.5%–3.5% pectin which is largely present in the peel portion of the fruit. Apple which is low in calories and high in fiber is extremely good for digestion. There are only 52 calories in 100 gms of apple. An apple a day can actually help you lose calories and subsequently helps in weight loss.

Apple juice helps in curbing hunger. Studies show that munching apples can improve heart health by lowering high cholesterol levels.

Watermelon, muskmelon
Another fruit that is very low in calories has to be watermelon. Watermelon which is rich in vitamins and minerals aid in digestion. Those who want to lose weight should include watermelon in their diet for better results. 100 gms of watermelon contains only 30 calories. Since the fruit contains lot of water, your tummy tends to get full quickly, which helps you to reduce calorie-rich food. Since it contains a lot of fiber, you won’t get hungry easily. Watermelon is also rich in vitamin K, antioxidants such as vitamin C, beta carotene, and lycopene.

This vegetable which is low in calories is great for your eyes. 100 gms of carrot contains only 40 calories. Carrots are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Carrots are high in beta carotene. These are then added to the body as vitamins. Since it produces vitamin A, it is also good for the eyes. In addition, carrots contain B, C vitamins, fiber, starch, and some minerals. Carrots' antioxidants have been shown to lower bad cholesterol and protect heart health. Carotene and antioxidants in carrots can help fight cancer. Carrots are good for brightening the skin and protecting it from the sun’s harsh rays. Eating carrots is also good for hair and skin health and prevents dry skin. Apparently, carrot also has anti-aging properties. As it is a storehouse of antioxidants, it provides immunity and protects general health. The fiber present in the vegetable helps indigestion.

Tomato is a storehouse of nutrients and vitamins and 100 gms of tomato yields on 17 calories. Tomatoes contain Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, and Thiamine in addition to potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, fiber, protein, and organic compounds like lycopene. Lycopene is good for heart health and prevents cancer. The water content of tomatoes is 95%. The other 5% is mainly carbohydrates and fiber.

Image Credit : REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

White mushroom
100 gms of mushroom contain only 20 calories. It’s a great idea to include fiber-rich mushrooms in your weight loss diet plan. Selenium, a powerful antioxidant found in mushrooms, boosts the body's immune system. Selenium can add a protective layer to your body from infections. Mushrooms are rich in iron which helps in preventing anemia. About 90% of the iron required by the body is obtained from mushrooms. Mushrooms are high in fat and cholesterol-free protein. It helps to improve the function of the arteries. In this way, heart disease and heart attack can be reduced in a good way. Mushrooms are rich in vitamin D and are good for bone health and can increase bone strength. Mushroom is a food rich in fiber. Two kinds of fiber named beta glucans and chitin are there in this vegetable. This will help our body to reduce calories and eliminate gluttony for food.

Very low in calories, high in fiber, cucumber can help control appetite. That way you can lose weight. There are only 10 calories in 100 grams. Cucumber is rich in nutrients like B vitamins, fiber, vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. This low-calorie vegetable should be made a staple in the diet for those who want to lose weight. Cucumber helps to quench hunger and thirst quickly and helps in lowering blood pressure. They are also good for heart health. About 95% of cucumber is water, which helps in keeping the body hydrated. The fiber contained in cucumber helps indigestion. Including cucumber as a snack helps in preventing digestive problems, heartburn, acidity, ulcers, and constipation and also in controlling diabetes. It is also fantastic for the skin as it is packed with Potassium and vitamin E.

Image Credit : AP Photo/Tobias SCHWARZ

Cruciferous vegetables (Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage)
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are very good for health. It is usually low in calories. Broccoli has 30 calories per 100 grams, cauliflower 31 calories, and cabbage 21 calories. You can include soup and salad in your diet. It also contains Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin E, Folic Acid and Dietary Fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids like omega-3 fatty acids. Cruciferous vegetables have the best antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which aids in lowering cholesterol as well as removing toxins from the body. It is also helpful in controlling blood sugar levels, estrogen balance, and weight loss.

Leafy vegetables
Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, leafy vegetables are low in calories. 100 gms of spinach has only 25 calories, lettuce 16, celery 8 and coriander leaves 11. Including leafy vegetables in your daily diet helps in weight loss. Vitamin A in it helps in eyesight, growth, and intelligence. It helps in boosting the immune system. It also contains Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and some B Complex Vitamins. The antioxidants in these also help to boost our immune system. Studies show that leafy vegetables can reduce body fat.

Known as the king of vegetables, Brinjal is rich in fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B6. Eggplant, which has many health benefits, should be included in the diet at least once a week and also aids in weight loss. 100 grams of eggplant contains only 20 calories. It contains lots of fiber. So when you eat less, you feel full and that prevents you from overeating. It is low in fat and cholesterol. Eggplants contain flavonoids. Anthocyanin, a flavonoid with many benefits, gives eggplant a dark purple colour. It also contains small amounts of protein, starch, and fat (0.238 g). packed with dietary fiber and antioxidants, eggplant is also rich in vitamins. The dietary fiber in eggplant removes toxins from the esophagus. It also helps prevent colon cancer. In addition, the neurotransmitters in eggplant prevent the destruction of free radicals in the cells and stave off cancer. The phenolic compounds in eggplant give strength to the bones.  

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