6 Lower-Nutrient Foods You Should Still Be Eating
There are so many reasons for the food choices we make every day, health being just one of them. That said, there are certain foods that get a bad reputation for being "worthless" when it comes to their nutrition. But that couldn't be further from the truth. Here we take a deeper dive into six popular foods that, though they are lower in nutrients, they are healthy things to be adding to your plate.
You've probably heard the old adage that you burn more calories than you consume when you eat celery. That's probably not true (how many calories you burn is highly individual and varies from person to person), but there are still several good reasons to nosh on this underrated crunchy veg. Celery is low in calories but high in fiber, making it a good snack if you are trying to lose weight. Be sure to add protein and fiber like peanut butter or hummus for additional staying power. Plus, it's high in nutrients like potassium and vitamin K. Celery also has a high water content, which can help you stay hydrated.
This refreshing vegetable is a fan favorite for good reason. Cucumber is equally as delicious as it is versatile, and what would life be without pickles? That said, cucumber can sometimes be dismissed because of its super low calorie and nutrient content. While it might not have much in the way of vitamins and minerals, cucumber is packed with antioxidants that can help improve skin health and lower inflammation. These antioxidants can also help reduce risk of cancer. Plus, it's another weight-loss-friendly food thanks to its low calorie, higher fiber content. Cucumber is also a hydrating food, and it's perfect for drinks like Cucumber Juice and Cucumber, Mint & Melon Smoothies.
3. Iced Tea
Iced tea is not only refreshing, but also it can be a healthy addition to your eating pattern (just try to choose unsweetened or lightly sweetened teas to help keep your added sugar intake in check). Studies show that tea has a slew of health benefits including boosting heart health, lowering stroke risk, helping manage diabetes and decreasing the risk for certain types of cancer. This is because teas are rich in antioxidants called flavonoids, which are most potent when tea is freshly brewed. If you want to keep a batch of cold tea in your refrigerator, add a little lemon juice. The citric acid and vitamin C in that squeeze of lemon—or lime, or orange—help preserve the flavonoids.
4. Iceberg Lettuce
The crunch of iceberg lettuce is unrivaled by any other lettuce variety, and when it's missing from a BLT it's just not the same. However, there's an unfortunate misconception that iceberg lettuce has virtually no nutritional value. While it is very low in calories (only 9 per cup!), it actually has quite a few things going for it. Iceberg lettuce is a source of calcium and potassium and, even though it's on the lower end, every little bit helps. It also contains around 10% of your daily needs for vitamin A, an important nutrient for vision and immune health.
Radishes don't get much love from a nutritional perspective, but maybe they should. Radishes are high in natural nitrates, similar to other vegetables like beets and spinach. Unlike the less-healthy nitrates that are added to processed meats, these naturally-occurring nitrates might be beneficial. Research has shown that plant-based nitrates can improve oxygen flow around the body, which can boost heart health, cognitive health and even athletic performance. That seems like a good reason to enjoy radishes to us. And if you have only ever eaten them on a crudité plate, try one of our easy radish recipes that showcase how delicious they really are.
Last but not least, water is something we literally couldn't live without. Though it's not a food, per se, it might not seem like it has much going for it nutritionally. Though water is low in nutrients (in fact, it doesn't really have any), it is crucial to help you stay hydrated. Getting enough water is crucial for pretty much every organ in the body, from your brain to your heart, kidneys and skin. And dehydration can lead to nasty symptoms like mental fog, greater stroke risk and weight gain. For more, check out how much water you should be drinking by the numbers.