NEGATIVE CALORIE FOODS: FACT OR FICTION?

By Katherine Swarts

Resolved to take off that bulge? Wondering if eating celery is eating and exercise—if chewing and digesting it really burns more calories than you consume?

Don’t replace your exercise program and the rest of your menu, say experts. From Dr. Donald Hensrud of the Mayo Clinic: “There are no reputable scientific studies to prove that certain foods have [a negative-calorie] effect. … Diets that promote eating only a few foods can cause you to miss out on important nutrients.”

Added Dr. Nancy Snyderman, chief medical editor for NBC News: “Although chewing celery might seem like a strenuous activity, it burns about the same amount of calories as watching grass grow.”

That said, so-called negative-calorie foods (NCFs) are hardly worthless; they are, in fact, vital to any healthy low-calorie diet. They just aren’t meant to carry the full weight of the body’s nutrition and activity needs.

The good news: If your lifestyle is even moderately active, you can eat all the NCFs you want with minimal weight-gain risk. And filling up on such foods—as long as you meet the daily balance for all necessary nutrition elements—is among the best ways to reduce appetite-based cravings for the fattening alternatives.

Here’s an A-to-Z list of NCFs for your next snack break:

  • Asparagus
  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Cranberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Grapefruit
  • Mango
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
  • Radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Tangerines
  • Turnips
  • Zucchini
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