Five Foods That Will Never Make You Fat

Wouldn’t it be great if there were foods that you could enjoy without worrying about weight gain? They do exist, and we’re not just talking about carrots and celery! Here are five foods that are recommended by nutrition experts. Enjoy them guilt free!

Mad for Mushrooms

dry fried mushrooms in a panMushrooms are a very good source of selenium which can prevent inflammation. There are about 10,000 known species of mushrooms but they’re not all edible—some are poisonous and lethal enough to kill you. (Photo: 123rf)

Besides being low in calories, mushrooms are really satisfying, meaty, and filling, says Malina Malkani, MS, RDN, CDN, media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “They have umami flavor, which is the fifth basic taste, and they taste savory,” she says. “Mushrooms provide many B vitamins, vitamin D, and plant-based protein. And consuming mushrooms has been associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, and stomach cancer.”

You may think of the prepackaged containers of supermarket button mushrooms when you think of this food, which is actually a fungus. But in fact, “There are so many different flavors,” says Ryan T. Bouchard, who along with Emily Schmidt runs the Mushroom Hunting Foundation, a Rhode Island-based nonprofit that educates people about safely enjoying America's wild mushrooms. “Some mushrooms are smoky, some are sweet, or spicy, or pleasantly sour. They have zero fat and negligible calories.”

What they do have, he says, is amazing variety.

Americans tend to think that all mushrooms taste alike, Bouchard says. In fact, there’s a world of mushrooms that goes far beyond morels, shiitakes, and chanterelles. The pair host mushroom foraging tours where they show participants how to pick the mushrooms that are safe to eat—and how to cook them.

“While a lot of mushrooms are great cooked in oil, some people prefer a ‘dry fry’ where you just slice them up and cook in a non-stick pan,” Bouchard says. “This way, you are not adding any fat calories.”

Regardless of what kind of mushroom, though, they should be cooked. “The cell walls of mushrooms are made of a tough substance that can be difficult to digest so it’s best that mushrooms are cooked to break down these walls,” Bouchard explains.

Diane Norwood, MS, RD, CDE, whose blog is called The Wandering RD, says she is also a fan of the 'shroom. "They are a rich source of selenium, which can prevent inflammation, and are high in antioxidants,” she says. She advises washing mushrooms, not just brushing them dry, before consuming.

Berry Good for You

girl in dress holding basket of berriesBlueberries, blackberries and raspberries have the highest antioxidant activity of all the fruits! (Photo: Unsplash, Annie Sprat)

Berries are high in antioxidants and naturally sweet, so if you have a sweet tooth, berries offer a great way to satisfy it, says Malkani. “They're also one of the foods that have the highest amount of antioxidants, which may reduce inflammation, prevent DNA damage, and contribute to heart health,” she says adding that berries have been linked to a reduced risk of some types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cognitive decline.

Tiny as they are, berries pack a big and nutritious punch. One study showed that after pomegranates, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries have the highest antioxidant activity of all the fruits that are commonly consumed.1

All berries are diabetes-friendly, Norwood says. Raspberries and blackberries have the highest fiber content. A cup of either raw blackberries or raspberries has 15 grams of carbohydrate and 8 grams of fiber. A cup of strawberries has 11 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of fiber while a cup of blueberries contains 21 grams of carbohydrate and 2 grams of fiber.

Go Nuts for Seeds and Nuts

squirrel eating a nutNuts and seeds are a nutrition powerhouse. Even squirrels know that! Unlike other nuts, walnuts contain omega 3 fatty acids which are good for the heart (Photo: Unsplash, Igor Talanov)

“Nuts are a great source of healthy fats, fiber, and a wide range of micronutrients,” Malkani says. “And thinking that consuming fat automatically leads to weight gain is a misconception. Our bodies need some healthy fat in order to absorb certain nutrients, produce hormones, cushion organs, and support cell growth. As with berries, it is good to have some variety when it comes to consuming nuts.”

Keep in mind that nuts are calorie-dense, with most of their calories coming from fat. “But most of the fat is monounsaturated, which is the best type of fat you can get,” Norwood says. “I don’t worry too much about which is the best variety of nut to eat. They are all from nature and nutrient-rich.” Walnuts in particular offer omega 3 fatty acids, which is an essential fatty acid that other nuts don’t have, she says, adding that they are excellent for heart health.

Like nuts, seeds pack a nutritional powerhouse of nutrients, Malkani says. Each variety offers a different combination of nutrients, she says. “Sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, flax, chia, and hemp are all excellent options,” Malkani says. “Many of these seeds are rich sources of omega 3 fats, too.”

It's Easy Being Green

close up shot of leafy greensSeasoning your greens with a little olive oil helps you absorb their fat-soluble vitamins better. (Photo:123rf)

Folate, magnesium, potassium, vitamins A, C, E, and K all are contained in greens, notes Norwood. Greens are naturally low in calories and high in nutrients, but don’t think of them as just for salads, nutrition experts say.

“One of the things I like to do with greens is to use them as a wrap for tacos,” Malkani says. “Make a mushroom or meat-based taco filling and stick it inside a big leaf of butter lettuce.” Or use a leaf like romaine, which is longer and heartier than butter lettuce, as a wrap for tuna salad, she says. “Greens are nutrient-dense and an excellent choice that can help you meet your nutrient needs,” she says.

One study shows that consuming just 1 cup of greens per day decreases your type 2 diabetes risk by 14%.2  While just about all greens are nutrient-dense, collards have the most calcium (84 mg per cup). Seasoning your greens with a little olive oil not only brings out the flavor but helps you to absorb their fat-soluble vitamins better, Norwood says.

More Beans, Please!

assortment of spoonfuls of beansBeans have more carbs than say greens or berries but they're so filling it's difficult to eat too many. (Photo:123rf)

Beans are loaded with fiber and nutrients, Malkani says.  “High in fiber and plant-based protein, beans are a filling option that is packed with vitamins and minerals,” she explains.

She sometimes rinses a can of cannellini beans under water and puts them out in a bowl on her kitchen counter. Her three daughters eat them by the handful—and with nothing else on them.

The great thing about beans is that it’s easy to not over-indulge. “They are kind of self-limiting,” Norwood admits. “Beans have more carbohydrates than, say, berries or greens, but I don’t worry that people are going to gorge on beans.”

Besides eating them out of hand, add them to salads, mush them with a fork and turn them into patties for a meatless meal, or make hummus. But if you decide to make or buy hummus, watch what you are dipping into it, Norwood advises. “The calories and carbohydrates in crackers and bread add up quickly, so I recommend eating hummus with veggies to better manage blood sugar,” she says. “It’s a great way to get more veggies in, too.”

In addition to canned beans, Malkani recommends looking for products such as roasted chickpeas and roasted edamame. They're another delicious snacking alternative!

Updated on: May 2, 2019
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