Veg Out Right: A Guide to Caloric Content in Vegetables
By Ryan Dorn, SouthernSeeds.com
When I look out into my garden, I see a diverse range of vegetables, from the light and leafy greens to the hearty, dense root vegetables. Each one offers unique benefits to meet different dietary needs and gardening goals. For those of us on a weight-loss journey, low-calorie options like lettuce, cucumbers, and spinach are the go-to, providing essential nutrients without the extra calories. On the other hand, if you're aiming for sustainability or just need to fill up with wholesome, energy-rich food, high-calorie vegetables like potatoes, corn, and beans are the way to go.
This knowledge is our golden ticket to crafting a garden that truly aligns with our goals. Whether it’s planning a lush bed of low-calorie greens to support a weight loss journey or meticulously mapping out rows of calorie-rich roots for maximum food production, the power is in our hands. This post is your guide to understanding the caloric landscape of vegetables, so you can maximize the potential of your garden and plate to meet your individual needs. Let’s dig in!
Our Comprehensive Vegetable Caloric List
We've compiled a list of vegetables, ranked by calories per cup, to help you make informed choices for your meals or garden. Starting with the most calorie-dense options, this guide simplifies understanding vegetable caloric content.
At about 298 calories per cup, soybeans are a top contender for your high-calorie garden. Not only are they packed with protein, fiber, and essential nutrients, but they're also incredibly versatile. Soybeans can be transformed into numerous products like tofu and soy milk, or savored in their younger form as edamame. Their high caloric content, combined with their nutritional benefits and versatility, make soybeans an excellent choice for those looking to up their caloric intake with vegetables.
Pinto beans are another great high-calorie option, offering 245 calories per cup. They are packed with protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals, making them a nutritious choice for anyone looking to add more calories to their diet. Pinto beans are commonly used in Mexican cuisine, but they are also versatile enough to be included in a variety of other dishes. With their delicious flavor and numerous health benefits, pinto beans are a must-have in your high-calorie garden.
Kidney beans are an excellent choice for a high-calorie garden, packing a hefty 225 calories per cup. These beans are not only calorie-dense but also rich in protein, fiber, and essential nutrients like iron, potassium, and magnesium. Kidney beans are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, from salads and soups to main courses, making them a valuable addition to your garden for both their nutritional benefits and culinary versatility.
Lima beans are a nutritional powerhouse, offering a substantial 217 calories per cup. Not only do they provide a significant calorie boost, but they are also rich in protein, fiber, and various essential nutrients like magnesium, iron, and vitamin B6. Their creamy texture and mild flavor make them a versatile addition to a range of dishes, from salads and soups to casseroles and stews. Growing lima beans in your garden can be a smart choice for those seeking to maximize their caloric intake from homegrown vegetables.
Mung beans are a fantastic source of calories, providing 212 calories per cup. They are also rich in protein, fiber, and various essential nutrients, making them a healthy and calorie-dense addition to your garden. Mung beans are commonly used in Asian cuisine and can be sprouted to make bean sprouts, added to soups, or used in other delicious dishes. Their versatility and nutritional profile make mung beans a great option for anyone looking to increase their caloric intake through vegetables.
Edamame, young soybeans still in the pod, provide approximately 188 calories per cup. These beans are a great source of protein, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals, making them a nutritional powerhouse. Their high protein content, paired with the calorie density, makes edamame an excellent choice for those looking to add more high-calorie vegetables to their diet. They are typically boiled or steamed and can be enjoyed as a snack, appetizer, or addition to various dishes.
Taro root is a starchy vegetable that brings 187 calories per cup to the table. This calorie-dense vegetable is a common staple in many cultures around the world and is often used in a similar fashion to potatoes. Taro root is not only rich in calories but also provides dietary fiber, vitamin E, vitamin C, and other essential nutrients. However, it is important to note that taro root should always be cooked before consumption, as it can be toxic when raw. When prepared properly, it makes a delicious and nutritious addition to your high-calorie garden.
Fava beans pack a punch with 187 calories per cup. These nutrient-dense legumes are a versatile and tasty addition to any high-calorie garden. They're not only rich in calories but also provide a substantial amount of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for overall health. Fava beans can be used in a variety of dishes, from salads and stews to pasta and more. However, it's important to note that some people may be allergic to fava beans, so caution should be taken when introducing them into your diet.
Yams are another great high-calorie vegetable, boasting 177 calories per cup. These starchy tubers are a staple in many cultures and are known for their sweet taste and versatility in cooking. They can be roasted, mashed, fried, or even added to soups and stews. Yams are not only calorie-dense but also provide essential nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium. Their high fiber content also makes them a great option for those looking to add more bulk to their diet. Just be cautious though... smothering them in brown sugar and marshmallows definite can turn that 177 calories into a truckload real quick!
Corn, a classic staple in many diets, provides 177 calories per cup. It's not only delicious but also versatile, being used in a variety of dishes such as soups, salads, and casseroles. However, while corn is calorie-dense, it's important to note that it is also high in sugar and can be lower in other essential nutrients compared to some other vegetables on this list. Regardless, it's a tasty and familiar option for those looking to increase their caloric intake.
Potatoes, a versatile and widely loved vegetable, offer 116 calories per cup. They can be prepared in numerous ways - mashed, baked, roasted, and more, making them an excellent addition to any meal. Not only are potatoes relatively calorie-dense, but they also provide essential nutrients such as Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Their versatility, combined with their caloric content, makes them a great option for those seeking to increase their calorie intake through vegetables.
Sweet potatoes, similar to their cousin, the potato, provide a good source of calories at 114 calories per cup. Their natural sweetness and versatility in recipes from savory to sweet make them a popular choice. Alongside their calorie content, sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins A and C, manganese, and fiber, contributing valuable nutrients to your diet while helping to meet your caloric needs.
Parsnips provide a hearty 100 calories per cup. This root vegetable is not only calorie-dense but also a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is high in vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate. Parsnips can be a great addition to a high-calorie garden, bringing in both nutrition and a sweet, earthy flavor to your meals.
Artichokes offer 76 calories per cup and are an excellent choice for a high-calorie garden. They are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which contributes to their overall health benefits. Although they may not be as calorie-dense as some other vegetables on this list, artichokes are a delicious and nutritious option that can be grilled, steamed, or boiled to make a tasty addition to your meals. Their unique flavor and texture make them a favorite for many, and they can be a valuable part of a balanced, calorie-rich diet.
Winter squash offers about 76 calories per cup when baked. This vegetable is a good choice for those seeking a calorie-dense food option, as it provides a higher caloric content than many other vegetables. Winter squash is not only delicious but also packed with vitamins and minerals, making it a nutritious addition to your meals. Its sweet, nutty flavor and versatile nature allow it to be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to roasted vegetable medleys, making it a valuable and delicious option for a high-calorie garden.
Shallots contribute around 72 calories per cup to your diet. They are a member of the onion family, and while they may not provide as many calories as some other vegetables on this list, they are still a good option for a high-calorie garden due to their intense flavor. A little shallot goes a long way in adding a rich, savory depth to a variety of dishes, from salads to sauces. Additionally, shallots are also rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium.
Onions provide approximately 64 calories per cup. They are a staple in many cuisines around the world and can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to salads and sandwiches. While they may not be as calorie-dense as some of the other vegetables on this list, onions are a valuable addition to a high-calorie garden due to their versatility in the kitchen. Moreover, onions are rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium, making them a nutritious option as well.
Peas provide 62 calories per cup, making them a great choice for adding calories to your garden. They are not only delicious but also rich in protein, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health. Although peas are lower in calories compared to some other vegetables on this list, their nutritional profile makes them a valuable addition to a calorie-rich garden. They are versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to salads and side dishes.
At 59 calories per cup, beets are a moderate source of calories among vegetables. What makes them a wonderful addition to a high-calorie garden is their rich nutrient profile. Beets are packed with vitamins and minerals, including folate, manganese, and potassium. They are also a great source of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion. Moreover, beets contain nitrates that have been shown to lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health. Their natural sweetness and vibrant color make them a popular choice for various dishes, from salads to soups, adding both nutritional value and aesthetic appeal to your meals.
Acorn squash is a starchy vegetable with around 56 calories per cup. Like yams and potatoes, acorn squash is a delicious and nutritious option for those seeking to add more calories to their diet. However, be cautious with toppings, as it's easy to turn this healthy vegetable into a calorie-laden dish. While the vegetable itself provides beneficial nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals, adding butter, brown sugar, or other high-calorie toppings can quickly turn this healthy option into a dietary disaster. Opt for healthier preparation methods like roasting or steaming to preserve its nutritional value.
Brussels sprouts provide about 56 calories per cup when cooked. They are a moderate-calorie vegetable but packed with nutrients like vitamins K and C, fiber, and antioxidants. Although they might not be as calorie-dense as some other vegetables on the list, their nutritional profile and health benefits make them a worthy addition to a high-calorie garden. Brussels sprouts can be roasted, sautéed, or steamed, making them a versatile and delicious option for any meal.
Broccoli provides approximately 55 calories per cup when cooked. While it might not be the most calorie-dense vegetable on the list, its high nutrient content and health benefits make it a valuable addition to any garden. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, broccoli is excellent for boosting your overall health. Additionally, its versatility makes it an easy vegetable to incorporate into a variety of dishes, from stir-fries to salads, ensuring you can enjoy its benefits while also adding flavor to your meals.
Leeks provide approximately 54 calories per cup, making them a moderate choice for those seeking calorie-dense vegetables. While they may not be as high in calories as other vegetables on this list, leeks are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, vitamin A, and manganese. They can add flavor and nutrients to a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to salads and stir-fries. Their unique taste and nutritional benefits make leeks a valuable addition to any high-calorie garden.
At 52 calories per cup, carrots are a relatively low-calorie vegetable, but they provide numerous health benefits that make them a great addition to any diet. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, which is essential for good vision, skin health, and immune function. They are also a good source of fiber, vitamin K, and antioxidants. While carrots may not be the most calorie-dense vegetable, their nutritional profile and versatility in the kitchen make them a valuable addition to a balanced diet.
Collard greens provide approximately 49 calories per cup. They are a nutrient-rich leafy green vegetable that can be a great addition to a high-calorie garden. Collard greens are a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium and fiber. They can be prepared in various ways, such as boiling, sautéing, or adding them to soups and stews. However, while collard greens are a healthy option, they are not as calorie-dense as some of the other vegetables on this list.
Pumpkin provides approximately 49 calories per cup. It's a versatile vegetable that can be used in various dishes, from soups and stews to pies and desserts. Pumpkin is also rich in vitamins A and C, making it a nutritious choice for a high-calorie garden. However, keep in mind that while pumpkin is a good source of nutrients, it's not as calorie-dense as some of the other vegetables listed, and its caloric content can vary based on how it is prepared.
At 33 calories per cup, kale is not particularly calorie-dense; however, it makes up for this with its incredible nutrient density. Kale is packed with vitamins A, K, C, and various B-vitamins. It also provides essential minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron. Its high antioxidant content, including beta-carotene, vitamin C, and various flavonoids and polyphenols, adds to its health benefits. Incorporating kale into your garden can add diversity to your diet and provide you with a powerful punch of nutrients in every bite.
Okra is a low-calorie vegetable, offering just 33 calories per cup. This makes it an ideal choice for those looking to reduce their caloric intake. Despite its low calorie content, okra is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, providing a nutritious option for those on a weight loss journey or anyone looking to maintain a healthy diet. It's a versatile vegetable that can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to stir-fries and salads. However, it might not be the best fit for those seeking high-calorie options to sustain themselves in a survival situation.
Tomatoes, which are technically fruits but often treated as vegetables, provide about 32 calories per cup. While their caloric content is on the lower side, tomatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, particularly vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that has been associated with various health benefits, including reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Tomatoes are versatile and can be included in a variety of dishes, adding a burst of color, flavor, and nutrients. They pair well with higher-calorie vegetables and other food items, contributing to a balanced and nutrient-dense meal.
Green beans, with only 31 calories per cup, are on the lower end of the calorie spectrum. However, they are still a worthy addition to your high-calorie garden because of their rich nutrient profile. Packed with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and a variety of minerals, green beans offer a nutrient-dense option for those looking to add variety to their gardens. Their crisp texture and mild flavor make them a versatile vegetable for a range of dishes.
Asparagus is a nutrient-packed vegetable that offers a mere 27 calories per cup. Its low-calorie content, coupled with a rich supply of vitamins and minerals, makes it an excellent choice for those who are health-conscious or looking to manage their weight. While it might not be the best option for those seeking high-calorie foods for energy or survival, its nutritional profile more than makes up for its lack of calories. Asparagus is versatile in the kitchen, and can be steamed, grilled, or roasted for a delicious and healthful side dish.
Rhubarb is a unique vegetable that has about 26 calories per cup. While it may be low in calories in its natural state, it is most commonly eaten in pies and desserts, which can drastically alter its caloric content. The sugar and additional ingredients used in these dishes can significantly increase the calorie count, turning a potentially healthy option into a high-calorie treat. If you are aiming to consume rhubarb for its nutritional benefits, consider preparing it in a way that doesn't add extra calories, such as stewing it with a sugar substitute or using it in savory dishes.
Cauliflower has become a popular vegetable in recent years due to its versatility in the kitchen. At 25 calories per cup, it is a low-calorie option that can be used as a substitute for higher-calorie foods. For instance, cauliflower can be mashed and used as an alternative to mashed potatoes, or it can be ground into a flour and used to make a gluten-free pizza crust. The possibilities with cauliflower are endless, from using it in stir-fries, soups, and even as a rice substitute. Incorporating cauliflower into your meals is an excellent way to add nutrients without compromising on taste or texture.
Peppers, including bell peppers and hot peppers, are moderately low in calories, with about 24 calories per cup for bell peppers. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and antioxidants. Peppers add a burst of flavor and color to a variety of dishes, from stir-fries to salads, and can be enjoyed raw, roasted, or sautéed. While they are not as calorie-dense as some other vegetables, their nutritional benefits make them a valuable addition to a balanced diet.
Cabbage, clocking in at just 22 calories per cup, is on the lower end of the calorie spectrum when it comes to vegetables. However, don't let its caloric content deceive you. This cruciferous vegetable packs a punch in terms of nutrients. Rich in vitamins K and C, as well as fiber and antioxidants, cabbage offers various health benefits, including improving digestion and reducing inflammation. Its low-calorie profile makes it an ideal choice for those watching their caloric intake while wanting to maximize nutritional value. Plus, cabbage's versatility allows it to be used in a myriad of dishes, from salads to stews.
Eggplants, known for their glossy purple skin and spongy texture, provide approximately 20 calories per cup when cooked. While they're not among the top contenders in caloric density, their unique texture and flavor profile make them a staple in many cuisines worldwide. Beyond their calorie count, eggplants are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals, particularly manganese. Additionally, they are rich in antioxidants, especially nasunin found in eggplant skin, which has been linked to several health benefits. Incorporating eggplant into your diet offers a low-calorie option that pairs well with higher calorie foods, providing both balance and flavor.
Radishes are low in calories, providing only about 19 calories per cup. They are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and other essential nutrients. While they may not contribute significantly to caloric intake, their peppery flavor and crunchy texture can add a unique element to salads, sandwiches, and other dishes. Radishes are also easy to grow, making them a great option for beginner gardeners. They can be a colorful and flavorful addition to your diet without adding many calories.
Summer squash provides approximately 18 calories per cup when sliced and cooked. While it's not as calorie-dense as some other vegetables, its low calorie content makes it a good option for those looking to add volume to their meals without consuming too many calories. Summer squash is versatile and can be grilled, sautéed, or even eaten raw in salads. Additionally, its mild flavor pairs well with a variety of dishes, making it a valuable addition to a high-calorie garden.
Cucumbers are extremely low in calories, with only 16 calories per cup. They are mostly made up of water and provide hydration and essential vitamins such as vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium. While they are not a significant source of calories, cucumbers are a refreshing and healthy addition to salads, sandwiches, and snacks. They can also be pickled for a tangy treat. Their low caloric content makes them a great option for those looking to reduce their calorie intake while still enjoying a flavorful and crunchy snack.
Chards, also known as Swiss chard, clock in at about 7 calories per cup. While they aren't a caloric powerhouse, they bring a variety of other nutritional benefits to the table. Rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K, chards are also an excellent source of magnesium, manganese, iron, and potassium. The colorful stems and veins in chard leaves are packed with phytonutrients that have antioxidant properties. Growing chards in your garden not only adds a splash of color but ensures you're getting a wealth of essential nutrients with minimal calories.
With just 7 calories per cup, spinach is a low-calorie vegetable that packs a powerful nutritional punch. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin K, iron, and calcium. While it may not be the best option for those looking to increase their calorie intake, spinach is an excellent choice for individuals seeking to improve their overall nutrient intake. The versatility of spinach makes it easy to incorporate into a variety of dishes, from salads and smoothies to omelets and pastas.
Lettuce provides approximately 5 calories per cup, which is relatively low compared to other vegetables on this list. While it may not be the best choice for a high-calorie garden, lettuce is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin K, and folate. Its high water content and low calorie count make lettuce a great option for those looking to add volume to their meals without consuming a lot of calories. Lettuce is also versatile and can be used in salads, wraps, and sandwiches, making it a convenient and nutritious addition to any meal.
Wrapping Things Up!
Gardening can be an enriching and rewarding activity that not only brings beauty to your home, but also contributes significantly to your dietary needs. While we've delved deep into the caloric content of various vegetables, the ultimate choice of what to plant rests with you and your unique dietary goals and preferences.
Whether you're seeking to cultivate a low-calorie garden abundant with leafy greens and other nutrient-packed vegetables, or you're aiming for a calorie-dense garden filled with starchy, energy-rich vegetables like potatoes and corn, remember that variety is the spice of life. A diverse garden not only looks beautiful but also provides a more balanced and holistic approach to meeting your dietary needs.
So, armed with this knowledge, go forth and plant a garden that truly nurtures and sustains you in every way possible. Happy gardening!