They are the rainbow, and they’re probably in your refrigerator right now!  We know they’re filling our line at Brown Bag!  Negative-calorie foods are foods–fruits and vegetables, usually with a low-glycemic index–that actually require that the body burn more calories to digest them than the food actually contains.  Seriously.  Does it get any better than that?  Actually, yes!  Here’s how: Negative-calorie foods are high in fiber, so they leave you feeling full longer than other foods (therefore you eat less often), they take Ginzu knives to your cravings and hunger pains, and they boost your metabolism and enzyme production so your body burns fat instead of storing it.  They give you more energy, help cleanse your liver and colon, lower blood-cholesterol levels and, being mild diuretics, help you shed excess water.  And still there’s more!  They balance blood sugar levels, which stabilize your moods, and they reduce inflammation and improve circulation.  And they do all of this while making a rainbow on your plate and tasting great!

Ever heard the phrase, “Eat a rainbow”?  Unfortunately, it doesn’t refer to Skittles (that’s “Taste the rainbow”).  What “eat a rainbow” means is that people should be eating fruits and vegetables that are all kinds of different colors because different colors mean different nutrients.  Black, purple and blue colored produce are usually high in certain antioxidants and anthocyanins, while yellow, orange and red fruits are full of beta carotene, lycopene and vitamins C and A.   Dark green veggies are full of vitamins A, C, K and folate, as well as iron and calcium.  So, if you spend your whole life in the red zone, you’ll be getting lots of beta carotene and lycopene (which are great for your heart), but you might be lacking calcium (needed for bones) and iron (which is needed for healthy red blood cells).  You don’t want that, do you?  So, make like a leprechaun and spread some rainbows around your plate!

When you live in this kind of color, you’re eating foods that are low in calories, but that also make your body burn more calories than are contained in the foods you’re enjoying.  We don’t mean to be dream dashers, but we’ll break it to you now–there are no baked goods on this list.  In fact, you’ll get the most out of these foods if you eat them whole and raw (not juiced) or lightly steamed.  If you douse them with cheese or butter, you’ve negated the whole point.  Ditto on rolling them in flour and frying them in oil.  We think you’ll find, though, that raw fruits and veggies are not the blah-tasting snacks they’re made out to be.  In fact, once you try them, you might even be sorry that you’ve been covering their natural goodness with condiments for so long.  Ready for your list of negative-calorie foods?  Here you go!

Veggies

Asparagus, bean sprouts, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chicory/radicchio, cucumbers, endives, green beans, jicama, kale, leeks, lettuce, radishes, spinach, squash, tomatoes, turnips, zucchini.

Fruits

Apples, blueberries, cantaloupe, cranberries, grapefruit, honeydew melons, lemons, limes, mangoes, oranges, papaya, peaches, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines, watermelon.

Herbs and Spices

Anise, cayenne, chili peppers, cinnamon, cloves, coriander/cilantro, cumin, dill, fennel seeds, flax seeds, garden cress, garlic, ginger, parsley, onion, mustard seeds, watercress.

There’s a lot to choose from, right?  You don’t need to convert your everyday diet to nothing but negative-calorie foods to lose weight and enjoy their health benefits.  Replace your mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack of a granola bar or bag of chips to an apple or a bag of carrot sticks.  Whatever you love from  this list, fit it in!  When it comes to meals, remember that in all things there is a balance.  So, if you eat meat, keep your serving of lean meat, and have a side of one or more of these veggies, and a serving of a whole grain.  Have a bowl of berries for dessert!  When you keep these foods as natural as possible, you’ll reap the benefits.

And we’ve got you covered for breakfast and lunch at Brown Bag.  Choose a salad of fresh, leafy greens, add your favorite veggies from the list (and some fruits, too!), and top it with grilled chicken or steak–or simply leave it be and  enjoy the goodness of fresh produce.  If you want to keep your calories down, consider using a simple oil and vinegar dressing.  We designed Brown Bag to be all about you.  You can always choose one of our signature meals, but our handy, brown bag means that you choose; you can build the sandwich or salad of your choice.  And with all of the amazing choices on this negative-calorie foods list, your meals just got a whole lot more interesting–and healthy!