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Going Green to Lose Weight

By Dr. Jon Thomas

Everyone is into going green these days.  And why not, since going green is good for the environment.  Everyone knows that.  However, what many people don’t realize is that you can also lose weight by going green.  Whether raw or cooked, greens of all kinds are low in calories and high in nutrition.  Let’s take a look at lettuce:

 Lettuce Alone

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Green and Red Leaf – A whole head is only around ten calories and loaded with potassium and calcium. 

Romain – Only a calorie per leaf, you can’t go wrong.

Iceberg – Less than one calorie per leaf, but lower in calcium and potassium than Romain. 

That being said, where the rubber meets the road in terms of dieting depends on the ways in which you consume your lettuce.  While a tablespoon of oil and vinegar only add seven calories to a salad, Ranch, French or Caesar’s dressing can add 75 calories per tablespoon. 

Wrap It Up?

Many restaurants offer “Salad Wraps” that substitute lettuce for bread.  In fact, you can do this at many of your favorite Burger Joints by ordering your burger Green Style! While lower in calories than a pita or a bun, bear in mind that that Chicken Lettuce Wrap at PF Changs still rings the bell at 529 calories.  And don’t let the term “Vegetarian” fool you either, since their Vegetarian Lettuce Wrap clocks in at 609 calories.

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While many people hit the salad bar when they try to lose weight, you need to know that salad dressing aside; there are other diet dangers hidden there.  What salad bar doesn’t offer shredded cheddar?  The problem with cheese is that it can shred your diet, since each tablespoon adds around 25 calories.  Cottage cheese is also a spoiler since a ¼ cup adds 65 calories.  While kidney beans are loaded with carbs, don’t load up on them since a ¼ cup adds 65 calories.  Potato salad with mayo packs 65 calories into every ¼   cup.  If you're dieting, better to stick with the cucumber slices and bell pepper rings which only add four calories per every three slices you add. 

Better still, if you can find a salad bar that offers raw Swiss chard, one cup will only add seven calories.  Raw spinach is another green that is only seven calories per cup and loaded with iron. Raw Kale can add crunch and fiber without racking up the calories.  A half cup of chopped kale only adds 17 calories while delivering 3.5 grams of fiber.

Cooked Greens

While not quite as nutritious as when consumed raw, eating your cooked greens is still good for you, provided you don’t sauce them up.

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For instance, while a 1 cup serving of cooked spinach only adds 45 calories, a spinach souffle can pack on as much as 1,400 calories.  That same cup of collards that only sets you back ten calories can balloon up to 50 calories or more once cooked.  Especially if you buy your veggies in the frozen food aisle, make sure you read the packaging, since many of these items contain salt, butter, sweeteners or other ingredients that can work against your diet.

Collard and mustard greens are another excellent source of nutrition and fiber.  Steamed or
sauteed with garlic, these greens are delicious and nutritious since they are loaded with Omega 3.  (1 cup = 39 calories)

Cabbage is another green leafy vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked.  A ½ cup added to a salad only adds 11 calories.  Eaten as slaw will double the calories, while still retaining the nutrition.  By cooking your cabbage, you lose a little bit of both nutrition and low calories, since the cooking process breaks up most of the fiber and reduces the nutrients..

 Use Your Bean

Green beans are another low-calorie source of nutrition and fiber.  1 cup of steamed green beans adds only 44 calories while providing 4 grams of fiber, 55 mg of calcium and a whopping 182 mg of potassium.  If your friends drag you into either Popeye’s or KFC, consider swapping their green bean side for those fries.  The green beans only add 25 calories.  However, if you find yourself at PF Changs, bear in mind their Crispy Green Beans without Sauce clocks in at a whopping 894 calories.  

If you want a super snack food that goes green, do what I do… substitute raw snap or snow peas for potato chips.  Not only are these crunchy little gems sweet and tasty, but they are high in Vitamin A & C as well.  

You Can’t Beat Broccoli

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When it comes to greens, broccoli is hard to beat.  Loaded with fiber, as well as Vitamins A, B, C and K, broccoli is also an excellent source of manganese and potassium. You can eat broccoli raw; you can eat it steamed.  Personally, I prefer to roast my broccoli at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the edges get slightly crispy.  Yum!  At only 31 calories per cup, how can you go wrong?

Another little lesson I learned recently after watching the documentary Cowspiracy on Netflix is that eating vegetables as opposed to eating animals that are fed vegetables saves the planet in terms of land use and waste produced.  While there are currently 7 billion people on the planet, we raise close to 70 billion farm animals.  That means eating your greens equates with going green in more ways than one.

Dr. Jon Thomas is a Board Certified Chiropractic Physician. His practice, The Vibrant Life Health Center, is located in the Mandarin section of Jacksonville. After studying and learning from some of the top health experts throughout the world, Dr. Thomas dedicated his life to helping people of all ages to transform their lives. The objective for each patient is to initiate the body’s healing and to work progressively toward a body that functions optimally. Dr. Thomas is seen regularly on TV on First Coast Living, where he discusses the transformations of his patients. He also speaks at events throughout the community and writes informative articles to improve the health of residents throughout Northeast Florida.


  1. See, your mother was right. Eating your greens is good for you.

  2. This is nothing like having good health to let you appreciate life as a gift. Dr. Jon can help you reach that balance and get your health back. He did it for me.