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Fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of any healthy eating or weight loss plan, but they can also be challenging if you’re looking to curb your hunger. After all, if you’re starving soon after eating them, you’ll be less likely to stick to your goals. So which fill you up best? The secret is in the fiber. “Fiber helps keep us feeling fuller longer, as it slows gastric emptying, keeping food in our stomach as it breaks down,” says Bridget Murphy, MS, a registered dietitian at NYU Langone Medical Center. “It is estimated that the average American consumes only about 12 grams of fiber per day—less than half the recommendation of 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day for women, and 30 to 35 grams for men.” One fiber-filled veggie she recommends is artichoke—one cup of artichoke hearts has nearly nine grams! Plus, according to the University of Michigan, they aid digestion, making your stomach feel full but not uncomfortable.
One filling veggie that’s undeservedly gotten a bad rap over the years is the potato. “This vegetable receives a lot of criticism for contributing to weight gain because of tendencies to fry it or add multiple condiments such as butter or sour cream,” says Jeanne Piga-Plunkett, RD, co-director of the Dietetic Internship Program at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). So, if you prepare them without all the additives, they can be healthy and fill you up with fiber. “Fiber contributes to that feeling of fullness and satiety,” Piga-Plunkett says. Potatoes are high on the glycemic index, meaning they have a lot of carbs—but they’re only around 110 calories and have zero fat, according to a University of California study that showed people who ate potatoes still lost weight. If you’re hesitant about white potatoes, sweet potatoes are low on the glycemic index but still high in fiber, Piga-Plunkett says. Or, try butternut squash. “It’s low calorie—100 grams equals 45 calories—and is an excellent source of fiber,” she says. On the other hand, these 20 foods are never worth the calories.