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The Biomedical Engineering blog is the place for conversation and discussion about topics related to engineering principles of the medical field. Here, you'll find everything from discussions about emerging medical technologies to advances in medical research. The blog's owner, Chelsey H, is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) with a degree in Biomedical Engineering.

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Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

Posted April 06, 2009 12:05 AM by Galina

Like most people, I love to eat. I've never been a fan of "dieting" and think most diets are doomed to failure. But in this weight-conscious, overfed, and under-exercised culture of ours, I know that many people are always on the lookout for quick and easy ways to lose weight.

For as long as I can remember, I've heard that certain foods, most notably celery, have "negative calories" – meaning that it takes more calories to eat the celery than the celery itself contains. So is it true that eating this crunchy vegetable is the secret to weight loss?

Chew Your Food

All foods contain calories, units of energy that our bodies "burn" through metabolic processes. The notion of negative-calorie (NC) foods depends on the idea that chewing and digesting these foods burns more calories than the food contains. Granted, it does take a bit of effort to chew celery, but you actually burn more calories by taking a shower than you do by chewing a celery stalk. In the case of celery then, let's turn our attention to digestion.

Readers, Digest This

An average stick of celery contains about 6 calories and is loaded with cellulose, a vegetable fiber that humans cannot digest. NC foodies claim that it takes more than 6 calories for humans to digest this fiber, thereby creating a calorie deficit. According to a test done at the Mayo Clinic, however, the amount of energy that the human body uses to digest celery does not exceed the number of calories that celery contains. According to the study, the digestion of celery burns only 0.5 calories.

Celery isn't the only "negative calorie food", but most of the other ones I've read about are also fruits and vegetables (regardless of actual calorie content). But if the NC food claim was true, vegetarian humans and herbivore animals (such as rabbits) would die of starvation because the mere act of eating (and digesting) would expend calories that were never replaced.

People who experience weight loss by eating celery (or any of the other fruits or vegetables on the many NC lists) probably lose weight because the celery is replacing other, high-calorie foods. Eating fruits and vegetables will help you lose weight. These foods are very filling. Plus, because of their low calorie content, dieters can eat fruits and veggies in larger quantities than high-calorie foods.

So if you're looking to lose weight, eating celery (or ANY fruit or vegetable) will definitely get you on the right track. But like all the other too-good-to-be-true diet claims out there, don't expect celery to be the magic bullet for easy weight loss!

Resources:

http://www.answerfitness.com/269/negative-calorie-foods-fact-fiction/

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_it_true_that_celery_has_negative_calories

http://www.snopes.com/food/ingredient/celery.asp

http://smallbitesnutrition.blogspot.com/2009/01/you-ask-i-answer-celery-negative.html

http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/question670.htm

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Guru
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#1

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/06/2009 12:36 AM

I always sidestepped the 'celery has negative calories' theory by adding peanut butter. Not only was it good, but I also didn't have this unrealistic view that celery burned more calories than what was consumed. Adding peanut butter to celery never gave me the impression that I was burning more calories digesting this snack than I was consuming.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/06/2009 8:39 AM

How anyone could eat plain celery anyway is beyond me.......BLEAH!

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#4
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Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/06/2009 10:22 AM

Some people will eat ANYTHING if they think it is going to help them lose weight or is a miracle worker for their figure. I have seen people eating celery while bragging that they were burning more calories than gaining. A lot of americans today are diet driven, so I am not surprised that they would eat plain celery.

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#7
In reply to #1

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/07/2009 5:50 AM

I was beginning to believe my kids that I'm the only person in the world who would put peanut butter on my celery. No one else I know does this. They've put cream cheese on celery but not PB.

Of course they think I'm weird because I eat Peanut butter and cheddar cheese sandwiches. But I can't figure out their logic when I see them buy the exact same thing out of a vending machine. The only difference is its cheese crackers with PB in between.

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#9
In reply to #7

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/07/2009 8:51 AM

Celery + Peanut Butter = Classic Snack

(Peanut Butter + Cheddar Cheese) Sandwiches = Just Plain Weird

Remember, there is a high possibility that what comes out of the vending machines isn't as natural as what you make at home. Things tend to taste better to most people once they are heavily processed. It's a shame.

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#3

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/06/2009 8:53 AM

I know celery is a very good vegetable for dropping blood pressure.

There is a good quality of celery in our district. Ours is more better look green color than that picture.

I bought 2.5kg yesterday on the market. cost 5 yuan RMB.

How is your price on your market?

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/06/2009 10:40 AM

The grass is always greener in China . . .

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/06/2009 8:53 PM

Hi, Moose,

I dont understand your words, dont laugh at .

I dont brag, the celery produced in our district is really famous. very good quality.

Chinese medcine thinks its a good medicine else.

Ladys and girls who love beauty like it very much. it also suit to high presure patients. I remember Milo has said he has high blood pressure, so he should have it except play Taiji quan.

Besides, there are lotus seed, date and cucumber etc are all boved by ladys for their slim body.

cucumber blends with garlic and vinegar, its delicious on the table in the summer.

the modern girl and lady cut it into piece and place on their face is a forever fasion in cities.

ah, waste food, in my opinion. haha.

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#11
In reply to #6

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/07/2009 9:07 AM

Hello cnpower,

My last message was designed to be ironic, but it only makes sense if you're familiar with the original expression in English. So, here it is.

"The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence".

Simply put, that saying means that people are never satisfied with their own situation and think that others have it better.

Since you sometimes say that China is better, I'm teasing you here (but in a spirit of fun, not hostility) since both celery and grass are green.

Thanks for sharing the information about the celery in your district. I don't much care for celery's flavor, either, so I'm glad that there are better uses for it than eating!

Best Regards,

Moose

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#15
In reply to #11

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/07/2009 10:20 PM

I can imagine it. thats why I said, its not my brag...

its a often things in forum. everyone wish to be smarter or stronger than others. doesnt matter. I dont care of it.

In fact every one is proud of his country. Especially our China that has a continual words recording for more than 3000 years. this is unique in the world.

One has to mention chinese food once he metion to China. Chinese restaurents spread over the world. None can withstand its temptation.

I know some people dont love some special flavor like coriander, Jinjie (I dont know how tospeak in Eng) and celery. But they are really good and for health.

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#12
In reply to #3

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/07/2009 9:35 AM

I was in the market yesterday and they paid me to take celery home.

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#18
In reply to #3

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/08/2009 9:30 AM

From what I can find, average urban celery salary in China is 25000 yuan. That's about 68 yuan day → → 34Kg celery/day (maybe a lot less in rural areas, but celery will be cheaper). UK 'minimum 'wage works out at about £46/day (not a very true figure because of complex tax/benefit system). At a supermarket (I just looked at ASDA - cheap place, sells all sorts of stuff, that would buy about 46Kg celery. Our salary celery is near enough the same (for a very rough comparison), but I think yours will be fresher/tastier. It's almost impossible to make a price comparison on single items (different economic systems etc).

Does China have problems with overweight people ? If it does, do you think it is linked to lifestyle becoming more like Western culture ?

The word I think you were trying to find earlier was ginseng (?). It is sold in a lot of shops, usually as a way of maintaining health. It's often found in tea. I don't know how true that is, we have many such things these-days. Just to clarify the word ;

Here is a celery drink I found;

- juice of large slice of lemon OR juice of 1/4 lime
- pinch of Celtic sea salt
- fresh ginger to taste (1/2 "x 1/2" chunk is good)
- med clove garlic
- 3-6 large stalks celery
- 1/4 - 1/2 of a sweet, flavorful variety of apple, such as Honeycrisp, Empire or Braeburn, cut to fit in juicer
- pinch of stevia extract to taste, if desired

hmmmm.....don't think I'll rush to try it.

Ha - I hadn't heard this one yet ;

"In the European Union, foods that contain or may contain celery, even in trace amounts, have to be clearly marked as such." - it can cause serious allergy reaction.

Here is more to worry us;

" Medicinal uses of celery are numerous. But first I must point out three cautions. Number one is that some people develop dermatitis when handling celery, and you could be one of these, so be careful. Number two is be aware that some of the wild celeries that I listed are related closely to, and could be mistaken for, deadly poisonous species. So stick with garden celery and do not experiment with gathering wild plants. Number three is that I have read that if one stores celery too long, say three weeks, it can build up toxic levels of furocoumarins. So eat it soon after you harvest or buy it."

There's more;

"Celery has the number four (4) highest pesticide load of 45 common fruits and vegetables studied in 2006 by the Environmental Working Group and is therefore a prime candidate for switching to organic. The EWA explains, "While washing and rinsing fresh produce may reduce levels of some pesticides, it does not eliminate them. Peeling also reduces exposures, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the peel. The best option is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and choose organic when possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals."
According to USDA and FDA tests on commercially grown foods collected between 2000 and 2005, celery has a 94.1% (percentage) of samples tested with detectable pesticides, a 79.8% (percentage) of samples with two or more pesticides, a 3.0 average number of pesticides found in a sample, an average of 0.413 parts per million of all pesticides found, and 30 different pesticides found in use growing celery. These toxic pesticides don't apply to organic foods."

It gets stranger;

"Something unusual is going on at the Amish neighbors. Last year, like every other year in the past, they planted 100 stalks of celery. This year they planted 400 stalks! They didn't plant all that celery because they developed a sudden craving for celery. That extra celery is a big clue that there's going to be a wedding there this fall. Celery is such an important ingredient at an Amish wedding that your neighbors needed to plant hundreds of extra stalks just to make sure they had enough. "

This is interesting as well ;

"Chinese chefs prepare a dish of celery during a campaign to get more people to eat celery in Xian, northern China's Shaanxi province 31 October 2006. The province is facing an unusual abundance of celery crop, causing the price of the vegetable to drop below cost."

Celery sounds dangerous - I'm going !

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#19
In reply to #18

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/08/2009 11:21 AM

all this research isn't to help some student with their Thesis is it? GA.

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/08/2009 11:50 AM

I needed to try take my mind of Roger & the ever-expanding number series ("maths problem" thread). Can't get the damn thing out of my head !

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#22
In reply to #18

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/09/2009 9:48 PM

wow, Thats English man who often walk around Heide (?)park.

if you speak one word, they would rreturn you hundred. your long article will take me a whole day to read. Im afraid.

What I metioned is another vegetabe, not ginseng, in our country, ginseng is a valuable medicine. very expensive. if grow in wild in forest, it wil cost about 1000 rmb per gram. some times 1500-2500yuan/g. few person can afford it as vegetable on the table.

but if plant by peasants, that will be another thing, cheaper enough.

I know that event you mentioned. Its pity, poor peasants. all is lack of information. peasants need organize to promote produce. We can do nothing about it but sympathize.

This made me understanding why USA peasants poured milk into river in last 30's. In the past, all of us cannt understand this action. I thought that americans must be a goup of foolishmen and wild. why not send to the poor?

I wish thatwill not take place forever.

pesdicide and pollution is main problem in the world. not in China, but USA and all developped countries. So you neednt laugh at our chinese. your country still face with such problem.

thats why we have it long time wash or cut out outside part, then to eat.

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#23
In reply to #22

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/10/2009 1:39 AM

"Jinjie" it this ?

= 'Ginger' in English.

Sometimes people with reddish colour hair are referred to as 'Ginger' - different story.

Ginger is popular over here. I'd better save that info for another thread ! I hear that a lot of Chinese workers in the city have returned to family homes in the rural areas (due to global economy problems). Not many UK people would know hoe tot do farm work, and we couldn't all do it - not enough farm area/no family in such places. Maybe physical work is the only form of 'negative calories' !

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#24
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Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/10/2009 10:06 AM

That vegetable I metioned is not ginger. Ginger is a root plant, It and garlic, shallot were popular in the kitchen. Our neighboor province are famous with giner, another is with shallot. Garlic and ginger are main export product. there are many garlic and ginger byproducts in your super market, may be made in China.

Ginger is also a good chinese medicine. if you catch cold, drink some ginger soup, will get well soon. Chinese food cannt have no ginger and garlic. I neednt to talk about garlic too much.Everyone will knowits good. Of cuase only one short is ...

We have to talk about carrot as well as radish. nor of health without them. Our chinese call the carrot as second ginseng.

We'd better not talk about financial crisis today. Both of us have benn in a hard circumstances. Chinese workers have no job, USA, AND Europe's workers are also out of work. Do you delight at this situation? you may have a good job.

There is no worker class now in China. NewsPapers call them peasants labors. As matter of fact, most of them go to work after middle school. they really dont know how to do farmjob. Much farm land become a part of city.they lost land as well.another side, machinization in the country gets less and less peasants work there.

interested in other vegetabe to lost weight? I can speak more ...

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#25
In reply to #24

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/10/2009 11:23 AM

Can you post a picture of "Jinjie", I can't figure out what you mean ?

financial crisis.......Do you delight at this situation?

What on Earth are you talking about ? I suggested no such thing.

When your newspapers talk of "peasant labour", it's maybe just a historical relic. Old phrase that creates an image the government like. UK newspapers talk of "working class", but it doesn't exist in the same way it did. Our Politicians like to say the UK is a "class-less" society. Not very true, boundaries of money/education still exist, and peoples destiny still depends very much on the family they are born into. Our politicians don't have any class, but that is a very different meaning of the word - too hard to describe on a zero calorie thread.

I've heard of people hand-polinating fruit (pears, I think) in China, due to a bee shortage. It's hard to imagine anyone doing such work in the UK.

I've just finished a bag of Sunflower seeds - don't know how good they are, but they taste nice.

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#28
In reply to #25

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

09/27/2009 11:25 PM

These are considered parrot-feed. Sunflower oil is used for frying birds which were previously fed with sunflower seeds, and vice-versa

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#8

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/07/2009 7:41 AM

Long live Vegis. I am vegi by birth. I am 5'11" tall and weigh 72 kg.I am 68 years young still rocking.I eat lots of fruits and vegetables. I do not suffer from any kind of major disease. I go for morning walk and do one hour yoga. As retired person time is not a problem for me. So be vegi and live healthy life.

Suresh Sharma.

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#10
In reply to #8

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/07/2009 8:59 AM

You have been following Bone Crusher too much! Although, I doubt he is a yoga master.

Plus, not all Vegetarians develop healthy habits. Unfortunately, it seems young kids use vegetarianism as a means for weight loss and don't know how to get the proper amount of nutrients. Having a well educated person guiding these youngsters would be a great idea. Then you can learn as to their real motive as to changing diets.

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#16
In reply to #10

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/08/2009 7:39 AM

HI Jaxy,

My reply to your comments is:-

First of all I am not a young person so not affected by Binge eating habits.You see we vegis eat four times a day. First good breakfast, then lunch, evening snacks with tea, finally dinner. This keeps our tummy normally full. Kids need more energy as they are very active so their food is supplemented with milk and nourishments. I hope you must have already read about recent research regarding food habits.It says that vegis are less prone to major diseases like cancer etc. It is not only food but regular exercise that makes you Healthy, Happy & Wise.

Suresh Sharma.

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#17
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Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/08/2009 9:26 AM

I never meant any offense by my comment. I was just proposing that if there were as many knowledgeable people like you teaching the youth about healthy vegetarian eating habits (i.e. how to get proper nutrients from certain foods), there wouldn't be so many youths exhibiting binge eating habits. I never meant to say that you were naive or had bad eating habits.

The part regarding prevention of major diseases was tied to the jest I made about you reading too many of Bone Crushers blogs as they promote the vegetarian lifetstyle because of the many health benefits. It was only meant as a joke, not a malicious stab at vegetarianism. I myself have experimented with a lot of different vegetarian foods. I have tried a lot of tofu dishes and making my own raviolis from wonton wrappers. I still have a lot to learn.

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#21
In reply to #17

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/09/2009 6:56 AM

Hi Jaxy,

I was not angry with your earlier comments. It is just a healthy discussion for benefit of all our members. I am glad to learn about your eating many vegi foods. If you want to learn about Indian vegi food I am giving you a link which will help you.http://www.indianfoodforever.com/vegetables/. I hope you will enjoy it.

Regards,

Suresh Sharma.

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#13

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/07/2009 12:35 PM

So what about crawfish, eh? Damn mudbugs sure are tasty, but peeling 'em takes more energy than they contain. The perfect diet food!

PS- They raise them in China, too

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#14

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

04/07/2009 4:41 PM

Celery certainly is not a negative calorie food, but what about cardboard, wax or inedible plastics. These little yummies certainly are high in fiber, all that gets consumed comes out in the end. The act of chewing these delicacies certainly burns more calories than gets digested.

I could go on but I think I made my point.

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#26
In reply to #14

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

06/27/2009 2:09 AM

all my life have eaten these and thrown the good thins away,you have to belive me,there is bottle of liqur with morula and I am seeing this bottle for last one year,it has stayed unmolested.I am 5ft5in 200lbs plus and 70yrs.Asweet thing was telling me about zero caleri and empty calery or was it celary which I can get for a fifth of amercon dorar.all donations can be routed thro moderater

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#27
In reply to #26

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

06/27/2009 9:11 PM

"Even though I am under the affluence of incahol, I am not as think as you drunk I am."

I wish I could remember who to cite for that quote.

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#29

Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

06/07/2011 11:44 PM

I hope this is the correct topic to post this. As I understand without going in to too many details, the definition of calories is the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 °C. Now this doesn't define a reference temperature of the water so unless the result is based on a reference temperature or the result would follow the same slope as the water reference temperature.

BUT this isn't my question.

I want to know if this reference water temperature is not defined, then what about if it would correct if a consumption factor should be included based on the amount energy to increase or decrease the food to body temperature (assuming 26° C).

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#30
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Re: Negative Calorie Foods – Fact or Fiction?

06/08/2011 9:29 AM

There is no reference temperature since it is the change of a degree centigrade. The only real caveat is the obvious one that no phase change should be occuring (solid to liquid, or liquid to gas). This reference does not include any latent heat absorbtion.

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