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The most surprising foods Weight Watchers considers zero points — and why

Business Insider Logo By Hilary Brueck of Business Insider | Slide 1 of 15: Weight Watchers has long assigned a point system to foods for dieters. The idea is to encourage people to stay away from less healthy items, like a slice of cake, by making those account for more of a person's daily food-intake total. Foods that are perfectly healthy to eat in abundance, on the other hand, get a low point value. According to the the weight-loss giant's rubric, some vegetables have always counted for zero points. But now Weight Watchers says dieters  need not count points anymore when it comes to many other fruits, veggies, and nutrient-rich proteins. In December, Weight Watchers released an updated  list of more than 200 zero-point foods that followers of the diet plan can eat in unlimited quantities. The list of zero-points items even includes things like eggs and fish. That idea might seem counterintuitive, since many people assume that dieters are at risk of overeating. "These foods form the basis of a healthy eating pattern,"Gary Foster, Weight Watchers' chief scientific officer and an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania's medical school,  told Business Insider. "Very few people come to Weight Watchers because they've had a problem overdoing it on salmon, legumes, beans, and chicken."  In other words, people just don't tend to binge on satiating, healthy foods. And Weight Watchers doesn't want any feelings of guilt to be associated with eating an extra helping of salad or another bite of fish. The no-points-list includes apples, mushroom caps, scallions, and tangerines. Here are some of the most surprising entries on it, and the nutrition research that led them to be included.

Weight Watchers has long assigned a point system to foods for dieters.

The idea is to encourage people to stay away from less healthy items, like a slice of cake, by making those account for more of a person's daily food-intake total. Foods that are perfectly healthy to eat in abundance, on the other hand, get a low point value.

According to the the weight-loss giant's rubric, some vegetables have always counted for zero points. But now Weight Watchers says dieters need not count points anymore when it comes to many other fruits, veggies, and nutrient-rich proteins. In December, Weight Watchers released an updated list of more than 200 zero-point foods that followers of the diet plan can eat in unlimited quantities. The list of zero-points items even includes things like eggs and fish.

That idea might seem counterintuitive, since many people assume that dieters are at risk of overeating.

"These foods form the basis of a healthy eating pattern,"Gary Foster, Weight Watchers' chief scientific officer and an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania's medical school, told Business Insider. "Very few people come to Weight Watchers because they've had a problem overdoing it on salmon, legumes, beans, and chicken."

In other words, people just don't tend to binge on satiating, healthy foods. And Weight Watchers doesn't want any feelings of guilt to be associated with eating an extra helping of salad or another bite of fish.

The no-points-list includes apples, mushroom caps, scallions, and tangerines. Click through the slideshow above for some of the most surprising entries on it, and the nutrition research that led them to be included.

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