Vegetables come from plants and all plants contain carbohydrates. Which veggies can you keep in your diet without wreaking your low-carb or keto diet? I’ll quickly go over 17 popular low-carb vegetables in this post.
17 Low-Carb Veggies You Can Eat Every Day [Video]
In this video, you’ll learn…
- Which vegetables are good on a low- carb or keto diet.
- The calories, fiber grams, and carb grams for each of the vegetables.
- A strategy to reach your weight loss goals!
#1 Green Leafy Vegetables
Number one on my list is Dark Leafy Greens. These can be any variety from dark green spinach to arugula, to Spring Mix.
They are high in nutrients and volume, but low in calories and carbs. For instance, two cups or 85 grams of Spring Mix has only 20 calories, one gram of fiber and three grams of carbs.
That is a good amount of volume, very few calories and a good fiber-to-carb ratio, which is the factor that you want to pay attention to when you are looking for good low-carb veggies.
Some leafy greens belong to the cruciferous or brassica family, such as kale and collard greens. Those and other cruciferous vegetables are low in carbs and very good for you.
In fact, there have been several studies linking an increased intake of cruciferous vegetables to a decreased risk of cancer.
They also have a cholesterol-lowering effect. This effect is due to compounds in the vegetables that bind to bile acids causing them to be excreted by your body. To make more bile, your body needs to use up stores of cholesterol, which has an overall cholesterol-lowering effect.
If you don’t want to eat kale or collard greens, there are plenty of other low-carb cruciferous vegetables to choose from, such as the vegetables listed below.
#2 Brussels Sprouts
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that not only has a good fiber-to-carb ratio but is also super versatile, which makes it a favorite among low-carb and keto dieters.
You can rice it, mash it to make mock mashed potatoes or eat it steamed.
The secret to making it taste good is in the addition of fat and spices. Cook it in butter and start by adding garlic powder, salt, and pepper. You can get creative from there.
Don’t Be Afraid to Cook with Fat!
With any of these vegetables, don’t be afraid to add fat when you are preparing them.
It will not only enhance the taste, but also help the fat-soluble vitamins and minerals in the vegetables get absorbed out of your digestive tract and into your body where they can be used.
My husband likes broccoli with alfredo sauce on top, but you can simply prepare it with butter to get the added fat benefits.
Cabbage is also a cruciferous vegetable, and I could have easily added it to my list of 17. I opted, however, to add sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) instead because the fermentation process provides some additional benefits.
Specifically, fermentation promotes the growth of beneficial probiotics. By eating fermented foods you’re helping to create a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.
This healthy balance has countless benefits, from a more robust immune system to help with symptoms like bloating and constipation.
Sausage and sauerkraut is a great dinner that we often make in our home.
#7 Spaghetti Squash
Let’s talk about squash. Some varieties are harvested when they are more mature so they have accumulated more starch and are therefore higher in carbohydrates. Examples of those would be winter squash varieties like butternut and acorn squash.
Spaghetti squash is also considered a winter squash, but I’ve added it to my list because of its versatility and popularity. Just know that of all of the vegetables I mention in this post, it has the least favorable fiber-to-carb ratio with a cup of shredded spaghetti squash having about two grams of fiber and 10 grams of carbs.
#8 Green Squash (Zucchini)
The best squash to choose from for your low-carb lifestyle are the summer varieties that are harvested in their immature stage when the rind of the vegetable is still tender enough to eat. Two squash varieties that make my list are green zucchini squash and yellow summer squash.
#9 Yellow (Summer) Squash
You may have heard the term nightshade vegetables. These veggies include tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers.
You might have also heard that nightshades are not good for some people. This bad reputation seems to come from the fact that nightshade vegetables contain substances called alkaloids, which might aggravate symptoms of inflammatory bowel conditions like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.
Some people may have a sensitivity to nightshade vegetables that may exacerbate arthritic or allergy-like symptoms.
However, if you tolerate these vegetables, they can become a valuable part of your low-carb diet. What you notice is that these vegetables provide some deep, rich colors. These pigments have health value.
For instance, eggplant has a rich, dark color that it gets from its high concentration of Anthocyanins, which is a pigment that acts as an antioxidant in your body.
If you ever heard the expression, eat a rainbow, what you’re really being told to do is eat your antioxidants.
You can argue that tomatoes are fruits, which is technically true, but we serve them like vegetables, so they made my list.
I will say that tomatoes don’t have the best fiber-to-carb ratio, but they get their rich red color from lycopene, which has an antioxidant with a strong anti-inflammatory effect on your body.
#12 Bell Peppers
Bell peppers also make the list and you can go for a variety of colors. The green ones are basically just the first stage of ripeness and the yellow, orange, and red are simply more mature peppers.
There are benefits to eating a variety of colored vegetables. They provide your body with a variety of vitamins and antioxidants, which are substances that help control inflammation and keep you healthy by destroying cell-damaging free radicals.
Let’s move on to a great low-carb vegetable choice – asparagus.
Asparagus has a great fiber-to-carb ratio and can be prepared in several ways from sautéing to roasting in the oven to grilling on your outside grill.
It is also a good source of folate which is a nutrient that is important during the early stages of pregnancy when much of the development of the baby’s brain and spine is happening.
Asparagus is also a good source of potassium, which may benefit you on your low-carb diet if you are suffering from things like muscle cramps or constipation.
Mushrooms have a great impact on the health of your immune system and enhance the activity of specific immune cells called natural killer cells that are capable of attacking and destroying certain cancer cells.
If breast cancer is in your family history, mushrooms have been shown to inhibit aromatase activity, which can suppress the proliferation of breast cancer cells (1).
Pro Tip: Eat them cooked to get the must from their health benefits.
#15 Green Beans
Green beans and celery make the list because they have fairly good fiber-to-carb ratios and they are universally liked. You can get your kids and your spouse to eat them.
#17 Cucumbers (pickles)
Lastly, I’ve included cucumbers. They contain fiber, antioxidants and many of the nutrients I mentioned with the other vegetables. They can be eaten raw or turned into pickles, which makes for a good low-carb snack. Just be careful to avoid sweet pickles that get their sweetness from added sugar.
I am also going to throw out two honorable mentions and they are onions and garlic.
The fiber-to-carb ratio for these two vegetables is lower than that of the other ones on my list making them slightly less favorable. But, because they have a great, strong flavor, you don’t need a lot of them to enhance the flavor of a recipe and add to the overall enjoyment of your low-carb diet.
If you have a goal of getting more vegetables into your low-carb diet, the best place to start is with my free 0123 strategy. Thanks so much for reading and I will see you next week!
(1) Grube, Baiba J., et al. “White button mushroom phytochemicals inhibit aromatase activity and breast cancer cell proliferation.” The Journal of nutrition 131.12 (2001): 3288-3293.
About the Author
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.