The definition of a low-carb diet varies widely, but most are under 150 grams of carbs per day and some go as low as 20 grams per day. Whether or not you’re on a low-carb diet, eating more vegetables is always a great idea.
Here is a list of the 21 best low-carb vegetables to include in your diet.
1. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers, also known as sweet peppers or capsicums, are incredibly nutritious.
One cup (149 grams) of chopped red pepper contains nine grams of carbs, three of which are fiber (4).
It provides 93 percent of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin A and a whopping 317 percent of the RDI for vitamin C, which is often lacking on very low-carb diets.
Green, orange and yellow bell peppers have similar nutrient profiles, although red pepper is highest in certain antioxidants.
Bottom Line: Bell peppers are anti-inflammatory and high in vitamins A and C. They contain 6 grams of digestible (“net”) carbs per serving.
It’s a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes kale, Brussels sprouts, radishes and cabbage.
One cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli contains 6 grams of carbs, two of them fiber (8).
It also provides more than 100 percent of the RDI for vitamins C and K.
Bottom Line: Broccoli contains 4 grams of digestible carbs per serving. It’s high in vitamins C and K, may reduce insulin resistance and help prevent cancer.
Asparagus is a delicious spring vegetable.
One cup (180 grams) of cooked asparagus contains 8 grams of carbs, four of which are fiber. It’s also a good source of vitamins A, C and K (9).
Bottom Line: Asparagus contains 4 grams of digestible carbs per serving. It’s a good source of several vitamins and may help protect against certain types of cancer.
Mushrooms are extremely low in carbs.
A one-cup (70-gram) serving of raw white mushrooms contains just 2 grams of carbs, 1 of which is fiber (15).
What’s more, they’ve been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties (16).
In a study of men with metabolic syndrome, eating 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of white mushrooms for 16 weeks led to significant improvements in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory markers (17).
Bottom Line: Mushrooms contain 1 gram of digestible carbs per serving. They can reduce inflammation in people with metabolic syndrome.
Zucchini is a popular vegetable and the most common type of summer squash. Summer squash has a long shape and soft skin that can be eaten.
In contrast, winter squash comes in a variety of shapes, has an inedible rind and is higher in carbs than summer varieties.
One cup (124 grams) of raw zucchini contains 4 grams of carbs, one of them fiber. It’s a good source of vitamin C, providing 35 percent of the RDI per serving (18).
Yellow Italian squash and other types of summer squash have carb counts and nutrient profiles similar to zucchini.
Bottom Line: Zucchini and other types of summer squash contain 3 grams of digestible carbs per serving and are high in vitamin C.
Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that provides major health benefits.
Spinach is also low in carbs, but the carbs become more concentrated as the leaves are cooked down and lose their volume.
Bottom Line: Cooked spinach contains 3 grams of digestible carbs per serving, is very high in vitamin K and helps protect heart and eye health.
Avocados are a unique and delicious food.
Although technically a fruit, avocados are typically consumed as vegetables. They’re also high in fat and contain very few digestible carbs.
A one-cup (150-gram) serving of chopped avocados has 13 grams of carbs, 10 of which are fiber (24).
Avocados are also rich in oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fat that has beneficial effects on health. Small studies have found that avocados can help lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels (25, 26).
They’re also a good source of vitamin C, folate and potassium.
Although avocados are a fairly high-calorie food, they may be beneficial for weight management. In one study, overweight people who included half an avocado at lunch reported feeling fuller and had less desire to eat over the next five hours (27).
Bottom Line: Avocados provide 3 grams of net carbs per serving. They promote feelings of fullness and are high in heart-healthy fat and fiber.
Cauliflower is one of the most versatile and popular low-carb vegetables.
It has a very mild taste and can be used as a substitute for potatoes, rice and other higher-carb foods.
One cup (100 grams) of raw cauliflower contains 5 grams of carbs, three of which are fiber. It’s also high in vitamin K and provides 77 percent of the RDI for vitamin C (28).
Bottom Line: Cauliflower contains 2 grams of digestible carbs per serving. It is also high in vitamins K and C and may help prevent heart disease and cancer.
9. Green Beans
Green beans are sometimes referred to as snap beans or string beans.
A one-cup (125-gram) serving of cooked green beans contains 10 grams of carbs, four of which are from fiber (31).
They’re high in the green pigment known as chlorophyll, which animal studies suggest may help protect against cancer (32).
In addition, they contain carotenoids, which are associated with improved brain function during aging (33).
Bottom Line: Green beans contain 6 grams of digestible carbs per serving, as well as antioxidants that may help prevent cancer and protect the brain.
Lettuce is one of the lowest-carb vegetables around.
One cup (47 grams) of lettuce contains 2 grams of carbs, one of which is fiber (34).
Depending on the type, it may also be a good source of certain vitamins.
For instance, romaine and other dark-green varieties are rich in vitamins A, C and K. They’re also high in folate.
Folate helps decrease levels of homocysteine, a compound known to increase heart disease risk. In one study of 37 women, consuming foods high in folate for five weeks reduced homocysteine levels by 13 percent, compared to a low-folate diet (35).
Bottom Line: Lettuce contains 1 gram of digestible carbs per serving. It’s high in several vitamins, including folate, which may lower heart disease risk.
Garlic is known for its beneficial effects on immune function.
Although it’s a high-carb vegetable by weight, the amount typically consumed at a sitting is very low due to its strong taste and aroma.
One clove (3 grams) of garlic contains 1 gram of carbs, part of which is fiber (39).
Bottom Line: Garlic contains 1 gram of digestible carbs per clove. It may reduce blood pressure and improve immune function.
Kale is a trendy vegetable that’s also extremely nutritious.
One cup (67 grams) of raw kale contains 7 grams of carbs, one of which comes from fiber. It also provides an impressive 206 percent of the RDI for vitamin A and 134 percent of the RDI for vitamin C (43).
Bottom Line: Kale contains 6 grams of digestible carbs per serving. It’s high in antioxidants and has more than 100 percent of the RDI for vitamins A and C.
Cucumbers are low in carbs and very refreshing.
One cup (104 grams) of chopped cucumber contains 4 grams of carbs with less than 1 gram from fiber (46).
Although cucumbers aren’t very high in vitamins or minerals, they contain a compound called cucurbitacin E, which may have beneficial effects on health.
Bottom Line: Cucumbers contain just under 4 grams of digestible carbs per serving. They may help protect against cancer and support brain health.
14. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are another delicious cruciferous vegetable.
A half-cup (78-gram) serving of cooked Brussels sprouts contains 6 grams of carbs, two of which are fiber (50).
It also provides 80 percent of the RDI for vitamin C and 137 percent of the RDI for vitamin K.
Bottom Line: Brussels sprouts contain 4 grams of digestible carbs per serving. They’re high in vitamins C and K and may help reduce cancer risk.
Celery is extremely low in digestible carbs.
A one-cup (101-gram) serving of chopped celery contains 3 grams of carbs, 2 of which are fiber. It’s a good source of vitamin K, providing 37 percent of the RDI (53).
Bottom Line: Celery provides 1 gram of digestible carbs per serving. It also contains luteolin, which may have anti-cancer properties.
Tomatoes have a number of impressive health benefits.
Like avocados, they are technically fruits but usually consumed as vegetables.
They’re also low in digestible carbs. One cup (149 grams) of cherry tomatoes contains 6 grams of carbs, two of which are fiber (55).
Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A, C and K. In addition, they’re high in potassium, which can help reduce blood pressure and decrease stroke risk (56).
Bottom Line: Tomatoes contain 4 grams of digestible carbs per serving and are high in vitamins and potassium. They may help protect heart health and reduce cancer risk.
Radishes are low-carb vegetables with a sharp, peppery taste.
One cup (116 grams) of raw sliced radishes contains 4 grams of carbs, two of which are fiber (60).
They’re fairly high in vitamin C, providing 29 percent of the RDI per serving.
Radishes are one of the Brassica vegetables, which have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women by modifying the way the body metabolizes estrogen (61).
Bottom Line: Radishes contain 2 grams of digestible carbs per serving and may help reduce the risk of breast cancer in older women.
Onions are a tasty and nutritious vegetable.
Although they are fairly high in carbs by weight, they’re usually consumed in small amounts because of their robust flavor.
A half cup (58 grams) of sliced raw onions contains 6 grams of carbs, one of which is fiber (62).
Onions are high in the antioxidant quercetin, which may lower blood pressure (63).
One study of overweight and obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) found that red onion consumption reduced LDL cholesterol levels (64).
Bottom Line: Onions contain 5 grams of digestible carbs per serving and may help lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels.
Eggplant is a common vegetable in many Italian and Asian dishes.
A one-cup (99-gram) serving of chopped, cooked eggplant contains 8 grams of carbs, two of which are fiber (65).
It’s not very high in most vitamins or minerals, but animal research suggests eggplant may help lower cholesterol and improve other markers of heart health (66).
It also contains an antioxidant known as nasunin in the purple pigment of its skin. Researchers have reported that nasunin helps reduce free radicals and may protect brain health (67).
Bottom Line: Eggplant contains 6 grams of digestible carbs per serving and may help protect heart and brain health.
Cabbage has some impressive health benefits.
One cup (89 grams) of chopped raw cabbage contains 5 grams of carbs, three of which are fiber (70).
It also provides 54 percent of the RDI for vitamin C and 85 percent of the RDI for vitamin K.
Bottom Line: Cabbage contains 2 grams of digestible carbs per serving. It’s high in vitamins C and K and may reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Artichokes are delicious and nutritious.
One medium-sized globe artichoke (120 grams) contains 14 grams of carbs.
However, 10 grams come from fiber, making it very low in digestible (net) carbs (71).
What’s more, artichokes may protect heart health. In one study, when people with high cholesterol drank artichoke juice, they experienced a reduction in inflammatory markers and improvement in blood vessel function (73).
Bottom Line: Artichokes contain 4 grams of digestible carbs per serving and may improve gut and heart health.
Take Home Message
There are many tasty vegetables that can be included on a low-carb diet.
In addition to being low in carbs and calories, they may also reduce disease risk and improve your overall health and well-being.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
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