There can be no doubt that low carb diets are growing in popularity. This shouldn’t be any surprise either because the diet type can be a good way to lose weight and promote positive health overall.
For improved weight loss potential and health benefits, the concept can even be taken one step further in the form of a ketosis or ketogenic diet. This is essentially a very low carb diet and has become fairly popular in its own right.
Regardless of the approach that you use, low carb diets can seem a little tricky to figure out early on. One significant challenge is figuring out the best low carb vegetables. After all, vegetables are an important source of healthy nutrients and are critical in a healthy diet.
But, at the same time, some vegetables do contain a significant amount of carbs – so you do need to be a little careful, especially if you’re doing a ketosis diet.
With that in mind, here’s a list of the 25 best low carb vegetables for you to choose from.
Asparagus is one of those foods that people either love or hate but it is high in nutrients and fairly low in calories. At the same time, there are some amazing asparagus recipes out there that let you get all the health benefits of asparagus, while eating some great food at the same time.
When it's cooked, half a cup of asparagus contains roughly 4 grams of carbs and 2 grams of these come from fiber (1). To put that another way, you get around 2 grams of carbs (1 from fiber) with four average spears of asparagus.
So, you can certainly enjoy your asparagus even on a low carb or a ketosis diet.
Technically speaking, tomatoes are actually fruit not vegetables – at least from the botanical perspective.
Nevertheless, we tend to treat them like vegetables when we eat and cook them, which is why they make it onto this best low carb vegetables list.
That pattern is also true for a number of other items on this list, which you may notice as we go along.
Realistically, the difference between fruit, vegetables and other groups can be cloudy at the best of times, especially as there are multiple definitions out there.
But, botanical distinctions aside, tomatoes are pretty low in carbs, with one whole medium tomato just containing 5 grams of carbs and 1 of those grams comes from fiber (2).
At the same time, tomatoes are great nutritionally, acting as a source of antioxidants, along with vitamins K, C and A (3). They also contain lycopene, which may play a role in prostate cancer prevention (4,5).
Besides that, tomatoes are also an extremely versatile vegetable, easily included in many different types of meals.
Cucumbers aren’t typically viewed as an amazing health food and don’t have all that many nutrients to offer. But they are still very refreshing and a great ingredient in sandwiches and salads, which is reason enough to use them from time-to-time.
They are also a good option in terms of carbs. For example, half a cup of sliced cucumber (skin included) contains just 2 grams of carbs, where 1 gram of that comes from sugars (6).
Kale has become an exceptionally popular vegetable for health, partly because it offers a fairly high concentration of nutrients and various health benefits along with them.
For example, kale has been connected to the potential to improve cholesterol profiles (7,8), protect the eyes (9,10), and even fight cancer through the actions of compounds like sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol (11,12,13).
Beyond all of these benefits, kale is also a good choice when it comes to carbs.
In particular, 1 cup of chopped kale contains around 7 grams of carbs, 1 gram of which comes from fiber. So, that’s 6 grams of digestible carbs for a 1 cup serving, along with all the beneficial nutrients (14).
As vegetables go, cauliflower is incredibly versatile and a common choice for meals.
But, cauliflower also tends to be popular because you can use it as a replacement for other high carb ingredients. For example, there are recipes for cauliflower mashed potatoes and cauliflower rice, both of which are perfect for people on a low carb diet.
In terms of nutritional data, half a cup of boiled and drained cauliflower contains just 3 grams of carbohydrate, with 1 gram from fiber (15).
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As a general rule, leafy greens tend to be exceptionally good for health, offering a range of benefits and an appealing nutritional profile.
Right now, kale is the trendiest example of this but vegetables like spinach are also really powerful and good options in terms of carbs as well.
In fact, you’re actually better off mixing up which vegetables you rely on so that you take advantage of their unique chemical composition and plant-based nutrients.
Like kale, spinach is a key source of nutrients, including more than 100% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin K (16).
A 1 cup serving of raw spinach also contains just 1 gram of carbs, which is almost entirely from fiber (17).
As such spinach is another powerful option for nutrients and for fiber.
However, be aware that the carbs in spinach tend to become more concentrated as spinach is cooked. So, a cup of cooked spinach will have 7 grams of carbs and 4 grams of that comes from fiber (18).
Regardless of whether you define them as a vegetable or a fruit, avocados are a great component of a healthy diet. This might seem surprising because avocados are high in fat and have a fairly high number of calories as well.
Yet, fat isn’t as bad for you as most people assume. Instead, that view mostly comes from the cholesterol controversy.
Plus, we’re starting to realize that high fat and low carb diets can be as good for weight loss and health as conventional recommendations.
In fact, having more fat in your diet may even be a good thing, especially in the case of avocados and this is part of the motivation behind low carb and ketosis diets.
Avocados are also an exceptionally good option for dietary fiber, as a cup of cubed avocado contains 13 grams of carbs but a massive 10 grams of those come from fiber. Likewise, avocados also offer significant levels of vitamin K, potassium and folate, which can be another reason for eating avocados regularly (21).
Lettuce often ends up being a summer food and a great addition to sandwiches, salads and other dishes. The nutrition varies significantly depending on the specific variety of lettuce at hand but typically lettuce isn’t exceptionally high in vitamins and minerals.
However, regardless of the variety, lettuce does tend to be extremely low in carbs. For example, 1 cup of shredded romaine lettuce (also called cos) contains 2 grams of carbohydrates and roughly half of that comes from fiber (22).
Mushrooms are another choice that doesn’t fit neatly into a category, so it might seem a little strange on this list of best low carb vegetables. However, most people do tend to view and treat mushrooms like a vegetable, even though they are technically a fungus.
Nutritionally, mushrooms are fairly appealing, especially as they are low in calories and are gluten free, while also offering some nutrients.
Additionally, mushrooms are appealing because they have the potential to help fight inflammation. As such, they are one example of a number of foods that can be used to fight inflammation naturally.
They are also low in carbs, with 1 cup of white mushrooms (sliced) containing just 2 grams of carbs, of which 1 gram comes from fiber. Nevertheless, the precise levels of nutrients will vary somewhat depending on the variety of mushroom (23).
Mustard greens often get left out of lists of the best low carb vegetables, which always seem like a pity. They are actually a great low carb choice and 1 cup of raw mustard greens contains 3 grams of carbs (2 grams from fiber) (24).
So then, it’s no wonder that mustard greens are a good choice for healthy compounds and a handy addition to a low carb diet overall.
I’ve often found that onions get overlooked in terms of nutrition, partly because they are such a common ingredient in our meals. Yet, onions do offer health benefits and this is true for white and for red onions.
Now, onions are relatively high in carbs compared to other items on this list. For example, a medium onion contains around 10 grams of carbs, with only 2 grams coming from fiber (25).
However, onions still work well as a low carb vegetable because you don’t typically use a large amount at once. So, you might end up using an onion or half of an onion for an entire meal, which could end up creating 3 or 4 servings.
After all, onions do have a fairly intense flavor, which is part of their appeal.
Zucchini is another fairly popular vegetable and is a type of summer squash.
This can be a good choice on a low carb diet, with 1 cup of chopped zucchini (skin included) containing 4 grams of carbohydrate, which includes1 gram of fiber (26).
Zucchini is also a fairly good source of vitamin B6, riboflavin and manganese, while also having lower amounts of other nutrients. This nutritional profile makes it a good addition to healthy eating in general, regardless of whether you’re following a low carb diet, a ketosis diet or something different entirely.
If you’re cooking Asian or Italian meals, you may find that you use eggplant a lot and it is another great vegetable to add flavor and texture into meals.
While it may not be a great source of common vitamins and minerals, eggplant does contain the antioxidant nasunin, which is responsible for the purple color of the skin (27).
This type of plant-based compound may contribute to health benefits, which is an appealing reason to include it in the diet (28).
Indeed, eating a variety of different vegetables, especially vegetables of different colors, may be a powerful way to promote good health, as this ensures that you’re getting a wide range of plant-based compounds.
In terms of carbs, you get roughly 5 grams of carbs from a cup of cubed eggplant and 3 grams of that comes from fiber (29).
Garlic is often included in meals simply because of its intense flavor and this vegetable bulb can be a great way to make dishes taste much more interesting overall. At the same time, garlic is also associated with some health benefits, particularly the potential to help fight inflammation (30) and improve immune function (31,32,33)
By weight, garlic is actually relatively high in carbs. However, you never actually consume much of it at one time.
For example, 3 cloves of raw garlic contain roughly 3 grams of carbs (34), which is probably as much as you would use in an entire recipe (with some recipes calling for less).
Realistically, garlic functions mostly as a low carb ingredient rather than a low carb vegetable but either way it is still a good choice.
Radishes are another low carb vegetable option that isn’t well known for health benefits. However, the sharp taste of radishes makes them perfect for some dishes, especially in summer.
Additionally, the vegetable does have some beneficial nutrients, including vitamin C, folate and potassium. While the levels of these nutrients aren’t especially high, their presence does mean that radishes are a good addition to a healthy diet overall.
At the same time, the carb content of radishes is fairly low, with 1 cup of sliced radishes containing a total of 4 grams of carbs, half of which comes from fiber (35).
Broccoli is one of those vegetables that most people know is good for them – even though it tends to be an option that some people love and others hate.
Regardless, there is some evidence of health benefits from broccoli, including the potential to protect against some types of cancer and to decrease insulin resistance with type 2 diabetes (36, 37,38).
Broccoli is also a fairly good source of a number of nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin K and folate. In fact, you get more than 100% of the recommended daily intake for both vitamin C and vitamin K from one cup of chopped raw broccoli (39).
Additionally, that same amount of broccoli contains around 6 grams of carbs total and 2 grams of that comes from dietary fiber (40).
Brussels sprouts (yes, brussels, not brussel) are probably the most unpopular vegetable out there, with many people hating them on principle.
Yet, like any vegetable, brussels sprouts taste amazing when prepared using a good recipe.
Brussels sprouts are another option for your diet as they are high in vitamin K, while also offering vitamin C and folate as well. A half cup (cooked) serving of the sprouts will contain a total of 6 grams of carbs and 2 grams of that comes from fiber (43).
In addition to adding a nice crunch to meals, celery is appealing because of the low number of digestible carbs.
Specifically, 1 cup of chopped celery offers just 3 total grams of carbs, 2 of which are from fiber (44).
Celery isn’t a great source of other nutrients and is relatively high in sugars compared to many of the other options on this best low carb vegetables list. Still, the overall carb count is fairly low and the fiber content is certainly appealing.
You might call these green beans, string beans, snap beans or some other name entirely.
But, regardless of the name that you choose, green beans are a good low carb addition to the diet.
For example, with 1 cup of raw green beans, you have around 8 grams of carbs and roughly half of these come from fiber (45).
One option that is a little bit more unusual is bok choy. This is also sometimes known as Chinese cabbage and, not surprisingly, it is often used in Chinese cooking.
As a vegetable, bok choy can work well with a low carb diet, especially if you’re looking to incorporate some ethnic recipes.
The carb level of this vegetable is also extremely reasonable and 1 cup of shredded bok choy only contains 2 grams of carbs, half of which comes from fiber (48).
The nutritional profile is another reason to include bok choy, as the vegetable is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K.
If you’re looking for health benefits, artichokes are an interesting vegetable to consider, as some research has suggested that they may act to improve heart health by reducing inflammation and improving the function of blood vessels (49).
Now, in terms of carbs, one medium artichoke contains around 14 grams of carbs but most of this (10 grams) is fiber. So, the number of usable carbs per serving is low and artichokes are a good source of fiber.
Like many of the items on this list, cabbage falls into the cruciferous vegetable family, which is appealing. Of particular interest is the fact that early research has linked cruciferous vegetables to a decrease in the risk of some cancers (51,52).
When it comes to carbs, a 1 cup serving of chopped cabbage (raw) has around 5 grams of carbs and 2 grams of these come from the fiber (53).
So, it’s easy to see why cabbage is a good choice for health, especially on a low carb diet.
Turnips tend to be a popular root vegetable in the cooler months when roasted, although some people do choose to eat them raw as well.
Now, as a general rule, root vegetables do tend to be higher in carbs than vegetables that grow above the ground. Nevertheless, some of them are still viable options on a low carb diet and turnip is one example of this.
In particular, a 1 cup serving of raw turnip comes in at around 8 grams of carbs, where 2 grams of that is dietary fiber (54).
Throughout this list of low carb vegetables, I’ve mentioned a number of examples of leafy greens – and they are fairly similar to each other.
So, it should be no surprise that Swiss chard is also pretty low in carbs, with 1 cup of raw Swiss chard containing just 1 gram of carbs, which mostly comes from fiber (55).
Yet, there are also significant Swiss chard health benefits, which is what makes the vegetable so interesting. For example, some of the compounds in Swiss chard have antioxidant activity, while the fiber can help to promote regular bowel movements (56).
Some research has also suggested that Swiss chard may be able to help protect the kidneys in people with diabetes – although the research is in its very early stages (57).
Likewise, Swiss chard is high in some nutrients, including vitamin K and vitamin A, not to mention other plant-based compounds that can also contribute to health (58).
Bell peppers are another vegetable known by a variety of names and there are a few different versions as well. In particular, you might have heard them called capsicums or sweet peppers before.
There are red, green, orange and yellow variants – which tend to all have fairly similar nutrient profiles. However, red peppers do tend to be higher in some antioxidants, which isn’t surprising, as color-producing compounds are often antioxidants.
Red bell peppers also have a more intense flavor and this difference is why they are often favored in cooking.
For one cup of chopped red bell pepper, there is 9 grams of carbs, with 3 grams coming from fiber (59).
Again, this is higher than some other items on this best low carb vegetables list but it is still reasonable. Plus, most people don’t have a large amount of bell peppers at a given time.
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There is no shortage of vegetables here and more that I haven't mentioned. But, which of them would you like to know more about?