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Low Carb Veget­ables

Veget­ables are low in cal­or­ies but rich in vit­am­ins, min­er­als and oth­er import­ant nutri­ents.

In addi­tion, many are low in carbs and high in fiber, mak­ing them ideal for low-carb diets.

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.

They con­tain anti­ox­id­ants called caroten­oids that may reduce inflam­ma­tion, decrease can­cer risk and pro­tect cho­les­ter­ol and fats from oxid­at­ive dam­age (1, 2, 3).

One cup (149 grams) of chopped red pep­per con­tains nine grams of carbs, three of which are fiber (4).

It provides 93% of the Ref­er­ence Daily Intake (RDI) for vit­am­in A and a whop­ping 317% 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.

2. Broc­coli

Piece of Broccoli

Broc­coli is a true super­food.

It’s a mem­ber of the cru­ci­fer­ous veget­able fam­ily, which includes kale, Brus­sels sprouts, radishes and cab­bage.

Stud­ies show broc­coli may decrease insulin res­ist­ance in type 2 dia­bet­ics. It’s also thought to pro­tect against sev­er­al types of can­cer, includ­ing pro­state can­cer (5, 6, 7).

One cup (91 grams) of raw broc­coli con­tains 6 grams of carbs, two of them fiber (8).

It also provides more than 100% 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.

3. Asparagus

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).

Test-tube stud­ies have found that asparagus may help stop the growth of sev­er­al types of can­cer, and stud­ies in mice sug­gest it may help pro­tect brain health and reduce anxi­ety (10, 11, 12, 13, 14).

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.

4. Mush­rooms

Mushrooms

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.

5. Zuc­chini

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% 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.

6. Spin­ach

Hands Holding a Bunch of Spinach

Spin­ach is a leafy green veget­able that provides major health bene­fits.

Research­ers report that it can help pre­vent dam­age to DNA. It also pro­tects heart health and may decrease the risk of com­mon eye dis­eases like catar­acts and mac­u­lar degen­er­a­tion (19, 20, 21).

What’s more, it’s an excel­lent source of sev­er­al vit­am­ins and min­er­als. One cup (180 grams) of cooked spin­ach provides more than 10 times the RDI for vit­am­in K (22).

Spin­ach is also low in carbs, but the carbs become more con­cen­trated as the leaves are cooked down and lose their volume.

For example, one cup of cooked spin­ach con­tains 7 grams of carbs with 4 grams of fiber, where­as one cup of raw spin­ach con­tains 1 gram of carbs with almost 1 gram of fiber (22, 23).

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.

7. Avo­ca­dos

Avocado

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.

8. Cauli­flower

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% of the RDI for vit­am­in C (28).

Like oth­er cru­ci­fer­ous veget­ables, it’s also asso­ci­ated with a reduced risk of heart dis­ease and can­cer (29, 30).

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

Bunch of Green Beans

Green beans are some­times referred to as snap beans or string beans.

They are a mem­ber of the legume fam­ily, along with beans and len­tils. How­ever, they have sig­ni­fic­antly few­er carbs than most legumes do.

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.

10. Lettuce

Head of Lettuce

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%, 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.

11. Gar­lic

Gar­lic is known for its bene­fi­cial effects on immune func­tion.

Stud­ies have found that it may boost res­ist­ance to the com­mon cold vir­us and decrease blood pres­sure (36, 37, 38).

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.

12. Kale

Bunch of Kale

Kale is a trendy veget­able that’s also extremely nutri­tious.

It’s loaded with anti­ox­id­ants, includ­ing quer­cet­in and kaem­p­fer­ol.

These have been shown to lower blood pres­sure and may also help pro­tect against heart dis­ease, type 2 dia­betes and oth­er dis­eases (40, 41, 42).

One cup (67 grams) of raw kale con­tains 7 grams of carbs, one of which comes from fiber. It also provides an impress­ive 206% of the RDI for vit­am­in A and 134% of the RDI for vit­am­in C (43).

A high intake of vit­am­in C has been shown to improve immune func­tion and increase the skin’s abil­ity to fight dam­aging free rad­ic­als, which can speed up the aging pro­cess (44, 45).

Bot­tom Line: Kale con­tains 6 grams of digest­ible carbs per serving. It’s high in anti­ox­id­ants and has more than 100% of the RDI for vit­am­ins A and C.

13. Cucum­bers

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.

Res­ults from test-tube and anim­al stud­ies sug­gest it has anti-can­cer and anti-inflam­mat­ory prop­er­ties and may pro­tect brain health (47, 48, 49).

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

Pile of Brussel 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% of the RDI for vit­am­in C and 137% of the RDI for vit­am­in K.

What’s more, con­trolled human stud­ies sug­gest that eat­ing Brus­sels sprouts may reduce risk factors for can­cer, includ­ing colon can­cer (51, 52).

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.

15. Cel­ery

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% of the RDI (53).

In addi­tion, it con­tains luteo­lin, an anti­ox­id­ant that shows poten­tial for both pre­vent­ing and help­ing to treat can­cer (54).

Bot­tom Line: Cel­ery provides 1 gram of digest­ible carbs per serving. It also con­tains luteo­lin, which may have anti-can­cer prop­er­ties.

16. Toma­toes

Brunette Holding a Bunch of Tomatoes

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).

They’ve also been shown to strengthen the endotheli­al cells that line your arter­ies, and their high lycopene con­tent may help pre­vent pro­state can­cer (57, 58).

Cook­ing toma­toes increases lycopene con­tent, and adding fats such as olive oildur­ing cook­ing has been shown to boost its absorp­tion (59).

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.

17. Radishes

Bunch of Radishes

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% 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.

18. Onions

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.

19. Egg­plant

Eggplant

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.

20. Cab­bage

Cab­bage has some impress­ive health bene­fits.

As a cru­ci­fer­ous veget­able, it may help reduce the risk of cer­tain can­cers, includ­ing eso­pha­geal and stom­ach can­cer (68, 69).

One cup (89 grams) of chopped raw cab­bage con­tains 5 grams of carbs, three of which are fiber (70).

It also provides 54% of the RDI for vit­am­in C and 85% 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.

21. Artichokes

Artichoke

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).

A por­tion of the fiber is inulin, which acts as a pre­b­i­ot­icthat feeds the healthy gut bac­teria (72).

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.

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