Vegetables are an essential part of a healthy low-carb diet, but sometimes we’re stuck with decisions we might regret later. Some vegetables are high in sugar and don’t cut it nutritionally – so we need to weed them out. Make sure to be careful when eating vegetables as their carb counts do add up quickly.
Below you’ll find a quick visual guide on the best (and worst) low-carb vegetables for keto. Keep scrolling down to see a complete list of the most commonly consumed vegetables. At the bottom of this page, you’ll find a list of the top 10 vegetables to consume based on scientific facts.
Note: Remember that on the ketogenic diet, you should aim to limit your carbohydrates to be below 30g per day.
The best type of vegetables for a ketogenic diet are both high in nutrients and low in carbohydrates. As most of you can guess, these are dark and leafy. Anything that resembles spinach or kale will fall into this category and will be the best vegetable to include into dishes/meals.
If you’re looking for low-carb vegetables that aren’t leafy greens, think about the ones that grow above ground mostly from the cruciferous family. These include broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, lettuce, cucumbers, and more. You can use the visual guide to help decide which vegetables are best.
Many people choose to eat salads as a way to get their greens in for the day. Salads are super quick to make, and you can put almost anything in them. Next time you’re not sure of what to make, get some inspiration from these:
- Warm Asian Broccoli Salad
- Keto Mixed Green Spring Salad
- Crispy Tofu and Bok Choy Salad
- Thai BBQ Pork Salad
You can also simply toss leftovers in salads as long as the combinations make sense. Time and time again we make cheeseburger salad with our leftover cooked ground beef. It’s such an easy way to make lunch!
Another way to eat vegetables is with your dinner. Many side dishes also complement the ketogenic diet because they’re often very fatty. Next time you need to pair a meal with a side dish, consider one of these options:
- Easy Creamed Spinach
- Mashed Cauliflower with Parmesan
- Au Gratin Brussels Sprouts
- Lemon Roasted Spicy Broccoli
Or you can simply roast/saute some vegetables in coconut oil and spices before serving.
Below you’ll find a visual guide to higher carb vegetables and vegetables with some color. Generally, the brighter and more colorful the vegetable, the less low-carb they are. There are a few exceptions like bell peppers and jalapenos, which can be used for added texture and flavor in meals.
Always do your best to avoid sweet or starchy vegetables as they are high in carbohydrates. These include (but are not limited to) peas, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, yucca, parsnips, beans, quinoa, legumes, and other high starch vegetables.
As a general rule of thumb, the sweeter the vegetable is – the more sugar it has in it. You have to be very careful with the amount you consume from things such as carrots, onions, and squash. You can easily see the difference in carb counts between the above and below ground vegetables above. Of course, you can eat these in moderation, but you need to watch your intake.
Many people choose to use a mixture of the higher carb vegetables with lower carb ingredients. It’s a great flavor enhancer, but you don’t want over-saturate your diet with carby vegetables. Next time you’re in the mood for something a bit more on the sweet side, consider making one of the following:
- Korean BBQ Stuffed Bell Pepper
- Sausage and Pepper Soup
- Roasted Bell Pepper and Cauliflower Soup
- Cheesy Cauliflower Onion Dip
We also see a lot more dessert recipes with the higher carb vegetables because of their natural sweetness. Ginger and pumpkin especially come to mind. If you’re in the mood for an autumn inspired treat, consider adding vegetables to your desserts. Some examples are:
- Keto Pumpkin Pudding
- Pumpkin Pecan Pie Ice Cream
- Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies
Remember always to limit the amount of sweet treats that you eat, especially on a ketogenic diet.
I’ve read a lot on the whole craze of going organic. If you only care about the nutrition, then you do not have to purchase organic vegetables. Though they are proven to be safer for the body (less residue of pesticides and toxins), they contain about the same nutrients as their non-organic counterpart. Don’t be afraid to stock up on vegetables – both frozen and fresh are great to eat!
On a side note, frozen vegetables are usually cheaper than fresh vegetables. If you buy greens in bulk but throw them out often, consider buying frozen. Surprisingly, frozen vegetables are sometimes more nutritious to their fresh counterpart – farms typically freeze greens at peak ripeness, ensuring nutrient density. You may have to cook excess water out occasionally, but it normally isn’t a problem in the final dish.
Most Common Low-Carb Vegetables
Below you’ll find a list of vegetables based on how low carb they are, so if you need help finding a certain one use the Find function (Ctrl + F). These are based on 1/2 cup (~4 oz.) or 100g servings, which is the general recommended serving size for vegetables.
Note: If the vegetable you’re looking for is not listed, it’s most likely too high carb and shouldn’t be consumed on a ketogenic diet. Double check by comparing the vegetable with a credited nutritional database to see if it fits in with your daily macros >
|Vegetable Name||Serving Size||Total Carbs (g)||Fiber (g)||Net Carbs (g)|
Below is a list of what we consider the “best of the best” when it comes to vegetables. They’re both low in carbs and very high in micronutrients. Make sure that you frequently include the listed vegetables below in your daily meals.
A very common vegetable to see in a keto kitchen, and for excellent reason. Broccoli is packed full of vitamins C and K and only has 4g net carbs per one cup.
Some studies show that broccoli can help decrease insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics and may also contribute to protecting against a few types of cancer. It’s a staple vegetable to have on hand!
At only 4g net carbs per cup, asparagus should be in everyone’s weekly rotation of low-carb side dishes. You can wrap it in bacon (and serve with aioli), simply grill it, or chop it up and add it to stir fries.
Asparagus is a great source of vitamins A, C, and K and has been shown in animal studies to help reduce anxiety and protect brain health.
Fungi is a great way to add some flavor into otherwise boring dishes. For example, in our mushroom cauliflower risotto, the baby bellas add a great texture and flavor. They’re extremely low-carb too, at only 1g net carb (white mushrooms) per cup.
Mushrooms have shown incredible anti-inflammatory properties, and over a 16 week period have shown to improve inflammation in those who have metabolic syndrome.
The most commonly used summer squash on keto, we often see it in dishes like Zoodles as a noodle replacement. Be careful with the types of squash you consume as most have much higher carb counts.
Zucchini is very low in carbs at only 3g net carbs per cup; it also serves as a fantastic source of vitamin C.
It’s no surprise that spinach is one of the most eaten leafy green vegetables on a ketogenic diet. Spinach has only 3g net carbs per cooked cup of spinach, and almost no digestible carbs raw. This veggie is a great way to bulk up lunches with salads You can make high-fat side dishes like creamed spinach to go along with any meal, too!
Spinach has been shown to protect heart health and reduce the risk of common eye diseases. It also provides tons of vitamins and minerals, most noticeably about ten times the recommended about of vitamin K.
Although they’re technically a fruit, avocados are often consumed in the place of vegetables. Avocados are very high in fat, so they’re commonly added into keto diets to help supplement fat intake alongside meals. At only 3g net carbs per one cup, you can see why avocados are chosen time and time again.
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, which have shown to help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. They’re also a great source of vitamin C and potassium so they can typically help with electrolyte issues.
Usually the star of unique dishes, cauliflower can be used for a variety of things. You can use cauliflower for wraps, pizza, casseroles, or even mashed “potatoes.” It’s no surprise that it’s one of the most used and most versatile ingredients in most low-carb kitchen pantries.
Besides being fantastic for its versatile cooking applications, cauliflower is very low carb at only 2g net carbs per cup. It’s very high in both vitamin K and C and is associated with lowered risk of heart disease and cancer (similarly to broccoli).
Lower in carbs than its colorful counterpart, the green bell pepper (or capsicum) is frequently used in cooking. The good news is that they’re extremely nutritious. They’re filled with vitamin A and have anti-inflammatory properties from carotenoids which they contain.
If you want color, don’t be afraid to add red or yellow peppers since they’re also very low in carbs (only 6g net per one cup, chopped).
Green beans are a member of the legume family, but they have significantly fewer carbs than most other legumes. Sometimes green beans referred to as snap peas. One cup of green beans has only 6g net carbs, so they’re a great addition to many side dishes.
Added texture alone is enough to validate adding green beans to your dish, but the health benefits include improved brain function during aging. That makes these an excellent choice of vegetable on the ketogenic diet. For more flavor, consider pairing it with some pecans for crunch
Lettuce / Kale
Both kale and lettuce are commonly used in salads across the country. Both are also fantastic low-carb options when it comes to vegetables. They produce plenty of vitamins (A and C) and show to help protect against heart disease.
While kale is more nutritious than lettuce, it also has a significant amount more carbohydrates per serving. Make sure to be careful with the amount of kale you consume as carbs add up fast.