The 12 Best Low Carb Vegetables and Their Benefits
If you’re going keto or simply want to cut back on carbs, look to this easy guide for the best low-carb veggies for your diet.
You know the basics of your keto diet: high fat, moderate protein, very little carbs. It seems simple, but when you’re on the keto diet, not all veggies are created equal. In fact, they can vary quite a bit when it comes to carb content, making only some veggies truly ideal for a keto diet.
Below, we rank the top low-carb vegetables to show you which will give you the best bang for your nutrition buck.
Vegetables on the Keto Diet: Which Are the Best?
As a general rule, the veggies that have the lowest carbs are most often the ones that grow above ground, like leafy greens. In fact, “green” usually signals a lower-carb veggie.
Low-Carb Vegetables, Ranked
This list ranks the lowest-carb veggies by nutrient density. We also provide each veggie’s net carbs or the carbs that are actually absorbed into your bloodstream and processed by your body. Net carbs are found by taking the total carb count and subtracting the amount of fiber, as fibrous carbs are indigestible.
(Note: The net carb counts are for a 100g serving or 3 ½ ounces.)
Spinach is so low in carbs that you can add it to just about anything on a keto diet. It’s rich in antioxidant vitamins A and C, which help fight free radical damage and signs of aging. It also contains ample amounts of vitamin K and minerals like magnesium and manganese.
If you’re craving a crunchy snack, chop up a stalk of celery and get your favorite dips ready. With virtually zero-carbs, celery is a great source of trace minerals like potassium, as well as vitamin K. Try dipping it in homemade guacamole or almond butter sauce.
While technically a fruit, avocado is an extremely nutritious, low-carb addition to your keto veggie arsenal. It’s loaded with healthy fats, vitamin C, vitamin E, and potassium, and can double as a dip for other veggies when you purée it into a sauce or spicy guacamole.
Most mushroom varieties are very low carb and contain lots of B vitamins, as well as minerals like potassium and copper. Plus, they add a rich, savory texture to stir-fries, omelets, and any veggie-forward dishes. When looking for the best varieties, choose white or cremini mushrooms – they’re typically inexpensive and contain the fewest carb counts.
Rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, and folate, as well as many minerals like calcium and copper, asparagus is a green veggie that delivers taste and nutrition. It’s also the perfect base for creamy sauces made with coconut milk and nut butters, or even tossed on the grill with olive oil.
It’s pretty amazing that hunger-busting cauliflower ranks so low on the carb scale. Plus, this veggie is anti-inflammatory and rich in vitamins like C and K. One of the great things about cauliflower is its versatility – try pulsing it into “rice” in your food processor, purée it into a creamy soup.
If you’re looking for a versatile veggie that can be grilled, roasted, or even cubed, added to stir-fries, or spiralized into “noodles”, zucchini is your new low-carb friend. It contains a decent amount of vitamin A and trace minerals like manganese.
8. Green Cabbage
Cabbage is another veggie that you can enjoy without indulging in too many carbs. It also contains good amounts of vitamins C and A. Whip up coleslaw with a creamy dressing, or even a thick cabbage soup loaded with other low-carb veggies.
Broccoli is an extremely nutrient-dense low-carb veggie option. It’s packed with vitamin C, A, K, folate, and manganese, and is delicious steamed with a dash of olive oil, or roasted in the oven.
10. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts make the ultimate roasted veggie side dish. They also work fantastically shredded in salads, and are rich in vitamin C and potassium. Like cabbage, they also contain high amounts of sulfur compounds, which can be beneficial to joint health and help synthesize glutathione, an antioxidant that helps fight aging.
11. Bell Peppers
Stir-fries with red and green bell peppers are still on the menu during a keto diet. Not only are bell peppers a fantastic way to add flavor to several dishes, but they’re also very high in vitamin A and C. Experiment with sauteing them or even eating them sliced and raw with one of our “dip” options below.
Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense leafy greens you can eat. It is higher in carbs, but as long as you’re combining it with other lower-carb veggies and greens like spinach, it’s a great compliment to salads and stews. Kale is extremely rich in vitamin A and C, as well as decent amounts of calcium, potassium, and copper.
How to Make Low-Carb Veggies Extra Tasty?
We know: Eating plain greens and green vegetables can get boring after a while. The trick to really upping their taste game is to focus on combining them with healthy fats like avocado or coconut oil to make your own healthy sauces and dips. Check out some of the recipes below for inspiration.
6 Veggie Recipes to Try
Raw Zucchini Rolls with Paleo Pesto
Recipe by: Jennafer Ashley
Stuffed with the raw, fresh veggies, these light zucchini roll-ups get a herby kick from the rich basil pesto.
- Vegetable peeler or mandolin
- Basting brush
- 1 large zucchini
- 1/3 cup bell pepper julienned
- 1/2 cup carrots, sliced into matchsticks
- 2 radishes, sliced into matchsticks
- 8-10 basil leaves
- 1/4 cup paleo pesto
- Using a vegetable peeler, thinly peel zucchini into 8-10 long, wide ribbons.
- Lay the zucchini ribbons flat on the work surface and lightly brush with pesto using a basting brush. Add the bell pepper, carrots, radish slices and a basil leaf, leaving 1-2 inches of zucchini at the end.
- Gently but firmly roll the zucchini into pinwheels and secure with a toothpick. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Drizzle extra pesto over the roll-ups before serving.
Spicy Sesame Almond Zucchini Noodles
Recipe by: Jennafer Ashley
- 2 medium zucchini (ends cut off)
- 1/2 cup cabbage (shredded)
- 1/2 cup carrots (shredded)
- 1 handful cilantro (chopped)
- 1/2 cup creamy almond butter (at room temperature)
- 1/3 cup toasted sesame oil
- 1 T blackstrap molasses
- 2 T lime juice
- 1 t ginger (grated)
- 1/2 t chili flakes
- Using the 3mm blade of spiralizer, slice zucchini into a large bowl. Add cabbage and carrots. Set aside.
- Combine ingredients for dressing. Stir until smooth and thick.
- Pour dressing over zucchini. Stir to coat. Garnish with cilantro. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Nacho ‘Cheese’ Kale Chips Recipe
Recipe by the Real Food Dietitians
- Food processor or blender
- Baking sheet
- Mixing bowl
- 1 large bunch of kale
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
- 2⁄3 cup jarred roasted peppers (+ 2 to 3 T of the juice)
- 1⁄3 cup nutritional yeast
- 3 T olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1⁄2 t garlic powder
- 1⁄2 t chili powder
- 1⁄4 t sea salt
- 1⁄4 t black pepper
- Preheat oven to 200ºF.
- Wash the kale and pat dry. Remove the stems by tearing kale off into large, palm-sized leaves and place in a large bowl. Discard the stems (or add them to smoothies for later).
- In a food processor or high-powered blender make the cheese sauce by processing the remaining ingredients (not the kale) together until smooth. This may take a few minutes and you may need to scrape the sides of your food processor or blender during this step. Sauce will be slightly thick.
- Add the sauce to the bowl of kale leaves and massage kale and sauce together until leaves are evenly coated.
- Single layer the kale leaves on two large baking sheets. Bake for 1 hour. Flip and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes or until dry and crispy.
- Cool and store in an airtight container.
Sauteed Spinach with Bacon and Garlic
Recipe by Felicia Lim
- Large skillet
- 2 t olive oil
- 4 bacon slices
- 1 cup diced yellow onions
- 1 T minced garlic
- ⅛ t salt
- ⅛ t pepper
- 4 cups baby spinach
- Lemon wedges to serve
- Cook the sliced bacon in a skillet over medium heat, until bacon is crispy on both sides. Set aside and cut into small pieces.
- Heat up the oil in the same skillet, saute the diced onions and minced garlic until onions are tender and the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Turn the heat to low. Add the spinach and toss with tongs to mix everything together. Cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately topped with lemon wedges.
Crispy Garlic Brussels Sprouts
Recipe by Felicia Lim
- Large skillet
- Rimmed baking dish
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts
- 6 T olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 T balsamic vinegar
- 1 T dried garlic and parsley mixture
- Salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Wash the Brussels sprouts before trimming the bottoms, then cut into halves from top to bottom.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and place the sprouts cut-side down in a single layer.
- Sear the sprouts without moving them for at least 10 minutes, until the bottoms are brown.
- Transfer the sprouts to a rimmed baking dish and sprinkle with minced garlic. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until all the sprouts are tender and the garlic is fragrant and brown, tossing the sprouts every five minutes or so.
- Remove from the oven and mix in the dried garlic and parsley mixture, the balsamic vinegar and salt to taste. Serve hot.
The Best Creamy Paleo Coleslaw
Recipe by Jennafer Ashley
- Large mixing bowl
- 4 cups shredded green cabbage
- 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- 1/2 cup Paleo mayonnaise
- 2 T apple cider vinegar
- 1 T honey
- 1 T Dijon mustard
- 1/4 t sea salt
- 1/8 t black pepper
Instruction for Salad
Combine shredded cabbage and carrot in a large mixing bowl.
Instruction for Dressing
In a separate bowl, combine ingredients for dressing. Stir well to combine. Pour over shredded vegetables and stir well to coat. Refrigerate for one hour before serving.
Watch this video to get some more best low carb vegetables recipes – 7 Low Carb Veggie Dinners
The Bottom Line
The general rule of thumb on a low-carb keto diet is to stick to green veggies. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally indulge in carrots or other slightly starchier veggies – just be sure to fill the bulk of your veggie sides with the higher ranked veggies on this list.
Written by Megan Patiry
Megan is an inquisitive nutrition and wellness writer harboring an editorial love affair with the decadent and the nutritious. She is a dedicated researcher in all areas of ancestral health, a certified specialist in fitness nutrition, personal trainer, and professional almond milk latte addict.
Kelsey Alea, is a certified nutritional therapist at PaleoHacks. She is the author of the Keto Slow Cooker Cookbook. The cookbook features 80 mouth-watering Keto slow cooker recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. It is a perfect cookbook for those who want to indulge, save time in the kitchen, and stay in ketosis.
A lot of people have gotten results from the Keto diet, and enjoyed the foods that it has to offer. However, many of the people who are following this diet have a hard time finding the recipes that they need, especially ones that are quick and easy to complete.
Fortunately, Kelsey Ale, noticed this problem, and decided to do something about it. She’s found that making recipes in a slow cooker gives you meals which are not only delicious, but also take very little time to make. Mostly you just put a few simple ingredients in the slow cooker, and let it do the rest.
To find out more, click on – Keto Slow Cooker Cookbook