20 of the best low-carb vegetables, according to dietitians

  • If you’re on a low-carb diet, it may be difficult to get enough fruits and vegetables. 
  • However, it’s crucial you eat enough produce, or else you are at risk of nutritional deficiencies. 
  • Therefore, some of the best low-carb vegetables include spinach, cucumbers, and carrots. 

While a low-carb diet may help you lose weight and control your blood sugar levels, it can also increase your risk of vitamin and nutrient deficiencies since many fruits and vegetables are high in carbs. 

Therefore, if you reduce your carbs, it’s important to eat plenty of low-carb vegetables to ensure you receive the essential vitamins your body needs, says Kailey Proctor, RDN, oncology dietitian at the Leonard Cancer Institute with Providence Mission Hospital. 

Here are 20 vegetables with 15 grams of carbohydrates or less that you may want to consider if you’re trying out a low-carb diet. 

1. Olives

olives in a bowl Olives make a great low-carb snack. Image Source/Getty Images

One cup of olives contains:

  • 157 calories
  • 8.2 grams (g) of carbohydrates (3% DV)
  • 10.3 g of monounsaturated fat

Olives are high in healthy fats, particularly monounsaturated fat, which reduces the risk of heart disease, Proctor says. 

Quick Tip: Olives make a great addition to any salad. Toss them into a cucumber, feta, and tomato salad drizzled with olive oil for an extra boost in heart-healthy fats, Proctor says.

2. Green bell peppers

Vegetable scrambled eggs Scramble up some eggs with bell peppers and onions. 4kodiak/Getty Images

One medium green bell pepper contains: 

  • 23.8 calories
  • 5.5 g of carbohydrates (2% DV)
  • 95.7 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C (106% DV)

Green bell peppers are a rich source of vitamin C, which helps support the immune system.

“Most people think oranges and citrus fruits are the best sources of vitamin C, but bell peppers actually contain more,” Proctor says.

Quick Tip: Eat bell peppers raw since the vitamin C content reduces when they are cooked, Proctor says. Try sliced bell pepper with hummus for a high fiber, nutrient-dense snack.

3. Carrots

carrots roasted vegetables Carrots make a delicious side dish. boblin/Getty images

One cup of raw carrots contains:

  • 49.2 calories
  • 11.5 g of carbohydrates (4% DV)
  • 1,000 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A (111% DV)

Carrots are also rich in vitamin A, which helps maintain eye health by forming the pigments, aka molecules that help you see color, required for night vision. 

Quick Tip: Carrots make a great snack by themselves since they’re crunchy and sweet, or they can be roasted and served as a side dish with a meal. 

4. Broccoli

Broccoli in a steamer basket. Try steaming broccoli for an easy side dish. lucentius/Getty Images

One cup of raw broccoli contains:

  • 29.6 calories
  • 4.8 g of carbohydrates (1.9% DV)
  • 77.5 mcg of vitamin K (65% DV)

Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin K, which helps heal wounds by clotting blood, says Christa Brown, MS, a registered dietitian with her own private practice.

Quick Tip: Marinade these vegetables in some olive oil, season with salt, pepper, basil, and garlic and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes for a yummy side dish. 

5. Kale

kale salad with egg Use kale as a base for salads with eggs and avocados for a low-carb lunch. Claudia Totir/Getty Images

One cup of raw kale contains:

  • 9 calories
  • 0.9 g of carbohydrates (0% DV)
  • 52.3 mg of calcium (0.4% DV)

Leafy greens like kale are also good sources of vitamins K and C, says Cesar Sauza, a registered dietitian with AltaMed Health Services. Kale also has a small amount of calcium, a mineral crucial for building and maintaining strong bones.

Quick Tip: Saute kale on low heat with one tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic for a side dish.

6. Spinach

GettyImages 1136373901 Spinach makes a good low-carb base for salads. Julia_Sudnitskaya/Getty Images

One cup of raw spinach contains:

  • 6.9 calories
  • 1 .1 g of carbohydrates (0.4% DV)
  • 0.8 mg of iron (4.4% DV)

Spinach is a source of iron, which is essential for the creation of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your organs and muscles so they can function properly. 

Quick Tip: Since fat improves vitamin K absorption, pair spinach with eggs and avocado Proctor says. You can also add spinach to your favorite soups, pasta dishes or use it as a salad base.

7. Green Beans

fish with green beans Pair sole with a low-carb vegetable like broccoli or tomatoes for a healthy low-carb dinner. Juanmonino/Getty Images

One cup of raw green beans contains:

  • 31 calories
  • 7 g of carbohydrates (2.8% DV)
  • 35 mcg of vitamin A (3.8% DV)

Green beans are a good source of a vitamin A derivative called zeaxanthin, which helps support eye health, Brown says. 

Quick Tip: Steaming green beans in a microwave makes a quick, easy, and healthy side dish. 

8. Cauliflower

Cauliflower steak Cauliflower is a great low-carb alternative for rice since it has a neutral flavor. Azurita/Getty Images

One cup of raw cauliflower contains:

  • 26.8 calories
  • 5.3 g of carbohydrates (1.9% DV)
  • 2.1 g of fiber (7.5% DV)

Not only is cauliflower low in carbs, but it is also high in fiber. Only about 1 in 20 Americans eat enough fiber, which helps with weight maintenance by keeping you fuller for longer so you are less likely to snack between meals, Proctor says. 

Quick Tip: Cauliflower is sweeter when cooked, so roasting this veggie may make them more palatable, Proctor says. 

9. Garlic

garlic For maximum health benefits, buy whole garlic versus the pre-minced version in jars. Westend61/Getty inages

One teaspoon of garlic contains:

  • 7.5 calories
  • 1.7 g of carbohydrates (0.6% DV)
  • 0.1 g of fiber (0.4 % DV)

While garlic contains more carbs than other vegetables, it’s mostly used for flavor, meaning you only need small amounts. Plus, it contains allicin, which may help your immune system thanks to its antibacterial effects. 

Quick Tip: Garlic is commonly used to flavor several different types of dishes, but you can also combine it with butter and parmesan to make a creamy and flavorful spread.

10. Asparagus

A large plate of roasted asparagus Roast asparagus for a healthy side dish. oska25/Getty Images

One cup of asparagus contains:

  • 26.8 calories
  • 5.2 g of carbohydrates (2% DV)
  • 69.7 mcg of folate (17.4% DV)

Asparagus is rich in folate, a type of B vitamin that is essential for healthy cell growth and red blood cell formation. 

Quick Tip: You can buy asparagus year-round but it is typically considered to be “in season” (meaning it is the freshest and tastes the best) from about February to June in most places in the U.S.

11. Lettuce

Grilled romaine lettuce topped with bacon, tomatoes, and blue cheese dressing Grill romaine lettuce and top with bacon, tomatoes, and blue cheese dressing for a unique salad. bhofack2/Getty Images

One bunch of romaine lettuce contains:

  • 7.9 calories
  • 18.8 g of carbohydrates (6.8% DV)
  • 593 mcg of vitamin K (494% DV)

Lettuce is very low in carbs and is also an excellent source of folate and vitamin K.

Quick Tip: Lettuce is traditionally used as a base for salads, but you can also swap it for bread and make a low-carb sandwich. 

12. Mushrooms

Grilled mushrooms Try grilling mushrooms. BreakingTheWalls/Getty Images

One cup of diced portobello mushrooms contains:

  • 18.9 calories
  • 3.3 g of carbohydrates (1.2% DV)
  • 16 mcg of selenium (29% DV)

Mushrooms are a great source of selenium, a mineral that protects against cell damage and strengthens the immune system, Brown says. 

Quick Tip: Mushrooms can be sauteed or roasted as a side dish or to add to pasta dishes and sauces. 

13. Brussel Sprouts

Many roasted and glazed brussels sprouts Roast Brussel sprouts for dinner or lunch. ozdigital/Getty Images

One cup of raw Brussel sprouts contains:

  • 37.8 calories
  • 7.9 g of carbohydrates (2.9% DV)
  • 3.3 g of fiber (11.8% DV)

Like broccoli and cauliflower, Brussel sprouts are part of the cruciferous family of vegetables, which are high in fiber, Proctor says. 

Quick Tip: Toss Brussel sprouts in olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic then roast at 375 degrees for half an hour. When finished cooking, drizzle with balsamic glace and feta cheese.

14. Onions

cooked onions Grilling onions gives them a sweeter flavor. ALLEKO/Getty Images

One cup of chopped onion contains:

  • 64 calories
  • 14.9 g of carbohydrates (5.4% DV)
  • 2.7 g of fiber (9.6% DV)

Onions contain quercetin, an antioxidant found to lower cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels, which reduces the risk of heart disease, Proctor says. 

Quick Tip: Onions provide a flavorful punch, which is why they are good in tomato sauces, stir-fries, and dressings, Proctor says. You can also slice up some peppers and onion, season with salt, pepper, garlic, and some chili powder for fajita veggies.

15. Beets

beet soup You can use beets to make beet soup. Modesigns58/Getty Images

One cup of raw beets contains:

  • 58.5 calories
  • 13 g of carbohydrates (4.7% DV)
  • 2.7 mcg of vitamin A (0.3% DV)

Beets are naturally high in nitrates, a chemical that helps support blood flow. 

Quick Tip: If you prefer your beets in juice form, look for 100% beet juice to avoid added sugar, Proctor says. 

16. Eggplant

Grilled eggplant with a side of rice Grilled eggplant is a great base for a meal. haoliang/Getty Images

One cup of cubed eggplant contains:

  • 20.5 calories
  • 4.8 g of carbohydrates (1.7% DV)
  • 1.6 mg of sodium (0% DV)

Eggplant is high in polyphenols, a compound that improves the function of blood vessels, Proctor says. Eggplants are also naturally very low in sodium.

Quick Tip: Eggplants have a meat-like texture and can be added to any recipe that calls for ground beef, Proctor says. Not only will this reduce the saturated fat intake, but it will add a boost of fiber to make the meal more filling.

17. Cucumbers

cucumber Cucumbers make a yummy low-carb snack that you can pair with hummus. HandmadePictures/Shutterstock

Cucumbers are low in calories and provide a variety of vitamins and minerals, like vitamin K, Sauza says. They are also 95% water so eating cucumbers can help you stay hydrated. 

One medium cucumber contains:

  • 20 calories
  • 4.3 g of carbohydrates (1.5% DV)
  • 14.5 mcg of vitamin K (12% DV)

Quick Tip: Thanks to their satisfying crunch, cucumbers pair well with hummus or on top of a salad. 

18. Zucchini

zucchini noodels Zucchini noodles are a great low-carb pasta alternative. Westend61/ Zucchini noodles

Zucchini is another great source of vitamin C and antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which is important for eye health, Sauza says. 

One medium zucchini contains:

  • 33.3 calories
  • 6.1 g of carbohydrates (2.2% DV)
  • 35.1 mg of vitamin C (39% DV)

Quick Tip:  Blend boiled zucchini with onions and broth for a rich velvety soup.

19. Chayote

Whole and halved chayote squash surrounding a bowl of cut up and sauteed chayote Chayote is a great low-carb squash. Teen00000/Getty Images

One cup of chayote contains:

  • 25.1 calories
  • 6 g of carbohydrates (2.2% DV)
  • 22.4 mg of calcium (1.7% DV)

Chayote is a type of squash that makes a good alternative to high starch vegetables, like potatoes, Sauza says. 

Quick Tip: You can saute chayote with butter, salt, pepper, and garlic for a tasty side dish.

20. Arugula

arugula burger Top a burger with arugula and a low-carb bun for lunch. aleksandr talancev/Shutterstock

Half a cup of raw arugula contains:

  • 2.5 calories
  • 0.4 g of carbohydrates (0% DV)
  • 11.9 mcg of vitamin A (1.3% DV)

Arugula is another type of leafy green with a bitter flavor. 

Quick Tip: Add arugula to a salad or sandwich for a nutritional boost. 

Insider’s takeaway 

While some produce is high in carbohydrates, low-carb veggies, like mushrooms, Brussel sprouts, and spinach make it possible to still consume your recommended 5 to 6 servings even while eating low-carb.

Plus, eating plenty of low-carb veggies ensures you are getting enough vitamins and minerals you may otherwise lack while on a reduced carbohydrate diet. 

“Eating a variety of vegetables and low-carb fruits ensures we obtain the full spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients which all play important roles in our health,” Sauza says. 

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