Vegetables are a key component of a low carb diet. Discover a variety of vegetables you can eat with abandon, from asparagus to zucchini.
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. Most are under 130 grams (g) of carbs per day, and some go as low as 20 g per day (1).
Whether you’re on a low carb diet or not, eating more vegetables is always a great idea.
Here is a list of the 20 best low carb vegetables to include in your diet.
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 (2, 3).
One cup (149 g) of chopped red pepper contains 9 g of carbs, 3 of which are fiber (4).
The same serving size provides 26% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin A and a whopping 212% of the DV for vitamin C, which is often lacking in very low carb diets.
Green, orange, and yellow bell peppers have similar nutrient profiles, although their antioxidant contents may vary.
Bell peppers are anti-inflammatory and high in vitamins A and C. They contain 6 g of digestible (net) carbs per serving.
Broccoli is a true superfood.
It’s a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes kale, Brussels sprouts, radishes, and cabbage.
Studies show that broccoli may decrease insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes. It’s also thought to protect against several types of cancer, including prostate cancer (5, 6, 7).
One cup (91 g) of raw broccoli contains 6 g of carbs, 2 of which are fiber (8).
It also provides 90% of the DV for vitamin C and 77% of the DV for vitamin K.
Broccoli contains 4 g of digestible carbs per serving. It’s high in vitamins C and K and may reduce insulin resistance and help prevent cancer.
Asparagus is a delicious spring vegetable.
One cup (180 g) of cooked asparagus contains 7 g of carbs, 4 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).
Asparagus contains 3 g of digestible carbs per serving. It’s a good source of several vitamins and may help protect against certain types of cancer.
Mushrooms are extremely low in carbs.
A 1-cup (70-g) serving of raw white mushrooms contains just 2 g of carbs, 1 of which is fiber (14).
What’s more, they’ve been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties (15).
In a study involving men with metabolic syndrome, eating 3.5 ounces (100 g) of white mushrooms for 16 weeks significantly improved antioxidant and anti-inflammatory markers (16).
Mushrooms contain 1 g of digestible carbs per serving. They can reduce inflammation in people with metabolic syndrome.
Zucchini is a popular vegetable and the most common type of summer squash. Summer squash is long with soft edible skin.
In contrast, winter squash comes in various shapes, has an inedible rind, and is higher in carbs than summer varieties.
One cup (124 g) of raw zucchini contains 4 g of carbs, 1 of which is fiber. It’s a good source of vitamin C, providing 25% of the RDI per serving (17).
Yellow Italian squash and other types of summer squash have carb counts and nutrient profiles similar to zucchini.
Zucchini and other types of summer squash contain 3 g of digestible carbs per serving and are high in vitamin C.
Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that provides major health benefits.
Researchers report that it can help reduce damage to DNA. It also protects heart health and may decrease the risk of common eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration (18, 19).
What’s more, it’s an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals. One cup (180 g) of cooked spinach provides more than 7 times the DV for vitamin K (20).
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 g of carbs with 4 g of fiber, whereas one cup of raw spinach contains 1 g of carbs with almost 1 g of fiber (21, 22).
Cooked spinach contains 3 g of digestible carbs per serving, is very high in vitamin K and helps protect heart and eye health.
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-g) serving of chopped avocados has 13 g of carbs, 10 of which are fiber (23).
Avocados are also rich in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat with various health benefits. Small studies have found that avocados help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels (24, 25).
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, people with overweight who included half an avocado in their lunch reported feeling fuller and had less desire to eat over the next 5 hours (26).
Avocados provide 3 g of net carbs per serving. They promote feelings of fullness and are high in heart-healthy fat and fiber.
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 higher carb foods like potato and rice.
One cup (107 g) of raw cauliflower contains 5 g of carbs, 2 of which are fiber. It’s also high in vitamin K and provides 57% of the DV for vitamin C (27).
Like other cruciferous vegetables, it’s associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer (28, 29).
Cauliflower contains 3 g of digestible carbs per serving. It is also high in vitamins K and C and may help prevent heart disease and cancer.
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.
A one-cup (125-g) serving of cooked green beans contains 10 g of carbs, 4 of which are fiber (30).
They’re high in chlorophyll, which animal studies suggest may help protect against cancer (31).
In addition, they contain carotenoids, which are associated with improved brain function during aging (32).
Green beans contain 6 g of digestible carbs per serving, as well as antioxidants that may help prevent cancer and protect the brain.
Lettuce is one of the lowest-carb vegetables around.
One cup (47 g) of lettuce contains 2 g of carbs, 1 of which is fiber (33).
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 linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
An older study in 37 women showed that consuming foods high in folate for 5 weeks reduced homocysteine levels by 13%, compared to a low-folate diet (34).
Lettuce contains 1 g of digestible carbs per serving. It’s high in several vitamins, including folate, which may lower heart disease risk.
Garlic is known for its beneficial effects on immune function.
Studies have found that it may boost resistance to the common cold and decrease blood pressure (35, 36, 37).
Although it’s a high carb vegetable by weight, the amount typically consumed in one sitting is very low due to its strong taste and aroma.
One clove (3 g) of garlic contains 1 g of carbs, part of which is fiber (38).
Garlic contains 1 g of digestible carbs per clove. It may reduce blood pressure and improve immune function.
Kale is a trendy vegetable that’s also extremely nutrient dense.
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 (39, 40).
One cup (21 g) of raw kale contains 1 g of carbs, which is mostly fiber. It also provides 68% of the DV for vitamin K and 22% of the DV for vitamin C (41).
High vitamin C intake has been shown to improve immune function. It also increases the skin’s ability to fight damaging free radicals, which can speed up the aging process (42, 43).
Kale contains less than 1 g of digestible carbs per serving. It’s high in antioxidants and provides a good amount of vitamin K.
Cucumbers are low in carbs and very refreshing.
One cup (104 g) of chopped cucumber contains 4 g of carbs, less than 1 g of which is fiber (44).
Although cucumbers aren’t very high in vitamins or minerals, they contain a compound called cucurbitacin E, which may benefit health.
Results from test-tube and animal studies suggest it has anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties and may protect brain health (45, 46, 47).
Cucumbers contain just under 4 g of digestible carbs per serving. They may help protect against cancer and support brain health.
Brussels sprouts are another tasty cruciferous vegetable.
A half-cup (78-g) serving of cooked Brussels sprouts contains 6 g of carbs, 2 of which are fiber (48).
It also provides 53% of the DV for vitamin C and 91% of the DV for vitamin K.
Brussels sprouts contain 4 g of digestible carbs per serving. They’re high in vitamins C and K.
Celery is extremely low in digestible carbs.
A one-cup (101-g) serving of chopped celery contains 3 g of carbs, 2 of which are fiber. It’s a good source of vitamin K, providing 25% of the DV (49).
In addition, it contains luteolin, an antioxidant that shows potential for both preventing and helping treat cancer (50).
Celery provides 1 g of digestible carbs per serving. It also contains luteolin, which may have anticancer properties.
Tomatoes have numerous impressive health benefits.
Like avocados, they are technically fruits but usually consumed as vegetables.
They’re also low in digestible carbs. One cup (149 g) of cherry tomatoes contains 6 g of carbs, 2 of which are fiber (51).
Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A, C, and K. They’re also high in potassium, which can help reduce blood pressure and decrease stroke risk (52).
They’ve also been shown to strengthen the endothelial cells that line your arteries, and their high lycopene content may help prevent prostate cancer (52, 53).
Cooking tomatoes increases lycopene content, and adding fats such as olive oil during cooking has been shown to boost its absorption (54).
Tomatoes contain 4 g of digestible carbs per serving and are high in vitamins and potassium. They may help protect heart health and reduce cancer risk.
Radishes are Brassica vegetables with a sharp, peppery taste.
One cup (116 g) of raw sliced radishes contains 4 g of carbs, 2 of which are fiber (55).
They’re fairly high in vitamin C, providing 20% of the RDI per serving.
According to an older study, radishes may also reduce the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. They may achieve this by modifying how the body metabolizes estrogen (56).
Radishes contain 2 g of digestible carbs per serving and may help reduce the risk of breast cancer in older women.
Onions are a pungent, nutritious vegetable.
Although they’re fairly high in carbs by weight, people usually consume them in small amounts because of their robust flavor.
A half-cup (58 g) of sliced raw onions contains 5 g of carbs, 1 of which is fiber (57).
Onions are high in the antioxidant quercetin, which may lower blood pressure (58).
One study in women with overweight or obesity as well as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) found that eating red onions reduced LDL cholesterol levels (59).
Onions contain 4 g of digestible carbs per serving and may help lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels.
Eggplant is a common vegetable in many Italian and Asian dishes.
A one-cup (99-g) serving of chopped, cooked eggplant contains 8 g of carbs, 2 of which are fiber (60).
It’s not very high in most vitamins or minerals. However, animal research suggests eggplant may help lower cholesterol and improve other markers of heart health (61).
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 (62).
Eggplant contains 6 g of digestible carbs per serving and may help protect heart and brain health.
Cabbage has some impressive health benefits.
As a cruciferous vegetable, it may help reduce the risk of certain cancers, including esophageal and stomach cancer (63).
One cup (89 g) of chopped raw cabbage contains 5 g of carbs, 2 of which are fiber (64).
It also provides 36% of the DV for vitamin C and 75% of the DV for vitamin K.
Cabbage contains 3 g of digestible carbs per serving. It’s high in vitamins C and K and may reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Artichokes are delicious and nutritious.
One medium-sized globe artichoke (120 g) contains 14 g of carbs.
However, 7 g come from fiber, making it fairly low in digestible carbs (65).
A portion of the fiber is inulin, which acts as a prebiotic that feeds healthy gut bacteria (66).
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 an improvement in blood vessel function (67).
Artichokes contain 7 g of digestible carbs per serving and may improve gut and heart health.
There are many tasty vegetables you can include in a low carb diet.
In addition to being low in carbs and calories, they may reduce your risk of various diseases and improve your overall health and well-being.