- How to Choose Low-Carb Vegetables
- The Best Keto Vegetables to Consume in Abundance
- Vegetables to Limit and Avoid on Keto
- Enjoy Low-Carb Veggies: Keto Recipes
You know vegetables are crucial for a healthy lifestyle. Since starting the ketogenic diet, you may be wondering, “What are the best keto vegetables I can eat?” Below, you’ll learn which low-carb veggies you should consume in abundance and which you should consume in moderation. You’ll also find a few keto-friendly recipes so you can effortlessly add more nutritious veggies to your diet.
How to Choose Low-Carb Veggies
When following keto or any other extremely low-carb diet, your goal should be to keep your total carb intake at or below 5% of your total calories. For the average person, this comes out to roughly 20 grams of net carbs per day.
Calculate the Net Carbs Per Serving
To determine which low-carb vegetables are best, do a little reverse math. A healthy meal plan should include three to five servings of vegetables per day, at minimum[*].
If your goal is 20 grams of net carbs, and you want to consume five servings, then you should aim to consume vegetables with 4 grams of net carbs (or less) per serving size.
Be Cautious of Vegetables That Grow Below Ground
Another rule of thumb to follow: If a vegetable grows above ground (lettuce, spinach, and bell peppers are good examples) it probably contains a low enough carb count to be keto-friendly.
If a vegetable grows below ground (carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and turnips) you might need to double-check the carb count. Veggies that grow below ground are known as “tubers,” and are known for being high-starch, high-carb vegetables.
Understand Serving Sizes
The foods — and their associated nutrition facts — listed below state the net carb count per 100 grams. How much 100 grams really is will vary depending upon the low-carb food. For example, 100 grams equals roughly[*]:
- One medium tomato
- One cup of raw, leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, or lettuce)
- One-half cup of cooked orange or green vegetables (broccoli, carrots, or pumpkin)
- Half of a starchy vegetable (sweet potato, potato, or cassava)
If 100 grams of sweet potato contains 17 grams of net carbs, you might be tempted to eat it with grass-fed butter as a treat. But you can only eat half. Eating the entire sweet potato would double the net carb count to 34 grams, well over your daily allotment.
The Best Keto Vegetables to Consume in Abundance
You can consume the following low-carb veggies in abundance. Enjoy these veggies raw or roasted in a healthy, high-fat oil like coconut oil or avocado oil. All net carb counts below (listed in parentheses after the food) refer to a 100-gram serving.
Dark, leafy green vegetables are best when it comes to being low-carb and nutrient dense.
Green leafy vegetables have also been shown to fight the aging process and cognitive decline[*]. Leafy greens also rank extremely low on the glycemic index, so they won’t raise your blood sugar levels[*].
Also, since leafy greens have high water content, adding them to your meals can provide volume without too many added carbs or calories. Try including these greens regularly in your diet:
- Spinach (1.43 grams)
- Kale (5.15 grams)
- Collard greens (1.40 grams)
- Arugula (2.05 grams)
- Romaine (1.19 grams)
- Butterhead lettuce (1.1 grams)
- Watercress (.79 grams)
- Dandelions (5.7 grams)
- Alfalfa sprouts (3.78 grams)
Cruciferous Low-Carb Veggies
Cruciferous vegetables (those of the cabbage family) are a good choice since they are high in nutrition while maintaining low carb content. They’re also high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and are incredibly anti-inflammatory[*]. Good options include:
- Bok choy (1.18 grams)
- Mustard greens (1.6 grams)
- Radishes (1.80 grams)
- Swiss chard (2.1 grams)
- Zucchini (2.11 grams)
- Cauliflower (2.97 grams)
- Green cabbage (3.00 grams)
- White cabbage (3.07 grams)
- Cucumbers (3.13 grams)
- Broccoli (4.40 grams)
- Turnips (4.63 grams)
- Brussels sprouts (5.15 grams)
- Kale (5.15 grams)
Cruciferous veggies are also good sources of folate, dietary fiber, and minerals. Studies show that compounds in cruciferous vegetables can protect cells from DNA damage, have antiviral and antibacterial qualities, and inhibit tumor growth[*].
Other Keto Vegetables
Outside cruciferous and leafy greens, there are still many low-carb vegetables you can enjoy. These foods stay below the 5 grams of carbs per 100 grams:
- Garlic (0.99 gram in one clove)
- Celery (1.37 grams)
- Asparagus (1.78 grams)
- Summer squash (2.25 grams)
- White mushrooms (2.26 grams)
- Olives (2.80 grams)
- Eggplant (2.88 grams)
- Bell peppers (2.9 grams)
- Bamboo shoots (3.00 grams)
- Artichoke hearts (3.88 grams)
- Okra (4.25 grams)
- Green beans (4.27 grams)
- Sauerkraut (great when naturally fermented, but beware of low-quality brands and added sugar — 4.28 grams)
- Snow peas (4.9 grams)
These veggies can taste delicious when you cook them the right way.
Now that you know about the best keto vegetables to eat on your ketogenic diet, it’s time to know which veggies should be limited or avoided completely.
Vegetables to Limit and Avoid on Keto
There are two groups of vegetables you should avoid on keto: starchy vegetables and vegetables that could be defined as a legume. These vegetables are higher in carbs and could potentially slow weight loss or prevent you from entering ketosis.
Enjoy in Moderation: Sweet Vegetables
Some vegetables are higher in carbs but can still be enjoyed in moderation on keto. One serving of these per day should be fine. Pro tip: When enjoying one of the foods below, enjoy leafy greens the remainder of the day to keep your carb count low. Sweet vegetables to consume in moderation include:
- Carrots (6.78 grams)
- Pumpkin (5.14 grams)
- Winter squash (7.09 grams)
- Onions (8.71 grams)
- Rutabaga (8.1 grams)
Avoid Altogether: Legumes and Tubers
Beans and root vegetables (tubers) typically include 10–20 grams of net carbs per 100 grams. In general, these vegetables are higher in total carbohydrates and have a higher glycemic load than other vegetables. As such, they can spike your blood glucose levels[*]. Examples include:
- Sweet potatoes (17.12 grams)
- Yams (23.78 grams)
- White potatoes (16.77 grams)
- Parsnips (13.09 grams)
- Green peas (13.57 grams)
- Corn (16.32 grams)
- Leeks (12.35 grams)
- Butternut squash (11.7 grams)
- Baby carrots (8.2 grams)
- Raw carrots (medium carrots, 9.6 grams)
Enjoy Low-Carb Veggies: Keto Recipes
There are lots of ways to enjoy vegetables on a ketogenic diet. Enjoy them as a side dish topped with a dollop of healthy fat — think grass-fed butter or a drizzle of olive oil or coconut oil. You can saute them in stir-fries or add them to soups and stews. They’re also a great base for keto salads.
Enjoy fresh veggies in season, and stock up on frozen versions when your favorites aren’t in season (or if you don’t have easy access to fresh produce year-round). Frozen vegetables are typically cheaper than fresh, and just as nutritious.
Here are some low-carb meal ideas incorporating keto-friendly vegetables:
- Roasted Chicken Stacks (with cabbage)
- Chicken Caesar (with romaine lettuce)
- White Turkey Chili (with cauliflower and onion)
- Crispy Skin Salmon (with cauliflower rice)
- Shrimp Stir-Fry (with cauliflower rice)
- Bebere Enchilada-Style Stuffed Peppers (with bell peppers, carrots, onion, garlic, and cauliflower)
- Brown Butter Buffalo Bites (with cauliflower)
- Smoked Salmon Pate (with cucumber)
- Creamy Mushroom Chicken (with onion and mushrooms)
- Avocado Breakfast Bowl
- Two-Step Garlic Parmesan Zucchini Pasta (zoodles)
- Spicy Italian Keto Stuffed Peppers casserole
Keto Vegetables for Your Weekly Meal Prep
As you have learned, there are plenty of low-carb vegetables for you to enjoy on keto, all of which offer various health benefits.
Remember: Leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, and other low-carb foods can be enjoyed in large quantities. Sweet veggies such as onions, carrots, and squash should be consumed in moderation. Certain foods, like starchy tubers and legumes, are best avoided.