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10 Popular Low Carb Vegetables

Low Carb Vegetables

Carbohydrates, or carbs, have a bad reputation among the dieting community for a good reason. While they are important to any healthy diet, an excess of these sugars, starches, and fibers can contribute to weight gain. When most people think of high carb foods, they think about bread, desserts, chips, and other snacks. It might surprise you to learn that many healthy foods, like quinoa, chickpeas, and beets, are also high in carbs and might torpedo your low-carb diet. Luckily, there are plenty of delicious low carb vegetables out there for you to choose from.

What Are Low Carb Vegetables?

Low carb vegetables are vegetable crops low in the natural sugars, starches, and fibers we call carbohydrates. The level of carbs in different vegetables varies, but low carb choices should have ten or fewer grams of carbohydrates per cup. Those on a low-carb diet should look for vegetables that not only have a low overall carb count but also contain fiber that makes up a significant percentage of that carb count. Unlike sugar and starch, fiber is undigestible, which helps keep you from packing on the pounds. Foods high in fiber are also nutritious and help with digestion. Eating a diet with plenty of vegetables that have few calories, but are high in fiber, is a great way to stick to a low-carb diet.

Is There a Need for Low Carb Vegetables? 

low carb salad

Low-carb diets have been popular for years, and for a good reason: they work. Many low carb dieters focus on protein-packed meals with plenty of meat, but this can lead to higher cholesterol levels. Mixing low carb vegetables in with your protein-dense meals will help you maintain a balanced diet as you work toward your weight loss goals.

Most low-carb diets limit carb intake to under 150 grams per day. More extreme diets can go as low as 20 grams per day. To stick to a low-carb diet and still get the wide variety of nutrients your body needs, you will need to eat plenty of low carb vegetables. There are many to choose from, and you will find some of our most versatile favorites here on this list.

The Top Low Carb Vegetables

Cauliflower

cauliflower

Cauliflower is a very versatile vegetable: it can be roasted, mashed, sauteed, or even turned into rice or a pizza crust. Thanks to its mild flavor, it can serve as a substitute for several starches, including potatoes and rice. Sometimes it even improves on the dish as a substitute – many swear by mashed cauliflower over mashed potatoes!

One cup of cauliflower contains just five grams of carbs, and three of them are fiber. This, combined with its versatility, make for a low carb vegetable that any dieter will always want to have on hand. Besides its fiber content, cauliflower is also high in vitamins K and C and may be helpful in preventing illnesses like heart disease and cancer.

Broccoli

Broccoli is often referred to as a super-food, and with good reason. This popular, low carb vegetable has been shown to decrease insulin resistance in patients suffering from type 2 diabetes and may protect against different cancers. One cup of broccoli contains just six grams of carbs, with two of them being fiber. Whether raw, steamed, or roasted, broccoli is an excellent low carb vegetable choice for any diet. Like cauliflower, it is high in vitamins C and K, but it has a different texture, flavor, and color.

Asparagus

asparagus

Asparagus is a tasty vegetable, especially when grilled or sauteed, and it is also low in carbs and high in nutrients. Packed with vitamins A, C, and K, studies have shown that asparagus is helpful in preventing certain kinds of cancer. Studies in mice have even shown that it can aid in protecting brain health and reducing anxiety.

Asparagus contains eight grams of
carbs per one cup serving, and four of them are fiber. It is a delicious low
carb option, but be careful not to overcook it, or it may become stringy.

Spinach

Spinach is a popular leafy vegetable that offers a host of health benefits. It can be served raw or cooked, but its carb content becomes more concentrated as it cooks down. One cup of cooked spinach contains seven grams of carbs with four grams of fiber, while one cup of raw spinach features just a single gram of carbs, with almost a whole gram of fiber. It can be sauteed and served as a side or used fresh as the base for a salad packed with other low carb vegetables from this list.

Besides its low carb content,
spinach also offers a host of health benefits. It’s high in vitamin K, which is
great for protecting heart health, and studies have shown that it may even help
protect eye health by warding off cataracts and other issues.

Onions

Onions

Onions are pungent, yes, but they are also high in nutrients and packed with health benefits. While they are higher in carbs than many other low carb vegetables featured on this list, they are usually used sparingly compared to other vegetables because of their strong flavor. Onions contain twelve grams of carbs per cup, with two grams of fiber.

This higher carb content is worth
it, though, not just for onions’ great flavor but also for the other health
benefits they provide. They are high in an antioxidant called quercetin, which
studies have shown can lower blood pressure. One study even found that red
onions are effective in lowering LDL cholesterol levels in some people.

Kale

Believe the hype: kale is truly a superfood. It is absolutely packed with antioxidants that have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and even protect against type 2 diabetes. It is also high in vitamin A and vitamin C, which improves the body’s immune system and can help fight to age. One cup of raw kale has just seven grams of carbs, with one gram of them being fiber. Kale is great in a salad or soup, or even baked into kale chips.

Mushrooms

While technically a fungus, not a vegetable, mushrooms are nutrient dense and low in carbs and they offer other benefits. For example, they have been shown to decrease inflammation in patients suffering from metabolic syndrome. Raw white mushrooms contain just two grams of carbs per cup with one gram being fiber, making them a tasty and nutritious, low carb option.

Bell Peppers

Bell Peppers

The popular bell pepper, whether green, red, or yellow, is a very nutritious vegetable. Packed with antioxidants, they can reduce inflammation, lower the risk of cancer, and more. Bell peppers are also loaded with vitamins A, and C. One cup of bell peppers contains nine grams of carbs, with four of them coming from fiber. The various colors of bell pepper are similar in nutrient content, but their antioxidant content may be slightly different.

Tomatoes

While technically a fruit rather than a vegetable, tomatoes are usually put in the vegetable section in produce departments. They are also great for your health, with plenty of vitamins A, C, and K. They are high in potassium, which can reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of stroke. One cup of cherry tomatoes contains six grams of carbs, with two of those coming from fiber. Cook them in olive oil with some onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms for a tasty sauce using all low carb vegetables.

They also protect the heart’s health
and can even help in warding off prostate cancer thanks to a compound called
lycopene. Cooking tomatoes increase their lycopene content and doing so in a
fat like olive oil can increase the body’s absorption rate, further boosting
tomatoes’ health benefits.

Avocados

avocado

Last but not least comes another fruit masquerading as a vegetable. Avocados are unique for their high-fat content, which makes them a filling low carb option for dieters. Their carb content is slightly higher than other items on this list at thirteen grams per cup, but their ten grams of fiber balances the scales. Avocados contain a lot of oleic acids, a monounsaturated fat known to help lower triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels. They are also a good source of nutrients like vitamin C and potassium. For heart health, low carb content, and a feeling of fullness, it’s hard to beat the tasty avocado.

Conclusion

This is far from an exhaustive list
of low carb vegetables. Others, including zucchini, Brussels sprouts,
artichokes, and eggplant, offer their own health benefits alongside their low
carbohydrate content. All these low carb vegetables are also low in calories,
and a diet rich in them can reduce your risk of a huge range of ailments, from
heart disease to many kinds of cancer. Thanks to their low amounts of digestible
carbohydrates, all are also perfect picks for a low-carb diet.

Remember, it’s important to avoid
foods high in carbohydrates, so you don’t sabotage your diet focusing on low
carb vegetables – stick to your plan and you’re sure to notice a difference!

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