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

Insider
Insider
 2021-10-22
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  • 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.
  • Visit Insider's Health Reference library for more advice.

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

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One cup of olives contains:

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

2. Green bell peppers

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One medium green bell pepper contains:

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.

3. Carrots

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One cup of raw carrots contains:

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.

4. Broccoli

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One cup of raw broccoli contains:

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.

5. Kale

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One cup of raw kale contains:

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.

6. Spinach

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One cup of raw spinach contains:

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.

7. Green Beans

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One cup of raw green beans contains:

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

8. Cauliflower

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One cup of raw cauliflower contains:

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.

9. Garlic

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One teaspoon of garlic contains:

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.

10. Asparagus

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One cup of asparagus contains:

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

11. Lettuce

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One bunch of romaine lettuce contains:

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

12. Mushrooms

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One cup of diced portobello mushrooms contains:

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

13. Brussel Sprouts

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One cup of raw Brussel sprouts contains:

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

14. Onions

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One cup of chopped onion contains:

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

15. Beets

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One cup of raw beets contains:

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

16. Eggplant

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One cup of cubed eggplant contains:

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

17. Cucumbers

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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:

18. Zucchini

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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:

19. Chayote

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One cup of chayote contains:

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

20. Arugula

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Half a cup of raw arugula contains:

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

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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