Low-carb vegetables – the best and the worst
- Vegetables growing above ground are low carb and can be eaten freely.
- Vegetables growing below ground contain more carbs, so you’ll have to be more careful with them (especially potatoes).
Like any rule it is not perfect, so have a look below.
All numbers are net carbs per 100 grams (3½ ounces).1
E.g. an average tomato has about 3 grams of carbs. A whole cauliflower head weighs a lot more though, perhaps ten times more, and may thus contain about ten times 4 grams, i.e. 40 grams of carbs.
Please note the difference between above-ground and below-ground vegetables.
Vegetables with less than 5 percent carbs may be eaten relatively freely. If you’re on a not-too-strict low-carb diet (more than 20 grams per day), you can probably eat all you want of all these low-carb vegetables.
If you’re on a keto low-carb diet (below 20 grams a day), you may need to be a bit careful with some of the vegetables. You should probably be especially careful with peppers or tomatoes – these carbs quickly add up towards the 20 grams-a-day limit. Just one medium-sized pepper may contain 6-8 grams of digestible carbs.
Top 10 low-carb vegetables
All numbers are net carbs per 100 grams (3½ ounces).3
- Cauliflower – 4 g. The most classic and iconic of all low-carb vegetables. The base of cauliflower rice and cauliflower mash. Check out our top 18 cauliflower recipes
- Cabbage – 3 g. Another great low-carb vegetable. Who doesn’t love butter-fried green cabbage or the truly addictive Asian cabbage stir-fry? For more, here are our top 21 cabbage recipes
- Avocado – 2 g. Not just low carb, but also full of nutritious fat. Avocado can be eaten in all kinds of ways, including on its own, perhaps with some mayonnaise, or it can be used to make guacamole. But that’s just the start, here are more awesome avocado recipes
- Broccoli – 4 g. Another great option that can replace pasta, rice or potatoes. Just fry it in butter or add some cheese for great-tasting side dishes. More recipes
- Zucchini – 3 g. Try our zucchini fries or zucchini chips. Zucchini can also be used to make low-carb pasta, like in this low-carbonara. More recipes
- Spinach – 1 g. An extremely low-carb vegetable, that can be used in many ways. Check out our very popular low-carb frittata with fresh spinach or any of our many other spinach recipes
- Asparagus – 2 g. Tasty and nutritious and very low carb. Top recipes
- Kale – 4 g. Recipes
- Green beans – 4 g. Recipes
- Brussels sprouts – 5 g. Recipes
Vegetable sticks and dip
Vegetable sticks are relatively low carb, except for carrots that have slightly more carbs.
Dip: Add cream cheese or any really low-carb and high-fat dip sauce. Here are our top recipes:
Peas, corn, beans, lentils, quinoa
Peas, corn, beans, lentils and quinoa are not vegetables and contain more carbohydrates than vegetables. Be careful with them on a strict low-carb diet, eating them in very small amounts or not at all.
Most of these plant foods are not classified as vegetables but as grains or legumes. They are not good low-carb options.
Grains and pure sugar
Wheat is not a vegetable, it is a grain. And anything made with wheat flour contains lots of rapidly digested carbs. Avoid this as much as possible when on a low-carb diet. Whole-grain products are just less bad – it’s like cigarettes with filter.
Bread, pasta, rice, cookies etc. are not vegetables, and they are full of carbohydrates.
High fructose corn syrup – the sugary nutrient in soda – comes from plants (corn), but it is not a vegetable and it most certainly is not low carb.
Low-carb vegetable recipes
Top cauliflower recipes
Cauliflower may be the most popular low-carb vegetable of all. Here are our top cauliflower recipes:
Top cabbage recipes
Cabbage is another very versatile low-carb vegetable. Here are our top cabbage recipes:
Food for thought
Visual low-carb guides