There are several reasons to choose a low-carb diet. Perhaps you have a gluten sensitivity or pre-diabetes, and eat low-carb to manage your symptoms. Maybe you have weight loss goals and are eliminating “cravable” foods such as carbohydrates. Some people eat a ketogenic diet — one that encourages their bodies to burn fat as a fuel source, rather than glucose. When you minimize carbohydrates, you enter a state of ketosis. This is the fat-burning mode, and eating too many carbs can boot your body out of that state. Though vegetables are always good for you, certain veggies are better for ketosis than others, due to their carbohydrate load.
Celery has been touted as a “negative calorie” food — the number of calories (energy) in a serving of celery is less than the number of calories that your body uses to chew and digest it. One would think that means everyone would be munching on celery all the time, but the taste isn’t for everyone. Celery is mostly water and dietary fiber (which reduces the carbohydrate count on the keto diet), which helps you feel fuller longer while maintaining your low-carb diet. Celery is rich in vitamin K, and it also contains folate, vitamin A, potassium, and vitamin C.
Spinach is rich in nutrients, low-carb, and versatile. It can be added to hot dishes, incorporated into casseroles, and made into a keto-friendly hot dip (for your celery!). It’s also a great leafy green for salads and smoothies. Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C. It is high in dietary fiber, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, protein, and choline.
People tend to love or hate asparagus. For the yes men, this stalk veggie is delicious both cooked and raw, and can be finely diced and added to dips or casseroles. Asparagus can also be grilled, the perfect accompaniment to a keto meal. Although white asparagus, typically grown underground or in greenhouses, has much of the same nutrition as green asparagus, the green variety tops the white by a little. The former is packed with good-for-you vitamins and minerals like A, C, E, K, and B6, as well as folate, iron, copper, calcium, protein, and fiber.
Technically, avocado is a fruit. However, many people consider it an “honorary vegetable.” Avocado appears in many keto recipes, due to the high amount of healthy fat it contains. It is important to note that avocado is a high-calorie vegetable, as well, so if you are counting calories, keep this in mind. One-third of a medium avocado (50g) has 80 calories and contributes nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, making it a great nutrient-dense choice. The avocado is virtually the only fruit that contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
Zucchini and Summer Squash
Summer squashes are different from their cousins, fall squash, in that they’re best consumed when their skin is still soft. They’re also higher in water content and lower in starch, making zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant suitable low-carb options. These three vegetables are also high in water content, filling you up with fiber and fluids, and may help lower blood sugar levels. Both squash groups are a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C, plus potassium and fiber. One medium zucchini (or about 1½ cups of raw slices) has about 33 calories.
Cauliflower is a close cousin of broccoli but has a slightly different flavor profile. Less bitter and more buttery, cauliflower is very versatile. It can be roasted or mashed as a substitute for mashed potatoes. Riced cauliflower — finely chopped — is very popular for keto followers as a rice replacement in many dishes. The cruciferous veggie is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6. It is also high in choline, dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, phosphorus, and biotin.
Cucumber looks similar to zucchini, and they are related. However, cukes have more water and different nutritional make-up. They’re great for crunching in a salad or thinly sliced for a wrap. Cucumber may also be used to wrap sushi, or as a wrap for meat and cheese — like a green tortilla. One cup of unpeeled cucumber has only 16 calories, 4% of your daily vitamin C and potassium, and 3% of your daily fiber. They also provide small amounts of vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and vitamin A.
Sweeter than lettuce, cabbage has many varieties. From leafy green cabbage used in coleslaw or for chicken wraps to the slightly bitter red cabbage, to crunchier, milder Napa cabbage and bok choy, cabbage is a versatile ingredient especially popular in Asian dishes. It is also a good source of dietary fiber and protein and a lot of vitamins and minerals including folate, manganese, potassium, copper, choline, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, selenium, and pantothenic acid, and vitamins B1, B2, and B3.
For many, broccoli is synonymous with dieting. Crunchy in salads or sweet and soft when steamed, broccoli’s texture and flavor change remarkably depending on how it’s prepared. Many people who don’t care for raw broccoli will eat plenty cooked, and vice versa. A hybrid of broccoli and asparagus, broccolini, is another popular option. The vegetable is high in dietary fiber, pantothenic acid, vitamin E, manganese, choline, vitamin B1, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), potassium, and copper. Broccoli is also a good source of magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, zinc, calcium, iron, niacin, and selenium.
Probably the most polarizing vegetable on the list, Brussels sprouts get a bad rap. Cabbage’s little sister can be eaten raw but is best when roasted. There’s a bit of sweetness to Brussels sprouts, and many keto-followers will roast them with bacon for a complete meal. Brussels sprouts are rich in many valuable nutrients. They are an excellent source of vitamins C and K. They are a good source of folate, manganese, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, choline, copper, vitamin B1, potassium, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids.