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8 Keto Veggies You Should Add to Your Meals

July 09, 2018

8 Keto Veggies You Should Add to Your Meals

Your keto meals definitely need to include a range of low-carb veggies. Adding these help meet your daily requirements for fiber, vitamins, and minerals. But before you go and make that salad to go with your steak, you need to know which keto veggies you can and should eat on a keto diet.
 
After all, vegetables contain carbs, and you already know that carb intake needs to be minimal on a keto diet. Lucky for you, there are lots of keto veggies out there containing negligible amounts of carbs. We'll cover 8 of those keto veggies here and explain how each benefits your keto diet.

1. Avocado

The mighty avocado is actually a fruit. But because it lacks sweetness, most people think of it as a veggie. Whatever you may call it, you’ll see that avocado is a popular keto ingredient because it tick all the right keto nutrition boxes:
  • Low in carbs – One whole, ½ pound avocado, has only 3.5 grams of net carbs. That’s 26.5 grams of carbs away from your 30 grams a day limit.
  • High in fiber – On the other hand, a whole avocado will give you a whopping 13 grams of fiber. That's over 50% of your recommended daily value (DV) for this important nutrient.
 
  • High in fat – There are 30 grams of fat in one whole avocado. The best thing is that most of this fat is monounsaturated (70%). Studies show this fat reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke by 11-17% [1]. Avocados also come with essential omega-3 and 6 fatty acids.
  • Moderate in protein – One avocado also comes with 4 grams of protein. Avocados don't contain all essential amino acids. Still, they can help contribute to your daily protein intake.
Avocados are also an excellent source of vitamin E, vitamin B6, niacin, folate, magnesium, and potassium. There's also evidence that avocados helps prevent metabolic syndrome and its many health consequences like diabetes and heart attacks [2].

2. Cauliflower

Don't get fooled by this unassuming keto veggie. Being a member of the cruciferous genus of vegetables, cauliflower is a superfood rich in health-protecting phytochemicals. Studies show that many of these compounds get lost in cooking [3], so eating cauliflower raw when possible can give you more benefits.
 
But what you really want to know is how many carbs are there in this keto veggie. Well, one cup of cauliflower provides less than 3 grams of net carbs. You also get plenty of vitamin C from the same serving of raw cauliflower (77% DV).
 
A popular way to eat cauliflower on a keto diet is to make faux, steamed rice with it. To make cauliflower rice, chop your cauliflower into florets, blitz it in a food processor, and serve raw or steamed with your favorite seasoning. Of course, there are countless other ways that you can prepare this keto veggie.

3. Romaine Lettuce

Romaine lettuce is another low-carb, keto veggie that you can eat freely without giving a second thought. One cup provides only 0.5 grams of net carbs and plenty of vitamin C, A, K, and folate. It's a common misconception that romaine lettuce is a good source of fiber, so don't rely on this keto veggie in this regard.
 
The best thing about lettuce is that you really can't go overboard with it on keto. So, feel free and add it to your salads and sandwiches for every meal. Another great thing about lettuce is that it enhances the removal of bad cholesterol and reduces oxidative stress thanks to its many antioxidants [4].
 
Animal studies also show that phenolic compounds in romaine lettuce protect the brain against oxidative stress [5]. You see, your brain is your body's largest consumer of oxygen which makes it particularly prone to oxidative stress. Any food rich in antioxidants, like romaine lettuce, is valuable in keeping your brain healthy.

4. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are neither plants nor animals. Instead, they're belong to a separate kingdom of their own called fungi. But from a culinary standpoint, they're considered a vegetable. There are many different edible mushrooms, but the most popular ones include button, portobello, shiitake, oyster, and porcini, just to name a few.
 
These keto veggies are also low in carbs, with one cup of portobello mushrooms providing only 3.2 grams of net carbs. Mushrooms contain fiber, a bit of protein, phosphorus, potassium, and copper. Mushrooms exposed to sunlight are also a unique source of vitamin D, albeit in negligible amounts.
 
Regarding their health benefits, research shows that mushrooms have a hypoglycemic effect, meaning they lower blood glucose levels which is important for keto [6]. A 2017 review states that mushrooms have anti-allergic, cholesterol lowering, and cancer-fighting properties [7].
 
Another great thing about mushrooms is that they have a strong, umami flavor as well as a meaty texture. That’s why you can use them as a meat replacement on a vegan, keto diet for these reasons. But keep in mind that they're too low in protein to be considered a true meat substitute.

5. Asparagus

Asparagus are the shoots of a fern-like plant. You'll find them sold in stores and farmers' markets in the spring. Most are sold green but white asparagus grown below a layer of mulch are also available.
 
One cup of raw asparagus contains only 2,5 grams of net carbs and almost 3 grams of fiber. Asparagus are rich in vitamins A, C, K, thiamine, and folate. These keto veggies also contain plenty of iron (16% DV).
 
 
 
Adding asparagus to your spring meals can help with liver detoxing. According to one study, asparagus upregulates the activity of two liver enzymes that metabolize ethanol, alcohol dehydrogenase, and aldehyde dehydrogenase [7]. The same study explains that these findings mean that asparagus can help alleviate hangover and protect your liver against toxicity.
 
The only down side of asparagus is that it's expensive. On the bright side, just two asparagus stalks are considered one serving, which is enough to satisfy your keto palate with this keto veggie come spring.

6. Broccoli

Broccoli is another cruciferous keto veggie noted for its strong flavor. Nutritionally speaking, broccoli is low in carbs with one cup providing only 3,6 grams. It's highest in vitamins C, K, and folate with a low amount of minerals. Other than that, it isn't all that rich in micronutrients. What makes broccoli so special is its scientifically-backed health benefits.
 
Researchers believe that sulfur-containing chemicals, antioxidant vitamins (C and E), and antioxidant minerals (selenium and zinc) in broccoli are responsible for its health benefits [9] like chronic disease prevention, liver health, and lower risk of allergies. 
 
 
Furthermore, broccoli contains polyphenols like kaempferol, quercetin, and glucosides which protect against dangerous diseases like cancer and heart disease. Polyphenols are biologically active compounds that protect plants against disease and parasites. When eaten, these compounds function as powerful antioxidants.
 
The best way to prepare broccoli is to steam and stir fry it. This helps preserve its nutrients (notably vitamin C) and antioxidant compounds. It pairs perfectly with bacon and tastes great with melted cheese and cream.

7. Radish

Normally, you're not allowed to eat below-ground vegetables like carrots and potatoes on a keto diet. That's because these vegetables tend to be very high in starches. Radishes are an exception to this rule as one cup contains a meager 2 grams of net carbs.
 
Radishes are an excellent source of vitamin C (29% DV), which is an antioxidant vitamin that is especially vital for brain functioning and health. Besides that, this important vitamin is also essential for collagen synthesis, helping your skin stay youthful. Studies also show that radishes prevent kidney stones and high LDL cholesterol [10].
 
 
The best way to eat these keto veggies is raw, for example, sliced in keto salads. Heat treatment tends to reduce the amount of vitamin C in all food as well as major phytochemicals.

8. Green Beans

While legumes are not allowed on keto, you can enjoy green beans. These low-carb keto veggies contain only 4 grams of net carbs per one cup. The same amount will also give you a hefty dose of fiber. Fiber is important on a keto diet because it helps normalize bowel movements and it feeds intestinal bacteria.
 
Besides being low in carbs, green beans are also an excellent source of vitamins A, C, K, and folate. A one cup serving will give you a moderate amount of potassium and iron. Green beans also contain bioactive compounds like chlorophyl, carotenoids, polyamines, and polyphenols, which function as antioxidants.
 
 
Interestingly, research shows that cooking actually increases the levels of antioxidant compounds in green beans, making these keto veggies among the rare few that are healthier cooked than raw. [11]. Microwave cooking increased antioxidant compounds the most.
 

Conclusion

Going low-carb doesn't mean you should avoid all vegetables. In fact, not eating vegetables is bad for you, even on keto. But to stay in ketosis, you will need to be careful about your choice of veggies. Some are too high in carbs to be practical on keto. The few keto veggies listed above are ideal for your keto diet, so do make them a part of your daily meals.
 
These keto veggies are low in carbs while being high in micronutrients and health-protecting compounds. These keto veggies will help you avoid nutrient deficiencies, protect your gut, and even prevent chronic and dangerous diseases.
 
Make sure that you count your carbs when adding keto veggies to your diet. The recommended daily amount is usually around 50 grams per day. To know for sure, use our Keto Calculator to get your exact daily macros today.