Vegetables are a great source of important vitamins and minerals. But when you're on a keto diet, you have to be careful when adding them to your meals. The carbs in vegetables can easily add up if you eat too much of the wrong kind, sabotaging your dieting attempts along the way.
A good rule of thumb is to opt for low-carb vegetables that are dense in micronutrients and fiber. That's easier said than done, because fresh produce doesn't really come with nutrition labels. This is why you'll need to do your research first before going grocery shopping.
To make vegetable shopping easier for you, we put together a list of the top 20 keto-approved vegetables that are also easy to incorporate into keto meals. We also give you simple-to-follow rules you can use next time you go vegetable shopping.
Our top-15 list also includes net carbs for each vegetable, as well as their micronutrient content and their health benefits.
If it's green and leafy, then it's good for you. Most leafy greens are low in carbs but rich in key micronutrients, most notably vitamin K, vitamin C, iron, and calcium . They're also a reliable source of magnesium – a mineral that’s hard to get from a high-fat, low-carb diet.
Another useful rule is to avoid below-ground vegetables and eat only those that grow above ground. Below-ground vegetables (root crops) tend to be higher in sugars and starches. Still, some above-ground veggies like corn, pumpkin, and peas are also starchy while some roots are fairly low in carbs, so be careful with this rule.
Also, avoid sweet-tasting vegetables. The sweet taste obviously comes from the vegetable's high sugar content. Examples of sweet veggies to avoid include carrots, butternut squash, corn, leeks, and yams.
Before vegetable shopping, research their nutrient profile first, then make a grocery list. You can also use our grocery list feature to get a personalized grocery list straight to your email.
The vegetables you’ll see below contain less than 10 grams of net carbs per 100 grams of raw product. Net carbs are total carbs minus the fiber (because fiber doesn't affect ketosis). They are ranked in order of the lowest to highest carb content. Read about their micronutrient profile and health benefits.
Bok choy is 95% water but is still one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables out there. One study ranked bok choy second for nutrient density out of 41 nutrient-rich plant foods . You only get 13 calories from 100 grams of raw bok choy but plenty of vitamin A, C, K, and more [3, 4].
Spinach is exceptionally rich in vitamin A, containing 188% of the daily value (DV) for this vitamin. It is also rich in vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, magnesium (20% DV), and potassium. One study review states that besides providing antioxidant protection, compounds in spinach are shown to suppress appetite and aid in weight loss .
Avocados are a keto staple for three main reasons: they're low in carbs, high in fat, and moderate in protein. Sounds like the perfect keto food. Avocados are also rich in the antioxidants vitamins C and E and as well as the minerals magnesium and potassium.
Celery is mostly water (95%) but still rich in key nutrients. Celery is an excellent source of folate, potassium, vitamin A, and fiber . Dipped in almond butter or buttery sauces, celery is great for making tasty keto-approved snacks.
Asparagus has a unique, earthy flavor that goes well with keto-friendly sauces like Hollandaise and mustard. It also pairs perfectly with eggs and bacon. Nutrition-wise, asparagus is rich in fiber, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and folate . Studies on asparagus show that it contains compounds that provide antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and liver health protection .
Cauliflower is an excellent low net-carb source of dietary fiber, with 100 grams providing 10% DV. It is a popular rice substitute in keto cooking and its neutral taste makes it an ideal base for almost any meal. Make sure not to cook but steam, stir-fry, or microwave cauliflower to preserve its nutrients .
Cucumbers are mostly water and contain just 1% carbs. Their high-water content makes them very refreshing, and they pair perfectly with yogurt and cream. Their seeds and peels are the most nutrient-dense part, so it’s best to eat them whole. In terms of health benefits, studies show that they have an anti-diabetic and lipid-lowering effect .
Cabbage is another low net-carb, high-fiber keto staple. It's exceptionally rich in vitamin C but has garnered more attention due to its powerful phytochemicals. Studies show that these phytochemicals can fight cancer and heart disease . It is also a versatile ingredient; you can use it to make soups, stews, stir-fries, casseroles, salads, and more.
Botanically, mushrooms are a fungus. But in culinary terms, they're a vegetable. Besides being low in carbs, cremini mushrooms are rich in migraine-preventing riboflavin, skin-improving vitamin B5, and heart-healthy potassium . No wonder the Romans believed them to be "Food of the Gods .
Beans are a no-no on a keto diet, but green beans are ok. They're low in net carbs and rich in dietary fiber, which helps regulate bowel movements. Green beans are rich in vitamins A, C, and K and the mineral manganese. Studies show that cooking green beans increases their antioxidant content, so go ahead and make some green bean soup .
Globe artichokes are rich in dietary fiber, providing 16% of the DV per 100 grams. They’re also an excellent source of folate (31% DV) and contain disease-fighting antioxidants. Steam them and serve with butter for a quick snack or use them as a pizza topping. Make sure not to confuse them with Jerusalem artichokes - those are loaded in carbs.
Along with bok choy, cabbage, and cauliflower, broccoli belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, all widely touted as powerful functional foods. Broccoli is richer in vitamin C than most citrus fruit (150% DV) . However, just like with cauliflower, cooking broccoli can lower the vitamin C content. Steam or stir-fry broccoli to preserve its nutritional value.
Fennel bulb is an exception to the no below-ground-vegetables rule. It contains very little net carbs but a whole lot of vitamins, minerals, and gut-benefiting fiber. It has an anise aroma and licorice-like flavor, making it an ideal addition to soups and salads.
Brussels sprouts are another low-carb cruciferous vegetable. They're known for their powerful detoxifying properties, which prevent the risk of certain cancers . They retain their detoxifying abilities even after heating. Roast them in some butter and olive oil for a tasty keto treat.
Kale is a popular smoothie ingredient that is also keto-friendly. Although 8g of net carbs per 100 grams may seem too much for a leafy green, keep in mind that usual daily serving for kale is around 80 grams. Kale is nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich, and a good source of hard-to-get minerals like calcium and magnesium .
On a keto diet, you can safely eat up to 30 grams of net carbs a day. Going anywhere above that will kick you out of ketosis. This is why it is so important to watch your portion sizes, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables.
Knowing how many net carbs there are in your vegetables will help you stay within the 30-grams limit. Alternatively, you can just limit your daily intake by sticking to one to two cups of fruits and vegetables. However, this is a bit riskier.
Take a look at our recipes section to get inspired and also see how to incorporate vegetables into delicious keto-friendly meals.
When following a ketogenic diet, you don't have to avoid all vegetables like the plague. In fact, you should eat a small number of veggies to stay healthy and keep your digestive tract functioning. However, not all vegetables are created equal.
Some vegetables are too high in starches and sugars to be keto-friendly. But many are so low in carbs that you can eat two cups safely without worrying about sabotaging your diet. We've included just 15 of the most popular and healthiest low-carb greens for you to include into your keto diet. But there are many more options for you out there.
Make sure to follow our tips when buying vegetables for your next keto meal. Also, consider taking our free learning course if you want to learn more about the keto diet, including what you can and cannot eat, and how to make low-carb meals.