All of your keto meals should ideally contain low-carb veggies. Eating lots of low-carb vegetables helps with meeting your daily requirements for fiber, vitamins, and minerals. But before you go on and make a refreshing salad to go with your steak, you need to know which keto veggies are allowed and which are not allowed 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 with negligible amounts of carbs. We'll talk about 8 of those low-carb keto veggies and explain how each benefits your health and your keto diet.
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
What's even better, a whole avocado will give you 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% . 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, but they can still contribute to your daily protein intake.
Avocados are excellent sources of vitamin E, vitamin B6, niacin, folate, magnesium, and potassium. There's also evidence that avocados help prevent metabolic syndrome and its many health consequences, like diabetes and heart attacks .
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 , so eating cauliflower raw, whenever convenient, can give you more benefits.
What you really want to know is how many carbs there are 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 prepare 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. But, of course, there are countless other ways in which you can prepare this keto veggie.
Romaine lettuce is another low-carb keto veggie that you can eat freely without giving it 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 to help you meet your fiber requirements.
On the other hand, the best thing about lettuce is that you really can't go overboard with it on keto since it's so low in net carbs. Feel free to add as much as you want to your salads and sandwiches. Another great thing about lettuce is that it boosts the removal of bad cholesterol and reduces oxidative stress according to some studies .
Animal studies also show that phenolic compounds in romaine lettuce protect the brain against oxidative stress . Your brain is your body's largest consumer of oxygen, which makes it particularly prone to oxidative stress. Any food rich in antioxidants is valuable in keeping your brain healthy.
Mushrooms are neither plants nor animals. Instead, they belong to a separate kingdom of their own called fungi. But from a culinary standpoint, they're still referred to as vegetables. While there are hundreds of edible mushrooms out there, you are most likely to find button, portobello, shiitake, oyster, and porcini at any food store.
These keto veggies are also low in carbs, with one cup of portobello mushrooms providing only 3.2 grams of net carbs. Mushrooms contain some fiber, a bit of protein, and 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 . A 2017 review even found that mushrooms have anti-allergic, cholesterol lowering, and cancer-fighting properties .
Another great thing about mushrooms is that they have a strong umami flavor along with a meaty texture. These characteristics make mushrooms a popular meat substitute on vegan diets. However, mushrooms are not a true meat substitute from a nutritional stand point due to their low protein content.
Asparagus is the shoot of a fern-like plant. You'll find it sold in stores and farmers' markets in the spring. Most is sold green but white asparagus grown below a layer of mulch is also available.
One cup of raw asparagus contains only 2,5 grams of net carbs and almost 3 grams of fiber. Asparagus is 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 helps with liver detoxing. According to one study, asparagus upregulates the activity of two liver enzymes that metabolize ethanol, alcohol dehydrogenase, and aldehyde dehydrogenase . 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 come spring.
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. Other than that, broccoli isn't all that rich in micronutrients. What makes broccoli so special are 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 , like chronic disease prevention, improved liver health, and lower risk of allergies.
Furthermore, broccoli contains polyphenols such as kaempferol, quercetin, and glucosideses. Polyphenols are biologically active compounds that protect plants against disease and parasites. When eaten, these compounds function as powerful antioxidants that protect against diseases like diabetes, CDV, and cancer.
Two of the best ways 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.
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 .
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.
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 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 cup serving will give you moderate amounts 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. . Microwave cooking increased antioxidant compounds the most.
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 this diet. The 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.