Low-carbohydrate diets or low-carb diets are dietary programs that restrict carbohydrate consumption. Foods high in easily digestible carbohydrates (e.g., sugar, bread, pasta) are limited or replaced with foods containing a higher percentage of fats and moderate protein (e.g., meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, cheese, nuts, and seeds) and other foods low in carbohydrates (e.g., most salad vegetables such as spinach, kale, chard and collards), although other vegetables and fruits (especially berries) are often allowed. The amount of carbohydrate allowed varies with different low-carbohydrate diets.
Vegetables are low in calories but rich in vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients. In addition, many are low in carbs and high in fiber, making them ideal for low-carb diets.
The definition of a low-carb diet varies widely, but most are under 150 grams of carbs per day, and some go as low as 20 grams per day. Whether or not you’re on a low-carb diet, eating more vegetables is always a great idea.
1. Bell Peppers
-Bell peppers, also known as sweet peppers or capsicums, are incredibly nutritious.
-They contain antioxidants called carotenoids that may reduce inflammation, decrease cancer risk and protect cholesterol and fats from oxidative damage (1, 2, 3).
-One cup (149 grams) of chopped red pepper contains nine grams of carbs, three of which are fiber (4).
-It provides 93% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin A and a whopping 317% of the RDI for vitamin C, which is often lacking on very low-carb diets.
-Broccoli is a true superfood.
-It’s a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes kale, Brussels sprouts, radishes and cabbage.
-Studies show broccoli may decrease insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics. It’s also thought to protect against several types of cancer, including prostate cancer (5, 6, 7).
-One cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli contains 6 grams of carbs, two of them fiber (8).
-It also provides more than 100% of the RDI for vitamins C and K.
-Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that provides major health benefits.
-Researchers report that it can help prevent damage to DNA. It also protects heart health and may decrease the risk of common eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration (19, 20, 21).
-What’s more, it’s an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals. One cup (180 grams) of cooked spinach provides more than 10 times the RDI for vitamin K (22).
-Spinach is also low in carbs, but the carbs become more concentrated as the leaves are cooked down and lose their volume.
-For example, one cup of cooked spinach contains 7 grams of carbs with 4 grams of fiber, whereas one cup of raw spinach contains 1 gram of carbs with almost 1 gram of fiber (22, 23).
-Avocados are a unique and delicious food.
-Although technically a fruit, avocados are typically consumed as vegetables. They’re also high in fat and contain very few digestible carbs.
-A one-cup (150-gram) serving of chopped avocados has 13 grams of carbs, 10 of which are fiber (24).
-Avocados are also rich in oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fat that has beneficial effects on health. Small studies have found that avocados can help lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels (25, 26).
-Cauliflower is one of the most versatile and popular low-carb vegetables.
-It has a very mild taste and can be used as a substitute for potatoes, rice and other higher-carb foods.
-One cup (100 grams) of raw cauliflower contains 5 grams of carbs, three of which are fiber. It’s also high in vitamin K and provides 77% of the RDI for vitamin C (28).
-Like other cruciferous vegetables, it’s also associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer (29, 30).
-Lettuce is one of the lowest-carb vegetables around.
-One cup (47 grams) of lettuce contains 2 grams of carbs, one of which is fiber (34).
-Depending on the type, it may also be a good source of certain vitamins.
-For instance, romaine and other dark-green varieties are rich in vitamins A, C and K. They’re also high in folate.
-Cucumbers are low in carbs and very refreshing.
-One cup (104 grams) of chopped cucumber contains 4 grams of carbs with less than 1 gram from fiber (46).
-Although cucumbers aren’t very high in vitamins or minerals, they contain a compound called cucurbitacin E, which may have beneficial effects on health.
-Results from test-tube and animal studies suggest it has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties and may protect brain health (47, 48, 49).
-Celery is extremely low in digestible carbs.
-A one-cup (101-gram) serving of chopped celery contains 3 grams of carbs, 2 of which are fiber. It’s a good source of vitamin K, providing 37% of the RDI (53).
-In addition, it contains luteolin, an antioxidant that shows potential for both preventing and helping to treat cancer (54).