When cutting carbs for weight loss or blood sugar control, you don’t have to say goodbye to veggies. Plenty of delicious, nutritious options exist with minimal impact on blood sugar and waistlines.
Discover 25 of the best low-carb vegetables to build your healthy plate around. You’ll find old favorites along with lesser-known gems packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and more.
Bok Choy: A Chinese Cabbage Powerhouse
This versatile Chinese cabbage supplies over 70% DV of vitamin A and vitamin C per cooked cup. Thiamine, folate, calcium, iron, and potassium levels are also generous. With crunchy stems and tender greens, bok choy makes tasty stir-fries, sides, soups, and salads. It contains compounds called glucosinolates linked with cancer prevention too.
Green Cabbage: An Anti-Inflammatory Crusader
Standard green cabbage sits at the intersection of low-cost, low-calorie, and highly nutritious. Just one cup provides over 85% DV vitamin C plus excellent amounts of immune-building vitamin E. It’s also packed with fiber, cancer-fighting antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory sulfur compounds.
Shred green cabbage for vitamin-rich coleslaw, simmer into soups and stews, or ferment into probiotic-rich sauerkraut. At 22 calories and 5 grams of carbs per cooked cup, it’s perfect for healthy, filling meals.
Kohlrabi: A Low-Carb Turnip Relative
Resembling an alien turnip with pale green skin and white flesh, don’t let unusual kohlrabi scare you off. Underneath its odd exterior lies a delicate flavor similar to broccoli stems with just 6 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber per cup.
Rich in potassium, copper, vitamin C, and B vitamins, kohlrabi works great roasted, steamed, or added raw to salads and slaws. Its crunchy crispness and mild flavor pair nicely with assertive seasonings.
Mushrooms: The Only Vegetable Source of Vitamin D
While technically fungi instead of vegetables, mushrooms have earned a nutritious reputation nonetheless. Varieties like white button, cremini, portobello, and maitake are low in calories and carbohydrates but high in important B vitamins like riboflavin and pantothenic acid.
Mushrooms also provide modest amounts of immune-building selenium, energizing copper, bone-protecting potassium, and vision-guarding zinc. Vitamin D levels are uncommon among other veggies too. Exposure to UV light boosts D levels, so opt for uncapped whole mushrooms.
Asparagus: A Diuretic Superstar
The thin green spears of asparagus add vibrant flavor and nutrition to any springtime meal. With nearly 3 grams of fiber per cup, asparagus has minimal impact on blood sugar. It also promotes healthy fluid balance thanks to natural diuretic compounds.
This green veggie contains glutathione, saponins, and rutin which support liver health and waste elimination. It’s also high in vitamins K, A, and C along with vision-protecting carotenoids. Roast, grill, or steam asparagus to bring out its sweet, grassy notes.
Fennel: A Crisp Digestive Aid with Licorice Notes
The crisp, celery-like crunch of fennel balances its distinctive licorice-anise flavor beautifully. Though fennel bulbs resemble onions, they’re actually quite low in carbs at 6 grams per cup once the fiber is subtracted. Potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc are present in modest amounts.
Compounds in fennel serve as phytoestrogens which may help normalize hormones. The essential oil anethole soothes digestion, reduces gas and bloating, and acts as an antimicrobial. Fennel’s sweetness is delicious paired with citrus, nuts, olive oil, and seafood.
Scallions: Nutrient-dense onion Relatives
Known as green onions, spring onions, or salad onions, scallions offer onion flavor without an overwhelming punch. They’re rich sources of bone-building vitamin K and contain antioxidant polyphenols linked to cancer prevention. Though small, scallions provide modest amounts of vitamins A, C, and B9 along with immune-activating zinc.
Thanks to their mild, versatile flavor, scallions work well as salad toppers, stir-fried along with other veggies, or added to egg dishes like frittatas or omelets. Their green tops brighten up any dish with texture and color.
Zucchini: Mild, Moist and Meaty Squash
Technically a fruit botanically speaking, zucchini is prepared and enjoyed like a vegetable. This moist and meaty summer squash is low in carbohydrates at just 4 grams per raw cup once the fiber is excluded from the totals. Each cup also provides nearly 20% DV of vitamin C, 15% DV of manganese, and 10% DV of magnesium, potassium, folate, and vitamin A.
With its mild flavor and dense, toothsome texture when cooked, zucchini can seamlessly stand in for higher-carb options like pasta and rice. Spiralize zucchini into low-carb “zoodles” or bake into crispy fries or chips for snacking. It also makes hearty vegetarian lasagnas and bakes.
Turnips: Vitamin-Rich Root Veggies
Underneath their rugged purple and white exterior, turnips conceal a tender, slightly sweet interior. These root veggies supply 25% DV vitamin C plus useful amounts of folate, manganese, calcium, copper, and potassium per cooked cup with about 5 grams net carbs. The same portion packs over 30 calories of energizing protein too.
Turnips’ nutrients guard against inflammation, oxidative stress, bone loss, and cardiovascular issues. Their potently beneficial glucosinolates and brassinins may help prevent and combat cancer as well. Boil turnips in soups and stews or roast them up as savory sides to let their flavor shine.
Celery: A Crunchy Hydrator
That satisfying crunch isn’t the only reason to love celery. Thanks to its high water content, celery helps flush toxins and prevent dehydration. Minerals like potassium work synergistically to reduce blood pressure and regulate fluid balance. Celery also contains coumarins which enhance white blood cell activity and immune defense.
At just 6 calories and 1 gram of carb per stalk, feel free to load up generously on this diet-friendly veggie. Antioxidants like flavone antioxidants, phenolic acids, and flavonols fight free radical damage and inflammation. Enjoy it raw with nut butter or chopped up in tuna, egg, chicken, and pasta salads.
Jicama: A Mexican Turnip Packs a Crunch
Jicama looks like a turnip on the outside but tastes like a water chestnut-flavored apple on the inside. Underneath its tan skin lies creamy white crispy flesh with a subtly sweet, nutty flavor. It makes a tasty replacement for higher carb starchy veggies like potatoes.
With over 40% DV vitamin C and 7 grams of fiber in just one cup, jicama makes a healthy complement to salads, slaws, stir fries, and crudite platters. It also boasts small amounts of energizing B vitamins, bone-building magnesium and potassium, and blood-sugar stabilizing manganese.
Green Beans: Nutrient-rich legumes
It’s easy to think all beans and legumes are no-nos on lower carb diets. But green beans fit the bill at fewer than 10 grams of carbs per cooked cup. Also known as French beans or string beans, their fiber content cuts digestible carbs down even more. Additionally, they supply lots of vitamin K, vitamin C, manganese, plus smaller amounts of heart-healthy folate and vitamin B6.
Pair green beans with nuts, seeds, olive oil, garlic, snap peas, shallots, tomatoes, and mushrooms. They’re delicious hot or cold in veggie-rich sides, pasta and grain salads, soups, stir fries, and sheet pan meals.
Brussels Sprouts: Bite-Sized Nutrition
Maligned by many, Brussels sprouts deserve a second chance if childhood memories soured their appeal. Sure, they’re cruciferous, but roasting coaxes out theirsweet, nutty flavor. With less than 8 grams carbs and 4 grams fiber per cooked cup, sprouts make great lower glycemic crashers for parties along with vitamin C for recovery. Their alkalizing minerals like potassium and magnesium aid muscle function too.
Brussels sprouts even contain a highly bioavailable from of folate called 5-methyltetrahydrofolate. Antioxidant-boosting DIM and glucobrassicin promote balanced estrogen metabolism as well. Give sprouts another go with balsamic, herbs, garlic, lemon, or chili!
Kale: Queen of Greens
Of all the nutrition powerhouse greens, curly green kale reigns supreme in both nutrient density and market availability. It provides incredible amounts of vitamin A at over 1000% DV per cooked cup in addition over 100% DV for vitamins C and K. Decent iron, potassium, vitamin B6 and manganese levels round out its impressive nutrition résumé.
Kale contains vision and immune-boosting carotenoids, cancer-fighting sulforaphane, bone-building vitamin K, and anti-inflammatory omega-3 alpha linolenic acid. Massage lemon juice and olive oil into raw leaves or try cooking kale chips, soup, or sautéed as a calcium-rich side dish.
Okra: A Nutty Nightshade Veggie
Many nightshade vegetables like tomatoes and eggplants are banned on stricter low carb diets due to higher sugar content. But okra’s thick, edible skin keeps its carb numbers reasonable at around 8 grams of carbs (3 of those are fiber) per cooked cup.
Also known as “lady’s fingers,” okra contains vitamins A, C, K, and folate. Minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron are present as well in solid amounts. Research indicates okra may help mitigate diabetes and heart disease risk factors. Pair okra with spices, nuts, beans, onions, peppers, or tomatoes and stew, sautée, or pan-fry it to deliciousness.
Pumpkin: Bright Beta-Carotene Bombshell
Pumpkins conjure up images of Halloween jack-o-lanterns and sugary baked goods. But don’t overlook their potential as a healthy low glycemic food! With about 6 net carbs per cup, pumpkin is low enough in sugar to include in a diabetic or weight loss nutrition plan. Pumpkin provides seven grams of hunger-quashing fiber (including some prebiotics) along with almost an entire day’s worth of vision-promoting vitamin A!
The golden orange hue of pumpkins comes from antioxidant beta-carotene which converts into active vitamin A during digestion. Pumpkin’s beneficial carotenoids like alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin can actually cross-protect the brain from cognitive issues. Work pumpkin into soups, curries, porridge, and more for a smart, seasonal nutrition boost.