Everyone knows your mother was right when she told you to eat your vegetables. But if you’ve recently adopted a keto diet (after consulting a health professional, of course) or are managing health conditions related to diabetes and/or obesity, you might be wondering whether some vegetables are better than others when it comes to carb count. Fortunately, we put together a complete list of low carb veggies that you can use as a resource when forming a healthy diet plan, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s FoodData Central.
20 Low Carb Vegetables to Incorporate Into Your Diet
How Many Carbs Should You Aim for in a Day?
According to the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, people who are not on a doctor-approved dietary plan should get 45 to 65 percent of their daily calories from carbs, which translate to somewhere between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates per day if you’re on a 2,000 calorie diet. And to be perfectly clear, carbs are not the enemy. In fact, healthy carbohydrates, specifically the complex kind, are a valuable source of energy and nutrients that your body needs to thrive.
That said, weight loss and diabetes are a couple reasons why you might consider reducing carbs. Research does indeed show that modest carbohydrate reduction can improve glycemic control and insulin sensitivity; when it comes to shedding pounds, though, the general consensus among medical experts is that carb-cutting is only an effective way to achieve short-term weight loss—so if you want results that last, it’s best to incorporate exercise and other healthy eating practices into your lifestyle.
The takeaway? Unless you have consulted a doctor, your goal should be to consume carbs according to the above guidelines (i.e., 225 and 325 grams per day) and incorporate some of the following low carb veggies into your meal plan, so your body can benefit from a balanced, nutrient-rich diet that doesn’t exclude wonderful things like rice, potatoes and bread.
One more thing: When it comes to carb count, there’s a difference between total carbs and net carbs. Total carbs are, well, the total amount of carbs in food. Net carbs, on the other hand, are determined by removing fiber and sugar alcohols from the total carb count. Per Medical News Today, net carbs only include carbs that the body can fully digest into glucose. We’ve included both the total carb and net carb count in our list below, but it’s worth noting that “net carbs” does not have a legal definition and is not used by the Food and Drug Administration or recognized by the American Diabetes Association. As such, most experts recommend looking at the total carb count rather than net carbs when tracking carbohydrates.
1. Cauliflower (5g Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: Cauliflower has only 3g of digestible (i.e., net) carbs per cup; it’s also high in vitamin K and contains 57 percent of the DV (Daily Value) for vitamin C
- Our Favorite Cauliflower Recipes: Cauliflower Potato Salad, Cauliflower and Plantain Tacos with Lemony Pesto Dressing, General Tso’s Cauliflower
One of the most popular low carb vegetables, cauliflower is a cruciferous veggie with a mild and subtly sweet, nutty taste. It roasts beautifully and makes an excellent substitute for starches like rice, potatoes, pasta, pizza crust and pretty much anything else you can think of.
2. Asparagus (7g Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: Asparagus has only 3g net carbs and is an excellent source of several nutrients, including vitamins A, C and K
- Our Favorite Asparagus Recipes: Asparagus Caesar Salad, Joanna Gaines’s Asparagus and Fontina Quiche, One-Pan Eggs with Asparagus and Tomatoes
Asparagus is at its best in the spring when it’s widely available and at its most flavorful. It’s also a quick cooking veggie that works well when roasted with nothing but olive oil and salt until crisp-tender or tossed into a stir-fry. Best of all, research suggests that asparagus has neuropharmacological properties that help with anxiety, so you can file this one under ‘stress reliever.’
3. Mushrooms (2g Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: Mushrooms clock in at only 1g of net carbs per serving (the other gram is all fiber).
- Our Favorite Mushroom Recipes: Poblano and Mushroom Tacos with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese, Mushroom Carnitas, Creamy Parmesan Mushroom Cornish Hen Skillet
Mushrooms are a rather polarizing low carb vegetable due to their spongy texture, so chances are you either love ‘em or hate ‘em. That said, they’re prized for having an umami-forward profile that can stand in for meat in vegetarian dishes, stand up to cream sauces and enhance the flavor of most anything else. What’s more, research like this 2014 study published in Mediators of Inflammation—shows that mushrooms have powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can boost health in a myriad of ways.
4. Broccoli (6g Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: Broccoli has only 4g net carbs and provides a whopping 90 percent of the DV for vitamin C and 77 percent of the DV for vitamin K
- Our Favorite Broccoli Recipes: Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin, Roasted Broccoli with Olive and Almond Pesto, Pan-Roasted Broccoli ‘Steaks’ with Garlic-Sesame Vinaigrette
Here, another cruciferous vegetable and a powerhouse of nutrients (see above)—broccoli is tasty when lightly seasoned and roasted for a simple side dish, and also makes an excellent addition to stir-frys and pastas. In addition to its winning nutritional profile, multiple studies, including this 2012 one from the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, have found that broccoli has a positive effect on insulin resistance in folks with type 2 diabetes.
5. Spinach (7g Carbs per Cup, Cooked; 1g Carbs per Cup, Raw)
- Nutritional Info: The carbohydrates in raw spinach come almost completely from fiber and net to almost 0g, whereas cooked spinach has 3g net carbs; either way, it will provide you with more than seven times the DV for vitamin K
- Our Favorite Spinach Recipes: Coconut Creamed Spinach, Bacon-Wrapped Black Cod with Spinach and Capers, Mark Bittman’s Spinach Carbonara
This leafy green boasts a boatload of health benefits, including a high nitrate content that science says helps protect against heart disease and a remarkably high amount of Vitamin K. It’s worth noting, though, that the carb content of spinach increases when it’s cooked—so if you’re really counting carbs, you might consider enjoying Popeye’s favorite vegetable as a salad green instead.
6. Bell Peppers (9g Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: One cup of sliced bell peppers contains 6g net carbs, 26 percent of the DV of vitamin A and 212 percent of the DV of vitamin C
- Our Favorite Bell Pepper Recipes: Veggie-Loaded Stuffed Bell Peppers, Julia Turshen’s Stewed Chickpeas with Peppers and Zucchini, Tofu and Vegetable Red Coconut Curry
Red, green, orange, yellow—all varieties of bell pepper have similar nutritional profiles, so the difference really comes down to taste. (Psst: Red bell peppers are the sweetest, while green bell peppers are unripe and thus slightly bitter.) No matter which type you choose, you will benefit from their high vitamin C content and the carotenoids they contain, which research indicates have an anti-inflammatory effect that may help prevent a wide range of diseases, including cancer.
7. Celery (3g Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: The net carbs in a serving of celery is a scant 1g; it’s also a good source of dietary fiber and provides 25 percent of the DV for vitamin K
- Our Favorite Celery Recipes: Celery Salad with Walnuts and Pecorino, Buffalo Chicken Wraps with Blue Cheese and Celery, Ants on a Log
Celery is a crunchy, peppery and refreshing veggie with a high water content, plenty of fiber and a negligible amount of carbs. Cook it up along with carrots and onion to make a mirepoix for soups and stews or simply enjoy it raw for a nutritious snack. (Ants on a log, anyone?)
8. Green Beans (10g Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: Green beans have 6g net carbs and a healthy dose of chlorophyll and carotenoids
- Our Favorite Green Bean Recipes: Blistered Green Beans with Bacon Vinaigrette, Crispy Green Bean Fries, Green Bean Casserole Galette
Sometimes called string beans—or haricots verts if you’re fancy—green beans are a staple of holiday spreads and a healthy everyday veggie, too. Though they are technically legumes, they have significantly fewer carbs than the rest of their fam, plus the added benefit of a high chlorophyll content, which research suggests has anticancer properties, as well as carotenoids that help (as previously discussed) reduce inflammation and prevent disease.
9. Cabbage (5g Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: Cabbage has only 3g net carbs and provides 75 percent and 36 percent of the DV for vitamins K and C, respectively
- Our Favorite Cabbage Recipes: Winter Red Cabbage and Apple Soup, Cabbage-Fennel Salad with Honeycrisp Apples, Roasted Cabbage Steaks
This cruciferous vegetable has precious few carbs and considerable health benefits—a 2011 study published in Epidemiology concluded that consumption of cruciferous vegetables can help prevent esophageal and gastric cancers. You probably recognize it as the main component of coleslaw, but cabbage can do much more than that. In fact, it’s surprisingly versatile and can be tossed into soups, stews and pastas, or sauteed and served as a standalone side.
10. Fennel (6g Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: Fennel has roughly 3g net carbs and is a good source of vitamin C (17 percent DV), vitamin A and fiber
- Our Favorite Fennel Recipes: Salmon and Fennel Dinner Salad; Carrot, Fennel and Miso Soup; Whole Roasted Branzino with Shaved Fennel Slaw
This bulbous veggie has a delicate licorice-like taste and aromatic quality that can elevate a wide range of dishes, from salads to roasts, when served both raw (thinly shaved) and cooked. According to Medical News Today, fennel also contains a variety of nutrients—magnesium, potassium and calcium, to name a few—that are known to have a health-boosting, anti-inflammatory effect.
11. Spaghetti Squash (7g Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: Spaghetti squash has 5.5g net carbs and is a great source of beta carotene and vitamin C
- Our Favorite Spaghetti Squash Recipes: Spaghetti Squash Fritters, Vegan Spaghetti Squash with Mushroom Marinara Sauce, Instant Pot Garlic Parmesan Spaghetti Squash
This low carb gourd is also low in calories and, as the name suggests, makes a great alternative to pasta. Plus, it’s an excellent source of dietary fiber, which means spaghetti squash marinara will keep you feeling full longer than the classic (semolina) version of the dish.
12. Radishes (4g Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: Radishes have 2g net carbs and provide 20 percent of the DV for vitamin C
- Our Favorite Radish Recipes: Radish Barbecue Bowls with Tangy Honey-Mustard Dressing, Whole Roasted Radishes, Herb Butter Glazed Radishes
With only two grams of digestible carbohydrates, radishes are a very low carb root vegetable and an excellent source of vitamin C, to boot. They have a biting peppery taste when raw that works well in all manner of salads, and mellow out considerably when roasted and served as a delicious side.
13. Cucumber (4g Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: Cucumbers have 3g net carbs and a wide variety of nutrients, including vitamins A, K and C
- Our Favorite Cucumber Recipes: Butter-Baked Cucumber Tostadas, Chilled Cucumber Salad, Cold Sesame Cucumber Noodles
Though technically a fruit, cucumbers are, for all intents and purposes, a low carb veggie and a seriously healthy one at that. Yes, this refreshing salad staple not only improves hydration (due to its high water content), but also contains a plant compound called Cucurbitacin B that a 2023 study published in Pharmacological Research found to have “significant therapeutic effects on a variety of diseases including inflammatory diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes mellitus, and cancers.”
14. Kale (1g Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: Kale has essentially 0g net carbs—almost all of its roughly 1g of total carbohydrates comes from fiber—and it provides 22 percent and 68 percent of the DV for vitamin C and K, respectively
- Our Favorite Kale Recipes: Keto Instant Pot Sausage-Kale Soup, Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas, One-Pan Steak with Beets and Crispy Kale
Kale has been trending for quite some time and there’s good reason to keep that kale Caesar in your regular rotation. This leafy green from the cruciferous family is a powerhouse of antioxidants and an excellent source of vitamins K and C.
15. Zucchini (4g Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: Zucchini has 3g net carbs and provides 25 percent of the DV for vitamin C
- Our Favorite Zucchini Recipes: Minty-Fresh Zucchini Salad with Marinated Feta, Baked Zucchini ‘Ziti’ Spirals with Mozzarella, Cacio e Pepe Zucchini
All types of summer squash—both green and yellow—have nearly the same nutritional profile—containing very few carbs per serving and a significant amount of vitamin C. As such, it should come as no surprise that zucchini is a darling of the keto diet that’s frequently used as a substitute for pasta. (And if you own a spiralizer, you already know what we’re talking about.)
16. Bamboo Shoots (5g Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: Bamboo shoots have 3g net carbs and are an excellent source of protein, fiber and other nutrients
- Our Favorite Bamboo Shoot Recipes: Garden Focaccia, Thai Yellow Curry
Bamboo shoots are commonly used in Southeast and East Asian cuisine and widely recognized to be exceptionally healthy. A 2014 study published in International Scholarly Research Notices concludes that “bamboo shoots have immense potential of being used as important health food as they have high content of useful proteins, amino acids, carbohydrates, and many important minerals and vitamins and very low fat.” They also have a mild flavor and satisfying crunch that works well in a wide variety of dishes, though they are most often found in curries, stir-fries and salads.
17. Brussels Sprouts (4.6 Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: Brussels sprouts have 4g net carbs and provide an impressive amount of vitamins C and K (53 percent and 91 percent of DV, respectively)
- Our Favorite Brussels Sprouts Recipes: Brussels Sprouts Latkes, Crispy Parmesan Brussels Sprouts Bites, Smashed Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are a hard sell for some, but the health-conscious know that this cruciferous veggie has a nutritional profile that’s hard to beat. For starters, a single serving meets almost all the recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin K and over half the RDI for vitamin C. They’re also a great source of fiber (and if you wrap them in bacon, they’re high in protein, too).
18. Pumpkin (7.5g Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: Pumpkin has 7g net carbs and is rich in vitamin A, boasting an impressive 245 percent of the DV in just one cup
- Our Favorite Pumpkin Recipes: Creamy Pumpkin Eton Mess, Whole Roasted Pumpkin Stuffed with Mushrooms and Gruyere, Pumpkin Hummus
This cold-weather and holiday favorite is low in calories and carbs, and seriously healthy. (Or, as the Mayo Clinic puts it “loaded with scary-good nutrients.”) Just like carrots, pumpkin owes its vibrant orange color to a high amount of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Needless to say, pumpkin is healthiest when consumed without copious amounts of sugar, so we suggest you branch out from pie and try it in savory dishes, too.
19. Eggplant (8g Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: Eggplant has 6g net carbs and provides potassium and fiber
- Our Favorite Eggplant Recipes: Eggplant Parm Bites; Smoky Eggplant Pasta with Pounded Walnut Relish, Mozzarella and Basil; Za’atar Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini
Eggplant isn’t necessarily the most nutritious vegetable at the store (it’s not as nutrient-dense as some of the other veggies on this list), but it’s a very tasty low-carb ingredient. Widely used in both Italian and Asian cuisine, it does provide some fiber—that’s where two grams of the carbohydrates come from—and contains an antioxidant, nasunin, that some research suggests might help protect brain and heart health.
20. Jicama (11g Carbs per Cup)
- Nutritional Info: Jicama has 5g net carbs and is an excellent source of fiber
- Our Favorite Jicama Recipes: Crispy, Spicy Cauliflower Tacos with Carrot-Jicama Slaw, Shrimp Fajita Salad with Avocado Cilantro Dressing
Don’t be put off by that 11g of carbs—more than half the total carbohydrates in jicama come from indigestible dietary fiber, so the net is much lower and the benefits are big. In fact, medical sources report that a significant amount of the dietary fiber found in jicama falls under the category of prebiotics, which support the growth of probiotics and help maintain optimal gut health. Plus, this slightly sweet and oh-so refreshing root vegetable is low in calories, rich with vitamin C and 100 percent snackable.