8 Low-Carb Vegetables That Are Also High in Fiber
What serving of vegetables you should consume in a day vary based on age, sex, weight, height, and physical activity. However, most adults need between two to four cups of vegetables daily. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 10% of adults typically meet those needs. Meeting veggie recommendations might be even more challenging for those monitoring their carbohydrate intake, since some popular vegetables are still high in carbs. However, many vegetables are actually low in carbs, and high in fiber, making them a great addition to low-carb diets.
There are many reasons why one might follow a low-carb diet. Whether it’s related to blood sugar control, weight loss efforts, or the management of other metabolic conditions, swapping out high-carb veggies for low-carb alternatives may be beneficial, especially when choosing high-fiber, low-carb vegetables.
Here are some popular vegetables that are low in carbs, and high in fiber.
Cauliflower is a popular vegetable in low-carb diets. It’s a cruciferous veggetable that is low in calories and carbohydrates, yet is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It can be riced and used as a low-carbohydrate grain substitute or even as a pizza crust for a low-carb spin on an all-time classic.
One cup of cauliflower provides 27 calories, 5 grams (g) of carbohydrates, and 2 g of fiber. Additionally, it is a good source of vitamin C, with 51 milligrams (mg) or 45% of percent daily value per cup.
Broccoli, another cruciferous vegetable, contains many important nutrients despite being low in carbs. One cup of broccoli provides approximately 30 calories and 5 g of carbs. Each serving also provides around 2 g of fiber and doses of important vitamins and minerals, such as folate, potassium, and vitamin C.
Asparagus comes in different colors, including green, purple, and white. It’s a popular springtime vegetable but can often be enjoyed throughout the year. While asparagus is typically served steamed or roasted, raw asparagus can add a bite of crunch to cold meals like salads or sushi bowls.
One cup of raw asparagus provides approximately 27 calories, 5 g of carbs, and almost 3 g of fiber. It is also an excellent source of vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting, and folate, which is necessary for DNA synthesis.
Purple cabbage is another low-carb, high-fiber vegetable packed with nutrients. Its purple hue adds many plant compounds to a well-balanced meal. Purple cabbage is rich in anthocyanin, a flavonoid that has been linked to the prevention of diseases associated with oxidative stress, such as neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.
One cup of purple cabbage provides approximately 28 calories, 7 g of carbs, and 2 g of fiber. Each serving also provides notable amounts of vitamin C and vitamin K.
Eggplants, sometimes called aubergines, come from the nightshade plant family. They are typically purple, but they can also be red or black. Still, no matter their color, eggplants are nutrient-dense. One cup of eggplant provides 21 calories, 5 g of carbs, and more than 2 g of fiber. Plus, eggplants are known to be high in antioxidants and many essential vitamins and minerals.
The eggplant is a versatile veggie, rich in flavor and texture. It pairs well with many seasoning blends and can be roasted, sautéed, baked, or grilled.
Kale is extremely low in carbohydrates and high in fiber. One cup of cooked kale provides 60 calories, 6 g of carbs, and almost 6 g of fiber. Also, kale is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. This leafy green can be enjoyed fresh in a salad or wrap or cooked as part of a savory meal.
Bell peppers, sometimes called sweet peppers, are a healthy vegetable with many health benefits. They can be green, yellow, orange, and red, but all varieties contain powerful antioxidants that help protect the body against oxidative damage.
One cup of chopped red bell pepper provides 39 calories, 9 g of carbs, and 3 g of fiber. It is also rich in vitamin A and vitamin C, essential for several biological processes.
Mushrooms are very low in carbohydrates. One cup provides 15 calories, 2 g of carbs, and almost 1 g of fiber. Mushrooms have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can help improve metabolic markers over time, for example, level of blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and waist circumference.
Some vegetables are more carbohydrate-dense than others, and can significantly impact your blood sugar levels. If you’re following a low-carb diet, you may need to moderate the intake of these vegetables, or consider swapping them out for low-carb alternatives.
Popular high-carb veggies include:
- Potatoes: Potatoes are starchy vegetables with a high glycemic index, meaning they can quickly affect blood glucose levels. Instead of potatoes, consider roasting low-carb veggies like cauliflower or asparagus.
- Corn: Corn contains a significant amount of carbohydrates. While it can be enjoyed in moderation, some might consider swapping it out for alternatives, such as chopped bell peppers or riced cauliflower.
- Peas: Green peas tend to have more carbs than their non-starchy counterparts. Leafy greens and bell peppers can provide similar nutrients with fewer grams of carbohydrates.
However, it’s important to remember that a healthy diet is about balance and meeting individual nutrition needs. A registered dietitian can help determine your uniques nutrition needs and provide recommendations to help you meet those needs.
Increasing fiber while reducing carb intake can offer various health benefits. Adjusting the balance between carbs and fiber can help regulate blood sugar levels, promote healthy digestion, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and support weight management.
According to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults need 25-34 g of fiber daily, depending on age and sex. Vegetables are an efficient way to increase dietary fiber and meet those needs. Veggies are nutrient-dense, meaning they are low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals.
Low-carb veggies can add nutrients and fiber to meals without causing an unwanted blood sugar spike. Plus, fiber-rich vegetables can increase satiety, keeping you fuller for longer and reducing the possibility of overeating.
Low-carb vegetables can fit into a well-balanced diet in many different ways. Enjoy them cold as a refreshing snack, or incorporate them into healthy meals to add nutrients and fiber.
Consider whipping up a veggie omelet with bell peppers, tomatoes, and spinach for a colorful and nutritious breakfast. Other options include a sweet potato hash made with onions and bell peppers, egg muffins made with spinach and feta cheese, and salmon roll-ups made with asparagus.
Meal options can include grilled veggie wraps made with zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers, cheesy quesadillas made with sautéed mushrooms and spinach, and Caesar salads with added kale. You can also make stuffed bell peppers, eggplant lasagna, and mushroom risotto.
Low-carb vegetables also make great snacks. Slice vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, and zucchini thinly and bake to enjoy homemade veggie chips. Try carrots dipped in hummus for a nutritious and satisfying snack. Use cucumber slices as a sushi wrap to enjoy a crunchy, refreshing sushi roll.
Dietary needs and preferences will vary between individuals. However, a registered dietitian dietitian can help navigate the many options available and ensure they meet estimated nutrition needs.
Although a low-carb diet isn’t right for everyone, some people may benefit from moderating their carbohydrate intake. For example, those at risk for developing type 2 diabetes or those currently managing the condition must be mindful of the carbohydrates consumed at each meal and snack. Consuming low-carb vegetables can support carbohydrate goals while still providing essential nutrients.
Low-carb vegetables offer many health benefits, especially those high in fiber. High-fiber, low-carb vegetables are less likely to impact blood sugar levels while still providing many nutrients that promote overall health. Adequate fiber intake can help improve gastrointestinal health, support blood sugar control, and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.