The 23 Best Low-Carb Vegetables

Whatever your health goals and preferences, you really can’t go wrong eating more vegetables. They’re rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and other important nutrients; and they provide satiety, which means you’ll feel full for longer. In addition, many vegetables are low in carbs, making them ideal for low-carb diets. Swapping out higher-carb and less nutritious foods for low-carb veggies can help with a healthy eating plan. It may also aid with weight loss without feeling like you’re missing out.

Low-carb veggies are non-starchy, like kale, spinach and cucumbers, while higher-carb veggies are starchy, such as corn, peas and potatoes. It’s important to remember that all vegetables provide important nutrients — and not all carbohydrates are evil. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with higher-carb foods, especially complex carbohydrates like whole-grain pasta or oatmeal, there are times when swapping them out for low-carb vegetables is a good move.

Here is a list of the 23 best low-carb vegetables to include in your diet.

[SEE: Keto-Friendly Vegetables.]

Benefits of Low-Carb Vegetables

Carbohydrates are a macronutrient that your body needs to function. More specifically, carbs are a form of sugar the body breaks down to provide the energy that cells and muscles use to fuel their functions. Starchy and sugary foods contain lots of carbohydrates, but so do fresh fruits and vegetables. Fiber is also a form of carbohydrate.

Consuming too many simple carbs, like sugar and ultra-processed foods — think potato chips and pastries — can raise blood sugar levels, potentially increasing the risk of diabetes and weight gain.

However, because your body still needs carbs, swapping in low-carb veggies for higher-carb foods can be a helpful tool for managing or losing weight.

Low-Carb Vegetable List

Here are 23 suggestions for low-carb vegetables you can use as replacements or additions to your meals for a nutritional and flavorful boost.

— Asparagus

— Avocados

— Beets

— Bell peppers

— Broccoli

— Brussels sprouts

— Butternut squash

— Cabbage

— Carrots

— Cauliflower

— Celery

— Cucumbers

— Eggplant

— Green beans

— Iceberg lettuce

— Kale

— Portobello mushrooms

— Shirataki noodles

— Spaghetti squash

— Swiss chard

— Tomatoes

— Turnips

— Zucchini

[READ: Healthy Carbs to Eat.]

1. Asparagus

Carbohydrates per cup (134 grams) of asparagus: 5 grams.

Good source of: Folate. A 1-cup serving contains about 17% of the recommended daily intake for folate.

Low-carb substitution tip: Use instead of potatoes or rice in side dishes.

Asparagus spears taste of bright green spring, and they’re low in carbs. These veggies are a healthy addition to any dish and can be used to replace high-carb sides. Roast with a little olive oil and seasoning to make a quick and easy side dish for any meal.

2. Avocados

Carbohydrates per cup (146 grams) of sliced avocado: 13 grams.

Good source of: Healthy fat, fiber and potassium. A 1-cup serving contains 27% of the RDI for fat, 35% for dietary fiber and 15% for potassium.

Low-carb substitution tip: Use instead of other fat sources, such as butter or mayonnaise.

Although avocados are technically a fruit, their lack of overt sweetness and their undeniable health benefits have landed them on this list of best low-carb veggies.

While high in calories, avocados are full of good nutrients, such as vitamins C, K and E, as well as fiber and potassium. Because they’re nearly 80% fat, they break down more slowly in the digestive system, which can help you feel full for longer and could help you avoid snacking on less healthy foods.

Replacing less healthy oils, butter and cream in various recipes with avocado can lower the carb count and boost nutrient intake.

[See: How 16 Fruits Boost Your Health.]

3. Beets

Carbohydrates per cup (136 grams) of beets: 13 grams.

Good source of: Fiber, folate, potassium and iron. A serving of beets contains 6% of your RDI of iron and 9% of potassium.

Low-carb substitution tips: Use in place of chips and crackers when snacking, or swap for wheat-based noodles in pasta dishes.

The mighty sugar beet, a root vegetable, can be a welcome addition to your snack rotation. Simply slice, season and bake until crispy for a satisfying, lower-carb treat.

Michelle MacDonald, clinical dietitian supervisor and certified diabetes educator at National Jewish Health in Denver, says you can also cut beets into the shape of lasagna noodles and replace the higher-carb option in pasta meals and other similar dishes.

4. Bell Peppers

Carbohydrates per cup (149 grams) of bell peppers: 5 grams.

Good source of: Vitamins C, B6, K and potassium. A single serving of bell peppers contains 169% of the RDI of vitamin C.

Low-carb substitution tip: Use instead of chips or crackers with hummus or other dips.

Bright, beautiful bell peppers make an excellent side or snack any time of day. They’re bursting with flavor and often don’t need any accompaniment. However, if you want them with a dip, try a few tablespoons of hummus or a plain, nonfat Greek yogurt-based dill dip.

5. Broccoli

Carbohydrates per cup (90 grams) of raw broccoli: 5 grams.

Good source of: Fiber (2.2 grams), choline, vitamin K (77% RDI) and vitamin C (91% RDI).

Low-carb substitution tip: It can substitute for rice, pasta and potatoes in a number of ways. Or try a broccoli salad or an easy broccoli slaw with carrots, cabbage and a mustard vinaigrette. dressing.

Extremely versatile, broccoli can be steamed, roasted, tossed into a stir fry or simply eaten raw.

6. Brussels Sprouts

Carbohydrates per cup (88 grams) of Brussels sprouts: 8 grams.

Good source of: Potassium. One cup of Brussels sprouts contains 9% of the RDI of potassium.

Low-carb substitution tip: Use instead of potatoes in breakfast fry-ups.

Jennifer Welper, a certified executive chef and wellness executive chef with the New Mayo Clinic Diet in Rochester, Minnesota, says that substituting lower-carb, higher-nutrition veggies for higher-carb foods is a key component of the Mayo Clinic Diet’s volume eating approach.

One of her favorite swaps is to replace potatoes with Brussels sprouts in breakfast meals and cook with roasted cauliflower, carrots and peppers.

“(This) adds more color and more volume (of food) with a bit less calorie-dense foods,” Welper explains.

That’s also a good move if you’re trying to lose weight.

7. Butternut squash

Carbohydrates per cup (205 grams) of butternut squash: 16 grams.

Good source of: Fiber, vitamins A, C and E, magnesium, potassium and manganese. Off-the-charts full of vitamin A, a serving of butternut squash provides a whopping 457% of your RDI of this vital nutrient.

Low-carb substitution tip: Swap for pasta, white potatoes and other high-carb starches.

These bell-shaped, yellow-orange gourds are a staple of fall tables, but don’t relegate them to the holidays. This versatile and delicious veggie is full of fiber and antioxidants and can make a great side or entrée any time of the year.

8. Cabbage

Carbohydrates per cup (89 grams) of cabbage: 4 grams.

Good source of: Vitamins K and C. A cup of cabbage provides 56% of the RDI of vitamin K and 36% of vitamin C.

Low-carb substitution tip: Replace sandwich bread with cabbage leaves.

Many of us have a weakness for bread and look to sandwiches for a quick snack or meal when we’re busy. But you don’t have to use all those carbs to have a satisfying lunch. MacDonald recommends substituting large cabbage for slices of bread or tortillas in sandwiches and other grab-and-go foods.

Stuff them with tuna fish, beans, hummus or stir-fried vegetables to make a delicious, low-carb and nutritious meal in no time.

9. Carrots

Carbohydrates per cup (122 grams) of carrots: 11 grams.

Good source of: Fiber and antioxidants, especially beta carotene.

Low-carb substitution tip: Use in place of potato chips or crackers when dipping.

Carrots should be at the top of the list for snack options. Simply cut into thin rounds, brush with a little olive oil and bake to make them crunchy and satisfying.

Veggie slices also work great in place of, or next to, crackers with hummus or any other kind of dip.

“If I’m really craving the crackers, I do both,” says Dena Champion, a registered dietitian with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.

10. Cauliflower

Carbohydrates per cup (about 100 grams) of cauliflower: 5 grams

Good source of: Fiber, vitamins C, K, A and E, zinc and folate. A single serving contains about 54% of the RDI of vitamin C and 13% of vitamin K.

Low-carb substation tip: For rice, mashed potatoes and pizza dough, use cauliflower instead.

Cauliflower has become something of the “poster vegetable” for faux-carb swaps. Cauliflower can be turned into rice by pulsing it in a food processor until it forms small bits that mimic the texture and characteristics of rice.

Michele Smallidge, a lecturer and director of the exercise science program at the University of New Haven School of Health Sciences in West Haven, Connecticut, recommends treating cauliflower like you would potatoes.

“Using a potato masher, mash steamed cauliflower to get rice, and then whip it to get a fluffy result,” she advises.

You can also add a little oil, garlic or other flavors to make a rich-tasting, but lower-calorie, alternative to traditional mashed potatoes.

Smallidge also notes that cauliflower has become a common means of lightening up pizza dough, even in frozen pizzas. Or you can make your own by whipping up a crust with cooked cauliflower, eggs and a little cheese. You can then add your favorite pizza toppings.

11. Celery

Carbohydrates per cup (101 grams) of celery: 3 grams.

Good source of: Vitamins A, C and K, folate and calcium.

Low-carb substitution tip: Use instead of crackers as a snack.

Show of hands, who loved celery sticks with peanut butter as an after-school snack as a kid? Adapt this kid-favorite by swapping the peanut butter with hummus for a lighter, lower-carb version of the tasty snack.

12. Cucumbers

Carbohydrates per cup (120 grams) of cucumbers: 3 grams.

Good source of: Vitamin K. A cup of cucumbers contains about 19% of the RDI of vitamin K.

Low-carb substitution tip: Use instead of high-calorie chips or crackers when dipping.

Because cucumbers are about 96% water, they’re a fabulous way to get crunch and fiber without adding many calories or carbs. They’re delicious with a little hummus or a light vinegar-and-oil dressing.

13. Eggplant

Carbohydrates per cup (82 grams) of eggplant: 5 grams.

Good source of: Manganese. A 1-cup serving of eggplant contains 10% of the RDI for this important nutrient

Low-carb substitution tip: Use in place of noodles in lasagna or as low-carb french fries.

When using eggplant as a stand-in for lasagna noodles, Champion recommends alternating a layer of pasta with a layer of lengthwise-cut eggplant strips. This creates a delicious lasagna that doesn’t completely replace the pasta but augments it with more nutrients and a lot of flavors — and fewer carbs.

Eggplant also makes a delicious replacement for standard french fries. Just cut into a French fry shape, season and bake or lightly fry in olive oil to get a satisfying, savory snack or side dish with fewer carbs.

14. Green Beans

Carbohydrates per cup (100 grams) of green beans: 7 grams.

Good source of: Vitamins A and C. A 1-cup serving contains about 15% of the RDI of vitamin A and 25% of vitamin C.

Low-carb substitution tip: Use in place of rice in stir-fries or crackers in crudité.

Fresh and snappy, green beans are a nutrient-dense, low-carb veggie that can replace rice or other higher-carb foods. They make a great raw addition to salads and crudité trays. You can also try roasting them with a little olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar for a Mediterranean spin.

15. Iceberg Lettuce

Carbohydrates per cup (72 grams) of shredded lettuce: 2 grams.

Good source of: Vitamins A and K. A cup of iceberg lettuce can contain up to 20% of the RDI for vitamin K.

Low-carb substitution tip: Use instead of bread in sandwiches.

Similar to cabbage leaves, large lettuce leaves can also make great substitutes for bread in sandwiches, wraps and other on-the-go lunch foods. Not only does swapping the bread with lettuce lower your carb count, it’ll also slash the calories while boosting the crunch factor.

[READ: Are Low-Fat, Low-Carb Diets Compatible?]

16. Kale

Carbohydrates per cup (67 grams) of kale: 7 grams.

Good source of: Vitamin A and calcium. A single serving contains 20% of the RDI of vitamin A.

Low-carb substitution tip: Bake into chips to replace high-carb and high-calorie potato chips.

Love snacking on a bag of salty, fried potato chips? Try swapping potato chips for kale that’s been seasoned and baked to crispy perfection. You can still get that savory crunch you love with fewer calories and less sodium by making your own kale chips.

Toss kale with a little olive oil and some sea salt, and spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes. Turn the oven off, and let them sit for another 10 minutes. Experiment with different seasonings to find what you like best for this easy swap.

17. Portobello Mushrooms

Carbohydrates per cup (86 grams) of Portobello mushrooms: 3 grams.

Good source of: B vitamins. A 1-cup serving of Portobello mushrooms contains 20% of the RDI of pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5, and 24% of niacin, also known as vitamin B3.

Low-carb substitution tip: Use in place of buns or bread in burgers and sandwiches.

Smallidge recommends using large mushrooms, such as Portobello mushrooms, as buns for sandwiches or burgers. Many vegetarians have been relying on these large, meaty mushrooms to replace meat in burgers and similar dishes for eons. It’s not a far leap for these delicious, umami fungi to boost the flavor and become a bun as well.

18. Shirataki Noodles

Carbohydrates per cup (224 grams) of shirataki noodles: 10 grams.

Good source of: Fiber, specifically glucomannan, a type of soluble fiber that moves through the digestive tract slowly, helping you feel full for longer.

Low-carb substitution tip: Instead of wheat-based noodles, potatoes or rice, try shirataki noodles.

Shirataki noodles are made from the konjac yam, which is native to Southeast Asia. Sometimes called “miracle” or “zero-calorie” noodles, shirataki swaps well for other kinds of noodles as well as potatoes or rice.

Try using shirataki noodles in place of conventional spaghetti in Italian fare or egg noodles in Thai or Chinese cuisine and stir-fries. Because these noodles are mostly water and fiber, they’re very filling while being extremely low calorie. A 4-ounce serving, for instance, has just 10 calories and 3 grams of fiber, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

19. Spaghetti Squash

Carbohydrates per cup (155 grams) of spaghetti squash: 10 grams.

Good source of: Fiber, niacin and antioxidants, especially beta carotene and vitamin C.

Low-carb substitution tip: Substitute for spaghetti and other noodles.

This close relative of pumpkin has a natural tendency to pull into long strands — a characteristic that lends its name — and is an obvious choice for replacing high-calorie and carb-based wheat noodles.

20. Swiss Chard

Carbohydrates per cup (36 grams) of Swiss chard: 1 gram.

Good source of: Vitamins A and C. A cup of Swiss chard contains 44% of the RDI of vitamin A and 18% of vitamin C.

Low-carb substitution tip: Use instead of bread or tortillas in sandwiches.

Champion says Swiss chard works well as a sandwich wrap or taco shell.

21. Tomatoes

Carbohydrates per 1 small tomato (91 grams) : 3.5 grams.

Good source of: Potassium and vitamin C (28% of the RDI).

Low-carb substitution tip: From salads, sauces, soups, stews, omelets and sandwiches, to simply popping a grape tomato into your mouth, the options are really endless. For a low-carb and healthy meal, consider making gazpacho soup.

22. Turnips

Carbohydrates per cup (130 grams) of turnips: 8 grams.

Good source of: Vitamin C and calcium.

Low-carb substitution tips: Swap for white potatoes in any dish, or bake into chips.

Mash up turnips, and season with garlic, onion and some olive oil for a delicious dip that pairs well with veggie chips made from kale or beets.

You can also turn them into flour to open up a whole new world of options.

“Pancakes, pastas, gnocchi and lasagnas can be made with whole squash, parsnips, cauliflower and leeks,” Smallidge says.

23. Zucchini

Carbohydrates per cup (113 grams) of zucchini: 3.5 grams.

Good source of: Vitamin A, manganese and potassium. A single serving of zucchini contains about 40% of the RDI of vitamin A, 16% of manganese and 13% of potassium.

Low-carb substitution tip: Swap in zucchini for pasta and noodles.

It seems like every summer, casual gardeners find they have an overabundance of summer squash or zucchini. They grow easily and produce cucumber-like fruit that doesn’t have a ton of flavor on its own but can become a wonderful backbone in a variety of dishes.

They also make great swapping options for higher-carb foods like noodles. Smallidge recommends using a spiral cutter or spiralizer to turn squash into noodles, then boil or stir-fry and top with your favorite sauce.

Champion adds that for some people, “completely replacing carbs with veggies doesn’t feel satisfying,” so she recommends using some carbs alongside the faux-carb veggies.

“For example, mix some whole-grain spaghetti with zucchini noodles, and top with marinara and spinach,” she suggests.

[READ: How to Calculate Net Carbs in Your Diet.]

Why Carb-Swapping Works

Low-carb vegetables tend to be lower in calories and usually are less carb-dense than typical starchy carbohydrates, like wheat-based breads, pastas and other high-carbohydrate dishes. As a result, you’re taking in fewer calories while still getting vitamins and minerals and a healthy dose of energy.

How Low-Carb Vegetables Can Help Your Diet

MacDonald notes that replacing higher-carb and high-calorie foods in your diet with lower-carb veggies can be delicious and helpful for weight management for several reasons, including:

Portion control. The portion sizes are self-limiting, so you’re unlikely to overdo it. Because vegetables are fiber-rich and filling, it’s less likely that you’ll overeat them than, say, a bag of chips or a tub of ice cream.

Satiety. These veggies also promote satiety, or a feeling of fullness, which can help you consume fewer calories overall and thus prevent overeating.

Improved energy levels. These foods don’t spike your blood sugar as they’re breaking down and entering the bloodstream, which means a steadier energy level and fewer crashes in blood sugar levels later. This is helpful for people with diabetes or others who are watching their blood sugar levels.

Fewer calories. Eating lighter foods that are lower in calories and higher in nutrients can help you reduce your overall calorie intake, which can lead to weight loss.

Better fuel for fat-burning. Eating non-starchy vegetables can encourage your body to burn more fat as fuel, which can also help you drop weight.

“Sometimes, carbohydrates are a vehicle for our food — for example, noodles for sauce, bread for a sandwich or crackers for a dip,” Champion says. “Think about how a vegetable might work to replace that vehicle.”

How to Start a Low-Carb Diet

When switching to lower-carb eating, MacDonald recommends keeping it simple.

“I pile my plate with non-starchy veggies so they edge out the starchy grains and other starches (like white potatoes),” she says. “I still eat grainsand starches, just smaller portions. Be open-minded. It takes time to acquire a taste for different foods and a different way of eating.”

You may surprise yourself by just how enjoyable some of these swaps become. And you don’t have to go overboard either.

“There’s no reason to replace all your carbohydrates with vegetables,” Champion adds. “However, given that most Americans eat few vegetables, replacing carbs with veggies can be a good way to sneak in a few extra nutrients.”

If you’re adjusting your diet to accommodate weight loss, look for the right balance between calories in and calories out to create sustainable change. In the end, a little creativity with food swaps can go a long way toward supporting a healthy weight and lifestyle.

Low-Carb Diets

Types of low-carb diets include:

Atkins diet.

Keto diet.

MIND diet.


If you need help finding a low-carb diet that works for you, check out U.S. News’s in-depth profiles on the best low-carb diets.

More from U.S. News

Best Keto Cookie Recipes

What Are the Best Low-Carb Fruits?

The Best Keto-Friendly Vegetables

The 23 Best Low-Carb Vegetables originally appeared on

Update 04/30/24: This story was previously published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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