9 Vegetables That Are Keto Friendly

by Sukhsatej Batra, Ph. D June 28, 2021

The first picture that often comes to mind when thinking of a keto meal is that of bacon, juicy meat bun-less burgers or a plate piled high with fried chicken without any salad or vegetables. This is because of the misconception that all vegetables contain high amounts of carbs that you cannot eat on keto diet. However, contrary to common belief, there are many keto friendly vegetables you can have when on a low carb diet. These keto friendly low carb veggies are nutrient dense foods that do not only provide a variety of essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals but are excellent sources of phytonutrients, antioxidants and fiber as well.

Even though vegetables often take a back seat on the keto diet, it is important to make them part of your meals so that you are eating healthy.  But knowing which vegetables are keto friendly is important so that you can adhere to the high fat, moderate protein, low carb keto diet to reach and stay in ketosis. Read on to learn an easy way to select low-carb veggies and a list of 9 vegetables that are keto friendly, which you can eat while on the keto diet without increasing net carb intake.

Low Carb Vegetables

If you are grocery shopping for low carb, keto-friendly veggies, there is a simple guide to selecting vegetables that meet your needs.

As a general rule of thumb, root vegetables that grow below the ground contain higher amounts of carbohydrates and are the ones that you should avoid or eat in very small portions. These include starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, beets and parsnips as their carbohydrate content is high and even small serving sizes can easily increase your carb requirements for a keto diet. This, however, does not mean that all above ground vegetables are low carb veggies. Vegetables such as sweet peas, corn, butternut squash and acorn squash are also high carbs veggies and should be eaten in small portions or not at all if you are trying to cut back on your carb intake. This, of course, depends on your personal goals. It is worth mentioning that following the low carb  keto diet strictly will allow your body to remain in ketosis and help with weight loss.

Your best option for non-starchy vegetables include leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables that are low in carbs but are good sources of other essential nutrients that you need to include in your meal plan to be healthy.  Here is a list of 9 vegetables that are keto friendly, which you can eat on a ketogenic diet without risk of going over your recommended daily intake of 50 grams of carbohydrates.

1. Zucchini

Zucchini is one of the best vegetables to eat on the low carb keto diet.  Nutrition information from USDA database shows that a 100 grams of raw zucchini contains about 3 grams of carbohydrates. In addition to several vitamins and minerals, zucchini contains lutein and zeaxanthin, that help maintain healthy vision. (1, 2).

Zucchini can be eaten raw in salads, added to stews, grilled, sautéed, or boiled and blended in soups to add texture without the carbs. You can spiralize zucchini to make zucchini noodles or zoodles to replace noodles, spaghetti or pasta. You can also make long thin slices of zucchini to make a low carb lasagna with meat and cheese. Zucchini is truly a very versatile, keto friendly vegetable that you can add to your keto diet.

2. Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that is low in carbs and therefore perfect for someone on the keto diet. One cup of raw cauliflower contains 5.47 grams of carbohydrates, of which 2.2 grams are fiber, leaving a net carb content of 3.27 grams. Cauliflower also a good soucre of vitamin C and folate. (3)

This low carb vegetable is a favorite keto vegetable as it can cooked in many ways and provides variety to keto meals. You can eat it raw in a salad, roast it with your meat or grill it on barbeque nights to go with your meat. If you crave mashed potatoes, boil and mash the cauliflower, add butter and seasonings to make faux mashed potatoes.

You can also grate the cauliflower head to make keto friendly cauliflower rice or buy frozen cauliflower rice. For pizza night, treat yourself to a cheesy, meat lovers cauliflower crust pizza.

3. Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are perfect for a low carb ketogenic diet because out of 7.88 grams of total carbohydrates they contain, 3.34 grams are fiber , leaving net carb content of 4.7 per one cup serving. (4) In addition to the high fiber content that supports gut health, Brussels sprouts are good sources of vitamin C, vitamin K, and minerals such as potassium and magnesium.

Brussels sprouts roasted in olive oil, sautéed with bacon , simply steamed or air fried and topped with your favorite seasonings make a great accompaniment to any keto meal.

4. Green Beans

With a little over 4 grams of net carbs per 100 gram serving, green beans are a great addition to your keto diet. They are a good source of vitamin C, folate, manganese and calcium. (5)

Like other keto friendly veggies, green beans can be cooked any number of ways - steamed, roasted, sautéed or added to stews, for a different taste every time you make them. They are especially great cooked in butter or wrapped in bacon and accompanied with a grilled steak.

5. Bell Pepper

Bell peppers, in their array of bright green, red, yellow and orange colors are excellent low carb, keto friendly vegetables that you can add to your meals. Bell peppers contain about 4 grams of net carbs per 100 gram serving and are good sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. (6)

There are several recipes for using bell peppers in your keto meals. Sautéed in coconut oil, bell peppers are a great addition to keto tacos. You can also stuff bell peppers with cooked ground meat, grill them with shish kebabs, stir-fry them with shrimp or simply add diced bell peppers to a healthy keto friendly salad.

6. Lettuce

Having a low carb, keto friendly side of salad with your meal is a good way to balance out your meal. A one cup serving of chopped lettuce contain about 1 gram of net carbohydrates, and some vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, calcium and folate. (7)

As a leafy green vegetable with a refreshing, crispy taste, lettuce salad makes a great side to any meal. Or make a salad meal with lettuce, shrimp or chicken, cheese and top it with your favorite dressing. You can use lettuce to make a keto friendly wrap or uwich burger with your favorite meat at home.

7. Bok Choy

Also called as Chinese cabbage or pak choi, one cup serving of shredded bok choy contains about 1.5 grams of carbohydrates. It is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin K, Vitamin C and folate. (8)

You can include bok choy to your keto diet by adding it to soups, saute it as a low carb veggie side to your meal, shred it and add to your salad, or cook it with other keto friendly vegetables to make a stir-fry.

8. Swiss Chard

Like other leafy greens, Swiss chard is another non-starchy vegetable that is keto friendly. A 100 grams of cooked Swiss chard provides about 4 grams of total carbs, of which half are fiber. (9) Dietary fiber provides many health benefits and may prevent type 2 diabestes, heart disease and colon cancer. (10)

In addition to the low carb content, Swiss chard is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, calcium, iron and potassium. (9)

You can sauté Swiss chard with coconut oil or olive oil as a side to your meal or add it to your eggs for breakfast. Use large boiled Swiss chard leaves to use as wraps to make ground meat rolls or stuffed chicken breast wraps. You can also add them to your cream cheese, stew or soup for extra flavor.

9. Artichokes

Artichokes are nutritious vegetables that contain about 5 grams of net carbs and about the same amount of dietary fiber per 100 gram serving, making them an excellent source of fiber. A high fiber may help maintain digestive health and may also help maintain heart health by reducing levels of LDL or bad cholesterol.  Additionally, artichokes are also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K and folate.(11)

While steaming and boiling artichokes is an easy way of adding them to your diet, you can also roast, grill or sauté them as well. You can get pickled artichokes or pickle them yourself for a readily available healthy, low carb vegetable.

Getting Started

Now that you have a list of some low carb keto friendly vegetables, don't leave them out of your ketogenic diet. In addition to those listed above, there are many other vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, broccoli, celery, asparagus, radishes,  and mushrooms that you have a different veggie every day of the week. In fact, to ensure you get as many different nutrients from your diet as possible, add the keto friendly veggies to your shopping list and eat some with every meal.

  1. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169291/nutrients
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3693724/
  3. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1103345/nutrients
  4. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170383/nutrients
  5. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169961/nutrients
  6. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170108/nutrients
  7. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169248/nutrients
  8. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170390/nutrients
  9. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170401/nutrients
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3399949/
  11. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169205/nutrients
Sukhsatej Batra, Ph. D
Sukhsatej Batra, Ph. D

Sukhsatej Batra has a Ph. D in Foods and Nutrition with a passion for motivating people to improve their well-being and achieve results through healthy lifestyle changes. Previously, Sukhsatej has worked as a Senior Research and Development Scientist and college professor.

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