We all know vegetables are crucial for a healthy lifestyle, but many wonder: what are the best vegetables to eat on a keto diet? We have to bear in mind that not all vegetables are created equal when you’re eating a low-carb, ketogenic diet. To clear things up, we’ll look at which vegetables are good to eat in abundance on a keto diet and those that should be limited or avoided.
Carbs and Vegetables
Carb count matters a lot with the ketogenic diet, since too many carbs can interfere with ketosis. At the same time, we want to maintain optimal nutrition, and vegetables are necessary for proper vitamins and minerals. So, how do we balance both? —By sticking with vegetables that are both nutrient dense and very low in carbs:
Keto Vegetables: Leafy Greens
Dark, leafy green vegetables are the best when it comes to low-carb and nutrient density. That includes the following (with net carb counts per 100g):
Greens are rich in iron and vitamins A, C, and K. They help support bone, brain, and heart health, eyesight, skin elasticity, proper blood clotting, and help fight inflammation.
Adding these greens to your meals can provide volume without too many added carbs or calories. Since they weigh so little, you can get a lot of substance and nutrition for 100 grams or less of leafy greens.
Keto Vegetables: Cruciferous
Besides the leafy greens, most cruciferous vegetables (those of the cabbage family) are a good choice for low carbohydrates and high nutrition. Good options include (with net carb counts per 100g):
- Cauliflower (2.97g)
- Broccoli (4.40g)
- Radishes (1.80g)
- White cabbage (3.07g)
- Green cabbage (3.00g)
- Bok choy (1.18g)
- Brussels sprouts (5.15g)
- Kale (5.15g)
- Zucchini (2.11g)
- Cucumbers (3.13g)
Cruciferous veggies like broccoli can help protect against many different types of cancer and may help decrease insulin resistance in those with type 2 diabetes .
Other Keto Vegetables
Other vegetables you can enjoy on the keto diet include (with net carb counts per 100g):
- Mushrooms (2.26g)
- Olives (2.80g)
- Avocado (1.84g)
- Green beans (4.27g)
- Sauerkraut (great when naturally fermented, but beware of low-quality brands and added sugar — 4.28g)
- Turnips (4.63g)
- Bamboo shoots (3.00g)
- Asparagus (1.78g)
- Summer squash (2.25g)
- Celery (1.37g)
- Artichoke hearts (3.88g)
- Eggplant (2.88g)
- Bell peppers (2.9g)
- Okra (4.25g)
- Garlic (0.99g in one clove)
Now that we’ve covered some of the best keto vegetables to use on your ketogenic diet, let’s talk about those that should be limited or avoided completely.
Vegetables to Limit/Avoid on Keto
Typically, the more brightly colored, the higher chance they contain more carbs. (Although there are few exceptions, like bell peppers and jalapenos.) The same goes for the sweetness of a veggie. Here are some examples of not-so-carb-friendly veggies (with net carb counts per 100g):
Beans and legumes (which technically fit within the vegetable group and range anywhere between 10-20g net carbs)
Most people following a ketogenic diet try to limit their carbs to around 20-50 grams per day. As you can see, the veggies in the list above are typically too high in carbs for a low-carb keto diet.
However, there are some vegetables that are higher in carbs but can still be enjoyed in moderation on keto. That includes sweet vegetables like:
- Carrots (6.78g)
- Pumpkin (5.14g)
- Winter squash (7.09g)
- Onions (8.71g)
Although these can be eaten in moderation, we should be careful about intake since they can easily bump up total carb count.
A good way to incorporate some higher carbs vegetables is by eating a higher amount of leafy greens with those in the “limit” list so you can enjoy both without the carbs becoming too high.
How to Eat Keto Vegetables
There are lots of ways to enjoy vegetables on a ketogenic diet.
Most greens can be cooked and eaten with some fat, such as butter or coconut oil with keto spices, or all on their own. You can also saute them in stir fries or add them to soups and stews. They’re also a great base for keto salads!
Stocking your fridge with frozen varieties of keto vegetables (without added ingredients) is also a good idea. Plus, frozen vegetables are often cheaper than fresh options, especially if you find your fresh greens often going to waste.
Here are some great recipe ideas for meals and dishes with keto-friendly vegetables:
- Roasted Chicken Stacks (with cabbage)
- Crispy Cheesy Chicken Salad (with zucchini, romaine, and kale)
- Chicken Caesar (with romaine)
- White Turkey Chili (with cauliflower and onion)
- Crispy Skin Salmon (with cauliflower rice)
- Shrimp Stir Fry (with cauliflower rice)
- Bebere Enchilada-Style Stuffed Peppers (with bell peppers, carrots, onion, garlic, and cauliflower)
- Brown Butter Buffalo Bites (with cauliflower)
- Smoked Salmon Pate (with cucumber)
- Creamy Mushroom Chicken (with onion and mushrooms)
- Avocado Breakfast Bowl
Although some vegetables are better avoided completely on a ketogenic diet, you can see there’s an abundance of low-carb options we can enjoy. For the most nutrient density, start with the leafy greens, then experiment different types of veggies to find healthy keto meals that best work for you.