First off let me say that low-carb diets can be healthy or unhealthy, but no matter if you’re all for carbs or trying to watch your intake, there are certain veggies for a low-carb diet, that are worth your dollars and effort to eat them. All veggies are excellent for so many reasons. Fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants are just a few of their benefits. Yet, in the “veggie world” if you want to call it that, some stand out above the rest for their ability to control the “secret code” behind a healthy weight, which is your blood sugar. Many veggies contain fiber, which slows down blood sugar, but some also contain special vitamins and minerals that can actually influence your blood sugar as well. If you’re on a low carb diet and watching your glycemic index, then including certain veggies into your routine truly can help. Don’t cut veggies out of your diet because they contain carbs. Any diet that tells you to is crazy! Instead, just be sure to load up on these, and you’ll be managing your weight and glycemic index all in a few bites!
1. Romaine Lettuce
Many people think romaine lettuce is just rabbit food, but it’s actually an all star in the produce department, and one of the best of all veggies for a low carb diet you can eat. Okay, technically, romaine is a leafy green, not a “vegetable” per say, but it falls in the same category as veggies due to its alkaline, low glycemic benefits. Oh, and romaine is definitely just not water and fiber, like most people think. Did you know a head of romaine lettuce is actually chock full of omega 3 fatty acids? It also has VItamins A, and K, along with magnesium. Magnesium is essential to blood sugar regulation, and one of the most beneficial minerals to your entire body. Romaine’s complete source of nutrients make it filling, satisfying, and enhance your mood health. This leads to less binging on other foods like sugar and junk food that most people turn to for a mood lift. Use romaine in salads, smoothies, or even as an alternative to a piece of bread for a sandwich or wrap!
Broccoli is making a come back, and you’re fixing to see broccoli ads all over the place, emphasizing that this basic veggie truly is a superfood. A new campaign will be taking place this year regarding how people have forgotten about how great broccoli is for you, and I’d like to tell you why I think its so awesome for a low carb diet. If you’re watching your glycemic index, broccoli is one of the best veggies to add to your plate. Per cup, it has 4 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber. It is also loaded with chromium, a mineral that you’ll want to include in as many foods as possible. Chromium is responsible for slowing down blood sugar and regulating your appetite, helping you crave less sugar. This can be a tremendous help to someone on a low carb diet who’s always fighting their sweet tooth! Broccoli also contains VItamin B6, which is essential to a calm mood and a sense of well being. This prevents you from turning to unhealthy foods for comfort, and the fiber and protein in broccoli help fill you up so you don’t get hungry 30 minutes after eating it. Eat 1-2 cups daily if you can.
A lot of people shun carrots on a low carb diet, and this sort of makes me sad. First off, carrots are great for you, and they absolutely will not make you gain weight! If anything, they help curb a sweet tooth like nothing else. Sometimes, a girl just needs something besides a bowl of broccoli, right? Enter carrots! They make the perfect snack, and have just enough sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth, but also plenty of fiber to slow down your blood sugar. Carrots are also jam packed with magnesium, which as you now know is essential to healthy blood sugar levels. Plus, carrots’ Vitamin A content help combat acne, wrinkles and sun damage, along with helping your skin and eyes glow. Eat plenty of this orange veggie! For one cup, they’re only 30 calories, so quit leaving them out of your low carb diet. They won’t make you gain weight, but they will keep you gorgeous and satisfied!
Pumpkin is one of my favorite low carb winter squashes. Sure, it’s a starch, but it’s actually amazing for weight loss, depression, food cravings and digestive issues. It is also so rich in vitamins that nourish your skin, and plenty of fiber to fill you up. Pumpkin contains the amino acid tryptophan which is important for controlling your mood, and food cravings. It is the calming neurotransmitter many of us get when we eat high carb foods, because it sends serotonin into our brains which satiates us. Pumpkin does that all alone, without the need for sugar, fat, starchy foods, or junk food. Just one cup a day or even half a cup per day can help fill you up, not out! I like canned pumpkin in smoothies, yogurt, protein pudding, or even cooked hot with some cinnamon and stevia as a dinner side dish. It’s a delicious replacement to mashed potatoes. Stir in a little almond milk if you want it creamy, or, buy it fresh and roast it whole, then just scoop out the flesh after cooking and serve it. As a bonus, you get to keep the seeds which are packed with protein and the amazing mineral magnesium, along with B vitamins, and Vitamin E. Plus, pumpkin has more potassium than a banana, which combats bloating and water weight, both essential to looking and feeling your best!
Have you forgotten about the humble turnip? Please don’t! It is fabulous for you! Turnips are a low carb veggie that often go unnoticed in the produce department, but they should definitely be on your radar! Turnips are excellent for your blood sugar and your liver. They contain Vitamin C and special detoxifying agents that flush mucus and toxins from your liver and bloodstream. They also taste pretty neutral when cooked, much like a potato. The Vitamin C in turnips help keep the cold away, and their cost is also nice too, since turnips are very cheap to buy. Feel free to chop them and roast them like potatoes, peels on or off. I like to season mine with a little coconut oil, black pepper and thyme for a delicious savory dish. Turnips’ fiber content help slow down your blood sugar and offer less of a glycemic spike than white potatoes, but they can be used interchangeably in a recipe.
I will never tell any of you to go on the Cabbage Soup Diet, so don’t worry! However, I will tell you that cabbage is amazing for you on so many levels. Unless you don’t tolerate it for digestive issues, since it can be hard for some people to break down, cabbage is one of the best veggies anyone can eat, especially anyone watching their carb intake. Cabbage is rich in a special nutrient known as glutathione. Glutathione helps rush toxins out of the liver, and it helps reduce harmful agents in the blood stream. Cabbage is also loaded with Vitamin C, which builds up your immunity and keeps your digestive system working well, along with aiding joint health. Cabbage is very low in carbohydrates and contains no sugar. I suggest steaming it really well, or eating in the form of kimchi or sauerkraut, where it is fermented. Both of these forms make it easier to digest, and in my opinion, taste much better than raw cabbage.
7. Butternut Squash
Along with pumpkin, butternut squash is one of the absolute best foods for your skin, weight, and your low carb diet. Rich in Vitamin A, fiber, Vitamin C and potassium, butternut squash contains the same amount of carbs as pumpkin, which is extremely low, considering it is in the starch family. Winter squash is actually a top weight loss food, yet many people on a low carb diet avoid it. One of the best ways to enjoy butternut squash is to either roast it whole in the oven, and then scoop out the flesh like pumpkin, or cut it first and into cubes to roast like potatoes. Butternut squash’s complete profile makes it excellent for anyone, and especially anyone on a low carb diet. It will satisfy your sweet tooth, but won’t mess with your glycemic index.
I’m sure you could guess kale would be on the menu, but I have to include it because it is so awesome for you! Kale is packed with calming nutrients and minerals like magnesium, chromium and manganese that help slow down your blood sugar, along with help prevent cravings. Like broccoli, kale also contains some protein as well, along with chlorophyll, the amazing alkaline nutrient that gives it that glowing green color. Chlorophyll is an excellent cleanser and helps detox your body from sugar and fat in the blood stream, helping to fight weight gain and inflammation. Kale has no sugar but plenty of fiber, iron, B vitamins and Vitamins A and C. . I like to steam it with some Himalayan sea salt, cracked black pepper, lemon and coconut oil to soften it, but it also makes a great massaged kale salad when eaten raw too. Definitely include kale on your low carb diet and you’ll learn to love how it makes you look and feel!
Though avocados are technically a fruit, I've included them here sine they are often thrown in the veggie department. Avocados have very few carbs compared to other fruits higher in sugar. They are also packed with heart healthy fat, 10 grams of fiber, Vitamin B6, 4 grams of protein, potassium, and magnesium. Avocados are an answered prayer to low blood sugar, and they’re one of my favorite additions to any salad to fill me up without leaving me bloated. The potassium in avocados is excellent for lowering your stress and blood pressure levels, and the magnesium also helps combat frayed nerves, which can lead to binging on sugar and unhealthy foods to satiate and calm you. Avocados’ healthy fats have been proven to combat belly fat and actually help remove harmful fats from the body, so don’t fear them! One quarter of an avocado is the perfect serving size to add to any side dish, entrée, salad or even your next smoothie for a creamy, dreamy taste.
10. Green Beans
Did you know green beans are super low in carbs? Most beans aren’t, but green beans are actually not a bean at all. They are actually a member of the veggie category of plants and contain none of the starches that beans do, but plenty of protein. Green beans are also packed with fiber, magnesium and chromium. along with Vitamin B6. I love them canned in low sodium varieties, and add them to soups or cook them as a side. They are also delicious steamed fresh, or even bought frozen too! Definitely choose green beans as a tasty side if you’re watching your carbs. They’re great for you and your low carb eating plan!
Onions have more carbs than most veggies, but don’t dare exclude them from your low carb diet! They are great for your body and your sugar cravings. First they act as a great source of Vitamin C, which is essential to your health, along with the antioxidant quercetin, which combats inflammation. They also have a large amount of potassium, which acts as a diuretic, helping to combat bloating and water weight. Onions are also rich in fiber, and prebiotics that feed healthy bacteria in your digestive tract. The carbs in onions can actually be for your benefit. They won’t affect your blood sugar, but will help prevent fatigue that can occur on extremely unhealthy low carb diets. Onions are also a top detoxifying agent for the liver, along with garlic, which both help to flush unhealthy wastes from your body that can lead to weight gain and sluggishness.
Cucumbers are another fruit I’ve included here, because they’re fantastic for you! Though they are 94% water, they are packed with Vitamin C and potassium. They also contain silica, which is amazing for your hair, skin and nails. Cucumbers also lower your blood pressure, which can build up when we’re stressed, and eating to combat high blood pressure the healthy way is one of the best things you can do for your health. Crunching on cucumbers whether in a salad, raw, or even adding them to your next juice or smoothie is a great way to take advantage of their nutrients.
One of my favorite veggies to include in a low carb diet is celery! It makes for the perfect salad topping, addition to tuna or chicken salad, sautés beautifully in omelets or with other veggies, or makes for the perfect afternoon snack to crunch on. Celery is rich in potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and nutrients that lower stress from high blood pressure, just like cucumbers. Celery also contains a healthy dose of natural sodium, which is essential for fighting fatigue, food cravings, and even headaches. The sodium in veggies is never one you should worry about. If anything, it will only help you, not hurt you, since it comes from a natural, unrefined source. Plus, celery acts as a diuretic, so it won’t cause water weight, but instead, helps your body remove excess water weight.
Along with winter squash, summer squash, such as zucchini, is excellent for you! It is rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, contains some protein, and plenty of potassium. Zucchini is fantastic grilled on an indoor or outdoor grill, and tastes so great with some Mrs. Dash as a seasoning. It is one of my favorite foods to halt cravings for starchy foods and it makes for a great snack or side dish.
Collards are another leafy green to keep on your radar! I know these hardy greens can take some time “warming up to”, but they are worth the effort. If you buy them fresh, try steaming them with some olive or coconut oil, a touch of Himalayan sea salt, black pepper, chopped garlic and lemon juice. They are fabulous for you and taste incredible. Steamed greens are incredibly calming to the mind and body, and help quell food cravings and inflammation. You can also use them in soups to cook down their fibrous texture, which also enhances their taste. If you buy collards frozen, they’re easy to use since they are chopped fine and can be tossed into any omelet quickly, or any entrée when steamed. Many people also eat collard wraps in place of tortilla wraps or pita bread on a low carb diet. Collards are rich in fiber, magnesium, and help remove any excess estrogen from your body, which can cause weight gain. Collards are also rich in Vitamins A, K and C, and extremely low in carbs, with only 1 carb per serving outside of fiber.
While I’m not suggesting anyone go on a low carb diet, I do like to watch my glycemic index, and these veggies sure make things easier and more delicious! What’s your favorite veggies for a low carb diet that you can eat without feeling guilty?