One of the hardest parts about the keto diet is the limitation of fruits and veggies. We’ve been taught that we’re supposed to have large amounts of “healthy” fruits and vegetables, and they are healthy to an extent. Like anything, moderation is key and we composed a list of the best low carb fruits and veggies. The primary reason we must limit these foods on a keto diet is because they have natural sugars and starches. The phrase “nature’s candy” refers to these sweets. While fruit and candy all have carbohydrates in them, they are made of two different types: simple and complex. Our bodies break them down differently, and that’s why they impact our glucose differently. One, simple sugar found in the snack aisle, causes rapid glucose spikes and sharp drops when consumed. The other, complex sugars found in the produce section, is responsible for a gradual and steady rise and fall.
Low Carb Fruits and Veggies
We’ve created a top 15 list of low carb fruits and veggies. This doesn’t necessarily mean these are a green light for any keto diet because like other foods that you might enjoy, you may need to take special consideration when budgeting your macros. Perhaps you could carefully watch your carb intake to have some of these delicious low carb fruits and veggies, or maybe you could use less than the serving size(s) quoted below.
Low Carb Veggies
Spinach is one of the lowest carb veggies that we were able to find. One cup (1 Cup) of fresh spinach is less than a half of a carb. The actual carb count is 1.1 carbs per cup, but it is so rich in fiber (0.7g per cup) that it leaves one serving at 0.4 carbs.
A fantastic use for these fresh greens is a salad with a bit of dressing (watch out for hidden carbs in dressing) or as a nice side dish to compliment any meat. These fresh leaves are also dense in nutrients, which are much better for you than ordinary iceberg lettuce.
Zucchini comes in right behind our top pick as the next low carb veggie in our list. One cup (1 Cup) of zucchini is around 2g of net carbs per serving. Of course, if you’re cooking it in butter or oil, it may change the nutritional value depending on what you’re using. This makes another great side dish. Alternatively, you can use this low carb veggie as a pasta. Zoodles are becoming a popular dish in the keto world. There are special peelers that allow you to turn these babies into “spaghetti” noodles. Just add your favorite low carb pasta sauce and voila! Pasta in minutes with so few carbs you’ll be in heaven. And yes, it really does taste like pasta.
Cauliflower comes in at number three on our list of low carb fruits and veggies. A single cup of cauliflower is about 3g of net carbs. This veggie has many uses in the keto diet because it’s similar to potatoes. Some popular dishes that incorporate cauliflower are seven layer salad, mock potato salad, mock mashed potatoes, mock loaded potatoes and mock fried rice as well as many other dishes. We’ve even seen people use cauliflower as “nachos” by spreading their favorite low carb nacho cheese over the top of them, adding jalapenos and a few black olives, and eating it with a fork. You can also eat raw cauliflower as a snack with ranch dressing to satisfy your taste buds. These are definitely a winner in our book.
Green beans are another great option. They taste better when fresh, but canned green beans work in a pinch, too. The great thing about this vegetable is that you can eat them cooked or raw and dress them up in a number of ways. One of our favorite ways to cook them is with a splash of Worcestershire sauce and a few diced onions. One cup (1 Cup) of green beans is about 4g of net carbs. Adding onions or additional items may increase the carb count.
The best thing about them is that they’re easy and quick to make, and go great with any meal. Toss a few into your lunch with a lean piece of protein and walk out the door. There’s no prepping them and you can add a bit of salt and pepper to really bring out their flavor.
Broccoli comes in slightly behind cauliflower in our list of low carb fruits and veggies despite their similar composition and texture. One who doesn’t regularly eat these low carb fruits and veggies might think they’re the same and that one is just white while the other is green but they’re not the same at all. They have two very different tastes, and broccoli isn’t quite as versatile as cauliflower.
It does, however, make a great side dish to almost any meal. To change up its flavor, try melting cheddar cheese on top of it for a savory bite. One cup (1 Cup) of broccoli is about 4g of net carbs (before adding any cheeses which may affect its carb count). A word of caution is not to overdo it when consuming broccoli as it can cause gas.
Brussel’s sprouts is another low carb veggie. If your mom made you eat these as a kid, chances are that you probably hated them. However, they’re not bad at all. There are a few different ways that you can cook them but the best way we’ve found is by roasting them in the oven with salt, pepper, and garlic. The only word of caution with them is to make sure they are cooked properly.
One cup (1 Cup) is about 5g of net carbs. Since they are round balls, one cup quickly adds up and if you’re trying to stay under 20 net carbs, that’s a quarter of your daily allowance. Because of this, we recommend eating them sparingly to mix things up.
Low Carb Fruits
When it comes to fruits, there is one fruit that sticks out above all the rest. Luckily, it’s also a favorite among many people and can be eaten anywhere, anytime.
Strawberries make an amazing treat and while it may feel like you’re cheating, they’re not all that bad for a low carb diet. They are the lowest carb fruit that we could find and are less than 1g net carb each. The actual net carb count for a strawberry is 0.7g, but who’s counting? The great thing about them is that you can eat them plain so they make the perfect addition to any lunch, or you can eat them as a dessert.
You can add a sprinkling of granulated Splenda (or equivalent sweetener) if you choose, or you can dip them into some whipped cream. Be advised, though, that dipping them into whipped cream will increase their carb count as most whipped toppings have 2 net carbs for two tablespoons. The only downfall about strawberries is that they may be difficult to find throughout the year as they’re typically in season during warm, summer months unless you happen to live in an area where they’re sold all year.
Second runner up on our low carb fruits and veggies list is shredded coconut. There are a variety of ways you can use shredded coconut and one way is by adding it as a topping or by eating it plain. Coconut is naturally sweet so it has a bit higher net carb count. One cup (1 Cup) of shredded coconut is about 5g of net carbs.
Shredded coconut is delicious when used as an ingredient for fat bombs of any kind (as long as you like coconut) or to top low carb pancakes and other foods. While it’s not as low as strawberries in regards to net carbs, it’s still a tasty addition to the keto diet. You can save money by purchasing a whole coconut and shredding your own. There are special shredders that allow you to do it with no mess and even store the food while you’re doing your food prep.
Raspberries are a tasty addition to almost any meal. They’re rich in antioxidants and their sweetness is enough to send you over the moon. One cup (1 Cup) of raspberries is only 7g of net carbs. Similar to strawberries, you can dress them up with whipped cream or a sprinkling of Splenda to celebrate a special occasion.
One special treat that you can make with raspberries (and strawberries) is a compote. By cutting them into halves, or smaller if you like, you can add one-third to one-half cup of water to the berries and add two tablespoons of Splenda. Let the compote mixture set in the fridge for a few hours and serve as a dessert or eat as a celebration treat. It’s so good that even your closest critiques won’t realize they’re eating a keto dish.
Clementines are next up on the list of low carb fruits and veggies. One cup (1 Cup) of this sweet, juicy fruity goodness is only 8g of net carbs. They are from the mandarin family and are similar to tangerines. People often mistake these two fruits, but a cup of tangerines has a whopping 23g of net carbs.
If you’re following a keto diet, it’s better to stick with clementines since they have a fraction of the carbs. Tangerines would be more appropriate for someone doing a low carb diet and is either reducing the number of carbs they consume or are in maintenance mode instead of weight loss mode. You can find mandarin fruits in most stores from November through March as that’s when they are typically in season.
Similar to clementines, cranberries also only have 8g of net carbs per one cup (1 Cup). They have a sweet, bitter taste and are enriched with antioxidants. Due to their health benefits, this may be the best fruit on our top 15 low carb fruits and veggies.
Cranberries help reduce the risk of urinary tract infections and are also said to help prevent certain types of cancer as well as decrease blood pressure. Be careful not to confuse actual cranberries with cranberry juice. There is a big difference. When you purchase bottled cranberry juice, it tends to contain added sugar. This can significantly increase the amount of carbohydrates per serving and spike your glucose levels. Try to only eat fresh cranberries to ensure you don’t consume too many carbs.
Cantaloupe is a type of melon with a hard outer covering and a soft, delicious inside. This fruit has 12g of net carbs per one cup (1 Cup) and is typically sold in most grocery stores year-round; though, it’s commonly found during warm summer months. Most people slice the melon in half and then scoop the seeds out of it before discarding them. The outer portion of the melon is not edible, and the fruit should only be eaten until you reach the soft green color of the inside of the shell.
It’s typically sliced as shown in the picture, which can make it difficult to measure out one cup. However, there are melon ball scoopers that will allow you to make fun balls of melon to eat that will measure out perfectly and work excellent on cantaloupe since it’s so soft.
Apples are an all-time American favorite and even though they are so sweet, you’ll be glad to know that you can still enjoy them. Well, to some extent. One cup (1 Cup) of apples has 13 net carbs. While you may not be able to eat an entire apple with this WOE, at least if you’re in weight loss mode, you can still enjoy them periodically.
When eating an apple while on keto, it’s important to try to eat as much of the apple skin as possible as that is what contains fiber, bringing down the carb count. Luckily, apples are sold at most stores year-round so you never have to worry about finding them at your local grocer.
Right along side the carb count with apples is peaches. Yes, you read that correctly. You can still enjoy a ripe peach while doing keto, just don’t go overboard…or eat the core. A cup (1 Cup) of peaches has 13g of net carbs. As mentioned above with the raspberries, you can make a nice peach compote with water and Splenda to savor the goodness on hot, summer days.
Peaches are a seasonal fruit, typically available during summer months and may not be available year long like other fruits. When they’re not in season, they can become pretty expensive since they are sold by the pound. Peaches contain many vitamins and nutrients that help boost your immune system.
Finally, honeydew comes in last on our 15 low carb fruits and veggies list. This fruit is very similar to cantaloupe in regards to size, shape, and consistency. It’s another sweet melon that contains a seedy middle but is oh-so-good. You prepare it the same way as you would cantaloupe and eat it in the same manner as well. The melon ball scooper will help you measure how much honeydew you’re consuming.
One cup (1 Cup) is 14 net carbs. This is a bit high, which is why it comes in last on the list but is still doable if you budget for it early in the day. You can even add a tablespoon or two of cool whip to make it even sweeter. Though, the extra whipped cream will raise the carb count.
If you’re out of weight loss mode and only eating maintenance carbs, honeydew is a great option for your diet. As with all fruits, moderation is key and as long as you can stick to that, you’ll continue to lose and stay looking your very best.
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