April 24, 2024

It’s no secret that vegetables are the foundation of a healthy meal pattern. They are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, fiber and vitamin C, that promote good health and may reduce the risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating at least 2.5 cups (or equivalent) daily.

So, what equals 1 cup? Generally, 1 cup refers to 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or 2 cups of raw leafy greens.

If you have diabetes, keeping track of your carbohydrates—no matter the source—is key. This chart of vegetables ranked from lowest to highest carb content can help you stay on target while loading your plate full of vegetables. Here are several low-carb vegetables, ranked from lowest to highest carb content.

Spinach (raw)

1 cup: 1g carbohydrate

Spinach has the most nutrients per calorie than any vegetable on this list. Turns out, Popeye was onto something. Not only is spinach full of vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin C, but it is also highly versatile. Enjoy this leafy green raw, cooked, stewed or straight from the garden with these Healthy Spinach Recipes.

Garlic (raw)

1 clove: 1g carbohydrate

Most of the time, you can smell this fragrant allium before seeing it. Many people think of garlic as more of a spice and a garnish as it is not used in large quantities to flavor dishes, but it is indeed a vegetable with healthful properties. There are several health benefits of garlic, namely its cancer-fighting potential. It is also pretty versatile—check out these tips on how to cook with garlic and these recipes that use garlic.

Kale (raw)

1 cup: 1.4g carbohydrates

Kale is the poster child of nutritious veggies. It is jam-packed with antioxidants and vitamins that help protect you from a number of chronic illnesses. Check out these Healthy Kale Recipes or Kale Salad Recipes for more.

Romaine Lettuce (raw)

1 cup shredded: 1.6g carbohydrates

You may be surprised that one cup of romaine lettuce has 22% of your vitamin A daily needs and over 40% of your vitamin K daily needs. This subtle, unsuspecting green packs a punch for healthy vision, blood flow and hydration. Get your salad on (and more) with these Healthy Lettuce Recipes.

Celery (raw)

1 stalk (40g): 2.2g carbohydrates

Celery is full of water, fiber and minerals. It can help you stay hydrated, keep you regular and lower your blood pressure. Celery is one of those vegetables that can shine in any season. Try it for yourself with these Healthy Celery Recipes and find out more about the hype around celery juice.

Cucumber (raw with peel)

1/2 cup: 1.9g carbohydrates

Along with being hydrating for your skin and body, cucumbers have a whole host of health benefits. They are great for weight management and heart health. The antioxidants and fiber present in cucumbers help protect from other chronic illnesses, like cancer. Enjoy them dipped in hummus or ranch dressing, or browse our collection of Healthy Cucumber Recipes to discover how you can include them in your meals and snacks.

Mushrooms (button, cooked)

1/2 cup cooked: 2.2g carbohydrates

These fungi have a rich, meaty flavor that sets them apart from many vegetables. Additionally, mushrooms are one of the few plant-based sources of vitamin D. They are also full of B vitamins, potassium and fiber to promote gut health. There are so many ways to enjoy mushrooms—in pastas, stir-fries, soups, casseroles and more. You won’t run out of ideas on how to use mushrooms with your meal tonight with our Healthy Mushroom Recipes.

Cauliflower (raw)

1/2 cup raw: 2.6g carbohydrates

Recently, cauliflower has become the go-to bread or rice replacement. Whether it’s pizza or risotto, switching grain products for a cauliflower base can be an easy way to reduce your carb consumption. As an added bonus, one-half cup of raw cauliflower has 44% of your daily vitamin C needs, so you can boost your immunity while slashing calories. Find out how to use cauliflower to make perfect side dishes with our recipe collection.

Onion (yellow, sautéed)

1/2 cup chopped: 3.4g carbohydrates

Onions are one of those vegetables we can’t live without. They are not only aromatic and flavorful, but they are also packed with antioxidants that may help lower blood pressure, boost immunity and protect your heart. Whether it’s for the base of a soup or a quick weeknight stir fry, onions are inexpensive, versatile and delicious—our Healthy Onion Recipes will not disappoint you.

Tomato (raw)

1/2 cup sliced: 3.5g carbohydrates

Tomatoes are loaded with antioxidants and potassium. This combination is especially helpful for keeping your heart and arteries healthy and controlling blood pressure. Additionally, the compound lycopene in tomatoes may help protect your skin from the sun and reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Tomatoes are a kitchen staple that add flavor and color to a variety of dishes, from pasta, salads, casseroles, stews and many more—browse our Healthy Tomato Recipes for meal ideas for the week.

Bell Pepper (red, raw)

1/2 cup chopped: 3.5g carbohydrates

Peppers are sweet, but they’re still very low in carbohydrates. They’re also packed with antioxidants and vitamin C. Enjoy them raw, cooked or in place of tomatoes in this Roasted Bell Pepper Salad with Mozzarella & Basil or explore our Healthy Bell Pepper Recipes for additional meal ideas.

Asparagus (boiled)

1/2 cup (6 spears): 3.7g carbohydrates

Asparagus makes a delicious low-carb side dish. One serving (one-half cup) of asparagus delivers 34 percent of your folate and 39 percent of your daily vitamin A needs. Folate is important for cell growth and especially important for pregnant women. Vitamin A is good for your eyes and recent research also suggests that it may provide potential benefits to the skin. Find out how you can enjoy asparagus as a side dish or part of an entree with our Healthy Asparagus Recipes.

Green Beans (boiled)

1/2 cup: 4.9g carbohydrates

Nutritionally, green beans have a lot going for them. Every half cup of cooked green beans has 33 percent of your vitamin K needs, which is important for blood clotting, and 17 percent of your vitamin A needs for healthy vision and skin. Check out our Healthy Green Bean Recipes for culinary inspiration.

Broccoli (boiled)

1/2 cup chopped: 5.6g carbohydrates

Many people wonder what the healthiest way to cook broccoli is, or if it matters whether the vegetable is consumed cooked or raw. Technically, you get more nutrients in raw or lightly steamed broccoli. However, it is still a nutrient powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants in any type of preparation. Tired of eating steamed broccoli? Check out our Healthy Broccoli Recipes for creative ways to enjoy broccoli beyond a side dish.

Cabbage (red, raw)

1 cup chopped: 6.6 g carbohydrates

Cabbage may not be as high profile as kale, but it is still a nutritious veggie that is rich in vitamin C and provides some vitamin K and fiber. More importantly, cabbage may offer health benefits, such as lowering the risk of cancer and improving gut health. If you choose red cabbage, it contains anthocyanins, antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties. Take a look at our red cabbage recipe collection for meal ideas for the week.

Carrots (raw)

1 regular: 6.9g carbohydrates

From raw to roasted, carrots are another well-loved veg. Because carrots are sweet, they are also slightly higher in carbohydrates than some of the other veggies on this list. Nevertheless, they are still very low in carbs—see how these Healthy Carrot Recipes can easily fit into your meal pattern.

Green Peas (raw)

1/2 cup: 12.5g carbohydrates

We’re starting to enter the starchy veggie territory, but this doesn’t mean you should cut these out of your diet. Every half cup of peas provides 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein—a perfect vegetable to fill you up. Adding peas to your favorite pasta, stir-fry or stew is a great way to get a nutrition boost—check out these Healthy Pea Recipes.

Corn (boiled)

1/2 cup kernels: 15.6g carbohydrates

People often wonder if corn is healthy (short answer: yes). It’s a relatively low-carb, high-fiber vegetable. Corn also boasts phytochemicals and gut-healthy fiber. Not to mention, it’s delicious with so many ways to enjoy it—look at our Healthy Corn Recipes for ideas on how to add this veggie to your weekly rotation.

Sweet Potato (baked in the skin)

1/2 cup: 20.7g carbohydrates

Sweet potatoes have long been a nutrition superstar, for good reason. They are packed with vitamin A which helps with things from vision to skin protection. Sweet potatoes are also packed with minerals like manganese and copper, aiding with digestion and proper liver function. Did you know that sweet potatoes can be part of a dessert, like our Sweet Potato Pie with Cream Cheese Swirl? Visit our collection of Healthy Sweet Potato Recipes for both savory and sweet creations.

Red Potato (baked)

1 medium (2.5″): 33.9g carbohydrates

Potatoes get a bad reputation, especially when talking about carbs. But while potatoes are higher in carbs than other veggies, that doesn’t mean they aren’t good for you. One medium red potato boasts over 20% of your daily potassium needs, 25% of your vitamin C daily needs and a variety of B vitamins that play a crucial role in body functions, like energy metabolism. You will also consume 3 grams of fiber if you eat the skin. Roasted potatoes with the skin are quite flavorful, like our Roasted Red-Skin Potatoes recipe. Check out our Healthy Potato Side Dish Recipes for additional inspirations for your meals today!


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