Fruits and Vegetables That Are Low in Sugar and Carbs

Updated on December 5, 2017
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An Introduction to Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates provide your body with energy and are essential to maintaining a healthy diet. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s useful to know what foods are high or low in carbs so that you can moderate your intake. I've provided a list of fruits and vegetables below that you can reference to plan well-rounded meals.

An Overview of Vegetables High and Low in Carbohydrates

High in Carbs
Low in Carbs
Beetroot
Lettuce
Parsnips
Kale
Potatoes
Chard
Yams
Spinach
Squash
Tomatoes
Gourds
Broccoli
Corn
Cucumbers
Rutabaga
Brussels sprouts

Carbohydrate Content in Vegetables

I organized vegetables into four groups based on the part of the plant to which they belong. The different parts have varying levels of carbs, which you can see to determine what works with your diet.

Leaves

Leafy vegetables provide the lowest amount of carbohydrates. Most contain a considerable amount of fiber and therefore have less effect on your blood sugar levels. They are full of essential nutrients and phytochemicals. Examples of leafy vegetables include:

  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Herbs
  • Chard
  • Spinach

Stems and Flowers

Stems and flowers are relatively low in carbohydrates but do have slightly more than leafy vegetables. These foods include:

  • Broccoli
  • Leek
  • Fennel
  • Cauliflower
  • Watercress
  • Arugula
  • Asparagus

Fruits

The fruit is where a plant's seeds are contained. Fruits provide more complex carbohydrates than leafy vegetables, stems, and flowers. A few examples are:

  • Artichokes
  • Squash
  • Marrow
  • Lentils
  • Green beans
  • Okra
  • Tomatoes

Avocados are unique because while they can be considered a fruit, they do not provide carbohydrates.

Roots

Of the four groups, roots provide the highest number of carbohydrates and starches. Root vegetables with more carbs include:

  • Beetroot
  • Parsnips
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Shallots
  • Yams
  • White potatoes

Other root vegetables that contain lower levels of carbohydrates are:

  • Garlic
  • Celery root
  • Jicama
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Radishes

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Excellent Low-Carb Veggie Options

If you want to lose weight, try incorporating these vegetables into your diet.

1. Spinach
This leafy vegetable is high in beta-carotene, vitamin K, and iron. Spinach is great for any diet and is particularly helpful for diabetics. To get the best nutrition possible, buy it garden-fresh or frozen and avoid the precooked kind. You can use spinach in salads and omelets.

2. Tomato
With just 31 calories per cup, tomatoes are low in carbs and calories. They're also full of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps your body defend against prostate cancer and heart diseases. Eat tomatoes by themselves or add them to your meat and sauce recipes.

3. Broccoli
Broccoli is a low-carb green that is rich in vitamins A, C, and D. It also offers calcium, fiber, and iron. Try finding the freshest broccoli, which smell like cabbage and have dark green color. This vegetable doesn't keep well, so try using it within a day or two of buying it.

4. Cucumber
One cup of cucumber provides 5 grams of carbohydrates. Rich in vitamin K, potassium, and vitamin C, cucumbers are a nutritious snack food. Include them in your weekly meal plan by using them in sandwiches or munching on them throughout the day.

5. Cabbage
Cabbage is full of phytochemicals, vitamin K, vitamin C, fiber, manganese, and vitamin B6. To choose the best one, make sure it has well-defined leaf veins, no spots or blemishes, and compact, crispy leaves. Refrigerate cabbage to keep it fresh.

6. Brussels sprouts
Not only are they low in carbohydrates, but Brussels sprouts are also a great source of vitamins A and C, folic acid, and fiber. It is claimed that the nutrients inside Brussels sprouts help combat certain cancers.

7. Cauliflower
Although cauliflower may not be someone's first choice, it shouldn't be discounted. It's packed with vitamin C, and you only need one serving of it to cover more than half your daily dose of vitamin C. Cauliflower can be eaten fresh or cooked and works well with recipes that require steaming and roasting.

8. Asparagus
Asparagus only has 26 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrates per cup, making it an excellent low-carb option. The stalks are also heavy in vitamins A and K. Select the best quality bundles, which you can find by looking for bright green shoots and thick heads. Make sure to remove both ends of each stalk before preparing and eating.

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Additional Low-Carb Vegetables

Here are more vegetable options you can select from:

  • Sprouts
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Collard greens
  • Bok choy
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Celery
  • Chicory
  • Endive
  • Leeks
  • Sea vegetables
  • Wax bean
  • Fennel
  • Zucchini
  • Kohlrabi
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Green onions
  • Snow peas
  • Radicchio
  • Tomatillos
  • Artichokes
  • Pumpkin
  • Rutabaga
  • Rhubarb
  • Radishes
  • Peppers

If you want to incorporate more layers of flavor into your dishes, the following herbs can help!

  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Cinnamon
  • Mustard seed
  • Tumeric
  • Garlic
  • Black pepper
  • Ginseng

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Carbohydrate-Rich Vegetables

If you're on a diet to lose weight, it's best to stay away from these starchy vegetables.

  • Beets
  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Gourd
  • Squash
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Corn
  • Plantains
  • Rutabaga
  • Water chestnuts

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Low-Carb Fruits

Fruits aren't just for those who want to eat a low-carb diet! If you enjoy sweets but want to cut down on sugar, fruit is a tasty alternative that satisfies your sweet tooth.

Berries are high in antioxidants and vitamins. These fiber-rich treats are the most nutritionally-dense fruit you can eat. Try to eat a half-cup to one cup of them every day. You can easily incorporate them into grilled meat dishes and salads, so have fun with this and experiment with different combinations!

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Fruits That Are High in Sugar

Though all fruits are delicious, you should try to eat fruits with high sugar contents in moderation. Below are a few kinds you should keep in mind.

1. Melons

Some low-carb articles advise you to eat melons. However, both cantaloupes and watermelons are incredibly high in sugar. You don't have to avoid them altogether, but try to make melons a rare treat.

2. Mangoes and Papayas
Mangoes and papayas are also high in sugar and shouldn't be consumed frequently. Although starchy, a banana is a more rewarding choice because it has a glycemic index of 56 and provides better energy.

3. Pineapples
Pineapples are an excellent source of bromelain, an extract that helps with joint health and inflammation. It's loaded with essential nutrients but is high in sugar, so treat yourself to it every once in awhile.

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    • profile image

      Carl 3 years ago

      Thanks for the nutritional value of the leafy green veggies.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      yr photos are great.

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