25 Healthy Low-Carb Foods
While many eat high-carb foods rich in refined sugar, a low-carb diet elevates nutrient intake and keeps calories in check. So, add these 25 low carb foods to your next grocery list!
The body does yearn for nutritious carbs. However, the general population consumes too many high-carb foods that tend to offer nothing more than refined sugar and calories.
Following a low-carb diet plan is supported to elevate vitamin and mineral intake while keeping calories in check.
What Are Carbs?
Carbohydrate, commonly known as "carb," is one of the three fundamental macronutrients. Protein and fat are the other two. Like all macronutrients, each holds their own value and offers a variety of benefits to the body.
Carbohydrate is mostly an umbrella term, as it encompasses simple and complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber. Each offer different characteristics, particularly related to their absorbability and digestibility.
Simple carbohydrates or sugars are quickly digested and absorbed in the body. Structurally, simple carbs or sugars contain one or two sugar molecules.
Simple carbs with one sugar molecule are monosaccharides, including fructose, glucose, and galactose. Two sugar molecules attached together are known as disaccharides, which include sucrose, maltose, and lactose.
Simple sugars are found in a wide variety of sources, including dairy products, fruits, veggies, cookies and cakes. Though all considered simple sugars, cookies and cakes are mostly filled with refined, added sugars and low in nutritional value. The fiber content in fruits and veggies also places fruits and veggies into the complex carb group.
Limiting simple sugars, especially from sweet treats, is extremely important for keeping blood sugars within normal levels. When concentrated sweets are consumed, they are likely to spike not only blood sugar levels, but insulin production.
Insulin is a hormone that assists glucose in entering the body’s cells to be used for energy. But when there is too much, the cells become overloaded and deny some of the sugar. In turn, the excess glucose is converted into fat and stored.
Complex carbohydrates are also known as polysaccharides, which contain three or more sugars and also recognized as starches.
Additionally, complex carbs are generally digested and absorbed much more slowly than simple carbs. The gentle absorption helps keep blood sugar levels sustained and steady. Simple carbs ignite quick energy that may spike blood sugar levels.
Dietary fiber is a component found in plants. Unlike sugar and starch, fiber is not absorbed by the body. Instead, fiber remains mostly intact.
Fiber is further broken down into soluble and insoluble fibers, offering benefit to heart and digestive health.
So when it truly comes down to carbohydrate intake, consume more nutritious, low-carb foods rich in fiber and other nutrients. Further reduce the intake high-carb foods laden in sugar and calories.
Also create a balanced diet with these healthy, low-carb foods!
List of Foods for a Low-Carb Diet Plan
*Carbohydrate content is identified in grams (g) per indicated amount
Carb content: 0.8 g per 1 cup
This low-carb vegetable offers bold flavor while providing significant amounts of vitamins A and K. Arugula also offers vitamin C, folate, calcium, and sulforaphane, a phytochemical that may protect from various cancers. The phytochemical has shown to reduce the frequency, size, and number of tumors.
Carb content: 1.6 g per 1 cup
Apart of the chicory family, endive can be served raw or cooked. This sweet, yet nutty flavored plant is a good source of potassium and high in fiber.
3. Raw Spinach
Carb content: 1.1 g per 1 cup
Spinach is an excellent salad green rich in iron, calcium, fiber, vitamin K and other nutrients for a low calorie cost. The versatility of spinach makes it easily tossed into salads and blended into smoothies and sauces. It also can be sautéed with olive oil and garlic to elevate its flavor.
Carb content: 1.4 g per 1 cup
This popular, rising superfood can provide ample nutrients into meal dishes, smoothies, and juices! It also makes an excellent calcium source for individuals who eliminate dairy products from their diet for whatever purpose.
Carb content: 2.4 g per 1 cup
Cabbage is low in calorie and carb while offering crunch volume to a number of dishes. And while mostly used in Asian cuisine, utilize this colorful, low-carb option for salads, fish tacos, and wraps.
6. Provolone Cheese
Carb content: 2.8 g per 1 cup
Though this Italian cheese is produced from cow's milk, the carbohydrate remains low while being high in protein. Despite its higher fat content, its moderated use makes a balanced snack and flavors dishes.
7. Almond Butter
Carb content: 3.0 g per 1 tablespoon
Nut butters can certainly fit into a well-balanced diet, as they offer healthy fat and protein. But when choosing an almond or nut butter, choose products without added oils and sugars and keep portions in check.
Carb content: 3.0 g per 1 cup, chopped
Celery offers bulk to meals without packing on carbs and calories. Snack on celery stalks and peanut butter or hummus, throw in soups and salads, or add to casseroles.
9. Cottage Cheese
Carb content: 3.4 g per 4-ounces (or ½ cup)
In addition to its low-carb content, cottage cheese is low in calorie (80 calories per ½ cup). Pair with fresh peaches or pineapples chunks for a satisfying, healthful snack.
Carb content: 3.4 g per 1 cup
No matter how asparagus is cooked, these low-carb stalks are a powerful antioxidant and offer numerous nutrients. Asparagus is rich in folic acid and one of the richest veggie sources of riboflavin. It also contains the amino acid asparagine, which acts as a natural diuretic and helps rid the body of excess salts.
Carb content: 3.7 g per 1 cup
These edible fungi are not only low in carbohydrate, but low in calorie, fat, and sodium. They are also naturally cholesterol and gluten-free!
Carb content: 3.8 per 1 cup
Fresh cucumber slices are a hard bargain to pass on a warm summer's day! And with their low carb and calorie content, there certainly is no need to skip out on them. Cucumbers are a high-fiber veggie sporting a lofty water content, which makes it quite the supporter of digestive health.
Carb content: 3.9 g per 1 cup, sliced
Add this edible root vegetable to raw in salads, cooked into dishes, or pickled and canned! Its common white, red, and purple colors can also offer a colorful aesthetic to dishes.
While bananas tend to take the center stage of high-potassium foods, radishes may actually supply the greatest amount. In fact, just one cup of radishes contains over 4,000 mg, just 700 mg shy of the general recommendation!
Carb content: 4.8 g per 1 cup
This cucumber lookalike is also low in carbohydrate. But unlike cucumber, zucchini should be cooked for best consumption - roast alone, add into casseroles, or spiralize into low-carb "noodles."
Carb content: 6.1 g per 1 cup
Also known as edamame, soybeans are noted for their plant-based protein and fiber content. They also supply both healthy monounsaturated (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated (PUFAs) fatty acids. Soybeans can be whipped into edamole dip, topped onto salads, mixed into rice dishes, or simply enjoyed boiled for a snack. Other low-carb, soy-based products include tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and soy cheese.
16. Rice Cakes
Carb content: 7.2 g per 1 rice cake
Compared to most crackers, rice cakes are low in carbohydrate. They make an excellent blank canvas for peanut butter, hummus, turkey and cheese!
17. Kidney Beans
Carb content: 7.5 g per 1 cup
Like most beans, kidney beans are rich in fiber and protein without a concerning carb content. They are also cost-friendly and versatile. Throw beans in salad, soup, chili, casseroles, being sure to rinse canned beans prior to use to reduce the sodium content.
18. Brussels Sprouts
Carb content: 7.8 g per 1 cup
The small cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C and K and supplies a good amount of fiber, folate, and potassium. Brussels sprouts can be roasted, steamed, and added to a number of dishes.
19. Plain Yogurt
Carb content: 12.0 g per one 6-ounce container
Being a dairy product, yogurt contains the natural sugar lactose. But when choosing yogurt, opt for a plain variety. Flavored types are often loaded with added sugars that increases carb content. Switching to Greek yogurt is a simple way to also amp protein.
20. Cow's Milk
Carb content: 12 g per one 8-ounce cup
Dairy milks, including skim, low-fat, and full-fat varieties, contain the natural simple sugar known as lactose. Each also supply similar carb content. However, switching to lower fat options reduces fat and calorie content. Milk also supplies up to 8 grams of protein.
Carb content: 12.2 g per 1 cup
Crunch into carrots for improved eyesight and other amazing health benefits. Carrots are also low in cost, available throughout the year, and versatile. Carrots can be consumed raw with dips, shredded intake salad, boiled or steamed, and even grated for a carrot cake.
Carb content: 13.1 g per ½ cup with skin
Though this starchy vegetable has a bad reputation, its consumption can certainly fit into a well-balanced diet. Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A, even supplying 300 percent daily needs! Sweet potatoes are also significant sources of vitamin C, potassium, and manganese with a heaping amount of fiber. And rather than ordering greasy fries from the drive thru, learn these healthy ways to make sweet potatoes.
Carb content: 14.0 g per 1 cup
Apples are rich in nutrients and low in calorie and carb. They supply fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and other plant components that contribute to their health benefits. Their ability to increase uric acid in the blood may contribute to high antioxidant levels, ultimately protecting blood vessels form damage.
Carb content: 14.9 g per 1 cup
Also low in calorie and high and fiber, peaches can help satisfy that sweet tooth without feelings of guilt! This fuzzy navel also offers valuable nutrients and antioxidants, including vitamins A and C.
Carb content: 15.8 g per 1 cup
Whether believed as a fruit or vegetable, tomatoes contain powerful antioxidants that are beneficial to health! Tomatoes and tomato products such as soups, sauces, and ketchups are excellent potassium sources. When choosing those products, it is important to remain aware of the sugar content and limit if possible.