All veggies are healthy and promote weight loss. Right? Wrong. While all vegetables contain vitamins and nutrients, some have more carbs and sugars than others, and therein lies the rub.
Our aim on keto is to maintain the most nutrient-dense meal plan while consuming the least carbs and sugar possible. But an extra side of sweet potatoes or stealing fries from the kids' lunch can quickly derail our efforts to achieve or maintain ketosis.
We want to explore the best veggies to enjoy freely on keto and others to bid farewell so that you can enter the supermarket or your Amazon Fresh browser with confidence regarding the best low-carb produce picks to facilitate consistent weight loss.
Vegetables are always an excellent choice on a low-carb, high-fat diet, and we're going to help you choose the right ones to promote fat loss and deepened levels of ketosis. Plus, we'll share some satisfying high-fat recipes using our favorite vegetables, as well.
Fortunately, although there are boundaries around which veggies work best on a keto diet, that catalog is vast and filled with many colorful and nutrient-dense foods for you to enjoy. And we’re happy to give you a few ideas to get you started.
We'll start with the good news first. Here are the best veggies to feast on if you're living the sugar-free keto life:
Best Keto Veggies
Kale: Dishes like fried eggs with sauteed kale with bacon are fabulous on a low-carb diet.
Plus, other kale-based recipes like a side of creamed kale or a snack of crispy kale chips are beautiful selections to keep active in your meal plan's rotation.
Spinach: Dark leafy greens are the champions of the vegetable kingdom; they're packed with powerful nutrients that the body needs and taste amazing!
And spinach is such a versatile dark leafy green that shines as well alone as it does in fluffy omelets or hearty stews.
- Celery: Boost your faux-tato salad with some finely-chopped bits of celery; the flavor addition is unmatched. Prepare a classic snack of celery and nut butter for an afternoon pick-me-up!
- Lettuce: Eating a massive salad once a day is a fabulous goal since it's a delicious way to get in your veggies and clear out your fridge and pantry—win-win!
- Asparagus: Summertime is the perfect time for crab boils and seafood of all kinds. Pair your shrimp and crab boil or large filet of fish of choice with a side of salted asparagus for a delicious and hassle-free dish.
- Avocado: Yes, an avocado is a fruit, but we'll highlight it here because it's neutral tasting and works well in savory as well as sweet dishes. Plus, we're always looking for an excuse to gush about this glorious pod.
- Arugula: Add a slightly bitter bite to your salads with a handful of fresh arugula. Plus, incorporating arugula into a salad with sweeter notes also creates a dynamic contrast that's unique and a treat for the senses.
- Mushrooms: Top your keto pizza or add extra texture and nutrients to a breakfast omelet with meaty, plant-based mushrooms. Plus, battering and frying the oyster variety makes a fantastic faux chicken stand-in for those looking for meatless keto options.
- Radish: Recipes like our ridiculously loaded keto radishes showcase our love for the lovely yet underrated root vegetable. This food is quite versatile and can adapt to any seasonings and flavorings to create various keto-friendly recipes.
- Swiss Chard: The slightly bitter taste of Swiss chard pairs perfectly with caramelized onions and fresh garlic; it's a terrific keto side dish option.
- Zucchini: Whether you whirl out some twirly zoodles or cube up some zucchini to make a tasty breakfast hash, zucchini is an excellent vegetable to have around to remix various dishes on a low-carb diet.
- Cauliflower: An introduction to the keto diet will likely inspire newfound respect for cauliflower. We use the florets to recreate Buffalo wings magically; we pulse it to make rice, and there's no match for this cruciferous veggie when it's time to create a creamy faux mashed potato recipe.
- Tomatoes: Make a day out of it with the family and can some sauce for keto pasta and pizza, or reduce this marvelous savory and slightly sweet culinary gem into a paste; it’s a frequently used keto staple.
- Eggplant: Parmesan-style is a classic eggplant dish, and it's still possible to enjoy it on a low-carb, high-fat diet; adjust your breadcrumbs. Plus, eggplant is fantastic for making casseroles, soups, and stews. And its hearty nature is also an excellent meat alternative for those eating a vegetarian keto diet or looking to increase their phytonutrient intake.
Cucumber: These cute cukes may be the most refreshing and hydrating vegetable of all. Use cucumber rounds to create infused water for chilled summer spritzers.
Or set some cucumbers aside for salads or pickling; they're a staple food in many keto-centered kitchens for their crisp taste and versatility.
- Olives: You may love them as a solo snack or as a salty and buttery addition to a piping hot slice of pizza. Whichever way you choose to enjoy olives, they're a high-fiber veggie that's super keto-friendly.
- Cabbage: Coleslaw and sauerkraut aren't complete without it. And its probiotic benefits place it in the superfoods range of keto foods. Plus, cabbage is highly fibrous and a great addition to soups and stews.
- Green Bell Pepper: More bitter ingredients like arugula and green peppers add an excellent base to a dish, imparting a complexity of flavor.
- Broccoli: Pair some firm broccoli florets with a hearty drizzle of dairy-based or vegan cheese sauce for a quick yet decadent side dish worthy of 'main' status.
- Red Bell Pepper: Colorful bell peppers add an eye-catching pop to any dish. From kebabs to salads to a savory stir-fry, red bell peppers are a stunning and flavorful ingredient worth including.
- Green Beans: These tasty stalks are delicious straight off the grill or woven into a creamy, dreamy green bean casserole; the choice is yours!
- Spaghetti Squash: Tired of zoodles but in the mood for a twirly bowl of pasta goodness? Spaghetti squash is the perfect substitute for traditional spaghetti when limiting carbs is essential.
- Brussels Sprouts: Forget your school cafeteria memories of these cruciferous beauties and give them a second chance with a clean slate. They're fantastic roasted in salted garlic butter.
Spinach, broccoli, and kale are common vegetable choices found on plates across the country. But we're doing ourselves a severe disservice if we limit our veggies to the land varieties.
Sea vegetables like nori, dulse, and kelp are abundant in minerals. And, seaweed contains many of the electrolytes and vitamins that our bodies need to thrive.
We're excited to see such enhanced interest because the news regarding these veggies is fantastic! Sea vegetables contain essential components that can aid in healthy immunity and prevent many diseases and deficiencies.
More on each of the sea vegetables we love to sneak into our soups, sauces, and smoothies below:
- Nori: You may think you have to guzzle loads of milk to attain adequate amounts of calcium, but you can swap in nori instead by making a tasty keto sushi role—it contains ten times the calcium of dairy-based milk!
- Dulse: This purple-hued sea veggie adds a pleasant salty hint of the sea to recipes and is excellent atop a fresh salad. Plus, dulse promotes a healthy nervous system, thanks to its rich omega-3 fatty acid content.
- Kelp: Sea vegetables aren’t just delicious; they contain fortifying minerals and vitamins. Plus, kelp provides carotenoids, flavonoids, and antioxidants that combat oxidative stress and the free radical damage that leads to a range of diseases.
Sea Moss (Irish Sea Moss): Natives of the Caribbean have long known of and revered the medicinal health benefits of sea moss, also known as Irish moss, as it contains 92 of the 102 minerals the body requires daily.
Add sea moss to salads, smoothies, salad dressings, ice creams, and much more! In doing so, you further adhere to the practice of making thy medicine thy food.
- Kombu: Ditch iodized table salt and add kombu to your diet instead; it’s brimming with the mineral iodine. Plus, kombu includes vitamins like A and C, which aid in building bones and teeth and support a healthy immune system.
- Wakame: Pronounced in its flavor, wakame is widely used in cuisine enjoyed in the US. Wakame is a powerhouse sea vegetable as it supports thyroid and heart health, is rich in antioxidants, aids in regulating blood sugar, and may boost weight loss!
Arame: The importance of gut health is becoming more recognized in the health community—even referred to by some as the second brain and the root station of the body's immunity.
Arame is an excellent sea vegetable to include in your meal plan to increase gut health. Arame provides fiber and polysaccharides to support a healthy digestive microbiome.
Worst Keto Veggies
Despite their available vitamins and nutrients, the following vegetable's high-glycemic-index makes it a poor choice when eating a keto diet—beware:
- Acorn Squash (9g carbs): While we love the fiber load of this veggie, it’s on the higher side in carbs and should be limited or avoided.
Butternut Squash (10g carbs per serving): Although it’s higher in carbs, this comforting root vegetable is still in play for some folks eating a keto diet.
If you’re an athlete or live a very active lifestyle—or are eating a keto diet during or after pregnancy—adding slightly more carbs to your diet can prove helpful.
Corn on the Cob (17g carbs): We know corn on the cob is a summer classic at cookouts, picnics, and barbecues, but we advise avoiding it at all costs.
Corn contains loads of sugars and carbs, commonly leads to spikes in blood sugar, and will likely result in raging ‘afterburn’ cravings for hours or even days to follow.
- Sweet Potato (17g carbs): Sweet potato fries or a half of a spud baked as a side with a pat of butter can be a yummy option, but the high carbs can prime you for dietary setbacks and spontaneous caloric splurges.
- White Potato (19g carbs): Opt for a side salad rather than fries every time; make it your new standard if ordering out. Potatoes may be tasty, but they will wreak havoc on your macro budget, metabolic ketosis, and your curbed cravings.
There are a myriad of keto-friendly recipes that incorporate the produce options we've mentioned. Consider trying any of our current favorites for a delicious plant-based keto offering:
Plus, we can boost the nutrients in our vegetables through the time-tested and straightforward process of fermentation. So whether we grab a bottle of Bubbie's delicious pickles or sauerkraut from Whole Foods or roll up our sleeves for a stress-relieving homemade processing session, our guts will thank us!
Also, again, the quality of our overall health is a reflection of our microbiome. The intricate bacterial, prebiotic, and probiotic ecosystem in our guts determines how well our body functions.
We cannot overstate the importance of digestive health, as it's tied to the correct function of all our bodily functions. Learn more about which fermented foods are safe to eat on a keto diet here.
Plus, incorporating fermented foods into your keto plan is so simple. Enjoy a chilled shot of kombucha with our summer-ready So Keto Kimchi Salad recipe; it's the perfect meal option coupling to cool you down on a hot summer day.
Are you enjoying a day at the beach? Some sauerkraut and pickles are the perfect fermented veggies to pair with grilled hotdogs or burgers—and even fermented condiments like homemade ketchup or mustard.
Plus, here are some fantastic veggie or salad options to add to your keto meal plan this season to spice things up as you cool down—the recipes are entirely hassle-free!
Give these crisp and refreshing keto summer sides a try:
- We love the combination of premium nutrition, convenience, and efficiency, and that's what keto meals in a jar deliver! From cobb to BLT to a creamy and savory caesar salad, you can stack them in mason jars during meal prep, shake, and eat on the fly.
- Check out the vast array of salads in a jar that made the list of our preferred picks here. Adding these nutrient-packed fast-food healthy keto meals to your weekly program can change the game.
Vegetables are as delicious as they are nutritious when appropriately prepared. Unfortunately, some of us have bad memories about some products due to how they tasted when we tried them before, but the right approach to cooking a portion of food can change everything.
Check out our tips for grilling a range of veggies this summer, so they are as flavorful and well seared as your meats and other proteins.
Veggies are an excellent primary source of phytonutrients we need to thrive, and the world of plant-based nutrition is vast and abundant in the elements our bodies require for optimal function.
As is the case when successfully making many keto-friendly recipes from sugar or carb-filled classics, it comes down to making intelligent swaps to limit carbs.
Grill some asparagus, al dente, and drizzle those stalks with some salted garlic butter. Then, bake a delicious and filling keto eggplant parmesan for a perfect freezer meal dish that you can make in bulk and enjoy now and later.
The more colorful your meals, the more likely you're eating the wide range of vegetables needed to provide your body with the broad-spectrum nutrition required to look and feel your best.
Maybe you'll try a bok choy soup or indulge in a spinach cream dip and vibrant crudités platter of keto-friendly veggies for a low-effort option, or go for a green goddess smoothie packed with cell-regenerating dark leafy greens.
Whatever you prefer, you really can't go wrong with whichever nutrient-dense veggies you choose as long as you cap the carbs and pair your vegetables with keto-friendly dressings, dips, sauces, and proteins.
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- Mangaiyarkarasi, N. (2016). The secret health benefits of edible seaweeds - sea vegetables. Annals of SBV, 5(1), 40–42. https://doi.org/10.5005/jp-journals-10085-5109
- Edgar, R., & Aidoo, K. E. (2008). Microflora of blanched minimally processed fresh vegetables as components of commercial chilled ready-to-use meals. International Journal of Food Science & Technology, 36(1), 107–110. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2621.2001.00423.x
- Gaining the Plant-Based Advantage. (2020). Plant-Based Sports Nutrition. https://doi.org/10.5040/9781492595762.ch-001
- Brouwer-Brolsma, E. M., Brandl, B., Buso, M. E., Skurk, T., & Manach, C. (2020). Food intake biomarkers for green leafy vegetables, bulb vegetables, and stem vegetables: a review. Genes & Nutrition, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12263-020-00667-z