The 10 Best Keto Vegetables List: What To Eat? -PeakCodex
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Best Keto Vegetables

15th November 2019
Macro photography of a broccoli

There is no reason to not include a lot of vegetables when following a ketogenic diet. Many of the most nutritious vegetables are perfect for a keto diet as they are low carb. They not only add color and micronutrients to your plate but also keep meals varying and interesting.

The ketogenic diet isn’t inherently nutritious or healthy. No diet is. With effort you can optimise daily nutrition quite easily by including a variety of of the correct vegetables.

We've put together a keto vegetables list which focuses on nutrition and the best methods to prepare each vegetable. You will also find information about how to absorb more vitamins from vegetables and other nutritional insight towards the end of the article.

1) Spinach 1.5g net carbs /3.5oz

Spinach on a blue table

Main nutrients: Potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin K.

It can be challenging to obtain enough potassium and magnesium on the ketogenic diet. Luckily 3.5oz/100g of spinach adds 10% more potassium and 28% more magnesium into your diet. Also contains reasonable amounts of the different B vitamins.

Best ways to prepare

  1. Steamed until wilted
  2. Sauteed with butter and garlic for a couple of minutes
  3. Creamed spinach: sauteed with butter and garlic with the addition of cream cheese
  4. Baked into quiches
  5. Steamed and added to smoothies
  6. Add to soup and boil for 2 minutes

2) Kale 3.5g net carbs /3.5oz

Close up of kale

Main nutrients: Vitamin C and vitamin K. Also has small (less than 5%) amounts of B vitamins.

Kale isn’t as packed with nutrition as spinach, however, is much lower in oxalates. So when you’re bored of spinach try a bit of kale. Sauteed kale is versatile and can be added to almost any dish to turn it into a salad.

Best ways to prepare

  1. Steamed until wilted
  2. Sauteed with butter and garlic for a couple of minutes
  3. Steamed and added to smoothies
  4. Add to soup and boil for 5 minutes
  5. Use as a base for salad with roasted vegetables and most meat
  6. Pairs well with pine nuts, walnuts and hazelnuts

3) Broccoli 4g net carbs /3.5oz

Two broccoli florets

Main nutrients: Vitamin C, vitamin E, folate and small amounts of of B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6 vitamins.

Unlike leafy greens broccoli is slightly higher in net carbs. It is also extremely versatile and easy to have daily especially when using frozen broccoli. It is easy to over boil or over steam in which case it turns mushy and unpleasant.

Whether it’s roasted with garlic or simply steamed, it pairs well with any food. Especially roasted it is also easy to eat more than 3.5oz/100g of! Which is great for nutrition but make sure your overall diet stays keto.

Best ways to prepare

  1. Steamed until just tender
  2. Boiled until just tender
  3. Microwaved in a bowl with a splash of water on the bottom. Cover and microwave on high for 2-4 minutes
  4. Turned into broccoli soup with cream
  5. Oven roasted with chopped garlic and olive oil

4) Avocado 2g net carbs /3.5oz

avocado

Main nutrients: Adds 11% more potassium, 9% magnesium, 13% vitamin E to your diet. Is also a great source of B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6 vitamins.

Avocado is a great source of fat and low in net carbs. Some parts of the world are lucky to have avocados cheaply year round so take advantage if you’re in these areas.

Best ways to prepare

  1. Have it sliced with a squeeze of lime and a dash of salt
  2. Turn it into guacamole
  3. Add sour cream to mashed avocado with some lime and salt
  4. Add it as a topping to almost any meal
  5. Add it to smoothies

5) Cauliflower 3g net carbs /3.5oz

Cauliflower

Main nutrients: Vitamin C and choline.

Not the most nutritious vegetable option but it makes up for it with versatility. It is usually quite affordable and can be used as a potato substitute.

Best ways to prepare

  1. Roasted with garlic and olive oil
  2. Steamed until just tender
  3. Turned into keto mash by steaming and mashing it together with butter and sour cream
  4. Using cauliflower keto mash as a topping to meat pies and other dishes
  5. Made into cauliflower fritters
  6. Turned into cauliflower cream soup

6) Asparagus 2g net carbs /3.5oz

Asparagus lined nicely on a chopping board

Main nutrients: B vitamins, especially B1. 6% choline. 5% each potassium and magnesium.

Asparagus has a considerable amount of B1 for a vegetable which is great for those who do not consume pork.

Best ways to prepare

  1. Steamed until just tender
  2. Pan fried in butter, garlic and herbs
  3. Oven roasted with garlic and olive oil
  4. Added chopped to quiches and pies
  5. Pairs well with bacon

7) Brussels sprouts 5g net carbs /3.5oz

Brussels sprouts on a chopping board

Main nutrients: 10% choline. 10% B1. High in vitamin C. Standard mineral content.

These mini cabbages are best roasted. While they are higher in net carbs, they do offer a significant amount of B1 for a vegetable. They taste delicious warm or cold.

Best ways to prepare

  1. Oven roasted plain or with bacon or parmesan
  2. Steamed
  3. Boiled
  4. Glazed with a honey, vinegar chili glaze
  5. Sauteed with butter, garlic and herbs
  6. Pairs well with nuts

8) Zucchini 3g net carbs /3.5oz

Zucchini or courgettes with flowers

Main nutrients: Has 6% of daily potassium.

Doesn’t compare amazingly to other vegetables from a nutrition standpoint, but zucchini noodles are a good substitute for pasta.

Best ways to prepare

  1. Sliced or spiralized into noodle form
  2. Oven roasted
  3. Turned into zucchini fritters

9) Red bell pepper 4g net carbs /3.5oz

Red, yellow, green and orange bell peppers

Main nutrients: Vitamin C. 100g has a whopping 170% of your daily vitamin C. 22% of vitamin B6.

Red bell peppers are the ripest and therefore have the highest vitamin C content.

Best ways to prepare

  1. Cut into pieces and eaten raw
  2. Oven roasted with all different flavour/spice combinations
  3. Chopped and sauteed with chicken, ground beef or sausages
  4. Cut in half and stuffed with different fillings

10) Mushroom 3g net carbs /3.5oz

Chopped mushrooms

Main nutrients: B vitamins and selenium.

Mushrooms have a great meaty texture and go with most flavour combinations.

Best ways to prepare

  1. Oven roasted with garlic and herbs
  2. Sauteed in a pan with butter, garlic and herbs
  3. Chopped and added to stews and other meals
  4. Add cream after sauteeing to make a delicious creamy sauce that pairs well with many dishes

Salad ingredients on a chopping board

Not all vegetables are created equal

Celery, cucumber and lettuce are all suitable as part of a ketogenic diet and you’ll feel extremely healthy eating them. However, you would have to consume them in a large quantity to gain any nutritional benefit.

Better choices include spinach, broccoli and asparagus. In fact our top 10 list of keto vegetables are also great sources of micronutrients and trace elements.

How to absorb more nutrients from vegetables

Vitamins can either be water or fat soluble. Water soluble vitamins (C, all of the B vitamins, choline, biotin and folate) aren’t stored in the body, rather they dissolve in fluids and get excreted through sweat and urine. Fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) on the other hand can be stored in the body’s fat reserves for longer.

You can increase the absorption of fat soluble vitamins from vegetables simply by pairing them together with some form of fat. Avocados and avocado oil have also been found to have a beneficial effect on vitamin absorption.

One study suggested that while adding 6 grams of fat, which is about ½ tbsp of oil, showed good results, the most nutrients were absorbed with 2 tbsp of oil.

The ketogenic diet is perfect for pairing vegetables with fat.

  1. Drizzle olive, avocado oil or butter over cooked vegetables.
  2. Use a high fat dip such as guacamole, sour cream or hummus to use as a dip for raw vegetables.
  3. Consume high fat dairy such as cheese with vegetables.

Are vegetables a good source of calcium?

Your body can’t absorb most of the calcium from vegetables due to a naturally occurring organic compound called oxalate. The higher the amount of oxalates in a vegetable, the lower the amount of calcium that can be absorbed.

Even though vegetables like spinach appear to be high in calcium, oxalate binds to the calcium so it cannot be used by the body. Boiling reduces oxalate content.

Oxalates aren’t a problem for healthy individuals with normal gut and kidney function, however, those prone to kidney stones might want to chat to a specialist about a low oxalate diet.

Do not rely on spinach or other leafy greens for calcium.

Mixed leafy greens on a table

Some nutrients aren’t bioavailable

While it may seem that spinach and other leafy greens are high in folic acid and vitamin A, these two forms are not bioavailable for the human body straight away.

The body cannot absorb and use the form of vitamin A found in plants (beta-carotene) without converting it to a usable form (retinol) in the liver. This conversion in the body isn’t very efficient and is estimated that it takes 12 μg of beta-carotene to make 1 μg of usable retinol.

Best food sources of vitamin A include liver, eggs, dairy and fish. This is because the vitamin A found in non-plant foods is retinol which can be used by the body without converting it.

Just like having to convert beta-carotene into retinol, the human body also needs to convert folic acid, which is found in plants, into a usable form called folate.

Therefore even though plants are high in vitamin A and folic acid they are not absorbed by the body straight away. Animal products are the best and most readily bioavailable forms of these vitamins.


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