Getting enough fruits and vegetables each day can be a challenge for some, but research indicates that these foods can help to reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Fresh fruits and vegetables are generally low in fat and calories, but they contain various levels of carbohydrates and sugars. And for some people trying to manage their intake, carb content is helpful to know.
Fruit tends to have a higher carbohydrate content than most vegetables, because of the naturally occurring sugars — they’re sweeter, after all. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid them. If you’re watching your carbohydrate intake, some fruit has a higher water content and therefore fewer carbs per standard serving.
This fruit of summer scores lowest in carbohydrate content, packing only 7.55 grams per 100 grams of fruit. It’s also high in vitamin A and has a high water content, making it a great high-volume food because it will fill you up while providing fewer calories. Even the rind has health benefits!
Berries are a popular choice for people watching their carb intake, and strawberries have the least. For each 100 grams of strawberries, you’ll get just 7.68 grams of carbohydrate. They’re also an excellent source of potassium and vitamin C.
This popular orange melon is great on a hot summer day, and contains only 8.16 grams of carbohydrate per 100 grams of fruit. Some people like to eat melons like this and honeydew with tuna salad. Try blending it with lime, mint, and water to make a refreshing agua fresca.
Yes, avocados are a fruit, and they have relatively low carbohydrate content to boot. For each 100 grams of avocado, you’ll get an estimated 8.64 grams of carbohydrate. In addition, you’ll get healthy monounsaturated fats, known to be good for heart health, among other things.
Another melon, honeydew, comes in at 9.09 grams of carbohydrates for every 100 grams. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin C as well as potassium, an electrolyte you need to maintain good blood pressure, pH balance, and a healthy metabolism.
A juicy and sweet treat, peaches surprisingly don’t have too many carbohydrates. For every 100 grams of fruit, you’ll get 9.54 grams of carbs. For a low-carb snack, serve them up with some cottage cheese, or try a peach blueberry smoothie.
When you’re limiting carbs, vegetables are an important source of nutrition. They are high in fiber and lower in overall calories per serving than any other food group. They also contain an array of healthy compounds such as vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. In general, the higher the water content, the lower the carb content per standard serving. These are the lowest-carb choices.
Cucumbers are a refreshing and nutritious addition to any salad — Greek or otherwise! Peeled, they contain just 2.16 grams of carbs for every 100 grams. If you prefer them with peel, that’s 3.63 grams, which is still pretty low! Try them in this Mediterranean quinoa bowl.
2. Iceberg Lettuce
Perhaps one of the most popular, though least nutritious, vegetables, iceberg lettuce has only 2.97 grams of carbohydrate per 100 grams. Pair it with several others on this list to get a low-carb salad with plenty of nutrients, or use iceberg lettuce to make some healthy spicy chicken wraps!
Celery is a versatile veggie that goes as well with salads as it does with casseroles. And with the same number of carbs as iceberg lettuce (2.97 grams per 100 grams), it’s worthy of inclusion in your diet.
4. White Mushrooms
Mushrooms contain only 3.26 grams of carbs per 100 grams. Add them to an egg white omelet to get a healthy, low-carb breakfast. Or try something a little fancier, with this grilled oysters Rockefeller recipe.
For every 100 grams of spinach, you’ll get 3.63 grams of carbohydrate. To put that in perspective, that’s only about 1 gram per cup. So, load up on spinach salads and top with lean chicken breasts and fresh strawberries.
6. Swiss Chard
Another nutrient-dense leafy vegetable, Swiss chard packs only 3.74 grams of carbs per 100 grams. Swiss chard is great in soups and sautéed with garlic.
Low-carb dieting doesn’t have to be uninteresting, and it doesn’t have to mean all protein, all the time. Add some of these fruits and vegetables to make your plate more interesting and your nutrition more complete.