Your mother or grandmother always said, “make sure you eat your veggies, especially those leafy greens!” You’ve always thought salads with colorful veggies, and leafy greens piled high are a keto-friendly healthy choice! So, what are the best greens for a keto diet? What are the benefits of leafy greens and green veggies, and what are the best ways to include greens in your ketogenic diet?
The Best Green Veggies for Keto
Green veggies like zucchini, cucumbers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, celery, artichoke, and asparagus are all low in carbohydrates and high in nutrients! Cabbage, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, and broccoli are all beneficial cruciferous veggies that have been proven to have anti-cancer properties, promote satiety, and provide cardiovascular benefits. Cruciferous veggies are an excellent option when you’re following a ketogenic diet because they have plenty of dietary fiber and nutrients to keep you feeling fuller for longer but little carbohydrates to threaten the state of ketosis.
A 100-gram serving of cooked Brussel sprouts provides 4.5 grams of net carbohydrates. A 100-gram serving of raw broccoli has around 4 grams of net carbohydrates. It’s hard to overeat filling veggies like these, particularly when you’re eating them along with some good quality high protein foods like a roast chicken.
Consuming a diverse range of foods has been proven to improve the health of your gut microbiome–the trillions of advantageous bacteria, fungi, and viruses present in your digestive system.  Some bacteria are pathogenic and associated with disease, but many others are beneficial for the immune system, heart, weight, and other aspects of health. Eating foods high in fiber and prebiotics, such as artichokes, can improve the diversity and health of your gut microbiome. 
Best Leafy Greens for Keto
Among the most keto-friendly green veggies are leafy greens, such as:
Don’t think of leafy greens as limited to salads; you can conjure up all kinds of interesting dishes containing greens, like stir fries, stews, and soups. Try creamed or sauteed spinach or a homemade spinach and artichoke dip. A whole cup of raw spinach only contains around one gram of carbs.  You’d have to eat a tremendous amount of spinach to reach a significant carb count. Research reveals spinach could help reduce DNA damage and protect heart and eye health. 
Kale is an antioxidant-rich, high fiber, low-carb leafy green with only slightly more carbs than spinach. One cup (130 grams) of cooked, chopped kale contains around 4.7 grams of net carbohydrates.  Transform kale into kale chips or add it to your favorite dish! Kale contains plenty of vitamin A and C and beneficial compounds like quercetin and kaempferol. Studies show kale can lower blood pressure and might protect against type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions. 
Why Add Fat to Your Greens
If you’re following the keto diet, you probably know that fat doesn’t just make things taste better, it’s actually necessary and beneficial, especially in conjunction with vegetables. Fat slows down blood sugar spikes and helps you absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Get those healthy fats in your diet by cooking your vegetables in healthy keto oils like coconut oil or duck fat or by dressing them in butter.
How much of these delicious and nutritious green veggies you can eat depends on your daily carb count. If you’re following a more moderate low-carb diet that allows more than 20 grams of net carbs daily, you probably don’t need to be concerned with overeating these veggies. If you’re going for a more therapeutic ketogenic diet with a carb count of 20 grams or less daily, you might want to watch your intake.
Generally speaking, most green veggies and leafy greens are keto-friendly in moderation. In fact, green veggies tend to be lower in carbs than other types of vegetables. For example, green cabbage usually has fewer carbs compared to its purple counterpart. Green bell peppers are a little lower in carbs than red or yellow peppers.
Do you eat leafy greens on keto? What’s your favorite low-carb green veggie? What’s your favorite dish? Share your thoughts with other keto dieters!
David, L. A., Maurice, C. F., Carmody, R. N., Gootenberg, D. B., Button, J. E., Wolfe, B. E., Ling, A. V., Devlin, A. S., Varma, Y., Fischbach, M. A., Biddinger, S. B., Dutton, R. J., & Turnbaugh, P. J. (2014). Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Nature, 505(7484), 559-563. DOI: 10.1038/nature12820
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