Home  /  All  /  Nutrition

A Guide to the Best Greens for a Keto Diet

Written by
FACT CHECKED
  Published on April 1st, 2022
  Reading time: 4 minutes
  Last modified April 1st, 2022
Best leafy greens for the keto diet

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

Assortment of green vegetables

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. [1] A 100-gram serving of raw broccoli has around 4 grams of net carbohydrates. [2] 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.

Broccoli makes a surprisingly appetizing replacement for traditional grain-based pasta or rice. Enjoy these lamb chops with onions and broccoli or this keto broccoli cheddar cheese soup! Cabbage is also a lovely addition to a stir fry: try these keto stuffed cabbage rolls or this healthy red cabbage ginger sauerkraut.

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. [3] [4] 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. [5] [6] [7]

Best Leafy Greens for Keto

Among the most keto-friendly green veggies are leafy greens, such as:

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Collard greens
  • Swiss chard

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. [8] 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. [9] [10]

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. [11] 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. [12]

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. 

Make a salad dressing for your leafy greens using lemon juice, your favorite herbs, and olive oil, avocado oil, or walnut oil. If you’re eating dairy on keto, make a cream sauce or add some low-carb cheese to your vegetables!

Do Greens Have Carbs?

Green cabbage has fewer carbs than purple cabbage

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!

References

1.

Self Nutrition Data. Brussel Sprouts, Cooked, Boiled, Drained Without Salt, Nutrition Facts & Calories. Brussels sprouts, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt Nutrition Facts & Calories (self.com)

2.

Self Nutrition Data. Broccoli, Raw, Nutrition Facts & Calories. Broccoli, raw Nutrition Facts & Calories (self.com)

3.

Heiman, M. L., & Greenway, F. L. (2016). A healthy gastrointestinal microbiome is dependent on dietary diversity. Molecular Metabolism, 5(5), 317-320. DOI: 10.1016/j.molmet.2016.02.005

4.

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

5.

Slavin, J. (2013). Fiber and prebiotics: Mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients, 5(4), 1417-1435. DOI: 10.3390/nu5041417

6.

Sonnenburg, E. D., Smits, S. A., Tikhonov, M., Higginbottom, S. K., Wingreen, N. S., & Sonnenburg, J. L. (2016). Diet-induced extinctions in the gut microbiota compound over generations. Nature, 529(7585), 212-215. DOI: 10.1038/nature16504

7.

Dewulf, E. M., Cani, P. D., Claus, S. P., Fuentes, S., Puylaert, P. G. B., Neyrinck, A. M., Bindels, L. B., De Vos, W. M., Gibson, G. R., Thissen, J-P., & Delzenne, N. M. (2013). Insight into the prebiotic concept: Lessons from an exploratory, double blind intervention study with inulin-type fructans in obese women. Gut, 62(8), 1112-1121. DOI: 10.1136/gutjnl-2012-303304

8.

Self Nutrition Data. Spinach, Raw, Nutrition Facts & Calories. Spinach, raw Nutrition Facts & Calories (self.com)

9.

Moser, B., Szekeres, T., Bieglmayer, C., Wagner, K-H., Misik, M., Kundi, M…Knasmueller, S. (2011). Impact of spinach consumption on DNA stability in peripheral lymphocytes and on biochemical blood parameters: Results of a human intervention trial. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, DOI: 10.1007/s00394-011-0167-6

10.

Jovanovski, E., Bosco, L., Khan, K., Au-Yeung, F., Ho, H., Zurbau, A., Jenkins, A. L., Vuksan, V. (2015). Effect of spinach, a high dietary nitrate source, on arterial stiffness and related hemodynamic measures: A randomized, controlled trial in healthy adults. Clin Nutr Res, DOI: 10.7762/cnr.2015.4.3.160

11.

Self Nutrition Data. Kale, Cooked, Boiled, Drained Without Salt, Nutrition Facts & Calories. Kale, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt Nutrition Facts & Calories (self.com)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Never miss out on exclusive content and limited deals.

As a Member, you get instant access to personalized meal plans, exclusive videos & articles, discounts, a 1 on 1 Coaching Session, and so much more. As a member, you join our mission of empowering 1,000,000 people to positively change their lives throughout the world. Get started today.

Monthly

A Great Deal
$ 19
99 /month
  • 7-Day Free Trial
  • Cancel Anytime

Annual

3 Months Free
$ 179
/year
  • 3 Months Free
  • Cancel Anytime

Lifetime

Membership for Life
$ 349
  • Lifetime Access
  • Limited Availability