Popeye had the right idea when he bulked up on green, leafy spinach. This low-carb veggie is loaded with folate, beta carotene, iron, and vitamin K. To get the biggest nutritional punch, ditch the canned stuff and buy it fresh or frozen. Fold steamed spinach into an egg-white omelette at breakfast or toss fresh leaves in a healthy, low carbohydrate salad at lunch or dinner.
Tomatoes, another superfood, are packed with vitamin C and are good sources of vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. They’re also low-carb and low-cal — just 32 calories per cup. The nutrient lycopene, which gives red tomatoes their color, is a powerful antioxidant and may protect against heart disease and prostate cancer. Add a slice of juicy tomato to your next sandwich or cook up a big pot of tomato sauce, a great topping for veggies, chicken, and other good foods.
If you’re not already eating broccoli, make a point of adding it to your meal plan. It’s low carbohydrate and loaded with vitamins A (beta carotene), C, and D. It also has calcium, fiber, and iron. Look for florets that are packed tightly together and are dark green and not yellowing. Eat broccoli soon after buying it. Consider including raw or lightly steamed broccoli on your next party platter instead of chips.
Cucumbers are a cool, crisp, low-carb choice — a generous one-cup portion has fewer than 5 grams of carbohydrate. You can get your fill of this low-carbohydrate vegetable without worrying about raising your blood sugar too much. Cucumbers are a good source of vitamin K and they also contain potassium and vitamin C. Keep in mind that cucumbers are not only for salads on a diabetic diet. Consider adding thin slices to sandwiches or wraps.
Eating cabbage is an inexpensive way to get vitamins K and C and antioxidants. Cabbage is also a good source of manganese, fiber, and vitamin B6. This low-carb veggie is at its peak in the fall and early winter. Pick a head that is firm with shiny leaves. When you get it home, put it in the refrigerator. Cover it with plastic wrap once it’s cut to slow down the loss of vitamins. Experiment with recipes that use this low carbohydrate vegetable raw as well as cooked.
Brussels sprouts might not win any popularity contests, but they deserve a spot in your meal plan. Besides being low-carb, these mini cabbages are full of vitamins A, C, and folic acid, and fiber. And just like cabbage, brussels sprouts are a cruciferous low-carbohydrate veggie, which experts believe may ward off some cancers.
Another neglected low-carbohydrate veggie. This vegetable is brimming with vitamin C. In fact, just one serving has more than half your daily requirement. It contains fiber, calcium, and iron to boot. Cauliflower is also a versatile low-carb vegetable. You can serve it raw on a veggie tray, or cook it by roasting or steaming. It’s also great cooked and pureed into a silky soup; just cook until tender, then blend it with chicken broth.