Eat Empowered, Healthy Eating Tips, Healthy Recipes

How Many Carbs Are Really in Vegetables?

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We dig vegetables…seriously!  They’re probably on the top of our favorite foods list; and, we have a long favorite food list. You can have them in so many ways (sauteed, baked, mashed, raw, in soup).  There’s really no way you can get bored if you use a lil’ bit of creativity. But, even though we all know they’re good for us, there are some medical reasons (like those with diabetes) that need to be mindful of carbs. 

We want to be crystal clear that you have a green light to include any and all vegetables in your diet. For good reason, noshing on four or more servings per day has been linked to a smaller waist circumference and lower risk for weight gain…along with many other health benefits.

Since most vegetables are low in fat and protein, those with the higher calorie counts generally have higher carb counts as well. Nothing to worry about…just something to be aware of when you do have to count carbs.   If you have to be more aware of carb counting for medical reasons, you’ll want to study up on the vegetables that are considered starchy—meaning they provide more carbs per serving than most of your typical vegetables, but still provide delicious nutrients (think potatoes, corn, peas and winter squash).

What’s most important to remember is to focus on eating food, not nutrients! 

RELATED: What’s the Deal WIth Carb Cycling?

Read on to see how many carbs are found in some of the most common vegetables. Plus, see healthy recipes to put them all to good use.

Carbohydrate Counts For 9 Common Vegetables

Spinach

1 gram per 1 cup raw

With just 6 calories in each loosely-packed cup, Popeye’s favorite greens are also crazy low in carbs. Toss a handful into smoothies, soups or omelets, or take just 15 minutes to make this Broiled Salmon with Spinach for a healthy low-carb dinner.

Kale

2 grams per 1 cup raw

In similar leafy green news, sturdy kale leaves have a mere 12 calories and 2 grams of carbohydrates per loosely-packed cup. Top pizzas, pasta or eggs with Vegan Kale Pesto Sauce, or make crunchy kale chips in your dehydrator or air fryer. (This handy GoWISE USA appliance can do both! $130, amazon.com). 

Cucumber

2 ½ grams per 1 cup sliced

Nearly all water, each hydrating cup of this low-carb vegetable has 14 calories. Use cucumber slices to scoop up hummus or tzatziki sauce for a snack, or start your dinner with a Cucumber Salad with Chickpea, Tomato and Broccoli Rabe.

Cauliflower

5 grams per 1 cup

With 27 calories per cup (compared to 495 calories in flour), it’s no wonder cauliflower has become the go-to substitute for higher-carb ingredients. Try the low-carb option yourself with this Dijon Cauliflower Mash or snag a few Caulipower Cauliflower Crust Pizzas ($6.89, target.com) to toss in the freezer for a quick-fix dinner on busy evenings.

Broccoli

5 grams per 1 cup florets

Just like its paler cruciferous cousin, cauliflower, broccoli is light in carbs and cals (24 calories in each cup of florets). Since this green vegetable can err on the bitter side—hence, why some picky eaters aren’t fond of broccoli—we recommend roasting, searing or grilling the stalks and florets to caramelize and accentuate the natural sugars. Tom Brady’s TB12 Caramelized Broccoli with Smoky Romesco Sauce will show you exactly how to do it.

Asparagus

5 grams per 1 cup

A perennial spring favorite, this low-carb veggie clocks in at 27 calories per cup. Chop into bite-sized pieces and add to pastas or scrambles, or let the stalks take center stage in this Raw Asparagus Salad with Broccoli Rabe.

Green Beans

7 grams per 1 cup

These green beauties are great for more than just creamy casseroles on Thanksgiving. Make them a meal mainstay for just 31 calories per cup by simply steaming, air frying or using this Garlic and Lemon Haricots Verts side dish recipe as a guide.

Carrots

12 grams per 1 cup, chopped

Even though they’re slightly higher in carbs than many of the vegetables on this list, we’re rooting for you to add more of these vitamin A-strong, 53-calorie-per-cup root vegetables to your diet. In addition to those nutrition wins, carrots are great multitaskers. Try the roots as hummus-scooping vessels or in this Carrot Ginger Squash Soup. Then, use the tops in place of the greens called for in your favorite pesto recipe.

Corn 

19 grams per 1 medium ear

There’s a reason why this star of summer is called “sweet corn.” It contains a fair amount of sugars in each 88-calorie ear, but those are all natural sugars (a.k.a. better for you than added sugars, btw). During corn season think fresh; otherwise, opt for frozen—either one will make a tasty and healthy addition to this Avocado Toast with Roasted Zucchini and Corn.

 

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