Cruciferous Vegetables and Other Veggies:
Good for Low Carb Diets?

Cruciferous Vegetables

These veggies are so named because many of them sport flowers that resemble a Christian cross. Common items in this class include broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, brussels sprouts, collards, mustard seed, arugula, and cabbage.

Cruciferous vegetables tend to be among the lowest carb items in the produce/vegetable aisle. They also abound in phytonutrients, antioxidants, and essential vitamins. The National Cancer Institute (among others) recently conducted a study on the health benefits of eating these greens; the results suggest that doing so may reduce oxidative stress.

Leaves and Stems

Plant leaves and stems tend (in general) to be less carbohydrate rich than bulbs and roots. Common edible leaves and stems include spinach, kale, celery, asparagus, endives, and leeks. Those aforementioned leaves are all relatively low in carbohydrates and rich in vital nutrients and antioxidants.


Legumes--such as soy beans, peas, peanuts, and beans--should technically be considered fruit from the perspective of vegetable taxonomy. Lentils, carobs, and even vanilla belong to this group as well. Legumes boast high protein content but can contain significant carbohydrate stores as well. Most dieticians consider most legumes nutrient dense and nourishing. From a low carb dieter’s perspective, however, legumes may or may not be appropriate. Much likely depends on the individual and his or her carb counting goals and personal biochemistry.

Botanical “Fruits” (that most of us would classify as vegetables)

These include peppers, okra, avocado, cucumbers, pumpkins and chilies. Again, the carb counts for these tend to be all over the map. Green peppers boast far fewer sugars than red and orange peppers do, for instance. Cucumbers contain few carbohydrates. Pumpkin and squash contain a moderate amount. Peas and corn contain tons of carbs.

NOTE: Carb counts depend on context.

How one prepares vegetables, for instance, can impact how the body processes the carbohydrates contained in them. If the cooking process sieves out a lot of the fiber, the plant sugars become more accessible to digestion, and this can drive up postprandial blood sugar/insulin levels. On the other hand, if veggies are prepared to preserve fiber and to minimize accessibility of polysaccharides to digestion, the implications for blood sugar/insulin should be markedly different, at least in theory.

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