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Healthy Low-Carb Foods That Taste Incredible

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You've likely heard that carbs come in two types: simple and complex. The simple carbohydrates are found in foods like table sugar, honey, dairy products, fruit, and fruit juice, while complex carbohydrates are found in grains and grain products like bread, pasta, and crackers, and in some veggies like sweet potatoes, corn, and peas. 

Healthy Low-Carb Foods 

They all end up turning into glucose when digested, but complex carbs take longer to convert into glucose than simple carbs, which means they don't spike those glucose levels quickly—an important factor in weight management. Why? Because quick spikes in glucose will give you a lot of energy at once but won't keep you full for very long. After eating simple carbs, you'll end up even hungrier later.



With summer almost here, you'll be happy to know that watermelon is one tasty and hydrating low-carb fruit. As with many other fruits, however, most of these carbs come from sugar, so indulge mindfully and in moderation.



Like many vegetables, broccoli is low in carbs but packed with other nutrients such as fiber and vitamin B6. Sauté it with heart-healthy olive oil as part of a tasty stir-fry or dip it in some hummus for a nutritious treat that you won't feel guilty about.



Fruit can be fairly rich in carbs thanks to the simple sugars glucose and fructose, but strawberries are on the lower end of the carb spectrum, clocking in at just over 11 grams of carbs per cup.


Green Beans

One cup of the cooked veggie has less than 10 grams of carbs. While the amount of sugar in green beans is slightly higher than the amount of fiber, they still make a low-carb and nutritious addition to any meal.


Red Bell Peppers

Despite a fair amount of sugar for a veggie, red bell peppers also contain about nine grams of carbs per one cup serving and have beta-carotene, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.


Sunflower Seeds

Finding a low-carb snack can be tough, but it turns out that ¼ cup of sunflower seed kernels contains just seven grams of carbs. 



Another low-carb veggie worth taking note of is Popeye's favorite: spinach! Not only does one cup of the cooked leafy green contains less than seven grams of carbs, but it also has a negligible amount of sugar and more than four grams of fiber. That sugar-to-fiber ratio alone means that spinach is a great food to load up on if you're looking to get rid of that pesky belly fat.


Air-Popped Popcorn

While we don't recommend gorging on salty and buttery movie popcorn, one cup of the plain, air-popped stuff is actually surprisingly nutritious. Need proof? Like spinach, air-popped popcorn has more fiber than sugar, making it an ideal snack for those looking to lose weight. Drizzle it with some olive oil and sprinkle some parmesan cheese and dried oregano for a tasty, filling snack.


Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt

Although yogurt contains the natural sugar lactose, opting for a plain, nonfat Greek yogurt will up your protein intake while still staying low in carbs. Kefir—a yogurt-like fermented dairy drink—is a probiotic-rich treat that's similarly packed with protein and light on carbs, which is great news for your waistline!


Cherry Tomatoes

With less than six grams of carbs per cup, cherry tomatoes are perfect to add to a salad or eat as a snack for a flavorful option that's low in calories. They are also a solid source of the antioxidant lycopene, which can help fight inflammation.


Portobello Mushrooms

Fungi are considered health food all-stars because they are a great source of potassium, which is vital for muscle health and recovery, and can also lower blood pressure and decrease the effects of a high-sodium meal. In addition to being low-cal and fat-free, studies have shown eating fungi can lead to increased immunity and protect against breast cancer. In particular, meaty portobello mushrooms contain the highest vegetable source of inflammation-fighting vitamin D and are frequently used as a meat substitute thanks to their hearty texture.



Though white foods should generally be avoided, cauliflower is one of a handful of exceptions thanks to its nutrient-rich profile. The cruciferous veggie (which can also be made into a delicious "rice") contains high amounts of vitamins C and B and about three grams of fiber in one cup.


Kidney Beans

Not only are kidney beans an excellent source of fiber, but they're low in carbs as well, making them an ideal pantry staple for those looking to shed a few pounds. Beans can help boost feelings of fullness and manage blood sugar levels. Try swapping meat for beans every now and then or even adding beans to a soup or casserole for an added dose of the nutritious legumes.



The next time you feel guilty about tossing caloric walnuts on a salad, remember that one serving, about¼ cup chopped, only contains 4 grams of carbs. Other low-carb nuts include almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts, which are all also excellent sources of fiber.



Celery is famous for being virtually calorie-free, and it also happens to have very few carbs for a one cup serving. Though the stalks can get a bit boring when eaten on their own, consider pairing celery with tasty hummus or almond or peanut butter for added flavor and a boost of fat-blasting fiber and healthy fats.


Parmesan Cheese

Believe it or not, hard cheeses such as Parmesan are low in carbs. What's more? One ounce of Parmesan contains about 31 percent of your daily recommended intake of bone-building calcium! Other low-carb cheesy options include blue cheese, cheddar cheese, goat, feta, Swiss, and asiago, but make sure you consume them in moderation since they are also quite caloric.


Hard-Boiled Egg

One large hard-boiled egg (about 50 grams) contains less than one gram of carbs and remains an excellent source of protein. Eggs are also loaded with amino acids, antioxidants, and healthy fats. What's more? Research has shown eating eggs for breakfast can make you feel more full and help you eat fewer calories throughout the day, meaning that they're quite the secret weapon for weight loss.


Extra Virgin Olive Oil

With no carbs, sugar, or fiber you may not think much of extra virgin olive oil, but the cooking companion and pantry staple shouldn't be ignored. Not only has EVOO been shown to boost levels of adiponectin, a hormone that breaks down fat, but it also contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Other low-carb oils with similar health benefits include coconut oil, flaxseed oil, and walnut oil.


Ground Chicken

Not only is ground chicken a lean source of protein, but it's also tasty, versatile, and carb-free. Throw some ground chicken into tacos or make a comforting bowl of delicious chili, and rest assured you aren't consuming any empty carbs. You can also opt for ground turkey, which has 0 grams of carbs and is low in calories.


Wild Salmon

If you're a fan of fish, wild salmon is another low-carb food that's protein-rich like ground chicken. Unlike chicken, wild salmon is an excellent source of omega-3s, a healthy fat that fights off metabolism-slowing inflammation.

21 Quinoa

Quinoa Lasagna

Quinoa's one of the grains with the biggest fanfare, thanks to its protein content (8 grams per cup) and fiber (5 grams per cup). But remember, just because it's a higher-protein grain doesn't mean it's super
low in carbs. 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa has 20 grams of carbohydrate, so make sure to plan that into your day and stick to a 1/2 cup serving.


If you're going to have a big bowl of carbs-even on a low-carb diet, make it oatmeal. Oats contain beta-glucan, which helps slow digestion. In a study in Nutrition Journal, eating oatmeal helped reduce appetite over four hours better than cold cereal containing the same amount of calories. Whether you're going for a serving of old-fashioned or quick oats, they both contain 27 grams of carbs per 1/2 cup dry. Make sure you buy plain versions rather than flavored instant oats, which come with a lot of added sugar.


Creamy Polenta

Made from cornmeal, polenta is a staple of Italian cooking. You can whip it up at home or buy ready-to-eat polenta in rolls that you slice. A 3.5-ounce portion (one-fifth of the roll) contains only 15 grams of carbs, quite low when it comes to grains. If you're gluten-free, polenta also makes a good choice.

Cauliflower Tortilla Beef Tacos

Meat is fair game because it's all protein and no carbs. (Keep in mind, while it has a good amount of vitamins and minerals, meat also contains no fiber. Translation: You shouldn't overdo it on the meat and crowd out the whole grains, fruits and vegetables that add fiber in your diet.) You know chicken is a lean source of protein, but 20 cuts of beef are also considered "lean" or "extra lean" by the USDA. Smart choices include eye of round roast, sirloin tip side steak, bottom round roast and top sirloin steak.

25Hemp Seeds
Green Tea-Peach Smoothie Bowl

The best thing about these is that you can sprinkle hemp on foods like yogurt, salads or oatmeal to add a nutty crunch and good source of vegetarian protein. A 3-tablespoon serving contains 9 grams of protein, 1 gram of fiber and 170 calories. Plus, they're a rich source of iron, magnesium and zinc.

Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Pesto Shrimp

These crustaceans are great to add to meals, especially if you're looking to lose weight. Three ounces of shrimp offers a whopping 20 grams of protein for only 84 calories. Just make sure to prep them grilled or lightly sautéed-breading and frying add unnecessary carbs and calories.

Thai Coconut Curry Soup

Whether it's edamame, tofu or soymilk, soy is a good choice when you need ample protein for little carbs. A 3.5-ounce serving of extra-firm tofu packs 10 grams of protein and only 2 grams of carbohydrate. A cup of edamame has 18 grams of protein and is a little higher in carbs with 14 grams. One cup of soymilk has 7 grams of protein and only 4 grams of carbs. If you go for soymilk, make sure you're drinking unsweetened; sweetened versions pack more than twice the carbs because of the added sugar.

Dan Dan Noodles with Seitan, Shiitake Mushrooms & Napa Cabbage

You might think you have to stay away from seitan-a vegetarian meat substitute made from wheat gluten-because, well, it's made from wheat. However, a 3-ounce serving offers just 2 grams of carbs and an impressive 12 grams of protein.

29Peanut Butter
Chocolate Peanut Butter

Peanuts are technically a legume (the same family as beans), so they do have 7 grams of carbs per serving. But 2 tablespoons of peanut butter packs 7 grams of protein and 16 grams of healthy, satiating fats. Many brands flavor with sugar, including honey and maple syrup. To limit sugar (and carbs), choose those made with only peanuts. Other nut butters, like almond butter, cashew butter and pistachio butter are also great choices.

Homemade Trail Mix

Think almonds (23 whole ones offer 6 grams of protein and 6 grams of carbs), walnuts (14 halves pack 4 grams of protein and 4 grams of carbs) or pistachios (49 nuts have 6 grams of protein and 8 grams of carbs). The great thing about nuts is that they're also a stellar source of fiber, another nutrient that gives your meals and snacks staying power. These choices all supply 2 to 4 grams of fiber per serving. (Women should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day.)

31String cheese

An easily portable serving of protein, one cheese stick contains just 80 calories for 6 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of carbohydrate. Plus, a small recent study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that eating cheese may produce good bacteria that keep your gut healthy.

Sicilian Marinated Olives

There's a reason you may be served a small dish of olives (rather than bread) in countries like Spain and Portugal before your meal: they're bursting with flavor. Olives are also brimming with heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. And a quarter cup is just 40 calories, 2 grams of carbohydrate, plus 1 gram of fiber. Now you can find these in handy snack packs for conveniently toting around.


Jerky recently got a gourmet makeover, and is now available with ingredients like responsibly raised turkey, chicken, beef and bison in inventive flavors (like herbs, citrus and teriyaki). With about 7 grams of protein and just 2 grams of carbs per 1-ounce stick, this is a great way to stave off mid-afternoon munchies without reaching for chips. Just try to find a brand with the least sodium.

34Hummus and Crudités

Non-starchy crunchy veggies like cucumbers and celery are great picks for dipping into hummus (about 4 grams of carbs per 2-tablespoon serving). The chickpeas in hummus provide protein and ample B vitamins, which are vital for helping your body convert food into fuel. Want another dip? Try salsa or mix Greek yogurt with lemon juice, garlic and herbs.

Spiralized Zucchini & Summer Squash Casserole

We love zucchini because it's so versatile. Using a vegetable peeler or a handy spiralizer, zucchini can be transformed into spaghetti- or linguini-like "noodles" as a low-carb substitute for pasta.

36Spaghetti Squash
spaghetti squash with roasted tomatoes beans and almond pesto

Another great pick, spaghetti squash can be baked or roasted and then, using a fork, the "squash noodles" pulled out. Like zucchini noodles, you can top them with pasta sauce. Or, bake these into casseroles or lasagna-the squash is great at taking on whatever flavors it's paired with.

37Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potato Skins with Guacamole

All taters are starchy veggies (along with others like corn and peas), so they have more carbs. A medium sweet spud contains 24 grams of carbohydrate, so pair it with baked chicken or fish and a green veggie like broccoli for a well-rounded meal. The fiber (4 grams) helps slow digestion, and sweet potatoes are bursting with disease-busting antioxidants called carotenoids.

Raspberry Yogurt with Dark Chocolate

Berries are winners because they're lower in sugar and high in fiber, so they keep your body on an even energy keel. Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are all good picks when you're hankering for fruit. One cup of blueberries delivers 84 calories and 21 grams of carbs, a cup of blackberries has 62 calories and 14 grams of carbs, sliced strawberries deliver 53 calories and 13 grams of carbs per cup and raspberries have 64 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrate in 1 cup.

Orange Fruit Salad

Super-refreshing, this melon ranks lower on the calorie scale of fruits-just 50 calories per cup of cubes, and 13 grams of carbs.

Purple Fruit Salad

These are great because they're usually on the smaller end, so they have built-in portion control. One fruit contains just 30 calories, 8 grams of carbohydrate and 1 gram of fiber. Plus, these are also portable for on-the-go eating.

41Fresh Fruit

No matter what type of fruit you're eating, make sure you choose fresh rather than juice or dried fruit. Juice contains no fiber, so the sugar can spike your blood sugar quickly. Dried fruit is often sweetened with added sugars or juices, and cup-for-cup generally contains four times the calories (and carbs).

Berry-Kefir Smoothie

While kefir-a tangy fermented milk drink-contains just as many carbs as milk, it's got the added benefit of probiotics, which help improve your gut health. It's also lactose-free, so if you have trouble stomaching regular milk, kefir can be a good way to get protein (1 cup provides 11 grams), vitamin D (one-quarter of your daily quota) and calcium (nearly one-third of what you need in a day).

43Non-Dairy Milks
Blueberry Almond Chia Pudding

Obviously, this isn't dairy, but if you're looking for a nondairy alternative to cow's milk, know they're not all equal when it comes to nutrition. Low-carb choices include nut (like almond) and coconut milk. Avoid rice and oat milks, which will run you over 20 grams of carbs per cup, and watch out for added sugars.

44Cottage Cheese
Cottage Cheese Veggie Dip

Don't forget about cottage cheese. It's a protein powerhouse rivaling Greek yogurt, with 24 grams per cup. Turn to cottage cheese when you want to switch up your breakfast routine, or as a quick snack topped with cinnamon and berries.

45Whipped Coconut Milk and Berries
Coconut Whipped Cream

We're talking the stuff from a can (not the nondairy milk substitute). One-third of a cup of "lite" coconut milk contains 50 calories and 1 gram carbs. Scoop out the thick, custard-like milk up top and whip it into a nondairy whipped cream to top berries for a low-carb dessert.

46Almond-Flour Baked Treats
Oatmeal-Almond Protein Pancakes

Next time you're baking a dessert, swap out some regular flour for almond flour (also called almond meal). Made from finely ground almonds, the flour adds vitamin E, belly-slimming monounsaturated fats and some extra protein to cookies, cakes and sweet breads.

47Avocado Pudding
Chocomole Pudding

You can make avocado pudding by whirling together nut milk, avocado and flavorings like cocoa powder in a food processor. Avocado may be a fruit, but it's a rich source of good-for-you fats. Careful on the calories here: one whole avocado contains about 320. The upside is that it also packs nearly 14 grams of filling fiber and respectable 4 grams of protein.

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