Eating foods low in carbohydrates is essential for sufferers of Type II Diabetes, but other dieters seeking to lose weight may also benefit from foods with low carb counts. Popular low carb diets, including Atkins, The Zone and the South Beach Diet, all advocate reducing carbohydrates in the daily menu in order to shed pounds. When looking for the best low carb foods, variety, flavor and nutrition play a role.
Meat, Fish and Poultry
Meat figures prominently in most low carb diets and all cuts of beef are acceptable. In addition, all types of pork and poultry are on the low carb list. Fish, in addition to being low carb, is also high in other nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids.
While shellfish is also on the list of low carb foods, imitation shellfish is not. In addition, deli meats, processed with nitrate may contain carbs. Serve all meats without any type of breading to preserve their low carb status.
While some vegetables, like corn and potatoes, contain substantial amounts of carbohydrates, there are plenty of healthful vegetables that are low on the carb scale. Lettuce, fresh spinach and cabbage provide valuable fiber in the diet and they are low in carbohydrates.
Cucumbers and celery round out a fresh low carb salad with approximately 3 grams of carbohydrates per 1 cup serving. Garnish a salad with grated carrots and bean sprouts to add flavor and nutrition without packing on the carbs.
Green beans are the low carb favorite. While navy beans, black beans and garbanzo beans may have as much as 30 grams of carbs per serving, green beans have only 5 grams.
A medium size tomato contains approximately 7 grams of carbohydrates and an entire stock of fresh broccoli weighs in at only 8 grams.
Fruits generally have more carbs than do vegetables, due to their natural sugar content, but some fruits fare better than others in this department.
A ¼ cup serving of cherries, blueberries or cantaloupe will add less than 5 grams of carbs to your diet and other low-carb choices include honeydew melon, fresh apricots, blackberries, strawberries, watermelon and pineapple. Avoid pears, apples, bananas, dates, figs, raisins and dried currants, all with over 20 grams of carbs per serving.
When choosing dairy products, avoid skim milk and low-fat items that may be higher in sugar than full-fat dairy products. Better choices are heavy cream, full-fat cottage cheese, real butter and other cheeses. However, take into consideration that these items, although low in carbs, may be high in calories and fat.
Eggs have no carbohydrates, and they are an important item in many low carb diets.
Opt for the sugar-free varieties of flavored gelatin and pudding mixes and drink plain coffee instead of a latte or coffee laced with non-dairy creamer, milk or sugar. Sugar-free carbonated sodas have few carbs, but their sugary counterparts are high in carbohydrates.