Typically, vegetables are a low-carbohydrate food with a few exceptions, including potatoes and corn. There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Vegetables provide simple carbohydrates which provide quick bursts of energy. Some of the things we think of as vegetables are really fruit, like avocados, tomatoes, beans and eggplant.
You may be looking to restrict your carbohydrate intake for health reasons. Your body digests carbohydrates into blood sugar – called glucose – which is used for energy by every cell in your body. Therefore, the more carbs you eat, the higher your blood sugar goes, which can be a problem if you develop an insulin resistance problem. Also, if you do not do enough physical activity to burn all the blood sugar created from the carbohydrates you eat, your body stores the extra sugar in your muscles and liver as glycogen. When the storage in your muscles and liver gets full – the limit is about 2,000 calories – your body stores the extra blood sugar as fat, which can cause weight gain. Vegetables offer you a nutritious, low-carb option.
Green, Leafy Vegetables
Green, leafy vegetables are your best pick for a vitamin-packed, low-carbohydrate food. Your choices, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "Nutritive Value of Foods," include 1-cup servings of the following vegetables: shredded, raw romaine lettuce, which has 1 g of carbs; cooked mustard greens at 3 g; cooked leeks have 8 g; cooked kale has 7 g; and raw, chopped spinach has 1 g. One Shredded, raw, green cabbage has 4 g, and a 6-inch diameter head of iceburg lettuce has 11 g.
Root vegetables have more natural sugar, and some have more of an impact on glucose levels than others. The "Nutritive Value of Foods" lists carb values of 1-cup servings for root vegetables as follows: Cooked beet slices have 17 g; grated raw carrot has 11 g; canned kernel corn has 41 g; chopped raw onion has 14 g; and peeled, boiled potatoes have 31 g.
The wide variety of vegetables available includes a wide variety of carb counts. Keep the following totals listed by the "Nutritive Value of Foods" in mind when choosing which vegetables to splurge on: One cup of raw alfalfa sprouts, a ¼ cup of canned jalapeno peppers and one clove of garlic have 1 g. One hot, raw, green chili pepper has 4 g. One cup of cooked fresh asparagus has 8 g. One cup of cooked shiitake mushrooms has 21 g, and 1 cup of sliced, canned water chestnuts has 17 g.