Keto Diet is usually considered a difficult diet. Let us make it simple for you. This article ” Top 10 Best Fruits and Vegetables to Eat on a Keto Diet” is a guest post by one of our guest authors, Sofia Norton, which will guide you to the best fruits and vegetables to eat, while you are on a keto diet.
The ketogenic diet (aka keto) has become quite popular in the last couple of years. A high-fat, low-carb eating plan, most people associate this diet with non-vegetarian food. However, keto is not a diet based on specific foods. Instead, keto is a diet based around a macronutrient ratio that you can and should meet by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. This helps dieters stay well-nourished and their digestive system running smoothly. But which fruits and vegetables work best with keto? Keep reading to find out.
Why Do I Need Fruit and Vegetables on Keto?
The ketogenic diet turns everything we’ve been told about nutrition upside down. On this diet, you need to reduce carbohydrates to make up less than 10% of your daily calories. Furthermore, fat should make up the majority of your calories (up to 80%) and your protein intake needs to be moderate (15-25%). For reference, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) states that carbs should make up 45-65% of your daily calories.
This change in nutrient balance is often referred to as the ketogenic macronutrient ratio. This is the cornerstone of the keto diet and what triggers ketosis on this diet. Ketosis is when your body is burning fat more than normal to make fuel substrates called ketones that replace glucose.
In order to achieve this macronutrient ratio, you need to avoid high-carb foods like wheat, legumes, sugar, honey, most fruit, and starchy vegetables. On the other hand, eating low-carb vegetables and fruit will help keep your carbohydrate intake to the recommended minimum while also helping you get nutrients like vitamin C and fiber.
Fruit and vegetables also provide many other key nutrients as well as unique health benefits thanks to their abundance in antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Best Vegetables to Eat on a Keto Diet
As already explained, low-carbohydrate vegetables are recommended on a keto diet. But how do you know which ones are low in carbohydrates?
As a general rule, most below-ground vegetables are high in starch and sugar, while above-ground veggies tend to be better for keto. A sweet taste is also a dead giveaway that a vegetable is high in carbohydrates. Of course, there are many exceptions to these rules, so do look at them as rough guidelines.
A more failproof approach is simply researching the carbohydrate content of vegetables. You can do this with the help of nutrition databases like SELF Nutrition Data and USDA Food Composition Databases. You can also download keto diet apps which have large food databases and other handy features.
However, most keto dieters simply stick to ready-made lists of best low-carb vegetables to eat on a keto diet. If you’d like to take this approach, here are keto veggies to include into your shopping list and keto meal plan.
High in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbs, the mighty avocado is the perfect keto vegetable. A whole avocado has almost 30g of fat and only 3.5g net carbs. Additionally, you get 13.5g of fiber from one avocado, which is over 50% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for this nutrient.
Cruciferous vegetables are a family of vegetables that includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, turnip, kohlrabi, and many others. These vegetables tend to be low in carbohydrates, with most containing less than 5g net carbs in a 100g serving. There’s ample scientific evidence that they’re powerful in cancer prevention.
One medium zucchini has only 4.4g net carbs and plenty of vitamins C, B6, folate, riboflavin, and the heart-healthy mineral potassium. Zucchini is also a great choice for keto because they are versatile, and many keto dieters like to make zucchini noodles, aka zoodles, to replace wheat pasta.
Spinach, kale, lettuce, parsley, watercress, Swiss chard, arugula, and other leafy greens get the thumbs up on a keto diet. They tend to be very low in carbohydrates, but high in fiber and especially high in minerals. A whole bunch of spinach, for example, has less than 5g net carbs but around half the RDI for calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and copper.
There are only 2.5g net carbs in a cup of asparagus. Asparagus is also a relatively good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and iron (over 10% RDI). They’re rich in saponins, which studies found can help fight certain types of cancers.
Celery stalks are the perfect keto crudité. Use them with avocado and yogurt-based dips or spread some peanut butter over them to get a quick and easy keto snack. Some dieters also like to make celery juice and they help give soups and stews lots of flavors. Celery is a modest source of micronutrients. But on the bright side, celery has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and blood glucose-lowering effects.
Mushrooms are not vegetables botanically speaking. But from a culinary standpoint, they’re definitely considered veggies. Add them to your keto meals to enhance flavor and texture. Studies show that many mushrooms work like prebiotics, feeding friendly gut bacteria and contributing to better gut health.
All nightshade vegetables except for potatoes are allowed on a keto diet. These include tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. However, they are a bit higher in carbohydrates than many other keto veggies. The trick is to eat them in moderation – one to two servings a day should be enough.
There are countless other vegetables that you can enjoy on a keto diet. Good examples include fennel, radish, ginger, onion, green beans, artichoke, and so on. Make sure to check the nutrition facts and adjust your portion sizes to stay within your keto macros.
Best Fruit to Eat on a Keto Diet
Most fruit is not allowed on a keto diet. That’s not surprising given that most fruit is high in sugar. However, there are a couple of exceptions that you can enjoy occasionally and in moderation.
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, and goji berries are all allowed on a keto diet. That’s because berries are lower in carbohydrates than most fruit. A half a cup of strawberries, for example, has around 4g net carbs, while the same serving of banana has 22g net carbs. Berries add natural sweetness and flavor to keto breakfasts and desserts. They can also help you meet your RDI for vitamin C and studies found they ‘re exceptionally high in disease-fighting antioxidants.
Lemons are a popular fruit on a keto diet because they can be used in a wide range of recipes: guacamole, vinaigrettes, smoothies, dips, and sauces. The juice from one lemon will give you only 4g net carbs, but you will likely use even less on a keto diet.
A 100g serving of starfruit has approximately 4g net carbs, which isn’t all too bad. Also called carambola, starfruit is an exotic fruit, and you can find it in two types: a small sour type and large sweet type. Consume it moderately because it tends to be high in oxalic acid, which can be harsh on the kidneys.
Other fruits that can be consumed sparingly on keto include passionfruit, honeydew melon, and watermelon. However, it’s best to stick to berries and avoid all other fruits just in case.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb eating plan and one which you can follow with the help of keto-friendly fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce will help you get enough nutrients that are hard to obtain from other keto diet staples. Fruits and vegetables also contain antioxidants, which can contribute to good health by lowering oxidative stress and inflammation – the leading causes of many dangerous diseases.