Low carb foods have become quite a rage these days. If you ask around, chances are higher that you may find someone who is trying to cut back on pasta and white bread in favor of fruits and veggies. Many studies confirm that low carb foods are incredibly useful for weight loss and have numerous other health benefits as well (1, 2, 3). Some popular low carb foods are eggs, chicken, meat, salmon, cheese, yogurt, etc. Let’s see what are low carb foods and their health benefits.
What are low carb foods?
Choosing the right foods for your low-carb diet can be tough if you do not know the nutritional values of these foods. So, here’s a comprehensive list of some of the healthiest and delicious low carb foods that you can include in your daily diet.
Eggs are highly nutritious and full of good quality protein. They are one of the best low carb foods. One large boiled egg contains no carbs and 13 grams of protein. Eggs contain several nutrients which promote heart health like betaine and choline (4).
Chicken contains no carbs, is high in proteins and many other beneficial nutrients. It contains protein, iron, magnesium, and potassium, all of which are essential for the immune system to function correctly.
Lamb meat is highly nutritious. It contains no carbs and is an excellent source of protein and vital nutrients like iron, zinc, selenium and vitamin B12 (5).
Beef primarily contains proteins, some amount of fats and no carbs. It is high in various vitamins and minerals, especially iron and zinc (6). Beef also contains creatine which serves as an energy source for muscles.
Pork is a high-protein food that contains a varying amount of fats and no carbs (7). It contains all the essential amino acids that are necessary for our bodies. Eating pork improves muscle mass and enhances exercise performance.
Jerky is beef, turkey or chicken which most of the fat removed and is cut into strips, seasoned and dehydrated. It is low in carbohydrates and high in magnesium, iron, vitamin B12, and choline. It is also low in healthy fats and fiber.
Turkey is rich in proteins and contains no carbohydrates (8). This delicious meat is low in calories and high in many essential nutrients. Avoid buying frozen turkey as it may contain preservatives.
Sardines don’t contain any carbs and are one of the best natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They are rich in nutrients that support cardiovascular health. Consuming sardines can help prevent depression, anxiety, ADHD, cancer, arthritis, and infertility (9).
Salmon has no carbs and is rich in high-quality protein. It is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, selenium, and choline, which are linked to neurological health (10).
Trout is the healthiest oil-rich fish you can include in your diet. It contains no carbs and is rich in nutrients that provide a variety of health benefits, especially for the heart and the brain (11).
A hundred gram serving of shrimp contains about .2 grams of carbohydrates. It also provides lean protein. Health benefits of wild-caught shrimp include improved bone and brain health and reduced risk of cancer and heart disease.
Shellfish contain a negligible amount of carbs and fats. These mollusks and crustaceans provide essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, copper, iron, and magnesium. Having shellfish can reduce the risk of heart ailments and improve brain development.
Most cheeses are carbohydrate free. Several varieties of cheese like cheddar, parmesan, Muenster, provolone, Camembert, blue and cream cheese contain zero carbs.
They are rich in protein and calcium and are known to reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease and improve cholesterol levels.
14. Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt is made by draining whey (which contains carbs), so it is lower in carb content than regular yogurt. It is rich in proteins and packed with probiotics.
It is also a rich source of potassium, which helps to balance out the sodium levels in the body.
15. Full fat yogurt
A 100 gram serving of yogurt contains 4.7 grams of carbs. Yogurt is a rich source of whey and casein protein. Yogurt also contains probiotics, which enhance the immune system, lower cholesterol and improve digestive health (12).
16. Heavy cream
Heavy cream contains minimal carbohydrates but it high in fat. This delicious dairy product is a rich source of calcium which is essential for skeletal health.
Though butter has been demonized in the past, it is highly nutritious and is loaded with protein, calcium, vitamin B12. This low carb-food can improve our immune system, increase brain function, reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and blood pressure.
18. Olive oil
Olive oil contains no carbs and is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats. Olive oil improves metabolism, aids in weight loss and helps in lowering bad cholesterol.
19. Coconut oil
Coconut oil contains no carbs, and it includes a unique combination of fatty acids that have a powerful effect on our metabolism. Having coconut oil every day can help you lose the stubborn belly fat.
20. Avocado oil
Avocado oil is the natural oil that is pressed from the pulp of avocados. It contains zero carbs and contains mainly heart-healthy oleic acid (13). It reduces cholesterol and improves heart health.
Avocados are one of the healthiest low-carb fruits. One cup of peeled avocados contains just 12.5 grams of carbs, ten of which are fiber.
Avocados contain many beneficial nutrients like vitamin C, E, K, B6, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium.
One cup of starfruit contains just 4.27 grams of net carbs. This tart and slightly sour fruit can make a colorful addition to a fruit salad. This tropical fruit is a rich in vitamin C.
One cup of blackberries contains 6.26 grams of net carbs. Blackberries are rich in antioxidants which help prevent cancer (14). Blackberries are rich in manganese which helps improve brain function.
One cup of raspberries contains 6.69 grams of net carbs. These delicious red berries contain antioxidants like vitamin C, quercetin and gallic acid that help prevent cancer, heart disease, and cognitive decline.
Strawberries are one of the healthiest, nutritional dense fruits. One cup of halved strawberries contains just 8.67 grams of carbs. They are a rich source of vitamin C, manganese and antioxidants.
A 100 gram serving of watermelon contains 8 grams of carbs. This refreshing summer fruit is an excellent source of lycopene, a carotenoid that protects the skin from sun damage. It also had significant amounts of vitamin A, B6, C, antioxidants and amino acids.
Apricots are low in carbohydrates and rich in vitamin C and potassium. A hundred grams of apricots contain 11 grams of carbs. They are a rich source of fiber and vitamin A.
One cup of chopped cantaloupe contained 12.8 grams of carbs. This fruit is packed with potassium, magnesium, folic acid, beta-carotene, fiber, and antioxidants.
The carotenes and antioxidants found in cantaloupes can boost the immune system and prevent infections (15).
One serving (100 grams) of grapefruit contains just 11 grams of carbohydrates. This citrus fruit is rich in fiber, potassium, lycopene, vitamin C, and choline, which makes it beneficial for heart health (16).
Olives are delicious high-fat fruit that contains minimal carbs (6 grams per 100 grams). Olives are rich in vitamin E and many other powerful antioxidants. Olives also include oleic acid which regulates cholesterol levels and improves heart health (17).
31. Bell Peppers
One cup of sliced bell peppers contains 4.3 grams of carbohydrates. These extremely nutritious vegetable contain antioxidants and carotenoids that reduce inflammation and lower the risk of cancer (18).
One cup of cooked asparagus contains just 4 grams of net carbs. Asparagus is a rich source of many nutrients like fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, and chromium. Many studies have shown that asparagus can stop the growth of several types of cancers (19).
A hundred grams of broccoli contains 7 grams of carbs. Broccoli contains calcium and vitamin K, both of which are vital for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis. It is also known to reduce insulin resistance in people with type-2 diabetes (20).
One cup of white mushrooms contains 2 grams of carbs, of which 1 gram is fiber. Mushrooms are packed with vitamins and mineral, and they help make our bones strong, reduce high-cholesterol levels and lower the risk of cancer.
There are only 4 grams of carbs in a 100 gram serving of tomatoes. Tomatoes are high in lycopene, which reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer (21).
Cauliflower contains just 5 grams of carbs per 100 grams of serving. This versatile vegetable contains health-promoting phytochemicals.
Its health benefits include preventing chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative disorders.
A hundred grams of cucumbers contain just 4 grams of carbs. Cucumbers are good for skin and eye health. They also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and help in weight management.
Eggplant contains 6 grams of carbs per 100 grams. The skin of the eggplant is rich in fiber, antioxidants, potassium, and magnesium. They are also known to reduce the risk of heart disease (22).
One cup of raw zucchini contains 3 grams of net carbs. Zucchini is an excellent source of vitamin C that helps to protect our cells from free radicals. It also contains lutein and zeaxanthin which promote healthy eyesight.
One cup of lettuce contains just 2 grams of carbs, one of which is fiber. Dark green varieties of lettuce are rich in vitamin A, C, and K. Lettuce is rich in fiber and cellulose, both of which improve digestion and promote weight loss.
41. Pecan nuts
Pecan nuts contain just 4 grams of net carbs (digestible carbohydrates) per 100 grams. They are rich in nutrients like manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, and selenium.
Pecan nuts have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the risk of heart disease.
42. Brazil nuts
A hundred gram serving of Brazil nuts contains 4 grams of net carbs. Health benefits of Brazil nuts include improved heart health, cancer and Alzheimer’s prevention and weight loss.
A hundred gram serving of walnuts contains 7 grams of net carbs. Walnuts contain good fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They also contain iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin E and some B vitamins. Their health benefits include improved metabolism and bone health.
Almonds contain just 10 grams of net carbs per 100 grams. They are amongst the world’s best source of selenium. Almonds help lower the levels of sugar and blood pressure in the body. They also help in weight loss (23).
Coffee contains zero carbs. It is loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients that are beneficial for health. Various studies have shown that coffee helps in improving multiple aspects of brain function like memory, reaction time and cognitive function (24).
Not only does tea have less caffeine than coffee but it also contains no carbs. Tea, especially green tea is known for various health benefits. Drinking tea is known to protect against cancer, reduce the risk of heart attack and help in weight loss (25).
47. Carbonated water
Unsweetened carbonated water does not contain any carbs. It helps in digestion and reduces constipation.
Final thoughts on what are low carb foods
High protein and low carb foods can be highly beneficial. Not only do they help you lose weight, but they also reduce the risk of severe ailments like type-2 diabetes, cancer, and atherosclerosis.
Following a low carb foods rich diet is not difficult. Just add these nutritious low carb foods to your diet, and you will notice the difference in your health in no time.