There was a time when low-carb foods were all the rage. With diets like the Atkins Diet gaining popularity in the 1990s and the Keto Diet gaining traction in the health world around the mid-2010s, people have been trying to avoid carbohydrates for decades now. However, research has shown that for the average person, carbs are nothing to be feared and carb-heavy foods like whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits are necessary for a healthy, balanced diet. But if your doctor or dietitian has given you the recommendation to try and limit your carbohydrate intake in your daily diet, you may benefit from eating more healthy, low-carb foods.
“Including a variety of nutritionally dense, low-carb, wholesome foods can be beneficial to our overall health,” says Melissa Rifkin MS, RD, CDN. “Those who are overweight or require lower sugar consumption on a day-to-day basis (persons with type 2 diabetes) following a low carb diet can aid in weight reduction and improve glycemic control.”
Even though low-carb diets are quite popular, not all low-carb foods are healthy. For instance, there are many products on grocery store shelves that are marketed as “low- or zero-carb” but have been heavily processed and are missing essential nutrients. This is why people often run into issues when following a strict low-carb diet, as they’re not able to give their body all of the vitamins and minerals it needs. However, if you’re aware of healthy low-carb foods like certain types of vegetables, fruit, grains, dairy, eggs, meat, and seafood, you’ll have an easier time forming a balanced eating plan.
Read on, and then for more healthy eating tips, make sure to check out 13 Unhealthy Carbs To Stay Away From.
Carbs per 1 cup of watermelon, diced: 11.5 grams (9.4 grams sugar, 0.6 grams fiber)
Watermelon is the most hydrating fruit, as it is made up mostly of water. It’s on the lower end of carbohydrates compared to other fruits, and it provides helpful amounts of nutrients like potassium. It has also been found to potentially aid in weight loss and weight management as part of a balanced diet.
Carbs per 1 cup of strawberries, halves: 11.7 grams (7.4 grams sugar, 3 grams fiber)
“Most fruits contain some carbohydrates, but strawberries are on the lower end of the carbohydrate spectrum,” says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN. She also adds that aside from being lower in carbs, strawberries have plenty of other health benefits as well. “Recent data shows that eating two servings of strawberries each day may improve heart and brain health in eight weeks,” she says.
Carbs per 5 green olives, pickled: 0.5 grams (0.1 grams sugar, 0.4 grams fiber)
Some people may not think of olives as fruit, but this salty snack is the perfect healthy, low-carb food. Not only can they help you keep your carb count low, but olives also provide iron, copper, vitamin E, and a high dose of healthy fats.
Carbs per 1 cup of grape tomatoes: 8.4 grams (3.2 grams fiber)
Whether you’re throwing them on top of your salad or snacking on them on their own, grape tomatoes can give you a combination of savory and sweet flavors while helping you keep your carbohydrates on the lighter end. With only 8.4 grams of carbs per cup, these tomatoes also provide powerful, disease-fighting antioxidants like lycopene and beta-carotene.