Low Carb Foods: What To Eat and What To Avoid

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For those that are trying to start a low-carb diet, it can be confusing at first knowing which foods to eat and which to avoid.

This article presents a guide to the best (and worst) low-carb foods from each food category.

Following this, we’ll also take a look at 20+ of the most nutritious individual foods that are low-carb friendly.

Low Carb Foods To Eat (and Avoid)

In the subheadings below, you can find information about some of the best (and worst) low-carb foods in a variety of food categories.

Bread

Low Carb Foods Including Almond Keto Bread and Eggs.

Bread, otherwise known as the ‘staff of life’, has been a popular staple in the Western world for centuries.

However, it isn’t really suitable for those trying to keep their carb intake down.

That said, there are some low-carb friendly bread options that use nut and seed flours.

The table below shows some of these options or you can find a complete guide to low-carb bread here.

Bread Options For Low Carb Diets
Five of the BestFive To Avoid
Almond flour breadBuns and rolls
Bread alternatives (wraps)Garlic bread
Cloud breadNaan bread
Coconut flour breadWhite bread
Flaxseed breadWhole grain bread

Chocolate

Chocolate is delicious, and fortunately, it can fit into any low carb plan.

However, most of the commercially advertised chocolate bars are too high in sugar to be suitable.

The key here is to opt for some of the low-sugar options, and the “darker” the chocolate, the lower in carbs it will be.

Chocolate Options For Low Carb Diets
Five of the BestFive To Avoid
70% + dark chocolate (OK)Chocolate desserts
85% + dark chocolate (ideal)Hot chocolate (sugar-sweetened)
Cocoa nibsMilk chocolate
Hot chocolate (unsweetened)Truffles
Hot chocolate (with a sweetener)White chocolate

Dairy

Firstly, the vast majority of dairy products are low-carb friendly, although the portion size can come into this.

For instance, milk has around 5 grams of carbohydrate per 100 grams, so a large intake can quickly become higher carb territory (1).

Other dairy products like butter, cheese, cream, and yogurt are all reasonably low in carbohydrate.

However, it is worth noting that some of the more processed options (like sweetened yogurts) can be extremely high in sugar.

Therefore, it is better to focus on minimally processed dairy foods.

Dairy Options For Low Carb Diets
Five of the BestFive To Avoid
Aged mature CheddarCondensed milk
GheeIce-cream
Greek yogurtMilk (in excessive amounts)
Heavy creamSweet cream
Ricotta cheeseSweetened yogurt

Desserts

Probably more than 95% of the world’s desserts are high in sugar and wheat flour. As a result, they are not really compatible with a low-carb diet.

However, some dessert options can be relatively low carb foods.

For instance, raspberries and cream taste delicious, and this tasty combination contains a minimal amount of carbohydrate. Raspberries provide little over 5 grams of net carbs per cup serving (2).

There is also a wide range of recipes that use low-carb flours and sugar alternatives for sweetening.

For a range of such recipes, see these low-carb dessert ideas.

Dessert Ideas For Low Carb Diets
Five of the BestFive To Avoid
Berries and creamCakes
Cakes (sugar-free)Candy
Cookies (sugar-free)Cookies
Piece of fruitMousse
YogurtPastries

Dried Foods

Long Slices of Beef Jerky (Dried Meat).

Dried foods are not altogether different from their fresh versions.

However, for foods such as fruits, the drying process removes the moisture and leaves concentrated sugars.

For this reason, dried fruit has (approximately) 5x more carbohydrate than fresh fruit of the same weight (3, 4).

As a result, it is better to limit dried fruit, but other dried foods such as jerky are perfectly fine.

Dried Foods For Low Carb Diets
Five of the BestFive To Avoid
Dried seafoodBeans
Dried mushroomsDates
Dried onion powderPrunes
Dried red pepperRaisins
Jerky / dried meatVegetable chips

Drinks

The healthiest drink choice, regardless of diet, is water.

Whether someone is on a low or high carb diet, water should make up the bulk of our fluid intake.

However, there are several other drinks that are low-carb and possibly beneficial for our health. Some of the most popular of these are coffee and tea.

That said, be sure to opt for unsweetened versions because some cafe drink products can contain surprising amounts of sugar.

For instance, just one grande size Chai tea latte from Starbucks contains over 50 grams of carbohydrate and 47 grams of sugar (5).

Drinks For a Low Carb Diet
Five of the BestFive To Avoid
Black teaBeer
CoffeeCola
Green teaFruit juice
Herbal teaLemonade
WaterSweetened tea/coffee

See this guide to the best (and worst) low-carb drink options for further information.

Eggs

Eggs contain under one gram of carbohydrate per egg (6).

In short; all eggs are great whether regular chicken eggs, quail eggs, or any other type of egg.

For some egg recipe ideas, check out these low-carb breakfast meals.

Fast Food

Most people think fast food is incredibly unhealthy.

While this may have been true a decade ago, there are more and more healthy options available in fast food restaurants these days.

While cheeseburgers and pizzas are off the low-carb menu, a lettuce-wrap burger or a meat and salad bowl is no problem.

For a quick summary, here are some of the better (and worse) options;

Fast Food For a Low Carb Diet
Five of the BestFive To Avoid
Beef pattiesCheeseburger
Burrito bowlChinese fried rice
Cheeseburger in a bowlCurry and rice/naan
Lettuce-wrap burgerFrench fries
Subway beef salad bowlPizza

For more ideas, this guide to low-carb fast food presents numerous examples of healthier fast food choices.

Fermented Foods

Pieces of Korean Fermented Kimchi.

Fermented foods encompass some of the world’s most traditional foods such as cheese, kimchi, natto, sauerkraut, and wine.

While some of these are a little high in carbohydrate, the vast majority of fermented foods are low-carb friendly.

Fermented Foods For a Low Carb Diet
Five of the BestFive To Avoid
CheeseBeer
KimchiJiu Niang (fermented rice)
Low-carb kombuchaSourdough bread
SauerkrautSweet wine
(Dry) wineSweetened yogurt

Fruits

It is worth pointing out that a low-carb diet can contain any fruit; it is the daily carb intake that matters the most.

However, there are certainly lower and higher carb options out there.

Some of the best choices include avocados, olives, and berries.

Fruits For a Low Carb Diet
Five of the BestFive To Limit
AvocadoBanana
BlackberriesCherries
LemonGrapes
OlivesMango
RaspberriesPineapple

See this guide to low-carb fruits for a more in-depth look.

Meat

All varieties of meat are perfectly acceptable low-carb choices.

In some cases, some meat (usually bacon and cold cuts) may have a little bit of added sugar.

However, this sugar is present in such small amounts (<0.5%) that it is not worth worrying about.

For some delicious meat-based dinner ideas, see these low-carb dinners.

Nuts

Nuts are all suitable for low-carb diets.

However, it is worth noting that certain nuts are a little higher in carbohydrate. These include cashew nuts and pistachios.

That being said, a typical serving (1-ounce/28-grams) of any nut does not provide a large amount of carbohydrate.

Therefore, most nuts should be OK for people unless they are trying to restrict carbohydrate intake to low amounts.

For reference, here is the ‘net carbohydrate’ content (total carbs minus fiber) of nuts per ounce serving;

  • Almonds: 2.7 grams
  • Brazil nuts: 1.3 grams
  • Cashews: 8.3 grams
  • Chestnuts: 13.4 grams
  • Hazelnuts: 2.0 grams
  • Macadamia: 1.6 grams
  • Peanuts: 2.2 grams
  • Pecans: 1.2 grams
  • Pine nuts: 2.7 grams
  • Pistachios: 4.9 grams
  • Walnuts: 1.9 grams

Oils

All cooking fats and oils are a source of isolated fat, and they contain no carbs.

However, for health purposes, it may be better sticking to cooking fats that remain heat-stable at high temperatures.

Some of the most heat-stable cooking fats include coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, ghee, and animal fats (7, 8, 9).

Low Carb Cooking Oils
Five of the BestFive To Avoid
Avocado oilCanola
ButterGrapeseed oil
Coconut oilMargarine
Extra virgin olive oilSoybean oil
GheeShortening/Trans fats

Pasta and Noodles

Spaghetti Squash "Noodles" On a Blue Plate.

Italian and Asian based pasta and noodle dishes are popular all across the world.

On the negative side, pasta is one of the highest-carb foods around, so it isn’t a good fit for low-carb diets.

However, there are a variety of alternatives available, and some of them can work quite well.

Pasta Options For Low-Carb Diets
Five of the BestFive To Avoid
Enoki “noodles”Lasagna
Shirataki noodlesRice noodles
Palmini noodlesSpaghetti
Spaghetti squashTagliatelle
Shirataki noodlesUdon noodles

There are also numerous more low-carb pasta alternatives.

Pastries and Pies

Pastries and pies are two more types of food that are not low-carb-friendly.

Since these foods all contain significant amounts of wheat flour, they are relatively high in carbohydrate.

However, it is possible to make homemade varieties that use low-carb flours.

Flour For Low-Carb Diets
Five of the BestFive To Avoid
Almond flourBuckwheat flour
Coconut flourOat flour
Flaxseed mealRice flour
Macadamia flourRye flour
Psyllium huskWheat flour

Salads

Salads work well on low-carb diets since they mostly emphasize sources of protein alongside nutrient-dense greens.

On the downside, some common salad dressings can be full of sugar (and cheap oils).

If you use these, be sure to factor in the carbohydrates (and calories) they contain.

You can find a few salad ideas in this list of 30 healthy recipes.

Sandwiches

Since sandwiches tend to mean high-carb bread, these are not suitable for genuine low-carb diets.

However, it is possible to buy various low carb-breads (or make your own) using a low carb flour.

Seafood

Seafood includes some of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world.

From shellfish and oily fish to plant life such as seaweed, food from the sea has a lot of nutritional value.

Interestingly, shellfish do contain carbohydrate, but the amount is only several grams per 100g.

For anyone following an ultra-strict low-carb plan, then it may be worth factoring in these carbohydrates still.

Sugars

Sugar Cubes In a White Bowl.

Quite clearly, sugar and low-carb diets don’t play well together.

Sugar is a concentrated source of carbohydrate, and it is hard to keep to a low-carb plan if consuming anything other than a small amount.

However, for those with a sweet tooth, there are various low-carb sweeteners that you can replace sugar with.

These options include artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sugar alcohols such as erythritol and xylitol, and plant extracts like stevia.

Vegetables

Not all vegetables are low carb foods, but pretty much every vegetable—including tubers—can fit into a low-carb diet.

However, this depends on precisely how low in carbs the particular diet is.

For a stringent ketogenic diet, tubers are just too high in carbohydrate.

For a more liberal (100 grams or so) low-carb diet, there is ample room for tubers and root vegetables.

Vegetables For Low-Carb Diets
Five of the BestFive To Limit
BroccoliCasava
CauliflowerParsnips
MushroomsPotatoes
SpinachSweet potatoes
ZucchiniYams

See this list of vegetables low in carbohydrate for a deeper look.

Other

Aside from the above categories of food, packaged foods such as condiments and ready meals can be surprisingly high in carbs.

For those who like to drink socially, see this guide to low-carb diets and alcohol.

You might also find these guides to low carb beer and low carb wine useful.

21 of the Best (Most Nutritious) Low-Carb Foods

Now that we’ve looked at some of the best low-carb foods from each food category let’s take a look at some of the most nutritious options.

Within this section, you can find a list of 21 of the best low carb foods, with an emphasis on nutrient-density.

In other words, the foods on this list are all high in nutrients and some of the healthiest foods out there.

Even if you don’t follow a low-carb way of eating, these foods can all play an important role in a healthy diet.

You will find the foods separated into four categories; animal foods, fruit and vegetables, seafood, and ‘everything else.’

For each food, you can find the net carbohydrate content and the top 5 nutrients the food offers per 100 grams.

(Net carbohydrate = total carbs minus fiber.)

Meat and Dairy

First of all, we will take a look at animal foods.

While many of us automatically associate fruit and vegetables with vitamins and minerals, the animal kingdom provides some of the most nutrient-rich options.

This fact is particularly the case for organ meats such as liver, which contain substantial amounts of almost every vitamin and mineral.

While animal foods generally have no carbs, organ meats do contain a minimal amount.

Here are five of the healthiest low carb animal foods.

1. Beef Liver (5.1 g net carbs)

Beef liver is one of the healthiest foods available to us; it is a powerhouse of nutrition and contains a substantial amount of vitamins.

Per 100 grams, beef liver provides 5.1 grams of net carbohydrate (10).

Additionally, beef liver contains the following five nutrients in significant proportions;

  • Vitamin B12: 1176% DV
  • Copper: 714% DV
  • Vitamin A (retinol): 634% DV
  • Vitamin B2: 201% DV
  • Vitamin B3: 88% DV

While liver may not be one of the tastiest foods, it is one of the most nutritious.

The traditional method of a shallow pan-fry alongside onions is an excellent way to eat liver.

2. Eggs (0.8 g net carbs)

Some people refer to eggs as ‘nature’s multivitamin,’ and they have a point; eggs provide almost every essential vitamin and mineral.

Per 100g, eggs contain approximately 0.8g carbohydrate, which works out at about 0.4g carbs per large egg (11).

In other words, eggs contain virtually no carbohydrate.

Regarding their nutrient profile, eggs are an excellent source of;

  • Selenium: 45% DV
  • Vitamin B2: 28% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 22% DV
  • Phosphorus: 19% DV
  • Vitamin B5: 14% DV

Lastly, one common question many people have about low carb diets is this; “What can I eat for breakfast on a low carb diet?”

The answer; eggs!

Of course, there are other foods too, but eggs are incredibly versatile; boil them, fry them, or make a cheese omelet.

All these options are good for you and taste delicious.

3. Lamb (0 g net carbs)

Meat does not contain carbohydrate, and lamb is no exception (12).

Lamb is rich in protein, fat and it is a surprising source of omega-3 fatty acids too.

Since lamb spend their life grazing on pasture, the meat contains quite a lot of omega-3.

Furthermore, this omega-3 comes in the most bio-available form of DHA and EPA; the same as found in oily fish (13).

Aside from the omega-3 content, lamb is very similar to beef, and the major nutrients are;

  • Zinc: 51% DV
  • Selenium: 44% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 38% DV
  • Vitamin B3: 27% DV
  • Phosphorus: 17% DV

Lamb is very tender, and it works well on the grill or as part of a stew.

4. Liverwurst (2.2 g net carbs)

Never heard of liverwurst before?

In that case, it is a type of German sausage that is incredibly nutrient-dense.

Liverwurst contains an assortment of ingredients including liver, meat, animal fat, and various spices.

Typically, these spices include nutmeg, black pepper and ground spice among others.

Since organ meats contain a little carbohydrate, liverwurst contains around 2.2 grams of net carbs per 100g (14).

For an idea of just how nutritious it is, here is a summary of the most significant nutrients it contains;

  • Vitamin A: 553% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 224% DV
  • Selenium: 83% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 61% DV
  • Iron: 36% DV

Liverwurst is also a delicious way to “hide” the taste of liver for those who don’t like it.

5. Aged Cheese (3.2 g net carbs)

Cheese is delicious, and it supplies a great amount of protein and calcium.

Per 100 grams, it only provides around 2.4g net carbs (15).

However, not all cheese is equal, and aged cheese has some unique benefits.

Also, hard aged cheese with a longer fermentation time (like Parmesan) contains a decent amount of probiotic bacteria and vitamin K2.

Nutritionally, cheese is an excellent source of calcium, which is vital for skeletal health (16).

Aside from calcium, hard Parmesan cheese provides;

  • Calcium: 118% DV
  • Phosphorus: 69% DV
  • Sodium: 67% DV
  • Selenium: 32% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 20% DV

One of the best thing about cheese is that it makes everything else taste better. It tastes delicious on its own too.

Fruit and Vegetables

Almost every animal food is low carb, but it is a different matter with fruit and vegetables.

For example, some can be very high in carbohydrates, such as bananas, mangoes, and potatoes.

The following five plant foods are some of the most nutritious fruit and vegetable options, and they are also very low in carbs.

6. Avocado (1.8 g net carbs)

This traditional Mexican fruit has exploded in popularity over the last few years, and it now enjoys worldwide fame.

Per 100g, an avocado supplies 1.8 grams of net carbohydrate, which works out at 3.6 grams per avocado (17).

Nutritionally, it is not difficult to see why avocado is so popular; it contains lots of healthy fats, fiber, and many vitamins and minerals.

Most notably, avocados are a good source of;

  • Vitamin K: 26% DV
  • Folate: 20% DV
  • Vitamin C: 17% DV
  • Vitamin B5: 14% DV
  • Potassium: 14% DV

If you eat the whole avocado, it will supply roughly double these amounts.

7. Kale (8 g net carbs)

I’m not the biggest fan of kale, but it is hard to argue with its nutrient profile.

While it may not be the best-tasting food around, it is one of the most nutritious.

One hundred grams of kale provides roughly 8 grams of net carbohydrate (18).

Additionally, kale is a rich source of;

  • Vitamin K1: 1021% DV
  • Vitamin A (as beta-carotene): 308% DV
  • Vitamin C: 200% DV
  • Manganese: 39% DV
  • Copper: 14% DV

As with all plant sources of vitamins A (carotenoids) and K, they do require conversion to vitamin K2 (menaquinone) and vitamin A (retinol) inside the body.

As a result, it is better to get these nutrients from animal foods in addition to plant foods, as the conversion rate is unreliable (19).

8. Mushrooms (1.6 g net carbs)

Mushrooms are an interesting food that contains an assortment of exciting compounds.

While they are not an actual fruit or vegetable, it is the easiest way to classify them as they belong in a category all of their own; fungus.

It will differ somewhat from mushroom to mushroom, but for the standard white button mushroom, the net carb count is 1.6 grams (20).

Here are the most concentrated vitamins and minerals in white button mushrooms;

  • Vitamin B2: 24% DV
  • Vitamin B3: 18% DV
  • Copper: 16% DV
  • Vitamin B5: 15% DV
  • Selenium: 13% DV

Additionally, mushrooms contain all kinds of interesting biologically active compounds such as phenolic compounds, mycosteroids, and biometals.

Research is ongoing on the potential anti-inflammatory effects of these compounds (21).

9. Spinach (1.4 g net carbs)

Generally speaking, leafy green vegetables are low carb and full of beneficial nutrients.

While spinach won’t make people big and strong like in Popeye, it is a significant source of vitamins and minerals.

It also has a minimal net carb content of 1.4 grams per 100 g (22).

Alongside kale, spinach has a claim to being the most nutrient-dense vegetable.

It supplies an impressive amount of the following nutrients;

  • Vitamin K1: 604% DV
  • Vitamin A (carotenoids): 188% DV
  • Folate: 49% DV
  • Vitamin C: 47% DV
  • Manganese: 45% DV

To make it a little tastier, try sauteing it in butter and salting liberally.

10. Strawberry (5.7 g net carbs)

The strawberry has little carbohydrate content, and it is also one of the tastiest low carb fruits.

Strawberries make a delicious low carb dessert, especially when eaten the traditional way – with some heavy cream on top.

Per 100 g, strawberries contain a minimal 5.7 grams of net carbs (23).

Nutritionally, strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C;

  • Vitamin C: 98% DV
  • Manganese: 19% DV
  • Folate: 6% DV
  • Potassium: 4% DV
  • Vitamin K: 3% DV

Strawberries are also rich in polyphenols, which may benefit our health in numerous ways (24).

Low Carb Seafood

In the modern age, most people in the Western world are not consuming enough fish and seafood.

Since seafood is a vital source of omega-3 and incredibly nutritious, that is a shame.

Here are some nutrient-dense options that everyone should consider including in their diet.

11. Atlantic Mackerel (0 g net carbs)

With one of the highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids (and lowest mercury levels), Atlantic mackerel is an excellent choice.

Since fish do not contain carbohydrate, it has a net carb count of 0 g (25).

Mackerel provides an impressive array of nutrients too;

  • Vitamin B12: 317% DV
  • Selenium: 74% DV
  • Vitamin B3: 34% DV
  • Phosphorus: 28% DV
  • Magnesium: 24% DV

Just one thing to be aware of; not all mackerel is equal.

Notably, Atlantic mackerel has low levels of mercury contamination, but other varieties such as Spanish mackerel are high in mercury (26).

12. Fish Roe (1.5 g net carbs)

Fish roe is another low carb food that many people probably haven’t tried.

However, it is impressive nutritionally, and it tastes pretty good too.

Unlike regular fish, fish roe isn’t quite zero carb, and it contains a minimal amount of carbohydrate.

Regarding the nutrition profile, fish roe is exceptionally high in (27);

  • Vitamin B12: 167% DV
  • Selenium: 58% DV
  • Vitamin B2: 44% DV
  • Phosphorus: 40% DV
  • Vitamin E: 35% DV

Fish roe enjoys the most popularity in the Eastern part of the world, specifically Japan, Korea, and Eastern Russia.

However, it is still available to buy – but be aware it is a little expensive.

13. Sardines (0 g net carbs)

Sardines are a small, nutritious fish that belongs to the herring family.

One of the reasons why sardines are so nutritious is that we eat the whole fish; flesh, organs and even bones.

These small fish are high in protein and contain lots of healthy fat in the form of omega-3 fatty acids.

As a result, the nutrient-profile is very high in a variety of vitamins and minerals (28);

  • Vitamin B12: 149% DV
  • Selenium: 75% DV
  • Vitamin D: 68% DV
  • Phosphorus: 49% DV
  • Calcium: 38% DV

Sardines are a great source of calcium due to the small edible bones in the fish.

Similar to all fatty fish, sardines supply an excellent source of vitamin D too.

14. Salmon (0 g net carbs)

Due to the delicious taste, salmon comes high on many people’s favorite food lists.

Salmon is very healthy too, and it provides the following nutrients in substantial amounts (29);

  • Selenium: 67% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 51% DV
  • Vitamin B3: 50% DV
  • Vitamin B6: 47% DV
  • Vitamin B2: 29% DV

However, the most significant benefit is the abundant supply of omega-3 that salmon provides, with 100 grams containing more than 2.5 grams of the essential fat.

Omega-3 has anti-inflammatory effects in the body and may help to protect against major chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer (30, 31).

Finally, wild Alaskan salmon has one of the highest concentrations of omega-3 (and lowest of mercury) out of all fish.

15. Oysters (3.9 g net carbs)

Oysters are one of the healthiest foods in the world.

Shellfish do contain small amounts of carbohydrate, and oysters have a net carb content of around 3.9 grams per 100 g (32).

Oysters are crammed full of nutrients too;

  • Zinc: 605% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 324% DV
  • Copper: 223% DV
  • Selenium: 91% DV
  • Vitamin D: 80% DV

Also, oysters are a good source of omega-3 fats.

Overall, oysters are a tasty, nutritious and relatively affordable food, making them a great choice for a low carb diet.

Everything Else

Here are some more low carb foods that do not fit into a specific category, which range from cooking oils to nuts.

16. Coconut Oil (0 g net carbs)

Coconut oil is not particularly nutritious, but it has one crucial attribute; it is one of the most heat-stable cooking fats (33).

This oxidative stability is mainly due to coconut’s high saturated fat content, which is the most heat-stable type of fat.

As a result, coconut oil is a sensible choice for pan-frying, deep-frying and any other kind of high-heat cooking,

Coconut oil works exceptionally well in curries and for authentic tasting South-Asian cuisine.

17. Almonds (7.5 g net carbs)

Almonds are one of the most nutritious nut options, and they are a source of all three macronutrients.

However, much of the carbohydrate content is fiber, and the net carb count is a low 7.5 grams per 100 g (34).

Regarding their nutritional value, almonds are one of the very best sources of dietary vitamin E.

For those who don’t eat nuts and seeds, it is quite challenging to get adequate amounts of this vital vitamin.

The top five nutrients that almonds provide are;

  • Manganese: 131% DV
  • Vitamin E: 130% DV
  • Magnesium: 72% DV
  • Copper: 58% DV
  • Vitamin B2: 51% DV

Almonds are also very convenient and make a far healthier snack than potato chips or fast food options.

18. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (0 g net carbs)

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is another excellent oil.

Unlike coconut oil, EVOO works well for cooking AND as a dressing for salads.

However, there is a widespread myth that EVOO is not heat-stable; this is wrong.

Numerous controlled studies show that EVOO displays excellent oxidative stability, even after hours of prolonged frying (35).

Furthermore, in a recent independent lab test, EVOO was the best-performing oil as it had the lowest amount of toxic polar compounds after high-heat cooking. Coconut oil came second (36).

Extra virgin olive oil also contains a substantial concentration of polyphenols.

These compounds help to increase the oil’s oxidative stability, and randomized controlled trials demonstrate they may have further benefit for human health (37, 38).

19. Dark Chocolate (85%) (24.7 g net carbs)

Some chocolate is full of sugar and probably belongs on the ‘foods to avoid’ list, but darker varieties can be surprisingly nutritious.

While 24 grams of net carbs may sound quite a lot, we don’t eat 100 g portions of chocolate (or at least, we shouldn’t!)

The darker varieties of chocolate contain low amounts of sugar too, and the carbohydrate mainly comes from soluble and insoluble fibers and a type of starch.

Pure cocoa will provide the following nutrients per 100 grams (39);

  • Manganese: 192% DV
  • Copper: 189% DV
  • Magnesium: 125% DV
  • Iron: 77% DV
  • Phosphorus: 73% DV

The higher the cocoa % of the chocolate, the closer it will be to these values.

20. Macadamia Nuts (5.6 g net carbs)

In my opinion, macadamia nuts are one of the tastiest low carb foods there is.

These little round nuts have a satisfying crunchy and slightly buttery taste, and they make a delicious snack.

Macadamia nuts are particularly high in the monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid, in addition to fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Notably, they are perhaps the only nut that has a low amount of omega-6 fatty acids too.

Regarding their carbohydrate content, macadamia nuts only contain around 5.6 grams of net carbs per 100 grams (40).

The vast majority of their carbohydrate content comes in the form of fiber.

Nutritionally, they offer high amounts of the following vitamins and minerals;

  • Manganese: 207% DV
  • Vitamin B1: 80% DV
  • Copper: 38% DV
  • Magnesium: 33% DV
  • Iron: 20% DV

21. Herbs and Spices (0 g net carbs)

Herbs and spices are extraordinarily nutrient-rich, and they help improve the taste of our food.

Since we use them in such low quantities, the amount of carbohydrate they contain is negligible.

You can use any herbs or spices in food depending on personal preference, but some great options include;

  • Basil
  • Bay leaf
  • Chilli pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Coriander
  • Curry powder
  • Mustard
  • Nutmeg
  • Oregano
  • Pepper
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Final Thoughts

Lastly, it is worth remembering that just because a food is low in carbohydrate does not necessarily mean it is healthy.

Rather than judging food by the number of calories, carbs, or fat it has, it is the nutrient density that matters the most.

Related Articles

10 Low Carb Foods That Are High in Zinc

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Dr John Stewart
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Low carb foods an important part of the shopping list for the 70% of us overweight ! Low Insulin output is the key!

Suzie Lee
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Suzie Lee

That was very helpful. I was wondering why you put canola as one if the oils to be avoided. Is it the smoke point??? The other thing i would like to ask is whether coconut oil is healthy. I believe it has healthy oils like Lauric, but it has a higher percentage of saturated fats. I have some coronary heart disease.
Thanks so much.