The Best Root Vegetables for a Low-Carb Diet

How Potatoes, Turnips, and Carrots Stack Up Against Each Other

Various root vegetables on white background
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When you think of root vegetables, you probably think of potatoes. When you think of high carbohydrates, potatoes also probably come to mind. Thankfully, there other lower-carb options you can use as a substitute for potatoes. Here, we explore carb and fiber counts of a variety of root veggies.

Types of Root Vegetables

Root vegetables are plant roots used as vegetables. There are different kinds of root vegetables, such as taproots, which include carrots, beets, and turnips; tuberous roots, which include sweet potatoes, yams, and yucca; and modified plant stem tubers, which includes the common potato.

Carbohydrate and Fiber Counts for Root Vegetables

Preparation of root vegetableCarbs (grams)Fiber (grams)

Potato

1 cup unskinned, diced, raw potato

1 cup boiled mashed potato

1 cup boiled skinned potato

1 large unskinned baked potato

 

26.2

30.4

31.2

63.2

 

3.1

4.4

2.8

6.6

Turnip

1 cup raw cubed turnip

1 cup boiled cubed turnip

1 cup boiled mashed turnip

 

8.4

7.9

11.6

 

2.3

3.1

4.6

Rutabaga

1 cup raw cubed rutabaga

1 cup boiled mashed rutabaga

1 cup boiled cubed rutabaga

 

12

16.4

11.6

 

3.2

4.3

3.1

Sweet potato

1 cup raw cubed sweet potato

1 cup boiled mashed sweet potato

1 medium boiled sweet potato

 

26.8

58.1

26.8

 

4

8.2

3.8

Yam

1 cup raw cubed yam

1 cup boiled cubed yam

 

41.8

37.4

 

6.2

5.3

Celery Root (Celeriac)

1 cup raw celeriac

1 cup boiled celeriac pieces

 

14.4

9.1

 

2.8

1.9

Carrot

1 cup raw chopped carrot

1 cup boiled sliced carrot

 

12.3

6.4

 

3.6

2.3

Parsnip

1 cup raw sliced parsnip

1 cup boiled sliced parsnip

 

23.4

26.5

 

6.5

5.6

Beet

1 cup raw cubed beet

1 cup boiled sliced beet

 

13

16.9

 

3.8

3.4

Radish

1 cup raw sliced radish

1 cup boiled sliced radish

 

3.9

5

 

1.9

2.4

Turnips Aren't the Only Lower-Carb Alternatives to Potatoes

Potatoes are very high in starch and have a high glycemic index. In fact, the only root vegetable with a higher glycemic index is parsnip. When a food has a high glycemic index, that means the carbohydrates in them are rapidly turned into sugar and absorbed into your blood.

The good news is that there are a few root vegetables that are low in carbs and can be substituted for potatoes, like radishes, which can be roasted much the same way as potatoes. Mashed or cubed turnips are another good choice, with less than half the carbs that mashed or cubed potatoes have. Mashed rutabaga is another good option if you're looking for a way to satisfy that mashed potato craving, yet you want to skip all the carbs.

In addition, there are other types of vegetables, like the cruciferous cauliflower, that can be substituted for potato for an even lower carb count. One cup of cooked cauliflower only has 2.55 grams of carbs. Try mashing it once it's cooked and adding a little salt or another seasoning for flavor. Another interesting way to eat cauliflower is to make "rice" by pulsing it in a food processor until it's the right size, then fry it in a saucepan with a bit of olive oil. 

Source:

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28, 2016. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list?ds=Standard+Reference.

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