With the ketogenic lifestyle most attention gets focused initially on the macro-nutrients or “macros” and little on the micro-nutrients or micros. However, for good long-term health, the keto lifestyle itself, micros matter. We get to pay attention to them
One way to improve our micros is through eating low carb fresh vegetables, especially when we can get them fresh, in season.
Cabbage is one of the best. One cup of cabbage has 85% of the RDI for Vitamin K and 54% of the RDI for Vitamin C (RDI means Reference Daily Intake). One cup of cabbage also has some folate, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. Potassium and magnesium are two important electrolytes that are rapidly lost in the process of ketosis.
Cabbage is also rich in polyphenols, antioxidants that can help prevent heart disease and certain cancers. These polyphenols are anti-inflammatory, important for many people eating the keto way. Red cabbage in particular is high in flavinoids which help protect against heart disease.
Cabbage supplies abundant fiber which can help significantly in reducing constipation, a problem for many on keto. A significant part of this fiber is soluble fiber which is beneficial in the gut for desirable bacteria which help supply us with vitamins.
Bell peppers are rich in Vitamin C with 169% of the RDI in a single average pepper. Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron, particularly important for women. Bell peppers are also high in Vitamin B6, needed for the formation of blood cells and prevention of anemia and Vitamin K needed for blood clotting and bone health.
Additionally bell peppers supply potassium. Vitamins E and A plus five different anti-oxidants including caretenoids such as lutein, which may help in promoting eye health and querecitin which helps in the prevention of heart disease and cancer. While the bright colored peppers are a bit higher in carbs, they have larger amounts of caretendoids than green peppers.
Likewise, merely three of the small sweet mini peppers are a major source of Vitamins C and A, and thus a great addition to a breakfast every morning.
Tomatoes are 95% water. Water is much needed on the keto diet. One medium tomato supplies 28% of the RDI for Vitamin C, as well as containing potassium, folate, and Vitamin K.
Cucumbers are 98% water and are most nutritious if from a source where you can eat them unpeeled. Combined with tomatoes and olive oil, they are a popular summer salad across Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Mediterranean world, as far east as the Caucuses. To enhance them for the keto diet, and to make this salad mouth wateringly delicious, add ingredients such as cheese and bacon.
Radishes have excellent anti-fungal properties as well as fiber and Vitamin C. Despite being root vegetables, they are low carb, and a valuable ingredient on the keto diet. They can be made into a salad along the lines of the ultra-high carb potato salad, and can be cooked in a variety of ways as well.
Minding your micros, through eating fresh vegetables, will pay off health-wise in the long run, and is a delicious way to eat keto.