Whether you’re following a keto or paleo diet, or simply looking to incorporate nutrient-dense and healthy fat whole-food snacks into your diet, nuts can be a great option. Nuts are packed with important vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Almonds, for example, contain vitamin E and riboflavin, while walnuts are high in B vitamins (namely thiamin and folate), and pecans contain monounsaturated fats such as oleic acid along with phenolic antioxidants which help reduce the risk of heart disease. Nuts are loaded with polyunsaturated fats, and some even contain significant amounts of protein.
If you want to know a bit more about how to incorporate nuts into a healthy keto diet, there are definitely some key details to be aware of. It’s worth noting that there is a wide range of fat and carb content across the different nut varieties; depending on your goals, some nuts may be better avoided in favor of others. Below, we break down the best (and worst) nuts in terms of health benefits and fat:carb ratios.
Here’s a breakdown of the fat and net carb amounts per one ounce serving (one ounce of nuts is usually about the size of a golf ball, or the middle of your palm).
- Pecans: 1.1 grams carbs, 20 grams fat
- Pili nuts: 1 gram carbs, 24 grams fat
- Brazil nuts: 1.3 grams carbs, 19 grams fat
- Macadamia nuts: 1.5 grams carbs, 25 grams fat
- Walnuts: 1.9 grams fat, 18.5 grams fat
- Coconut: 2 grams carbs, 9.5 grams fat
- Hazelnuts: 2.3 grams carbs, 17 grams fat
- Pine nuts: 2.7 grams carbs, 17 grams fat
- Almonds: 2.9 grams carbs, 14 grams fat
- Peanuts: 3.8 grams carbs, 14 grams fat
- Pistachios: 5.8 grams carbs, 7 grams fat
- Cashews: 8.4 grams carbs, 13.5 grams fat
- Chestnuts: 15 grams carbs, 0.5 grams fat
Reminder: If you’re looking up the macronutrients of some of your favorite nuts and find yourself getting confused, remember that net carbs are the most important number to consider when tracking for your ketogenic diet, as they are the only carbs actually being absorbed by the body. To calculate net carbs, subtract fiber from total carbs.
Pecans are one of our favorite choices: they are a rich source of energy and minerals, antioxidants, and essential vitamins. Pecans are high in filling fiber and magnesium (which is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits) as well as zinc, vitamin E, vitamin A, folate, and phosphorus, which all play interconnected roles in keeping our bodies functioning optimally.
They’re also one of the tastiest, with a naturally sweet and caramel-like flavor that make them perfect additions to keto desserts and other treats.
If you’re a fan of pecans like us, you’re in luck – Heka Good Foods just dropped its latest flavor, Maple Pecan! Check it out and order yours here.
Why nuts could work for you:
- They’re convenient and easy to eat on the go and while traveling
- Some nuts are very high in fat and low in carbs per serving: reach for pecans, macadamia, pili nuts, and Brazil nuts first
- Most nuts are high-calorie and nutrient dense, so you’re getting a good “bang for your buck” even in small amounts
- They can be anti-inflammatory; nuts are loaded with fatty acids, nutrients, and antioxidants which can help reduce inflammation in your body
Why nuts may not work for you:
- Some nuts are surprisingly high in carbs: watch out for cashews, pistachios, and chestnuts especially. Chestnuts, for example, have more than 12 grams of carbs per one-ounce serving!
- Some nuts contain anti-nutrients like phytic acid, a compound that can prevent your body’s ability to absorb vitamins like calcium, zinc, and iron
- Some people have a hard time digesting nuts (you’ll know whether you’re digesting them if you can recognize them on the other end of your digestive process when you go to the bathroom!) For this reason, it may be crucial to only consume nuts that are roasted, soaked, and sprouted.
BONUS: Seeds can be a good addition to your diet, too!
If you tolerate them, seeds can also be a great way to add fat, vitamins, and digestion-supporting fiber to your diet. Here are some of our faves:
- One ounce of flaxseeds contains 5.2 grams of protein, 11.8 grams of fat, and 0.6 grams of net carbs
- High in omega-3s and antioxidants and a fiber-associated polyphenols called lignans that may be protective against cancer and other chronic diseases
- They are an excellent source of manganese,folate, vitamin B6 and minerals magnesium, phosphorus, and copper
- Most nutrition experts recommend ground over whole flaxseed because the ground form is easier to digest; it’s often used to improve digestion and relieve constipation
- One ounce of flaxseeds contains 6 grams of protein, 15 grams of fat, and 3.3 grams of net carbs
- They are full of vitamin E, phenolic acid, and flavonoids which are naturally anti-inflammatory, as well as B vitamins and other trace minerals
- Sunflower seeds also contain artery-protective monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids
- A good source of zinc, regular incorporation of sunflower seeds in your diet can have a positive effect on your immune function
- One ounce of chia seeds contains about 4.7 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, and 2 grams of net carbs
- A good source of fat as well as iron, calcium, phosphorous, and zinc
- They are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids
- Chia seeds are also used to aid in digestive motility and ease constipation
- One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 5 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, and 10 grams of net carbs
- While they are higher in carbs, they are also a high in iron, phosphorous, zinc, and magnesium, they are also a source of protein and amino acids alanin, glycine, and glutamic acid
- Since they are a good source of fiber, antioxidants, and fatty acids, they can help reduce inflammation and regulate blood sugar
- Nuts and seeds can be a convenient, tasty, and high-fat addition to your ketogenic diet, if you choose the right nuts and eat them in moderation
- The best options to support a ketogenic diet are pecans, pili nuts, Brazil nuts, and macadamia nuts
- Peanuts, pistachios, cashews, and chestnuts have a higher carb content and should be limited if you’re looking to minimize carb intake
- Portion size is important – one ounce is a standard portion size for nuts, which usually doesn’t even fill the size of your palm. They’re tasty and easy to overeat, so weighing them out ahead of time is a smart plan!
- If you want to indulge in nut butter occasionally, make sure you source sugar-free options with no additional ingredients (except maybe salt)
- If you notice any irritation or negative changes in your digestion, consider removing them from your diet entirely
By Ashleigh VanHouten