With their rich flavor and crunchy texture, nuts make a perfect snack between meals. They not only taste delicious but also pack large doses of omega-3s, fiber, protein and antioxidants. Fat accounts for at least 80 percent of their content, according to Mayo Clinic, which means the amount of carbs in almonds, walnuts, pistachios and other nuts is low by comparison and can easily fit most low-carb diet plans.
Nuts and Weight Loss
When most people hear about low-carb diet foods, they think of leafy greens, avocado, fish, meat and sugar-free chocolate or other snacks. Nuts are often overlooked because of their high calorie content. While it's true that nuts are nutrient-dense, they fit perfectly into ketogenic and low-carb diets. Brazil nuts, for example, have only 3.5 grams of carbs per serving, including 2.1 grams of fiber.
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Rich in protein, fiber and good fats, nuts fill you up quickly, suppress appetite and prevent blood sugar spikes. A 2014 review published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that these foods, especially peanuts and almonds, may reduce the desire to eat, curb hunger and promote fullness. According to researchers, nuts may also have a mild thermogenic effect and raise metabolic rate. Furthermore, they aid in weight maintenance and provide valuable nutrients.
Read more: Are Nuts Good for Losing Weight?
Nuts also improve glycemic control and help keep your blood sugar levels even. A 2014 clinical trial featured in The Review of Diabetic Studies found that pistachios may lower blood pressure and blood glucose levels, reduce inflammation and prevent the development of obesity in people with diabetes. Blood sugar fluctuations are often the culprit behind overeating. Therefore, eating nuts as a snack can make dieting easier and bring you closer to your weight-loss goals.
Best Low-Carb Nuts
From cashews and walnuts to hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, chestnuts and pecans, there are quite a few options available. If you're on a low-carb diet, you may wonder which of these foods work best for fat loss. Pecans, for instance, have only 1.3 grams of net carbs per ounce; the same amount of raw peanuts provides 2.1 grams of net carbs. You can determine the number of net carbs by checking food labels and subtracting fiber from total carbs.
At first sight, there's not a big difference between the carbs in peanuts and those in pecans or other nuts. However, every gram of carbs matters when you're on a strict keto diet plan. After all, the last thing you want is to be thrown out of ketosis and have to start over.
Let's take a closer look at the number of carbs in 1 ounce of nuts:
- Almonds: 6.1 grams of total carbs/2.7 grams of net carbs
- Peanuts: 4.5 grams of total carbs/2.1 grams of net carbs
- Brazil nuts: 3.4 grams of total carbs/1.3 grams of net carbs
- Pecans: 3.9
grams of total carbs/1.2 grams of net carbs
Some nuts are lower in carbohydrates than others. Keep in mind, though, that food manufacturers may add sugar, sweeteners and artificial flavors to these snacks, which increases their carb content. Glazed peanuts, for example, boast 14 grams of carbs per ounce. Chocolate, honey, maple syrup and other flavorings can turn the healthiest keto nuts into a diet disaster. Stick with plain raw or roasted nuts to limit any unnecessary carbs.
Read more: 9 Healthy Nuts That May Help You Live Longer
Snack on Brazil Nuts
These low-carb diet foods are packed with vitamin E, vitamin C, thiamin, folate, potassium, calcium, copper, iron and protein. They're also the best natural source of selenium, a mineral that supports your immune system and contributes to the production of hormones and enzymes. Studies suggest that Brazil nuts may protect against prostate cancer, improve thyroid hormone levels and reduce the need for medications in dialysis patients.
According to the American Heart Association, swapping processed snacks for Brazil nuts may help prevent weight gain and boost cardiovascular health. Scientists have found that eating a 1-ounce serving of nuts can significantly reduce the risk of obesity. These foods keep you full longer and curb hunger without increasing blood sugar or insulin levels. Additionally, the selenium in Brazil nuts improves insulin response and enhances your body's ability to use glucose for energy.
Enjoy these nuts as a snack between meals, add them to granola and homemade trail mixes or sprinkle them over your daily meals. You can even make healthy nut butter and use it as a substitute for breakfast spreads, cake fillings and dips.
Add Pecans to Your Diet
Pecans are chock-full of protein, fiber, thiamin, vitamin E, potassium, manganese, zinc, copper and magnesium. These low-carb nuts also boast large doses of beta-carotene and ellagic acid, two potent antioxidants that scavenge free radicals and protect against DNA damage.
A 2018 randomized clinical trial published in the journal Nutrients suggests that pecan nuts may help reduce heart disease rates in adults with overweight and obesity. Researchers have linked these low-carb diet foods to a lower risk of hypercholesterolemia, metabolic syndrome, mortality from Type 2 diabetes and premature death. Subjects who consumed pecans daily for four weeks experienced greater improvements in beta cell function, insulin resistance and other cardiometabolic risk factors, compared to those following a typical American diet.
Scientists believe that pecan nuts promote cardiovascular health due to their high fat content. These foods are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, leading to a reduction in cholesterol levels and inflammatory markers. They also contain large amounts of fiber and may improve insulin response.
Read more: 18 Fat-Rich Foods That Are Good for You
Eat Pistachios Between Meals
With only 4.3 grams of net carbs per ounce, pistachios are a healthy addition to ketogenic diets. Rich in potassium, magnesium, fiber and B-complex vitamins, these low-carb nuts keep your body functioning optimally. As Nutrition Today points out, protein accounts for about 21 percent of their content. High-protein diets have been linked to a lower risk of metabolic syndrome and greater weight loss than standard-protein diets.
These keto nuts are packed with lutein, zeaxanthin, phenolic compounds and other antioxidants that fight free-radical damage. They may also reduce bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol levels due to their high content of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. A 2014 study featured in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that pistachios may lower blood sugar after a meal and improve insulin response, making them ideal for people with diabetes.
Curb Hunger With Almonds
With 2.7 grams of net carbs per ounce, almonds are among the best keto nuts out there. These foods have been extensively studied for their beneficial effects for heart function, insulin levels, body weight and overall health. The carbs in almonds are mostly fiber, leading to better digestion, lower blood sugar levels and increased satiety.
A controlled clinical trial published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences in 2014 found that women living with overweight and obesity who ate 50 grams of almonds daily for three months lost more weight and experienced greater improvements in heart disease risk factors compared to the nut-free group. Other studies indicate that replacing processed snacks with almonds can improve diet quality.
These low-carb nuts go well in both sweet and salty dishes, from sugar-free pancakes and waffles to dips. Add them to vegetable salads, low-carb sweets, pesto, coleslaw and smoothies. Swap grain flour for almond flour to cut back on carbs and get more healthy fats in your diet. Make tarts, cakes, pizza dough, pies and other treats with almond meal to add a rich, crunchy texture and reduce your carb intake.
- Mayo Clinic: Nuts and Your Heart - Eating Nuts for Heart Health
- SELF Nutrition Data: Brazil Nuts
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: A Review of the Effects of Nuts on Appetite, Food Intake, Metabolism, and Body Weight
- The Review of Diabetic Studies: Effects of Pistachio Nut Supplementation on Blood Glucose in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes
- SELF Nutrition Data: Pecan Nuts
- SELF Nutrition Data: Raw Peanuts
- Atkins: What Are Net Carbs?
- My Fitness Pal: Charlesworth Nuts - Glazed Peanuts
- Nutrition and You: Brazil Nuts Nutrition Facts
- World Cancer Research Fund: Brazil Nuts – Here’s Something You May Not Know
- Aula Medica: Effect of Selenium Supplementation Via Brazil Nut (Bertholletia excelsa, HBK) on Thyroid Hormone Levels in Hemodialysis Patients
- American Heart Association: Nuts for Nuts? Daily Serving May Help Control Weight and Benefit Health
- Nutrition and You: Pecans Nutrition Facts
- Nutrients: A Pecan-Rich Diet Improves Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Adults
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Raw Pistachio Nuts
- NCBI: Nutrition Today: Pistachios for Health
- Karger: Obesity Facts: Effect of a High-Protein Diet Versus Standard-Protein Diet on Weight Loss and Biomarkers of Metabolic Syndrome
- European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Acute Effects of Pistachio Consumption on Glucose and Insulin, Satiety Hormones and Endothelial Function in the Metabolic Syndrome
- SELF Nutrition Data: Almonds
- Mayo Clinic: Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet
- NCBI: Journal of Research in Medical Sciences: The Effect of Almonds on Anthropometric Measurements and Lipid Profile in Overweight and Obese Females in a Weight Reduction Program
- Nutrition Journal: Replacing American Snacks With Tree Nuts Increases Consumption of Key Nutrients Among U.S. Children and Adults
- SELF Nutrition Data: Walnuts
- Nutrition Value: Raw Pistachio Nuts