4 of the Best Nuts to Eat on a Low-Carb Diet

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.

With 2.7 grams of net carbs per ounce, you can't go wrong with including almonds on your low-carb diet. Credit: StephanieFrey/iStock/GettyImages

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.

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 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

  • Walnuts: 3.8 grams of total carbs/1.9 grams of net carbs

  • Pistachio nuts: 7.7 grams of total carbs/4.7 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 overweight and obese adults. 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 overweight and obese women 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.

references
Load Comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.