Keto Nuts: A Guide to the Best Nuts for a Keto Diet

By Thomas Wrona Updated on

Table of Contents

On keto, nuts can provide healthy fats, protein, and important vitamins and minerals. Yet some nuts are also high in carbohydrates. So, choosing the best nuts for a keto diet can be tricky. 

In this article, we’ll explore the best keto friendly nuts, while highlighting the nuts that aren’t so keto friendly, and others you’ll want to avoid. 

How to Find the Best Nuts for Keto Diet

Virtually all types of nuts contain vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Studies show that eating nuts may reduce risk factors associated with heart disease. [1]

However, there are two factors to consider when finding the best nuts for a keto diet:

  • The ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fats
  • The total (net) carbs

A diet high in Omega-6’s compared to Omega-3’s can increase inflammation. While some nuts are just too high in carbs to be practical on a keto diet. 

Omega-3 to Omega 6 Ratio

While nuts contain healthy fats, they can also contain questionable fats. Some nuts are so high in inflammatory omega-6 PUFA’s that they shouldn’t be eaten too often. 

Numerous studies show that humans evolved eating an Omega 3 to 6 ratio of 1:1. Unsurprisingly, this ratio is deal for metabolic health. [21]

Yet our Standard American Diet is drenched in Omega-6 vegetable and nut oils, bringing up our average ratio to 1:16!

Since keto diets take their cues from ancestral ways of eating, it makes sense to limit Omega 6’s as much as possible. Limiting Omega-6 foods may be important to reduce the risk of inflammatory disease. 

The chart below illustrates the Omega-3 and 6 content of various nuts. As you can see eating nuts means eating more Omega-6 fatty acids, no matter which variety you chose. 

NutFats (g)Omega 3 (g)Omega 6 (g)Omega 3:6 ratio

(closer to 1 the better)

Ratio*1000
Hemp Hearts/Seeds62.71133.33333.3
Macadamia nut1000.261.720.1512151.2
Walnut73.72.5141.30.060860.8
Pecans78.51.0822.4870.048048.0
Pistachio nuts54.70.31216.230.019219.2
Hazelnut69.90.190.011111.1
Cashew59.5680.0843210.58080.00808.0
Pine nuts92.30.1545.370.00333.3
Brazil nut88.40.0227.40.00070.7
Almonds73.40.0117.50.00060.6
Peanuts72.50.0122.90.00040.4

Carbs in Keto Nuts

The ketogenic diet is high-fat, low-carb, and moderate protein. Though most nuts are high in fat and moderate protein, some are also high in carbs, making them unsuitable for a keto diet.

The three lowest-carb nuts of all are (per 100g, 3.5oz): 

  • Pecans- 4 grams  
  • Brazil nuts- 4 grams
  • Macadamias- 5 grams

Make these your first choices when following a low-carb diet

Nuts that are much higher in carbs include (per 100g, 3.5oz): 

  • Pistachios- 15 grams
  • Cashews- 22 grams

Low-to-moderate-carb nuts include (per 100g, 3.5oz): 

  • Hazelnuts- 7 grams
  • Walnuts-  7 grams
  • Peanuts- 8 grams  

8 Keto-Friendly nuts 

Here’s our list of the best low-carb nuts for a keto diet, ranked according to their carbohydrate content. 

NutCarbohydrate per 100gAmount of nuts per 100g
Pecan4 grams65 nuts
Brazil nut4 grams20 nuts
Macadamia nut5 grams40 nuts
Hazelnut7 grams70 nuts
Walnut7 grams50 halves
Almond9 grams80 nuts
Hemp Hearts9 grams5/8 cup
Pistachio28 grams160 nuts

1. Pecans

Pecans are a type of tree nut that grows throughout the Southern US and Mexico. In addition to their rich and buttery flavor, pecans they’re loaded with healthy fats, and have a moderate omega 3:6 imbalance when compared to other nuts! This makes pecans on keto a great choice. 

A highlight of pecans is their high copper content. Your body uses this crucial nutrient to make red blood cells, maintain nerve cell health, support your immune system, turn carbohydrates into energy, protect against cellular damage, form collagen, and allow your body to absorb iron. 3

You can see the full abundance of nutrients in Pecans below:

MacronutrientsPer 1 Cup (128 grams) % Daily Value
Calories922.9N/A 
Fat92.2 gN/A on keto
Net carbs5.1 gN/A on keto
Protein 11.5 gN/A on keto
VITAMINS
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1.5mg9%
Choline 52mg9%
Vitamin E1.8mg12%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.1mg13%
Vitamin B6 0.3mg20%
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)1.2mg22%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) 0.9mg.9mg70%
MINERALS
Potassium525mg14%
Iron3.2mg18%
Phosphorus355mg36%
Magnesium155mg37%
Zinc5.8mg41%
Copper1.5mg170%
Manganese5.8mg251%


Pecans are low enough in carbs (and high enough in fat) that they may help your body become more insulin sensitive. Making them a great addition to an
insulin resistance diet.

A month-long study of 26 people found that those who ate 1.5 ounces of pecans per day had higher insulin sensitivity and lower serum insulin than those who did not. When insulin is low, it’s easier to burn fat for fuel and lose weight. [3]

Another 2018 study found pecans to offer numerous cardioprotective benefits.4

Pecans are also versatile. While they’re a delicious snack all by themselves, they can be used to crust seafood or chicken–boosting fat ratios of these lean meats to keto levels. 

And don’t forget about the possibility of keto-friendly pecan pie. 

2. Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts are a tree nut that grows in South America. (In Brazil, they’re simply called ‘nuts.’) One ounce of Brazil nuts contains: [4]

Calories185
Protein4 grams
Fat19 grams
Total carbs3 grams
Fiber2 grams
Net carbs1 gram

Brazil nuts stand apart from other nuts for one thing: their selenium content. Just one Brazil nut contains over 100% of your RDV for selenium.  

This trace mineral is needed for many physiological functions, notably the proper function of the thyroid. Selenium may also enhance natural fertility. [5]

The Brazil nut’s selenium content also means you shouldn’t eat them too often. Having more than three ounces of Brazil nuts a day, or more than 20 at one time, could lead to selenium toxicity.

3. Macadamia nuts

Are macadamia nuts keto? Clocking in at just 5 grams of carbs per hundred grams, you bet they are. 

Macadamia nuts are tropical nuts that originated in Australia. Though many of the macadamia’s sold in stores today are grown in Hawaii. Macadamia nuts are ultra-rich in fat, making them a great inclusion to your keto diet. 

An ounce of macadamia nuts contains: [6]

Calories204
Protein2 grams
Fat21 grams
Total carbs4 grams
Fiber2 grams
Net carbs2 gram

Just as important as the macadamia nut’s quantity of fat is its quality. Unlike nearly all other nuts, macadamia’s fat is mostly saturated and contains hardly any PUFA’s. 

The saturated fat in macadamia nuts means that it is molecularly stable, unlike unsaturated fat that can become oxidized and inflammatory

Studies have shown that macadamia nuts can improve cholesterol levels. One 4-week study found that men who got 15% of their calories from macadamia nuts had a 5% reduction in ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and an 8% increase in ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. [7][8]

In addition to being a delicious snack all by themselves, macadamia nuts can be made into a flour that’s perfect for low-carb high-fat baking. 

4.Walnuts

Walnuts are a popular tree nut that grows throughout the US and many other parts of the world. Different walnuts species have different nutritional profiles, but nearly all of them are impressively nutritious. 

An ounce of walnuts contains: [9]

Calories185
Protein4 grams
Fat18 grams
Total carbs4 grams
Fiber2 grams
Net carbs2 gram

Walnuts are high in fat, low in carbs, and completely keto friendly. Just like macadamia nuts, walnuts have the powerful ability to simultaneously lower ‘bad’ cholesterol while raising ‘good’ cholesterol. 

One six-month study found that people who got 15% of their calories from walnuts had reduced LDL cholesterol levels and healthier blood pressure. [10]

Interestingly, walnuts share the like-supports-like concept seen with organ meats.  Walnuts look somewhat like the human brain — and the DHA they contain means they do indeed bolster the brain and improve neuroplasticity.  

While delicious all on their own, walnuts can give a boost to keto chocolate and fudge. 

5. Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts are the shelled fruit of the hazelnut tree. Renowned for their smooth texture and buttery flavor, hazelnuts can satisfy your food cravings while going easy on your carb count. 

An ounce of hazelnuts contains: [11]

Calories178
Protein4 grams
Fat17 grams
Total carbs5 grams
Fiber3 grams
Net carbs2 gram

Hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E and other antioxidants. Their vitamin E content may improve heart health and ward off aging. It may also help optimize cholesterol levels. [12]

A 2010 study found that eating an ounce of hazelnuts per day increased (good) HDL cholesterol while reducing total serum cholesterol levels. [13]

6. Almonds

Are almonds keto? They are, indeed. An ounce of almonds contains just five grams of carbs: [14]

Calories165
Protein6 grams
Fat14 grams
Total carbs5 grams
Fiber3 grams
Net carbs2 gram

Almonds are higher in protein than most other tree nuts. They’re also a great source of antioxidants, including vitamin E and anthocyanidins, that help protect their fat content from becoming oxidized. [15

Almond intake has been correlated with reduced risks of both heart and cognitive diseases. [16]

On the practical side, almonds are extremely versatile. They can be enjoyed via almond butter, almond milk, or almond-flour-based baked goods. 

7. Hemp Hearts

Hemp hearts are the mature seeds of the hemp (cannabis Sativa) plant. They’re rich in protein and, unlike most nuts, have a near-optimal omega 3:6 ratio. An ounce of hemp hearts contains: [17]

Calories155
Protein9 grams
Fat14 grams
Total carbs2 grams
Fiber1 gram
Net carbs1 gram

Hemp hearts also stand apart from the rest because of their protein content; unlike other nuts, they contain all 9 essential amino acids. Studies show that this complete protein may result in normalized blood pressure. [18]

Hemp hearts have a pleasantly crunchy texture that makes them perfect for topping salads or other dishes. They can also be used to thicken up smoothies.

8. Pistachios

Are pistachios keto? While they’re higher in carbs than the other nuts on our list, they can still be a guilt-free part of your keto diet. Just be sure to eat them in moderation — opting for the non-shelled variety of pistachios should help with this. 

Calories159
Protein6 grams
Fat13 grams
Total carbs8 grams
Fiber3 grams
Net carbs5 grams

Pistachios are a great source of vitamin B6, a fat-metabolizing B vitamin that keeps cells energized. [19] They’re also a decent source of magnesium, a vital electrolyte that keeps cells relaxed. [20

What about Peanuts? 

Though technically a legume, peanuts are the most popular “nut” out there. Delicious and satiating, and relatively low in carbs, they’re also high in Omega-6’s. 

Enjoying peanuts in moderation will help keep diet-related inflammation in check.

Peanuts also contain a perplexing blend of both beneficial and unhealthy compounds. These include:

  • Phytic acid:  Found in many nuts, seeds, and grains, phytic acid binds to iron and zinc limiting their absorption, which may lead to deficiencies.5
  • Phytosterols: Found in high amounts in peanuts, phytosterols impair your body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from your digestive tract. 6 7
  • p-Coumaric acid: A polyphenol and antioxidant in peanuts. 8
  • Resveratrol: Another powerful antioxidant, studies show that resveratrol may reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease. 9
  • Isoflavones: Another type of antioxidant polyphenol associated with various health benefits. 10

One ounce of peanuts contains:

Calories164
Protein7 grams
Fat14 grams
Total carbs6 grams
Fiber2 grams
Net carbs4 grams

Nut to Avoid: Cashews 

With their slightly sweet taste, cashews are one of the highest-carb nuts out there. They’re also one of the easiest nuts to overeat. Besides that, non-organic cashews may have mold and/or mycotoxin problems. 

Roasted and Spiced nuts

Roasted and spiced nuts may be tasty, but they’re usually coated in sugar, rendering them not keto-friendly. 

Look out for labels like ‘salted caramel,’ ‘honey roasted,’ et cetera. Be sure to read a product’s label to make sure it has no added sugar. Hidden sugars make it nearly impossible to kick your carb addiction

How to Avoid Overdoing the Nuts on Keto

Nuts are so tasty that they can be easy to overeat, especially salted varieties. [22] Hyperpalatable foods like nuts can drive your body to consume more calories than it actually needs. 

And they’re also extremely high in fiber, which, despite popular belief, can cause more harm than good.  You can learn more about the fiber myth here

To keep your nut consumption under control,  practice mindful eating. Some strategies to consider can look like:

  • Select the amount of nuts you’re going to eat beforehand
  • Place the amount of nuts you’re going to eat in a small bowl
  • Avoid mindless eating while watching TV, movies, or videos
  • If your weight loss is slowing, stick with the lowest-carb nuts

Keto Nuts: The Takeaway

All in all, nuts can be a great inclusion to the keto diet. Here are the top 8 keto nuts you can enjoy to your heart’s content:

  • Pecan
  • Brazil nut
  • Macadamia nut
  • Hazelnut
  • Walnut
  • Almond
  • Hemp hearts
  • Pistachio

And here are three types of nuts to avoid:

  • Peanuts
  • Cashews
  • Roasted/spiced nuts

When enjoyed in moderation, nuts are generally nutritious and satiating. But in excess they can provide an overabundance of fiber, and some varieties are surprisingly high in carbs.

©2020 Doctor ROBERT KILTZ. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED