Dietitians have weighed in on reasons why nuts could be the perfect low-carb snack. There’s a reason Regina George didn’t ask if nuts were a carb. Until the recent rise of low-carb-everything, no one worried about the carb content in these 10 healthy nuts. The keto craze has made people take a closer look at the carbs in practically every food on the planet – as such we’ve gained valuable insights into the do’s and don’t of carb-conscious eating. And here’s what we found on different nuts with amazing health benefits for your low-carb diet.
“Nuts are a great snack because they are packed with heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which help lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol,” says New York City-based dietitian Jill Keene. They’re also packed with the fill-you-up duo of protein and fibre, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to feel satisfied after noshing.
That fibre also means that most nuts have pretty few “net carbs” (grams of total carbs minus grams of fibre), so you can snack on all sorts of nuts without worrying about the carb load. Fun fact: according to ADSA, healthy nuts in your diet are good for your kidneys!
Whether you’re carb-conscious or just curious about the stats of your favourite mid-afternoon snack, here’s the lowdown on the 10 healthy low-carb nuts you can eat. Easily found at your nearest greengrocer.
1. Brazil Nuts
Don’t ignore these the next time you are at your local greengrocer or health store. Super low-carb Brazil nuts deserve a starring role in any healthy diet.
“They’re the richest dietary source of the mineral selenium, an antioxidant that plays an important role in protecting against cell damage, immune health, and metabolism,” says Keene. The antioxidant contained in Brazil nuts is good for boosting the immune system (strong body), preventing cardiovascular diseases (strong heart) and reducing the risk of certain cancers. Brazil nuts are also good for your thyroid, which secretes the hormones T3 and T4 that are essential for the body’s metabolic function.
Per 28g serving (1 ounce): 185 calories, 18.8 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 3.3 g carbs, 2.1 g fibre, (1.2 g net carbs), 0.7 g sugar, 0.8 mg sodium, 4 g protein
Take care and remember that everything is better enjoyed in moderation. Too much of this nutty goodness can lead to some serious health problems, one of which is selenium toxicity. A single Brazil nut contains your daily recommended selenium intake, so there’s really no need to go overboard.
Yes, pecans are good for more than slim shavings on a delectable slice of cheesecake. If you’re on a higher fat diet or are looking to incorporate more high-quality sources of healthy fat, pecans are among the highest-fat nuts. (They’re also one of the lowest in carbs.)
Per 28g serving: 196 calories, 20.4 g fat (1.8 g saturated), 3.9 g carbs, 2.7 g fibre, (1.2 g net carbs) 1.1 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 2.6 g protein
Pecans can be enjoyed raw, incorporated into baking or crushed into a healthy smoothie. They are full of many different minerals and nutrients and antioxidants, promoting bone strength while reducing the risk of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
3. Macadamia Nuts
The third-lowest-carb nut in the game, macadamia nuts are a favourite among keto dieters.
“Macadamia nuts are the most calorie-rich nuts because of their higher fat content,” says Keene. Made up of mostly of healthy monounsaturated fats (including a hard-to-find, brain-boosting fat called palmitoleic acid), macadamias boast a rich, buttery flavour.
Per 28g serving, roasted: 203 calories, 21.6 g fat (3.4 g saturated), 3.6 g carbs, 2.3 g fibre, (1.3 g net carbs), 1.2 g sugar, 100 mg sodium, 2.2 g protein
Fun fact: Peanuts are technically legumes. Another fun fact: They also happen to be the easiest low-carb snack to find. The peanut and raisin combo remains a national favourite, second only to biltong.
“Peanuts are a decent source of protein as well as heart-protective nutrients folate and niacin,” says Kimball. (They’re the highest-protein “nut” on this list, FYI.)
Per 28g serving, roasted: 170 calories, 14.9 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 4.3 g carbs, 2.7 g fibre, (1.6 g net carbs), 1.2 g sugar, 1.7 mg sodium, 8 g protein
Another low-carb option, walnuts are also a great source of plant-based omega-3 fats, says Molly Kimball, a registered dietitian and author of The Eat Fit Cookbook. They’re a must if you don’t eat fish on the reg.
Per 28g serving: 185 calories, 18.5 g fat (1.7 g saturated), 3.9 g carbs, 1.9 g fiber, (2 g net carbs), 0.7 g sugar, 0.6 mg sodium, 4.3 g protein.
One of the highest-fibre options in the bunch, hazelnuts are still pretty darn low in carbs – and an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin E. (A serving supplies nearly 30% of your daily needs.)
Per 28g serving: 176 calories, 17 g fat (1.3 g saturated), 4.7 g carbs, 2.7 g fibre, (2 g net carbs) 1.2 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 4.2 g protein
Almonds are a rich source of the mineral magnesium, which can help relax muscles and ease cramps (including, yes, period cramps), says dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, a registered dietician and author of the new The Better Period Food Solution.
Per 28g serving: 167 calories, 14.9 g fat (1.1 g saturated), 5.3 g carbs, 2.8 g fibre, (2.5 g net carbs), 1.3 g sugar, 5.4 mg sodium, 6.1 g protein
It is not unusual to find Almonds on anything form a breakfast cereal to a tuna salad, they offer unbeatable taste and are a great source of fibre.
8. Pine nuts
Ever wonder what makes pesto so creamy? Yep, pine nuts. (Okay, the Parmesan works hard, but these nuts work harder.) These often-overlooked nuts provide iron and potassium; totally deserve a spot in your healthy low-carb snacking rotation.
Per 28g serving: 190 calories, 19 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 4 g carbs, 1 g fibre, (3 g net carbs), 1 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 4 g protein
A little higher in the carb department than some other nuts, pistachios are still by no means a high-carb nut.
They’re also packed with potassium, an electrolyte involved in blood pressure regulation. “A 28 gram serving of pistachio kernels has 282 mg of potassium, which is about what you’d get in a small banana,” says Kimball.
Another bonus: Pistachios are higher in protein than most other nuts.
Per 28g serving, roasted: 160 calories, 12.8 g fat (1.6 g saturated), 7.9 g carbs, 2.9 g fibre, (4.7 g net carbs), 2.2 g sugar, 1.7 mg sodium, 5.9 g protein
Like peanuts, cashews are technically legumes. And though they contain 7.6 grams of net carbs per serving (is this why they’re so delicious?), they still totally fit into a healthy, low-carb lifestyle.
In addition to that creamy-good flavour, cashews also provide lots of zinc (more than any other nut) and iron, says Beckerman.
Per 28g serving: 164 calories, 13.5 g fat (2.4 g saturated), 8.5 g carbs, 0.9 g fibre, (7.6 g net carbs), 1.4 g sugar, 3.7 mg sodium, 4.8 g protein