Can I eat nuts and seeds on keto?
Yes, you can!
All nuts and seeds are not created equal.
Some fit better into your keto lifestyle than others. Scroll down to see our list of best to worse nuts and seeds for keto.
They generally are healthy, and nutritionally dense, and have a low to medium glycaemic index. They are also naturally gluten-free.
So yes, they are kind of perfect!
And, most importantly, many nuts and seeds are low in carbohydrates, high in healthy fats and have moderate levels of protein.
Yes, there are many types of nuts and seeds, but based on their macros and nutritional profile these are the best ones to add to your keto diet:
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Best Nuts for Keto
Nuts are very nutritious and are packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals.
For the main vitamins and minerals present in various nuts, check out this resource from the USDA Agricultural Research Service.
We sourced all the macros from MyFitnessPal and USDA FoodData Central database.
Now, let’s focus on which nuts are the best for ketoers. We list our favorites here from best to worst.
1 – Pecans
Pecans are tree nuts with a sweeter and buttery taste, and aroma that’s both floral and foresty.
Macros per ounce (15 to 19 medium halves)
They contain vitamin E and various minerals.
These are the nuts with the lowest net carbs of all nuts.
This is why I usually use pecans, rather than walnuts when I make my favorite caramel coated nuts. The caramel coated nut recipe is half way down the page.
2 – Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts come from trees that are native to Peru, Brazil, and Bolivia, and have a rich, nutty flavor, with a smooth and buttery texture.
Macros per ounce (6 to 8 medium nuts)
They are rich in selenium. In fact, one nut supplies the daily recommended amount.
They are best eaten as snacks in moderation as eating too many on a regular basis may result in consuming too much selenium.
3 – Macadamias
These round nuts native to Australia have a subtle sweetness with a buttery flavor and creamy texture.
Macros per ounce (9 to 12 kernels)
They are a good source of magnesium, which is one mineral most ketoers generally need more of.
They are the nuts with the highest fat level.
4 – Hazelnuts
Hazelnuts, of filberts as they are also known, have a distinct nutty and toasted taste, with a hint of earthy flavors.
Macros per ounce (19 to 21 kernels)
Another good source of vitamin E as well as copper and magnesium.
Hazelnuts must be best known for their use in chocolate and Nutella. You can even make your own sugar-free low carb Nutella alternative.
5 – Walnuts
Walnuts is a popular tree nut that is grown worldwide.
Macros per ounce (14 medium sized halves)
They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are great for snacking and in low carb desserts.
6 – Almonds
Almonds are known for their nutty and woody taste, with an originally bitter flavor. Domesticated ones, however, have a sweeter flavor.
Macros per ounce (23 to 25 kernels)
There are another good source of vitamin E as well as calcium and magnesium.
It is the most versatile of the nuts and its milk is popular with vegans. Many low carb breads and cakes are made with almond flour.
Personally, I always have a tub of nut butter like this one below in the fridge for when I am really hungry or need a quick snack.
7 – Pine Nuts
Pine nuts have a unique earthy flavor. They are cultivated in the USA, Europe, and Asia. Technically they are the seeds of the pine tree.
But as we tend to eat them the same way we eat nuts, lets for the sake of this discussion assume they are nuts.
There are another good source of vitamin E as well as calcium and magnesium.
They are the most expensive of all the nuts discussed here.
You can enjoy them a snack or added to salads for very amazing flavor. They are probably best known as an important ingredient in pesto.
If you are missing some of your favorite nuts, then scroll down, they may be on our avoid list.
Best Seeds for Keto
Here they are, from best to worst.
1 – Flax Seeds
Flax seeds have a mild and nutty taste with an earthy flavor.
They contain omega-3 fatty acids and are high in fiber.
A note of caution. If you count total carbs, then know that their total carbs are 8.2 gram per 1 ounce serving. Their fiber content is high at 7.8 gram per ounce.
This is by far the seed with the lowest amount of net carbs.
You can sprinkle them over salads but to get the most out of them, you’ll want to ground them up. Add the ground seeds to soups, smoothies and into baked goods.
2 – Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds may have a controversial reputation because they come from the Cannabis sativa plant. However, the Cannabis plant comes in different varieties and the hemp plant, which is where hemp seeds come from, only contains negligible trace amounts of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
These small, greenish-brown seeds have a pleasant, nutty taste, with a flavor that’s like a combination of sunflower seeds and pine nuts.
They’re rich in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, phytosterols, potassium, zinc, B vitamins, and vitamin E.
They are high in essential fatty acids and magnesium.
3 – Chia
Chia seeds are small, fine black seeds with a very mild, and slightly nutty flavor.
They’re high in fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids.
Like with flax seeds, chia seeds have high total carbs. The total carbs are 11.9 gram per 1 ounce serving. 9.5 gram of that is fiber.
If you are looking to increase your fiber intake, then indulge in a great keto-friendly chia pudding or breakfast.
4 – Sesame Seeds
These tiny white seeds you often see on top of burger buns are sweet and nutty, and when roasted, will taste like almonds.
They are a good source of calcium and magnesium.
When compared to other seeds, their carb count is on higher side. So, stick to using them to add flavor to your favorite low carb bread and bread rolls.
5 – Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds have a mild, nutty taste. More than half of the sunflower production is from Ukraine and Russia.
For a detailed discussion about sunflower seeds, visit – Are Sunflower Seeds Keto.
6 – Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds also known as pepitas have a mild nutty taste.
They are a good source of iron and magnesium.
They are great as snacks and on baked goods.
Nuts and Seeds to Avoid
The two worst nuts are cashews with 8.3 grams of net carbs per ounce and pistachios with 4.9 grams of net carbs per ounce.
Purely from a macro point of view, most seeds are okay if you manage your portion size.
What About Peanuts?
We are not discussing peanuts here because peanuts are legumes, not nuts.
If you only look at net carbs, peanuts have roughly the same amount of net carbs as almonds.
So, in moderation they should be okay.
More About Nuts and Seeds
They make for a handy snack, are great to add crunch to many dishes and when processed they can be used in many other ways.
So, let’s consider why to eat them, what to look for when you buy them, the best way to eat them and ideas for enriching your keto menu with nut and seed products.
Why Eat Nuts and Seeds
What to Look for when Buying Nuts and Seeds
The Best Way to Eat Them
The easiest is to eat nuts raw or roasted but to get the maximum nutrition out of your nuts and seeds it is best to activate or sprout them.
We discuss the how and why here in this article about whether sunflower seeds are keto.
If you like your nuts roasted, you probably want to roast them yourself. You can fry them in a pan or slow roast them in your oven. Neither method requires any oil.
As a general rule stay away from nut and seed oils. One of the few exceptions is this keto-friendly high-oleic sunflower oil.
Enriching Your Keto Menus with Nut and Seed Products
If you are a seasoned ketoer, you probably don’t snack much.
So you may not want to snack on nuts but they can still add flavor and spunk to your keto meals.
Use them to add crunch. Add nuts and or seeds to your salads and vegetable dishes.
Make trail mixes, breakfast bars, and even low carb muesli.
Crush them fine and add them to low carb breading mixes for fish, chicken, or meat dishes.
Ground them up and use them as a crust for low carb pies and keto-friendly cheesecakes.
Use nut and seed flours to create delicious low carb cakes, pastries and other treats. (Almond flour is the most popular flour, but by no means the only flour that you can use.)
Use seeds to make low carb breads and rusks.
Nut milk is a good replacement for non-dairy keto recipes.
Enjoy nut butters as a better alternative to peanut butter.
So, when you are on a keto diet, the versatility of nuts and seeds will help you create keto-friendly alternatives to foods that are naturally high in carbohydrates.
Just keep in mind the more processed your nuts and seeds are the more calorie dense they become. So, you’ll want to limit your consumption of nut butters and flours.
If weight loss is your goal, and you your weight loss has stalled, maybe you are eating more nut products than you should. Re-evaluate your macros and your calorie intake.
Many nuts and seeds are keto-friendly. But not all!
Stick to the low carb ones and stay away from the high carb nuts like cashews and pistachios.
Nuts especially are nutritionally dense, so always keep portion sizes in mind.
Be careful of nut and seed butters, flours and milks as the portion size have more calories than you may anticipate, and you may end up eating too much.
So, add nuts to your meals for extra flavor, but when it comes to snacking on nuts, follow the golden rule. – Only eat when you are hungry. Don’t snack for the sake of snacking.
Keto Stamp of Approval?
The 13 nuts and seeds discussed above are all keto approved when eaten in moderation.