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If you’re fed up with feeling overweight, out of shape and sluggish, you may be thinking about making some changes to your life. The ketogenic diet (keto for short) is an excellent way to recharge your metabolism and trim your waistline. There is even some evidence to suggest it may offer some protection against chronic diseases, like cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. To get started on the keto diet, you’ll drastically decrease your intake of carbs, while increasing your intake of healthy fats and proteins.
Many types of nuts are a great choice on the keto diet, as they are typically high in fats and proteins while staying low in carbs. However, you’ll need to evaluate the specific nutritional information for each nut, such as cashews, before deciding whether you can fit them into your keto diet plan. So, it is time to answer the question- are cashews keto?
The Answer to Are Cashews Keto?
In general, nuts are typically keto-friendly. However, you do need to be mindful of carbohydrates, as eating too many nuts can put you over your macro limits. As far as nuts are concerned, cashews have one of the highest carb counts. In addition, they have less fat than other nuts, like pecans. This means that if you eat too many of them, you might risk straying from your diet plan.
In order to decide if you can indulge in this delicious nut on your keto plan, you’ll also need to consider the other foods you plan to eat on any given day. You may need to cut back on your carb intake for other meals or snacks in order to safely eat a handful or two of cashews.
Cashews: Get the Essential Nutrition Facts
Before deciding for sure whether you can fit this delicious nut into your keto diet plan, you should review its nutritional profile. A one-ounce serving of cashews is about 18 whole cashews.
This amount has the following nutrients:
- 157 calories
- 56 grams (g) of carbohydrate
- 68 g of sugar
- 9 g of fiber
- 17 g of protein
- 43 g of total fat
- 21 g of saturated fat
- 75 g of monounsaturated fat
- 22 g of polyunsaturated fat
- 10 milligrams (mg) of calcium
- 89 mg of iron
- 83 mg of magnesium
- 168 mg of phosphorus
- 187 mg of potassium
- 3 mg of sodium
- 64 mg of zinc
In addition, cashews offer small amounts of vitamins C and B. A one-ounce serving provides seven micrograms (mcg) of folate. *Note that these nutrition facts apply only to the raw, unprocessed nuts.
These days, you can find products that use cashews as an alternative protein source. For example, your local supermarket may sell cashew milk, cashew nut butter, and perhaps even cashew cheese and sour cream. Always check the nutrition facts on these products before buying them, as other ingredients may have been added which will alter their nutritional profile.
How Many Cashews Can You Eat While on Keto?
The amount of cashews you can safely eat while on keto without messing up your macros depends on what else you plan to eat that day and how many carbs per day you’ve allotted yourself. However, for most people, it’s safe to assume that it’s best to only eat a few cashews.
In fact, some people who are following a keto diet will avoid cashews entirely, simply because it’s easier to stick to your macros when you choose nuts that are lower in carbs. If you still want cashews in your diet but want to keep them limited, they are a great nut to add to meals. Keep in mind that just one ounce of cashews contains nearly nine grams of carbohydrates.
Compare that to one-ounce servings of the following nuts:
- Almonds: 6.1 g
- Brazil nuts: 3.5 g
- Hazelnuts: 4.7 g
- Macadamia nuts: 3.9 g
- Peanuts: 4.6 g
- Pecans: 3.9 g
- Pine nuts: 3.7 g
- Pistachios: 8 g
- Walnuts: 3.9 g
Of all of these nuts, pistachios come closest to the carb count found in cashews. Alternatively, the best choices on a low-carb diet are Brazil nuts, pecans, pine nuts, macadamia nuts and walnuts. Even with these choices, however, you will still want to carefully limit the amount you consume. Measure your serving size in advance and resist the urge to go back for more.
Health Benefits of Cashews
Although cashews are higher in carbohydrates than most other nuts, they do offer a wealth of other health benefits. This is why you might consider making them part of your keto diet plan, even if doing so necessitates cutting back on your other carb sources on any given day.
Heart Health Benefits of Cashews
For starters, cashews are a heart-healthy food. Most of their fat content is comprised of unsaturated fatty acids (about 82%). Of this, about 66% is monounsaturated fats. It’s been scientifically demonstrated that the consumption of monounsaturated fats can lower triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a type of cholesterol associated with a higher risk of heart disease. These heart-healthy fats can also lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (another bad kind of cholesterol).
In fact, nuts like cashews are so beneficial for heart health that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took the uncommon step of approving a health claim for nut products. Nut manufacturers are legally allowed to state on their labels that consuming 1.5 ounces of nuts on a daily basis may help reduce heart disease, when eaten as part of a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat.
Weight Loss Benefits of Cashews
In addition to their heart health benefits, cashews and other nuts can help people maintain a trimmer waistline. There is some evidence to suggest that the consumption of nuts supports a higher resting metabolism. In other words, people will burn more calories while at rest.
Furthermore, other studies have demonstrated that people who do not regularly eat nuts tend to gain more weight over time than people who do. And in weight loss trials, diet plans that include the moderate consumption of nuts lead to more weight loss than those without nuts.
Antioxidant Benefits of Cashews
Another major health benefit of cashews is that they are high in antioxidants. To understand the importance of antioxidants, it’s necessary to know a bit about free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that have an odd number of electrons, meaning that not all their electrons are paired. Because free radicals have unpaired electrons, they seek to steal electrons from various parts of the cells in your body, such as the cells’ proteins, DNA and membranes. Free radicals use a process called oxidation to steal these electrons. When free radicals do this, it causes damage to your cells. Free radicals are linked to a higher incidence of:
- Heart disease
- Inflammatory joint disease
- Degenerative eye disease
These are just a few. In short, free radicals are bad, but antioxidants can help you fight them. Antioxidants are molecules that can neutralize the free radicals, maintaining a better, healthier balance in your body. Nuts, including cashews, are a great source of antioxidants. Some of the antioxidants found in cashews include zeaxanthin and lutein. These antioxidants in particular are associated with eye health, including a decreased risk of cataracts and degenerative eye disease.
Bone Health Benefits of Cashews
As if their antioxidant content weren’t enough to convince you to eat a few cashews now and then, this nut also offers bone health benefits. A one-ounce serving contains 10 milligrams of calcium and 83 mg of magnesium. Both of these minerals are essential for strong, healthy bones that resist fractures. In fact, about two-thirds of all of the magnesium in the human body is found in the bones. Magnesium also supports the body’s regulation of muscle tone and nerve function.
Cashews for Preventing Gallstones
Gallstones are probably something you don’t spend much time thinking about unless you’ve ever had them. Gallstones form in the gallbladder, which is a small organ located just below the liver on the upper right-hand side of your abdomen. This condition can cause intense abdominal pain, along with nausea and vomiting. There is some evidence to suggest that people who consume cashews and other nuts on a routine basis are at a lower risk of developing painful gallstones.
It can be tricky navigating the transition to a keto lifestyle, but our blog is here to help! Check out our post on how to incorporate peanuts into a keto diet and browse our blog for more keto-friendly recipes and tips! In addition to the resources you’ll find on our website, you can get a doctor-approved blueprint for transforming your life and improving your wellness. Pre-order your copy of The Real Man Plan by Dr. John Shufeldt today!