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6 Best Nuts For Keto & Healthy Ways To Eat Them (Plus, 3 Nuts To Avoid)

Sarah Garone, NDTR
Author: Expert reviewer:
July 7, 2023
Sarah Garone, NDTR
By Sarah Garone, NDTR
mbg Contributor
Sarah Garone is a licensed nutritionist and freelance health and wellness writer in Mesa, AZ whose work has appeared in numerous publications.
Lauren Torrisi-Gorra, M.S., RD
Expert review by
Lauren Torrisi-Gorra, M.S., RD
Registered Dietitian
Lauren Torrisi-Gorra, MS, RD is a registered dietitian, chef, and writer with a love of science and passion for helping people create life-long healthy habits. She has a bachelor’s degree in Communication and Media Studies from Fordham University, a Grand Diplôme in Culinary Arts from the French Culinary Institute, and master's degree in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics from New York University.
July 7, 2023
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No matter who you are, nuts are some of the healthiest foods you can eat. Loaded with beneficial fats, inflammation-busting antioxidants, and plant-based protein, they're a great choice for just about any eating plan—including the popular keto diet. Still, because nuts don't all have the same macronutrient breakdown, some are more keto-friendly than others. In a nutshell, here are the top six choices to help you stay in ketosis.

Nuts & the keto diet 

If you've decided to go on the keto diet for weight loss or better blood sugar control, you may feel bummed about the foods you have to limit to maintain your macros. But don't panic—you can definitely keep a bag of nuts at the ready for simple snacking and mealtime crunch.

Many nuts fit right into the keto diet's high-fat macronutrient prescription.

"Nuts can make a great addition to a keto diet since they are low in carbs and high in healthy fats," says Haley Bishoff, RDN, a registered dietitian and owner of Rūtsu Nutrition. Bishoff adds that nuts are also loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.

As if those benefits weren't enough to get crunching, nuts have also been well-researched for their ability to help lower cholesterol and triglycerides1, improve blood sugar, and reduce inflammation2. These cardiometabolic bonuses could add to the big picture of healthy weight loss while on keto.

Of course, if you're looking to lose weight, it can't be a nut festival all day, every day. But here are some intriguing (and, frankly, pretty awesome) news: research shows that eating nuts in moderation doesn't contribute to weight gain3. In fact, the body doesn't even typically absorb all the calories from nuts4, according to research from the USDA. Eaten in their whole form, nuts like almonds could contribute up to 32% fewer calories than listed on their nutrition label due to their bioavailability and how the body absorbs their nutrients.


Nuts are low in carbs and high in healthy fats like mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, making them a great choice for the keto diet.

Best nuts for keto

Ready to go nuts and lose weight? Here are the six best nuts for keto. And a heads-up: In general, a serving of nuts is 1 ounce (or about ¼ cup or a small handful).


Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts—the large, buttery nuts you may recognize by their brown-and-cream-colored stripes—fit well on a keto diet due to their balance of low carbs and high fats.

Brazil nuts may have a special role to play for keto eaters. "The keto diet may contribute to lower serum levels of selenium5," explains Amy Brownstein, M.S., R.D., owner of Nutrition Digested. "Brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium—just one Brazil nut provides 100% of your needs for the day!"

Brownstein adds that selenium is an important trace nutrient involved in many bodily processes, including reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, and DNA synthesis6.

If you've never cooked with Brazil nuts before, you're in for a treat. Chop them up for a crunchy ice cream topping, roll them into energy balls, or grind them to make your very own Brazil nut butter.

  • Calories: 187
  • Protein: 4.05 grams
  • Carbs: 3.32 grams
  • Fiber: 2.13 grams
  • Fat: 19 grams


You'd be hard-pressed to find a healthier nut than walnuts. "Research shows that walnuts do wonders for brain health and can improve cognitive function8," Bishoff says. "Just eating 1 to 2 ounces of walnuts a day can help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease."

Walnuts also happen to be a top option for keto dieters, with 17 grams of fat per serving. We're fans of them in a sun-dried tomato and walnut dip or plant- or plant-based "beef" crumbles.

  • Calories: 185 calories
  • Protein: 4.31 grams
  • Carbs: 3.88 grams
  • Fiber: 1.9 grams
  • Fat: 18.5 grams

Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts don't just add mellow crunch to white chocolate cookies and tropical trail mixes (though these are some great places to get started eating them). They also happen to be associated with lower cholesterol10 because of their rich monounsaturated fat content.

Since high cholesterol can be a concern on a long-term keto diet, macadamia nuts are an excellent choice to add. Try them in an easy chocolate bark or low-carb macadamia nut cookies.

  • Calories: 204 calories
  • Protein: 2.24 grams
  • Carbs: 3.91 grams
  • Fiber: 2.44 grams
  • Fat: 21.5 grams


Pecans are a no-brainer ingredient for desserts—they're so rich and buttery, you can hardly help but turn them into treats. The same butteriness that makes pecans perfect for sweets makes them ideal for keto. "Pecans have a 5:1 ratio of fat to carbs12, making them highly favorable for people following the keto diet," Brownstein points out.

As you whip up some chocolate pecan cookies or a keto-friendly pecan fat bomb, you'll not only stay in ketosis, you'll reap some health benefits, too.

Pecans pack sizable amounts of fiber and healthy unsaturated fats. "Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels and promotes weight loss by contributing to satiety," says Brownstein. "One small randomized controlled trial of people aged 40 to 80 with stable coronary artery disease found that eating 30 grams (the equivalent of 1 ounce) of pecans daily for 12 weeks reduced the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL (good) cholesterol13."

  • Calories: 196
  • Protein: 2.6 grams
  • Carbs: 3.94 grams
  • Fiber: 2.72 grams
  • Fat: 20.4 grams


When choosing the best nuts for keto, it can be helpful to think about their net carbs (aka total carbs minus fiber). Earthy, rich hazelnuts keep things seriously low in this department. "Hazelnuts contain less than 2 grams of net carbs per ounce serving, making them a great choice for a keto diet," says Bishoff. "They are also one of the richest nut sources of monounsaturated fatty acids, which helps keep your heart healthy."

There are so many ways to incorporate hazelnuts into your keto diet! Stir them into muffin batter, DIY some high-fat hazelnut granola bars with butter and coconut flakes, serve up an elegant hazelnut-crusted steak, or satisfy your sweet tooth with no-bake hazelnut fudge brownies.

  • Calories: 178 calories
  • Protein: 4.25 grams
  • Carbs: 4.73 grams
  • Fiber: 2.75 grams
  • Fat: 17.2 grams

Pine nuts

Don't forget about nuts that come from pine cones. They're some of the highest-fat choices around at 19.4 grams per 1-ounce serving. This fat has a lot going for it beyond promoting ketosis. "Pine nuts are rich in pinolenic acid (PNLA), a fatty acid that has many health benefits," says Bishoff. "Pinolenic acid16 may lower cholesterol levels and even reduce inflammation in your body."

Try tossing pine nuts atop a Mediterranean salad, pulsing them into an herby pesto, or sprinkling them onto puréed soup for a pleasant crunch. 

  • Calories: 191
  • Protein: 3.88 grams
  • Carbs: 3.71 grams
  • Fiber: 1.05 grams
  • Fat: 19.4 grams

Science showcase

Calling all nut lovers! Whereas conventional wisdom used to encourage limiting nuts for weight loss because of their high fat content, the latest research shows that the connection between nuts and body fat isn't so clear cut. A recent study revealed that higher nut intake was actually associated with lower body weight. This research was conducted with a high degree of certainty. Whether you're on keto or another weight loss diet, nuts can have a place on your plate.

Worst nuts for keto

Alas, not all nuts are the best bedfellows for a keto diet. To maintain ketosis, consider limiting the following three:



Are cashews OK for keto? Unfortunately, these curvy nuts aren't a top choice. "While rich in magnesium and other nutrients, cashews are higher in carbs compared to some of the others, so you may need to avoid them initially while trying a ketogenic diet, particularly if you are trying to lose weight," says Sara Gottfried, M.D., integrative physician and author of Women, Food, and Hormones.

  • Calories: 157 calories
  • Protein: 5.16 grams
  • Carbs: 8.5 grams
  • Fiber: 0.9 gram
  • Fat: 12.4 grams


For powering muscle growth with plant-based protein, pistachios are a wunderkind—for ketosis, not so much. Pistachios are significantly higher in carbs and lower in fats than several other nuts, so they're not the most keto-friendly option.

  • Calories: 159
  • Protein: 5.73 grams
  • Carbs: 7.7 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Fat: 12.8 grams


Add peanuts to the list of not-so-great nuts for keto. "They contain a 1.5:1 ratio of fat to carbs20, making it more challenging to remain in ketosis," says Brownstein. "Ketosis requires a very low carbohydrate intake to force your body to convert fat to ketones for energy. And since it can be easy to eat more than the recommended portion size of nuts, you may eat more carbs than you'd like to."

  • Calories: 161 calories
  • Protein: 7.31 grams
  • Carbs: 4.56 grams
  • Fiber: 2.41 grams
  • Fat: 13.9 grams


Which nuts have the lowest carbs?

Pecans, macadamia nuts, walnuts, and Brazil nuts come in with the lowest carb counts at around 4 grams per 1-ounce serving. If you're steering clear of carbs, make these nuts your go-to choices.

Can I eat pistachios on keto?

Pistachios are a great source of complete protein (the kind your body doesn't make on its own) but derive only 45% of their calories from fat. You can have them on keto—just be sure you don't overdo it. "Make sure to stick to a daily ounce of nuts (28 grams or around 30 pistachios) so they don't kick you out of ketosis," says Gottfried. "If you don't think you can limit your intake to 30 pistachios only, then it may be best to avoid them if you are trying to lose weight."  

Are walnuts better than almonds for keto?

Walnuts are slightly higher in fat than almonds, so given the option between the two, you may want to go with walnuts for keto. But neither is a bad choice! "Walnuts and almonds have similar nutritional profiles, and both are good choices when it comes to their level of unsaturated fats and protein," Gottfried says.

The takeaway

If you're on keto, you don't have to fear including nuts in your daily diet. In fact, the right nuts can make delicious, macronutrient-balanced ingredients in tons of keto-friendly recipes, from trail mix to meat dishes to cookies. Stick to portion-controlled amounts of high-fat, low-carb options, and you'll likely keep ketosis going strong.

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Sarah Garone, NDTR author page.
Sarah Garone, NDTR

Sarah Garone, NDTR is a licensed nutritionist and freelance health and wellness writer in Mesa, AZ whose work has appeared in numerous publications. After a first career as a college German teacher, health problems led her to pivot her work to the way food impacts wellness. In addition to her writing, Sarah enjoys spending time with her husband and three teenage kids, cooking, running, volunteering at a certified pro-women's healthcare center, and singing in a concert choir.