It can be tricky to figure out which foods are ok for a very low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet, but many nuts and seeds fit the bill perfectly.
Lots of them are low in net carbs (which is total carbs minus the fiber), and are high in good fats. They also contain protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Some types of nuts and seeds are lower in carbs than others, and here’s 13 of the best ones for a keto diet.
Pecans are tree nuts, and they’re a high-fat, low-carb nut that may help to reduce insulin levels. Insulin levels can affect whether your body stores more fat, so it’s good to keep them low if you’re trying to lose weight.
A study of 26 adults found that those who ate 43 grams of pecans every day experienced reductions in insulin levels compared to the control group.
28 grams of pecans only have 4 grams total carbs, 3 grams of fiber, and 20 grams of fat. Net carbs come in at only 1 gram.
Enjoy pecans as a snack, or crush them and use as a crunchy crust for fish or chicken.
2. Brazil Nuts
These tree nuts from South America are a good source of selenium, a trace mineral that is important for various bodily functions. Some research shows that those who follow a keto diet may be at risk of selenium deficiency, and one single Brazil nut provides more than 100% of your daily intake of selenium.
28 grams of Brazil nuts contain 1 gram of net carbs, 4 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber.
Try to limit your intake to 3 Brazil nuts per day, as eating too much selenium can have negative health effects.
3. Chia Seeds
These little, firm black seeds are full of fiber and omega-3 fats, which offer powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
28 grams of chia seeds contain 2 grams of net carbs, 9 grams fat, and 10 grams fiber.
Try soaking chia seeds in liquid for several hours to make chia pudding. Chia seeds can also be added to smoothies or protein shakes.
4. Macadamia Nuts
These Australian nuts are very rich in fat, and several studies link them to improved cholesterol levels.
A 4 week study in men found that those who had 15% of their calorie intake from macadamia nuts had a 5.3% reduction in harmful LDL cholesterol levels, and an 8% increase in good HDL cholesterol.
28 grams of macadamia nuts have 2 grams net carbs, 21 grams of fat, and 2 grams of fiber. Eat them as a snack, or buy macadamia nut milk, butter, and flour.
5. Flax Seeds
These little seeds are rich in fiber and omega-3 fats, and they have been studied for their potential benefits on blood pressure and heart health.
A 6-month study showed that those who had high blood pressure and ate around 30 grams of flaxseeds daily had a significant reduction in total blood pressure levels, compared to the control group.
28 grams of flax seeds contain 1 gram net carbs, 6 grams protein, and 8 grams fiber. They can be bought whole or as a cold-milled meal, which can be added to soups, smoothies, baked goods, and protein shakes.
Walnuts are a high-fat, keto friendly nut that could benefit heart health by reducing the risk of heart disease, like high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol.
28 grams of walnuts contain 2 grams net carbs, 18 grams fat, and 2 grams fiber. They make a great snack or ingredient in low-carb desserts like brownies or fudge, and they are surprisingly good in salads.
7. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds or hearts are the seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant, and they’re a good source of plant-based protein and healthy fats.
They’re also high in linoleic acid, a type of fat that may protect against Alzheimer’s disease, as shown in animal studies.
28 grams of hemp seeds have 1 gram net carbs, 14 grams of fat, and 1 gram fiber. They can be used as a substitute for oatmeal or grits, in a salad topping, or mixed into smoothies and shakes.
Hazelnuts are a great source of vitamin E, which has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels.
A 4-week study of adults with a high cholesterol level found that those who ate 30 grams of hazelnuts daily reduced their total cholesterol, as well as increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
28 grams hazelnuts contain 2 grams net carbs, 17 grams fat, and 3 grams fiber. They pair very well with dark chocolate for a keto-friendly dessert. Hazelnut flour also makes a good alternative to regular flour.
While peanuts are legumes (related to beans and lentils), they are a good choice for those following a keto diet.
Peanuts are full of protein and amino acids. These acids are the building blocks of protein that you can only get through your diet, and peanuts contain leucine, an essential branched-chain amino acid which promotes muscle growth.
28 grams of peanuts contains 4 grams net carbs, 14 grams fat, and 2 grams of fiber. Peanuts and peanut butter make great snacks, and peanut butter is easily added to smoothies, keto desserts, and satay sauces.
Try to choose unsalted peanuts, and natural peanut butter without added sugar.
10. Sesame Seeds
These seeds are a popular ingredient, and they’ve long been a topping for baked goods, like the ubiquitous hamburger bun.
They’re high-fat and low carb, which makes them a sound choice. They’re also full of lignans – anti-inflammatory antioxidants.
28 grams of sesame seeds have 2 grams net carbs, 13 grams fat, and 5 grams fiber. They are great as a topping for stir-fries and salads, or as an ingredient. Tahini (often used to make hummus) is a spread made from ground sesame seeds, and is very tasty.
11. Pine Nuts
These tree nuts are an essential part of pesto, which is made with olive oil, parmesan cheese, and basil.
When used alone, pine nuts have a unique, earthy flavor that goes very well with lots of foods, and when they are toasted lightly, they make an excellent snack.
28 grams of pine nuts contains 3 grams net carbs, 19 grams fat, and 1 gram fiber. They can be used in many dishes, and pesto is a great accompaniment to meats and veggies.
12. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seed contain lots of healthy fats and anti-inflammatory compounds, like vitamin E, flavonoids, and phenolic acids. Animal studies have found them to have anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory properties.
28 grams of shelled sunflower seeds have 4 grams net carbs, 14 grams fat, and 2 grams of fiber.
They are often eaten as a snack, but they are useful as a salad topping, or you can buy sunflower seed spread as an alternative to butter.
Almonds and their byproducts (almond milk, almond flour, and butter) are great store cupboard staples for the keto dieter.
Almonds have been linked to health benefits through their high concentrations of protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, copper, and antioxidants such as proanthocyanins.
28 grams of almonds contain 2 grams net carbs, 14 grams of fat, and 3 grams of fiber. Eat them raw or toasted as a snack, or add them to desserts and baking.