Nuts and seeds definitely have a place in a keto diet. They're high in fats and low in carbs, making them a perfect food to help you meet your keto macros. When it comes to vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they're nutritional powerhouses. Despite their plethora of health benefits, not all nuts and seeds are suitable for the ketogenic diet.
To help you choose the best varieties for your keto journey, we assembled a list of the top 10 keto nuts and seeds. Before making your pick, let’s talk what nuts and seeds are and why they’re good for you.
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Nuts are dry fruits containing seeds. You can also think of them as plant ovaries or plant eggs. As nuts mature, they often create a hard shell. The edible part of a nut is called a kernel. The kernel nourishes the plant that starts to grow from the seed. However, many nuts are just called like that as they are botanically not "true nuts." But this doesn't really matter from a nutritional perspective.
Examples of nuts include walnuts, almonds, chestnuts, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios, and pecans. Most nut kernels have fats as the plant’s energy-providing nutrient. However, pistachios, chestnuts, and cashews also contain a lot of carbs and are largely carbs which you need to avoid on a keto diet.
A seed is essentially a plant embryo. A plant produces seeds when the ovary (nuts) ripen. Seeds are always enclosed in a protective outer covering, and most are abundant in health-benefiting oils. Nuts and seeds develop after the flowers of plants get pollinated.
Just like nuts, seeds are also dense in nutrients. These nutrients feed new plant life. Examples of seeds include sesame seeds, flax seed, chia and chia seeds. Many nuts are also called seeds despite being botanical nuts. Sunflower seeds are an example of a botanical nut but a coolinary seed.
Keto nuts and seeds are those nuts and seeds that contain more fats than carbs per gram of fruit. Many keto dieters consider keto nuts and seeds a dietary staple. They're convenient, rich in healthy fats, low in carbs, and abundant in health-protecting antioxidants – all things that can benefit your keto journey.
It's true that most plant foods are too high in carbs to be suitable for keto. Grains, fruits, legumes, and starchy vegetables are just some food staples that you can’t eat on a keto diet due to their carb content. If you eat these foods, chances are your blood sugar will spike and you won’t get anywhere near ketosis.
Keto nuts and seeds, on the other hand, are rich in fat and low in carbs, having a minimal impact on blood glucose. In fact, research shows that eating these foods has an anti-diabetic effect . This effect does not come solely from the high fat content of nuts and seeds. Fiber also helps as it feeds good gut bacteria which then supports normal metabolism functioning. Their high antioxidant content also helps lower inflammation in the body and inflammation is a key driver of diabetes.
Besides diabetes protection and boosting your chance of ketosis, keto nuts and seeds come with many other health benefits. Here is what research has to say so far:
Not all nuts and seeds are keto-approved. That's why we've made this list of the top 10 keto nuts and keto seeds to add to your keto shopping list. All are high in fat and low in carbs. We'll also explain what benefits you get from each one and how to eat them.
Almonds are not "true nuts. "They're actually the seeds of a drupe. What we eat from the almond fruit is really the plant's seeds. Almonds are native to the Mediterranean region, have a mild taste, and are perfect addition to the keto diet.
A 100 gram amount of almonds provides over 20% of the daily value (DV) of B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. They also provide up to 20% of the DV of folate, choline, and potassium. They're particularly rich in fiber as well as unsaturated fatty acids, both of which lower bad (LDL) cholesterol.
Almonds contain phytosterols one of which is beta-sitosterol. Phytosterols are types of plant cholesterol that have cholesterol-lowering properties. Almonds are also high in the antioxidant vitamin E, which is especially important for skin health.
You can eat almonds raw, roasted, or blanched. Most of the antioxidants in almonds are in the skin, so we don't recommend removing it. Keto dieters also love to use almond products like almond flour, milk, and butter as keto-approved food alternatives.
Walnuts are definitely underrated keto nuts. They're great for boosting brain functioning and they also protect your heart. Walnuts are cheaper than some other nuts and even lower in calories according to newer studies. This allows you to enjoy them as much as you like while following the keto diet.
Walnuts are 65% fat, most of which is the polyunsaturated kind. In fact, walnuts contain more polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) than other nuts, particularly the brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids that studies show we should eat more . Unfortunately, omega-3s easily become rancid quickly. To prevent rancidity, keep walnuts in a cool, dry place or in the fridge.
Other than PUFAs, walnuts are a good source of fiber, protein, thiamin, folate, magnesium, and copper. Studies on walnuts show that walnuts provide 20% less energy than traditionally calculated based on their fat content . That definitely explains why people who eat plenty of nuts don't gain excess weight.
Walnuts are delicious all on their own. But they go best when added to keto dishes. You can sprinkle crushed walnuts for salads or bake with them. Walnuts have a slightly bitter taste making them most suitable for savory dishes but they go well with muffins and pancakes too.
Most like to eat peanuts in the form of peanut butter. But salted peanuts are also a favorite party snack. Whichever way you choose to eat them, you won't go wrong as peanuts are definitely keto nuts. However, they're also not real nuts or even seeds botanically speaking. They're actually legumes. Shocking, we know. The reason they're classified as nuts is because they're nutritionally closer to nuts than legumes.
Peanuts are at least 50% fat. Most of this fat is the monounsaturated type. Peanuts are also an exceptionally good source of high-quality plant protein, with one and a half tablespoon of peanut butter providing over 6 grams.
These keto nuts are one of the best sources of vitamin E, niacin, folate, magnesium, and choline. All of these nutrients are lacking in our diets, especially choline, a vitamin-like essential nutrient. You need choline to keep your liver and brain healthy . Choline is also the precursor to acetylcholine  – a neurotransmitter important for muscle functioning among other things.
As peanut butter, of course! Peanut butter is everyone's favorite, and you can use it as a spread, flavoring, and for making keto-friendly peanut-butter cookies. Just make sure to buy the sugar-free version. But you can also much on peanuts in their natural state if you like.
Brazil nuts are large nuts with one nut weighing around 5 grams. As the name suggests, Brazil nuts are native to Brazil. However, the largest producer of these keto nuts is Bolivia. These nuts grow on large trees, some towering over 160 feet.
Brazil nuts are famous for their impressive selenium content. One nut will give you 140% of the DV of this essential mineral. Selenium is actually quite difficult to obtain from food, and these nuts help meet your daily needs. It is essential for thyroid hormone production and it also provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection .
However, you have to be careful how much of these keto nuts you eat. Too much can lead to selenium toxicity which causes nausea, vomiting, and brittle hair and nails. Besides selenium, Brazil nuts can help you reach your macros because they're almost 70% fat. They contain the perfect balance of both PUFA and MUFA fats. Studies on these keto nuts show that they're especially notable as antioxidant foods, protecting against cancer .
To avoid selenium toxicity, eat a maximum of 2 brazil nuts a day. You can chop them and add them to keto brownies, muffins, and even savory dishes. They have an incredible creamy taste that goes well with any dish and makes it hard to stick to the recommended daily levels.
Macadamia nuts are exceptionally dense in healthy fats making them another top keto favorite. They're native to Australia, and all parts of the nut are used for a wide range of purpose, so nothing goes to waste. But the part you're interested in on a keto diet, is of course the edible kernel.
Macadamia nuts are up to 76% fat, most of which is MUFA. They're also 14% carbohydrates, of which 9% is dietary fiber, and they contain 8% protein. These nutrient profile makes these keto nuts perfect for extracting oil, which is a high-quality salad and cooking oil. Macadamia oil also has more MUFAs than olive oil and a high smoke point.
Being rich in healthy oils makes these nuts particularly good for cardiovascular health . Studies on macadamia oil show that it reduces inflammation and shrinks the size of fat cells . This is helpful for people with obesity as inflammation and enlarged fat cells both make the disorder difficult to manage. Besides a perfect macros profile, macadamia nuts are also a good source of B vitamins, iron, manganese, and zinc.
You can buy macadamias in their hulls, de-hulled, raw, and roasted. All are equally good and it all boils down to your preferences. Macadamias have a rich, creamy taste so they're good to eat on their own. However, you can also bake with them and top salads, pasta, and casseroles with these keto nuts.
These beige seeds are native to Africa and India where people have domesticated them for over 3,000 years. Today, their rich and nutty flavor has made them a part of cousins worldwide. You can buy them raw, toasted, and even ground to a paste known as tahini.
Sesame seeds have one of the highest oil content of any seed. Even the word "sesame" has Greek and Arabic roots, meaning "oil." The fat content of these seeds is around 50% with an almost equal amount of MUFAs and PUFAs. Besides oils, sesame seeds are also rich in B vitamins and almost all essential minerals like zinc, magnesium, and calcium.
Sesame seeds are also rich in dietary fiber and protein which, along with fat content, makes a perfect macro balance for a keto diet. Studies on sesame seeds show that they help improve blood pressure, reduce oxidative stress, and improve blood lipids [14, 15].
Sesame seeds are a staple in Asian cousins. They add texture to sweet and sour sauces, and they help decorate soy-based meals. Sesame seeds add crunch to salads and they're tastiest when browned. You can add them to keto-friendly breads and you can eat them as tahini. Tahini, aka sesame paste, is the main ingredient of hummus and is a versatile ingredient when you're going keto.
Flax is also known as flaxseeds or linseed. Unlike most keto seeds, flax is grown in cooler climates. It's a versatile plant used in making textiles (linen), wood-finishing, oils, and nutritional supplements. You can also buy flaxseeds as they are. There are different varieties of flax, the most common being brown, yellow, and golden.
Keto dieters love flax because it helps them meet their daily omega-3 fatty acid needs. At least half of the fats in flax are omega-3s. Flax is around 40% fat, 30% fiber, and 20% protein. These seeds are exceptionally rich in thiamine, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.
Over 50% of the fat in flax are omega-3 fatty acids. The rest are mainly omega-9 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that you need to obtain from food as your body can't make them on its own. They're an essential component of cell membranes, and omega-3s are important for controlling inflammation.
Flax has a high-fiber content which makes them good for appetite control, weight loss, gut health, and cardiovascular health. Flax has hundred times more lignans than any other plant food. Lignans are plant compounds with antioxidant and hormone-regulating properties.
Flaxseeds have a nutty flavor that goes perfect in baked goods. It's best to eat them toasted and ground to help remove the outer husk. The outer husk of flax contains indigestible fiber, so without grinding the seed, it would pass undigested through your digestive tract.
Poppy seeds are tiny, kidney-shaped, oily seeds. They are harvested from the dried seed pods from the poppy flower. Poppy seeds have a unique flavor that goes well in pastry and bread. Some manufactures also make poppy seed oil.
Poppy seeds are a rich source of thiamin, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and zinc. These seeds contain 40% fat, 30% carbohydrates (mostly fiber), and 20% protein. Poppy seeds also contain opium alkaloids like morphine and codeine.
This means that when you eat poppy seeds, you would fail an opiate test, so keep that in mind. The concentration of opiates in ripe poppy seeds is too low to cause any health problems, though. But they can help alleviate mild pain to some extent.Poppy seeds are rich in oleic and linoleic acids. These fatty acids help with weight loss and they balance out blood cholesterol. Linoleic acid is an essential nutrient important for health hair and wound healing.
Poppy seeds are light and tiny so you need to use a lot in meal making. Most see them as pastry decoration but they're more than that. You can make poppy seed paste by grounding them and flavoring with lemon and vanilla. This is a special ingredient for delicious pastry widely eaten in Europe.
Native to Central America, chia was a stable to the Aztec in pre-Columbus times. The seeds gained popularity in the 1980s as a superfood. Keto dieters love them for their high fat content and health benefits. These seeds are tiny and oval. They are mostly gray in color with stripes, resembling miniature castor seeds. Chia have hydrophilic characteristics, absorbing up to 12 times their weight in liquid.
Chia seeds are 40% carbohydrates, mostly is in the form of dietary fiber. Fiber is an indigestible carb that does not impact blood sugar or ketone production. It's important for normal bowel movements and gut health in general. Chia is also 30% fat, most of which is omega-3 fatty acids (65%). This makes chia seeds a great source of this essential fatty acid.
Chia seeds also contain powerful antioxidants, most notably chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, quercetin, and kaempferol. These antioxidants protect heart health and liver health and they prevent cancer and premature aging .
When you soak chia, you'll notice the seeds develop a gel-like coating. This makes them perfect for pudding making. However, some complain that the crunch of the seed's shell combined with the gel coating make these puddings slimy. The trick is to add more fiber-rich foods to balance out the texture. Consider adding nuts or psyllium to chia puddings. You can also add chia to smoothies and sprinkle over yogurt.
Pumpkin seeds, aka pepitas, are flat, oval seeds that you can buy in hulls or de-hulled. They're The seeds are nutrient-dense and a perfect keto-snack. They're cheaper than many other nuts and seeds and go well in a range of savory dishes.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. They also provide plenty of riboflavin, folate, pantothenic acid, sodium and potassium. Pumpkin seeds are 50% fat with a perfect balance of PUFA and MUFAs. Their high oil content makes them perfect for oil extraction. Pumpkin seed oil has a strong flavor that goes well in salad dressings and over meats.
Pumpkin seeds are great as a snack on their own. The hulled variety is toasted and salted and you eat it by cracking the hull open with your teeth. You can also use the de-hulled version in bread making and top salads, meats, and breakfasts with these versatile and affordable seeds.
Being high in fat and low in fiber, nuts and seeds are definitely welcomed on the keto diet. Not all have a keto-approved nutrient profile, however. That’s why we’ve made this list of the top 10 keto nuts and seeds for you to choose. All of them have additional health benefits worth noting like antioxidant protection and cancer prevention.
There are different ways to include nuts and seeds into your daily meals. Variety is key to keep you eating these foods on a daily basis. That way, you’ll also meet your daily macros and stay healthy along the way. Another great thing about these foods that they’re also an excellent source of fiber. With all that said, add these nuts and seeds to your keto shopping list today.