When it comes to snacking on keto, nuts are one of the most popular go-to choices. They’re a great vegan option and a convenient healthy snack. You may have heard macadamia nuts are king in the ketogenic diet, but what about the carbs in cashews and other nuts?
While traditionally considered a “fatty” nut, cashews don’t boast as much fat as other keto nut stars like pecans or walnuts. They also have a higher carb content.
However, cashews are packed with a number of health benefits, so they should be taken into consideration when looking for snacks to add to your keto meal plan.
Cashew Nutrition Facts
Cashews are loaded with incredible health benefits and boast impressive nutrient content too. They’re over 60% monounsaturated fat and are especially rich in oleic acid, the same acid you find in healthy fats like olive oil and avocados.
Since carbs in cashews are quite high, they’re only good in ketosis when you account for their macros. According to USDA, a 1 oz. serving of cashews contains[*]:
- 12 grams of total fat
- 8 grams of total carbs
- 7 grams of net carbs
- 5 grams of protein
Even though they contain a somewhat high amount of carbs, that doesn’t mean you have to completely eliminate cashews from your diet.
In addition to heart-healthy fats, cashews also deliver important vitamins and minerals.
Since copper is a trace mineral you don’t need much of, many people forget to pay attention to it.
Therefore, developing a copper deficiency can be quite easy and lead to conditions such as osteoporosis and anemia.
Copper plays critical roles in your body, such as[*]:
- Creating new red blood cells.
- Keeping your blood vessels, nerves, immune system, and bones functioning properly.
- Optimizing iron absorption.
Cashews contain 31% of your recommended daily value (RDV) of copper, making them an excellent source of this mineral[*].
Manganese is another important mineral that works in all different areas of your body.
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Emerging research shows manganese may be able to help[*]:
- Overweight people achieve weight loss.
- Ease premenstrual (PMS) symptoms including pain, anxiety, mood swings, tension, irritability, and depression.
- Reduce bone loss in those with osteoporosis.
- Alleviate pain in people with osteoarthritis.
- Improve wound healing.
In a 1 oz. serving of raw cashew nuts, you’ll find 23% of your RDV of manganese[*].
Magnesium is a vital nutrient that is necessary for over 300 chemical reactions in your body[*].
This important electrolyte is involved in[*]:
- Helping your heart keep a steady rhythm.
- Regulating blood sugar levels.
- Keeping your bones strong.
- Maintaining proper muscle and nerve function.
- Giving your immune system a boost.
- Processing protein and energy molecules.
Magnesium may also be able to combat and help treat type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease[*].
Instead of supplementing with magnesium, which can be difficult on your digestive system, you’re better off finding a good natural source of it like cashews and avocados, which deliver 20% and 11% of your RDV per serving, respectively[*][*].
#4: Vitamin K
A deficiency in vitamin K can cause serious health problems. Without it, your blood cells won’t be able to clot, which means any cuts or gashes could lead to excessive bleeding and even death as a result[*].
On top of that, this important vitamin also produces bone proteins to keep your tissues and bones strong[*].
You’ll find 12% of your RDV in a serving of cashew nuts.
#5: Vitamin E
This vitamin is a superhero antioxidant, which means it protects your cells from free radicals, environmental damage, and toxins that may mutate your cells and lead to the development of cancer[*].
Vitamin E is also critical for the proper functioning of your cardiovascular system, helping your blood vessels stay open so you don’t form harmful blood clots[*].
5 Health Benefits of Cashews
Even though the carbs in cashews are quite high compared to other nuts, they deliver amazing health benefits, including some of these mentioned below.
#1: May Help Decrease LDL Cholesterol
In a small study of 51 participants, researchers learned that consuming between 1-2 ounces of cashew nuts per week, over a four week period, helped people reduce their LDL cholesterol levels[*].
LDL cholesterol is the deadly kind of cholesterol that causes plaque to build up in the walls of your blood vessels, limiting blood flow and leading to high blood pressure. Consuming cashews can be a natural way of promoting heart health and lowering the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases[*].
#2: May Reduce Inflammation and Deadly Biomarkers
Several studies on nuts, such as cashews, have found that people who frequently eat these high-fat snacks have[*]:
- Lower inflammation markers, such as C-Reactive Protein.
- Decreased risks for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular death.
The high levels of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fatty acids, along with the dietary fiber and important minerals and vitamins, make cashew nuts a potential anti-inflammatory powerhouse.
#3: May Improve Blood Sugar
A team of experts examining nine studies on tree nuts (including Brazil nuts, cashews, and macadamias) realized that including nuts in your diet helps to improve glucose levels[*].
The studies also showed that the postprandial glycemic response, aka the insulin response after a meal, was also lowered after eating nuts.
Adding a healthy serving of nuts every day may help you control your blood sugar levels naturally.
#4: Aid in Weight Management
Nuts such as cashews could help you maintain a healthy weight. While many fat-phobic people still think high calorie, high-fat foods such as nuts make you gain weight, researchers have discovered it’s just the opposite[*].
Since their high-fat content comes from healthy monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, you actually feel fuller and more satisfied after eating them[*].
The same researchers also learned that a consistent daily intake of nuts like cashews improved study participants’ ability to burn more calories too. This is because your body uses extra energy to process nuts, helping you burn fat and calories.
Fats may then not only promote weight loss, but it also helps you beat your carb and sugar cravings and keep you from overeating[*].
#5: Can Help Lower Blood Pressure
If you have type 2 diabetes, adding nuts to your meals and snacks may help you reduce both your systolic and diastolic blood pressure[*].
Researchers discovered nuts form a barrier that keeps your endothelial function (the membrane lining the inside of your blood vessels) protected from plaque buildup. They believe this is due to their powerful antioxidants and healthy fats.
Carbs in Cashews: How to Add Them to Your Keto Diet
Now that you’re aware of the incredible health benefits hiding in cashews, you may be eager to toss a handful in with your keto trail mix or add them to your snack list.
But while these nuts can be a great tool on your healthy eating journey, they can also derail all your hard work if you’re not moderate.
Since the carbs in cashews is higher than other keto nuts, it’s essential that you keep your portions in check. Here are a few tips:
- Start out with half or even a quarter of the 1 oz. serving size at first, and see how your body reacts.
- Try crushing up your cashews for the illusion of getting more and sprinkle them on salads, stir-fries, and on homemade keto yogurt.
- Remember to reach for unflavored, raw cashew nuts so you avoid any unnecessary preservatives, chemical flavors, added sugars, and unwanted hidden carbohydrates.
- Add healthy macadamia-cashew butter to your pre- and post-workout keto smoothies for a creamy and filling snack or meal that won’t kick you out of ketosis.
Mixing your cashews with other high-fat, low-carb nuts like macadamia is a great way to get all those benefits while keeping the carbs low.
The Perfect Keto Nut Butter is a blend of fatty macadamia nuts and creamy cashews, with coconut butter and MCT oil added for extra ketosis perks. For two tablespoons, you get a grand total of just 2 grams of net carbs, along with all the velvety deliciousness of these nuts.
Cashews and the Keto Diet
Carbs in cashews may be a little higher than other nuts, but they compensate for this by delivering healthy doses of monounsaturated fats, copper, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin K, and vitamin E.
Cashews are a good option when you’re following a keto diet, as long as you portion out your serving size to keep your intake in check.
If you’re curious and would like to learn more about other nuts (like pistachios, pine nuts, or hazelnuts) and seeds (such as sunflower seeds or flax seeds), and how to choose the best keto snack options to support your ketogenic journey, check out these articles:
- Is Peanut Butter Keto-Friendly? Peanut Butter on a Low-Carb Diet
- Best Keto Nuts: The Ultimate Guide to Nuts on Keto
- Carbs in Almonds and Other Nuts: The Best Low-Carbs on Keto
- Are Pumpkin Seeds Keto?