Are cashews good for you on a ketogenic diet?
You may have heard macadamia nuts are king in the keto world, but what about other nuts like cashews?
While traditionally considered a “fatty” nut, cashews don’t boast as much fat as other keto nut stars like pecans or walnuts and they have a higher carb count.
So you’re right to be skeptic about cashews the first time you meet. But ignoring cashews after you get to know them is a big mistake.
In this guide, you’ll learn all the interesting facts and secrets about cashews that go way beyond their macro profile, such as:
The answer to this question may surprise even the most seasoned keto vets…
Let’s not beat around the bush: yes, cashews are good for you.
Now it’s out there.
But cashews are only good in ketosis when you account for their macros. A 1 oz. serving of cashews contains[*]:
- 12g of fat
- 8g net carbs
- 5g of protein
Sure, those 8g of net carbs may scare you off cashews, as you may have read in some of our previous guides.
But that doesn’t mean you have to completely eliminate cashews from your diet.
After all, cashews are loaded with incredible health benefits and boast impressive nutrient content too.
Cashews are over 60% monounsaturated fat and are specifically rich in oleic acid.
This is exactly what you’ll find in healthy fats like olive oil and avocados.
In addition to heart-healthy fats, cashews also deliver important vitamins and minerals, such as[*]:
Since copper is a trace mineral you don’t need too much of, many people forget to pay attention to it.
This is important because a deficiency in copper may snowball and lead to osteoporosis and anemia.
Copper may not be on your mind, but it 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
The problem is you can’t just supplement with copper.
Do this and you’ll more than likely get too much of it, which could be just as problematic as not having enough.
Just include more copper-rich food sources, such as cashews, and you can safely meet your daily goals without overdoing it.
Cashews contain 31% of your recommended daily value, or RDV, of copper. And that makes them an excellent source of this mineral.
The same goes for this next one.
Manganese is another important mineral that works in all different areas of your body.
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, and 20% of this next mineral too.
One fun fact about magnesium is that it’s 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 source of it naturally in cashews and avocados, which deliver 20% and 11% of your RDV per serving, respectively[*].
You may think this next mineral sounds more like something you’d play with in chemistry class, but your body is full of it.
Not only is this mineral found in every cell of your body, it can make up as much as 1% of your total body weight[*].
What does all this phosphorus do?
Quite a bit. Phosphorus[*]:
- Creates ATP, the molecule that gives your cells energy
- Metabolizes fats and carbs
- Repairs tissues and cells
- Forms your teeth and bones
- Sends nerve signals throughout your body
- Aids kidneys so they can function properly
- Helps your heart maintain a steady heartbeat
For a serving of cashew nuts, you’ll reap 17% of your RDV of phosphorus so this work can continue uninterrupted[*].
Now it’s time for some vitamins.
#5: Vitamin K
You definitely don’t want to go without vitamin K because you’ll have serious health problems on your hands if you become deficient.
Without vitamin K, 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.
And this last vitamin is common to pretty much all nuts.
#6. 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 your immune system too.
And just like vitamin K is responsible for making sure you don’t bleed out if you trip and skin your knee, vitamin E plays the opposite role and helps your blood vessels stay open so you don’t form harmful blood clots[*].
In addition to all these vitamins and minerals, eating nuts like cashews will also deliver these amazing health benefits too.
According to science, allowing cashew nuts into your life means you may be able to:
#1: Decrease LDL Cholesterol (The Bad Kind)
In a small study of 51 participants, researchers learned consuming between 1-2 oz. 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 cardiovascular system, limiting blood flow and leading to high blood pressure.
Cashews, along with other nuts, can also help cut down this next major health issue.
#2: Reduce Inflammation & 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
You can thank high levels of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fats — along with the fiber and important minerals and vitamins found in cashew nuts — for these perks.
Researchers from trials and studies looking at nuts in general also learned cashews may be an ideal way to:
#3: Improve Blood Sugar
A team of experts examining nine studies on tree nuts (including Brazil nuts, cashews and macadamias) realized that it didn’t matter which nuts participants consumed, just eating them was enough to improve their glucose levels[*].
The studies also showed postprandial glycemic response, aka the insulin response after a meal, was also lowered after people consumed nuts.
So adding a healthy serving of nuts every day may help you control your blood sugar levels naturally.
And they may help you lose weight too.
#4: Weight Management
Nuts such as cashews could help you maintain a healthy weight.
Since their high fat content comes from healthy monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, you actually feel fuller and more satisfied after eating them.
This is the opposite of those ravenous feelings you encounter when you’re on a low calorie diet, for example.
Fats not only help you lose weight, they also help you beat your carb and sugar cravings and keep you from overeating.
Researchers from that study also learned a consistent, daily intake of nuts like cashews improved study participant’s ability to burn more calories too.
This is because your body uses extra energy to process nuts, helping you burn fat and torch calories.
Finally, the last benefit of cashews is certainly not the least important.
#5: 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 believed this is due to their powerful antioxidants and healthy fats.
So now that you know more about this powerful nut, it’s time to get to the math portion of this guide.
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 and snack rotation.
But while these nuts can be a great tool on your journey to ketosis, they can also derail all your hard work if you’re not moderate.
Since that pesky carb count in cashews is higher than other keto nuts, it’s essential you keep your portions in check here. Here’s how:
- 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 frys and on homemade keto yogurt.
- Remember to reach for unflavored, raw cashew nuts so you avoid any unnecessary preservatives, chemical flavors, added sugar and unwanted hidden carbs.
- 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.
For two tablespoons, you get a grand total of just 2 grams of net carbs, along with all the velvety deliciousness of these nuts.
Yes, Cashews Fit Into Your Keto Diet
The final takeaway message here is: cashews are good for you on keto as long as you portion out your serving size before you lose control and eat the whole bag.
Cashews will perk your body up with healthy monounsaturated fats, copper, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin K, and vitamin E, which help reduce inflammation, support your weight loss efforts and keep your heart healthy.
Just don’t go overboard with them — mix cashews with other lower carb nuts, eat smaller portion sizes, or crush them up to get all those benefits in.