Keto wouldn’t be half as fun if it weren’t for nuts. The reason? Because nuts (and nut products) replace so many ingredients you can’t enjoy on a low-carb lifestyle.
Think dairy milk, flour, bread crumbs, granola, hummus, chips, and more. But one nut definitely takes the lead as a low-carb substitute: the mighty almond!
Almonds are low in carbs, high in fat, and taste great — exactly what you need from your keto ingredients. You can also turn them into flour, “milk” them to make a dairy substitute, and process them into nut butter.
On their own, almonds make a crunchy and safe-to-eat low-carb snack or dessert topping. Here is more on why they’re so great.
Why We Love Almonds
Almonds have been known as a nutritional powerhouse for a long time. However, they’ve been in demand in recent years as a healthy ingredient. That is also true for keto followers who love almonds for many reasons:
- Almonds are high in fat but low in carbs.
- They’re a good source of quality plant protein.
- Almonds provide countless health benefits.
- They’re a tasty and convenient snack.
- Almonds are versatile, with many uses.
With its white appearance, mild flavor, and texture that closely resembles regular flour, almond flour is truly the best.
But we also appreciate almonds as they are in their minimally processed form. You can chop them and top muffins and cakes with them. You can use sliced almonds in tarts and keto granola. The possibilities are endless, really.
Are Almonds Keto-Approved?
We say yes! Almonds are definitely keto-friendly.
Although almonds are not the lowest-carb nut out there, the carbs in almonds are low enough to work on a keto diet.
More specifically, a 100g serving of almonds has about 9g of net carbs . In comparison, pecans and macadamia nuts have half the carb count of almonds, while pistachios and cashews have two to three times as much carbs. So, almonds fall somewhere in the middle regarding carb count.
To keep your carb intake low, it’s good to keep your daily intake to no more than a handful.
For example, when using almond flour in baking, many combine it with coconut flour and high-fat ingredients to “dilute” the carb count of the recipe (and to improve texture).
And when it comes to almond milk, you don’t have to worry about the carbs since unsweetened and low-carb varieties are pretty low in this nutrient .
As already said, almonds are a nutritional powerhouse. Although a culinary nut, they’re botanically a seed. And like most seeds, almonds are jam-packed with nutrients that are there to help the seed grow into a plant. Here is a breakdown of almonds nutrition (1 oz serving) :
Total carbs: 6.1g
Looking at their macros distribution, almonds are 50% fat, 25% protein, and 20% carbohydrates . Bear in mind that most of their carbs are dietary fiber, which does not raise blood glucose levels or affect ketosis. Furthermore, over 60% of their fats are monounsaturated (MUFA), and 30% are polyunsaturated.
Almonds are also a good source of vitamins and minerals. A 1 oz serving provides 37% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin E, 17%DV for B2, 19%DV for magnesium, and 32% for manganese. They’re also a good source of calcium, iron, and zinc.
Health Benefits of Almonds
As the saying goes, the best things come in small packages. And that’s definitely true for almonds, which have been found to provide a host of health benefits in their tiny packaging. Here are a couple of those health benefits of almonds to look forward to:
The MUFAs and fiber in almonds help lower bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, which has been several randomized control trials found to be the case . These almond nutrients seem to regulate enzymes involved in cholesterol and bile production. Plus, their fiber helps absorb excess cholesterol in the digestive tract.
Better heart health
While lowering LDL cholesterol can help boost heart health on its own, almonds help improve cardiovascular health for other reasons as well. They’re one of the richest sources of arginine, for example, which is an essential amino acid known to reduce blood pressure .
Almonds also have lots of vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin essential for cardiovascular health. It prevents lipids from oxidizing in blood vessels, boosts blood-pressure-lowering nitric oxide, lowers cholesterol production in the liver, and much more .
Prebiotics are fibers that stimulate the growth of healthy gut bacteria. For example, studies on almond prebiotics found that they boost the growth of good Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus .
Almond prebiotics also seem to suppress harmful gut bacteria. Don’t know why this matters? Because your overall health starts with a balanced microflora.
Greater metabolic health
Better metabolic health is the primary goal for many on the keto diet, and almonds can further help with that. Almonds keep blood glucose levels low, boost fat oxidation, reduce inflammation, and increase satiety .
Many of these benefits depend on how almonds are processed. The skins of almonds, for instance, contain many of their antioxidants.
Grinding almonds also makes their protein more bioavailable, while roasting seems to lower their prebiotic effects.
Almonds in Keto Baking
If you want to enjoy dessert as much as possible while staying true to low-carb principles, then almonds should be your pantry staple for the following reasons:
To make almond flour
Sure, you can purchase almond flour in health food stores, but you can make your own at home with a food processor. Doing so can save you money and give you more versatility.
To make almond milk
For custards, puddings, cakes, and more, almond milk is a fantastic ingredient. It’s also easy to make by soaking, processing, and then squeezing out the liquid.
To make almond butter
If you’re allergic to peanut butter, you can replace it with almond butter, which is easy to make by grinding almonds in a food processor.
Add almonds to muffins, brownies, and anywhere you need a bit of the crunch factor. In many keto goods, you can use chopped, sliced, blanched, and whole almonds.
If any nut is a must-have on keto, it’s almonds. These nutrient-dense nuts are a versatile keto ingredient that you can use to make homemade flour, “mylk,” and nut butter. But feel free to enjoy them as a snack as is.
Eating almonds every day comes with a host of science-backed benefits as well. They can boost the healthfulness of your keto diet. They’re a source of healthy fats, fiber, essential nutrients, and antioxidants linked to better metabolic, cardiovascular, and overall health. Plus, almonds are affordable and easily accessible compared to other nuts.
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Nuts, almonds. April 2019. - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170567/nutrients
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Almond milk, unsweetened, plain, shelf stable. April 2019. - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1999631/nutrients
- NutritionData. Nuts, almonds [Includes USDA commodity food A256, A264]. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3085/2
- Barreca D, Nabavi SM, Sureda A, et al. Almonds (Prunus Dulcis Mill. D. A. Webb): A Source of Nutrients and Health-Promoting Compounds. Nutrients. 2020;12(3):672. Published 2020 Mar 1. doi:10.3390/nu12030672
- Gokce N. L-arginine and hypertension. J Nutr. 2004;134(10 Suppl):2807S-2819S. doi:10.1093/jn/134.10.2807S
- Rizvi S, Raza ST, Ahmed F, Ahmad A, Abbas S, Mahdi F. The role of vitamin e in human health and some diseases. Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J. 2014;14(2):e157-e165. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3997530/