Everyone following keto and their mother knows that nuts are an essential staple. From being a good-for-keto snack on their own to their use as a substrate for keto-friendly plant milk, butter, and flour, nuts are a keto dieter’s lifeline.
But there are a couple of nuts that are not so keto-friendly. Those have a higher carb count than what you would find in most nuts. One such example is cashews. But does that mean you can’t enjoy them now and then on keto?
Sure, you could add cashews in small amounts in certain recipes. Keep scrolling to learn more about if and how cashews can fit into a low-carb diet.
Nutrition Facts, Benefits, and Tips for Enjoying Cashews on a Keto Diet
Looking at the net carbs in cashews alone, not really. Cashews and keto seem to be an incompatible pair.
A typical 1-oz serving of raw cashews has 7.6 g of net carbs . While that may not seem like much, keep in mind that carbs can add up quickly. For example, if you use a recipe calling for 3.5 oz of cashews, you’d be taking in a whopping 28 g of net carbs from the cashews alone! In comparison, almonds have 2.5 g of net carbs in a 1-oz serving or about 8g of net carbs in 3.5 oz .
So, can you have cashews on keto?
You could, but you need to be careful. Keep your intake to a small (1-oz) serving per day, or use them sparingly in recipes. Cashews have a buttery texture that goes really well in baked desserts. Cashew carbs mean this is also a mildly sweet nut that’s perfect for desserts.
Exploring the Keto-Friendliness of Cashew Milk: Nutritional Information, Benefits, and Considerations
Unlike whole cashews, cashew milk is surprisingly quite keto-friendly. A cup of this plant-based drink has only 1.9 g of net carbs . Cashew milk is made by soaking, grinding, and straining to remove the pulp. The end product is a highly diluted form of cashew, which helps reduce its carb count.
However, the carb count could be higher if you plan to make cashew milk at home. That is because store-bought versions of nut milk tend to be more diluted than homemade stuff. Some recipes for cashew milk also skip the straining part, resulting in thicker and carby-er nut milk.
Another thing to note is to make sure you buy unsweetened cashew milk. But, of course, that rule also applies to all other nut kinds of milk. And as far as other cashew products go, cashew butter and cream cheese are also high in carbs [4, 5].
Keto Diet and Nuts: Which Varieties are Low in Carbs and Suitable for a Low-Carb Lifestyle?
Most nuts are actually good enough for the keto diet. Just a couple of examples include almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, and pine nuts. All have less than 5 g of net carbs in a handful and loads of healthy fats. Peanuts are also a low-carb nut despite being a legume, botanically speaking. And coconuts definitely top the list of keto-friendly foods, but they’re more of a drupe than a true nut.
Of course, the best keto nuts are those with the least carbs and lots of fat. Macadamia nuts are a good example. They’re at least 75% fat and have just 5.2 g of net carbs in a 3.5-oz serving . But because they’re expensive, most keto dieters go for more affordable nuts to use in their keto recipes.
Keto-Friendly Cashew Substitutes for Your Low-Carb Recipes
Cashews add crunch and flavor to desserts and are a fantastic thickener for savory sauces. They’re also a popular substitute for cheese in vegan desserts. But if you really need to keep your carbs low, then you have a couple of alternatives to choose from:
Sunflower seeds — Use finely ground sunflower seeds as a thickener in sauces. While not as mild-tasting as cashews, they do help create a super-creamy texture. Another alternative is sunflower butter.
Almonds — If you need a mild-tasting nut to give crunch to a keto dessert, almonds can do the trick while keeping the carb count low.
Tahini — Another way to thicken creams and sauces is with tahini. Bear in mind, though, that tahini has a bold sesame flavor that may not go well in mild-tasting sauces.
Silken tofu — In some vegan keto desserts, you can use silken tofu instead of cashews. Silken tofu is mild-tasting, creamy, and high in protein but low in carbs.
So cashews are not precisely the best nut for the keto diet. They’re unusually high in carbs compared to other nuts, so keto eaters should either avoid them or eat them moderately. And the same holds for other cashew products, except for cashew milk.
If you’d still like to have your cashews on keto, do make sure to keep your intake to one serving a day and factor in cashew carbs. While not really a good combo, cashews and keto can work by maintaining portions low and using cashews as a topping or small add-in.
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Nuts, cashew nuts, raw. April 2019. - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170162/nutrients
- 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. UNSWEETENED ORIGINAL CASHEWMILK. April 2019. - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/636172/nutrients
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Nuts, cashew butter, plain, without salt added. April 2019. - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170163/nutrients
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. PLAINLY CLASSIC ORGANIC CULTURED VEGAN CREAM CHEESE, PLAINLY CLASSIC. April 2019. - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/682172/nutrients
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Nuts, macadamia nuts, raw April 2019. - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170178/nutrients
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