While often put in the “nuts” category, peanuts are actually a legume, like peas and beans. And since legumes are not recommended on the keto diet, keto-ers often ask, “Are peanuts keto-friendly?”
And the answer is yes!
Unlike most botanical legumes, peanuts are low in carbs and have a macronutrient composition similar to tree nuts.
Their nutritional similarity to nuts is the main reason they’re put in the same category as almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and other nuts.
But peanuts have a couple of advantages over nuts, nutritionally speaking, and they provide unique health benefits as well. Not to mention that they’re pretty tasty once roasted and salted and can be a great addition to countless keto desserts.
Here is more about peanuts on the keto diet.
The Peanut Gallery: Surprising and Fun Facts about Peanuts
Peanuts, also known as “groundnuts,” are the edible seeds of a legume. Although a botanical legume, peanuts have a nutritional profile closer to tree nuts: almost 50% fat, 25% protein, and only 16% carbohydrate . That’s why they’re often put in the same category as nuts and why people consume them like nuts.
A unique characteristic of peanuts is that they grow underground instead of the above ground like most legumes.
Another fun fact about peanuts is that it takes just 4.7 gallons of water to produce an ounce of peanuts , making peanuts one of the most environmentally friendly nuts.
The majority of peanut crops are used to make peanut oil. Other than that, peanuts can be consumed boiled, roasted, as peanut butter, and in snacks.
Besides being tasty, peanuts are a good source of plant protein. And according to the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS), their proteins are nutritionally equivalent to that of meat and eggs .
Counting the Carbs: How Many Net Carbs are in Peanuts for Keto Dieters?
As a keto eater, you’re probably most interested in how many carbs there are in peanuts. Well, a 100g serving of peanuts has about 7.6g of net carbs (total carbs minus fiber).
This level is similar to what’s found in other keto-friendly nuts and makes peanuts ok on the keto diet.
Besides net carbs, peanuts contain dietary fiber. Fiber is an indigestible carb that is important for gut and metabolic health. A 100g of peanuts has about 8.5g of this nutrient or 22% of the RDA for fiber.
And if you consume peanuts mainly as peanut butter (PB), you’re probably also interested in the carbs in PB. A typical serving of natural PB, or 2 tbsp, has about 4g of net carbs .
Choose natural PB or sugar-free brands to keep carbs as low as possible. Or make your own at home by following this recipe.
Beyond the Crunch: Exploring the Other Nutrients and Benefits of Peanuts
As mentioned, peanuts are protein-rich. A 100g has a whopping 25g of protein or almost half the RDA. Not only are peanuts high in this nutrient, but peanut protein also has all 20 amino acids.
They’re also one of the best sources of the essential amino acid arginine. Arginine lowers blood pressure in people with hypertension .
Peanuts are also rich in fat, with half of their dry weight being this nutrient. Most of their fat is monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), but they also contain saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).
MUFAs are known for their cholesterol-lowering and slimming effects. In addition, the body uses them for energy efficiently, which is why they’re great for keto-ers.
As far as vitamins and minerals are concerned, they’re rich in B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc.
Besides essential nutrients, peanuts contain Coenzyme Q10 , a fat-soluble, vitamin-like antioxidant important for cardiovascular health.
From Butter to Bars: Creative Ways to Use Peanuts in Keto-Friendly Desserts
Whole peanuts and peanut butter can help create some of the most delicious keto-friendly desserts. Not only do protein- and fiber-rich peanuts make desserts healthier and even filling, but they add flavor.
These Keto Peanut Butter Cookies or Keto Chocolate Peanut Butter Fat Bombs make great use of peanut butter. Or you could go for something like these Keto Donuts sprinkled with crushed peanuts. Other ways to use peanuts and peanut butter: in snack mixes, smoothies, PB and jelly, and sprinkled over yogurt.
Peanuts and Keto: What You Need to Know Before Adding Them to Your Low-Carb Diet
So, if you were worried that you couldn’t have peanuts (or PB) while following keto, now you know there’s no need to avoid them. Peanuts are high in fat and low in carbs despite being botanical legumes.
Peanuts are a great source of plant-based protein, fiber, and healthy fats. They can keep you feeling full and energized on your keto diet. And they help make some of the most delicious keto desserts.
Go for roasted peanuts or sugar-free PB. And make sure to factor in their carb count when planning your daily intake.
- Arya SS, Salve AR, Chauhan S. Peanuts as functional food: a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2016;53(1):31-41. doi:10.1007/s13197-015-2007-9
- Treading Lightly: The Water Footprint of Peanuts. National Peanut Board. Accessed February 2022. https://www.nationalpeanutboard.org/news/treading-lightly-water-footprint-peanuts.htm
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER. April 2019. - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/718824/nutrients
- McRae MP. Therapeutic Benefits of l-Arginine: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses. J Chiropr Med. 2016;15(3):184-189. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2016.06.002