Legend has it that pistachios were once exclusively the food of royalty, and we can easily see why that would be the case.
They’re addictively salty yet sweet, have a creamy texture, and mesmerizing green hue: all that just has luxury written all over it. Their rich flavor makes every sweet taste better; think pistachio ice cream, baklava, rice pudding, or cheesecake.
And while there’s no doubt pistachios are a delicious nut, are they keto-friendly?
Well, yes and no. Pistachios do have more carbs than other nuts, but you could offset this problem by keeping your portions low. Here is more on pistachio nutrition and their many uses on a keto diet.
Fun Pistachio Facts
Pistachios are tree nuts native to West Asia and are now grown worldwide, including in the US, Iran, and China. The pistachio tree is a hardy desert plant that can live up to 300 years!
They’re also one of the oldest edible nuts known to man, with researchers saying there’s evidence that they were consumed 300,000 years ago . Plus, they’re one of two nuts mentioned in the Bible, the other being almonds.
Pistachios are a relatively environmentally friendly nut to produce because they thrive in dry environments.
The nuts are encapsulated in a hard shell that has a vibrant red hull when they ripen. The shells naturally split open during ripening. Once harvested, pistachios go through drying and roasting to improve their flavor, texture, and shelf life.
Are Pistachios Keto-Friendly?
That depends on how many you eat.
But they are tree nuts, and like most nuts, almost half of their calories are from fat. So, we’d say pistachios can be a part of your keto diet but only if eaten in moderation.
Try to limit your intake of pistachios to a handful or two a day, and see how well they can fit your daily macros.
Pistachios provide healthy monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), which are linked to improved cardiovascular health and weight loss . That means that making them part of your keto diet can help boost its fat-burning potential.
Other Pistachio Benefits
Besides almost half of their dry weight (46%) being healthy and keto-friendly fats, pistachios also pack protein.
A 1 oz serving has almost 6g of filling protein or 20% of pistachios’ dry weight . In addition, research shows pistachios have a greater balance of essential amino acids than most other nuts, especially branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) .
These amino acids are of particular importance for muscle growth and recovery. Roasting pistachio also seems to help make these amino acids easier to digest.
Pistachios also pack fiber. A small, 1 oz serving will give you about 3go of fiber or 12% of your DV. Fiber is an indigestible carb that increases feelings of fullness, lowers blood sugar, absorbs excess bile and cholesterol, and improves gut health.
Researchers also see pistachios as one of the best sources of essential B vitamins and several other micronutrients . But where they really shine is in their antioxidant content — they belong to the top 50 foods with the highest antioxidant content.
Research shows they have a high antioxidant content compared to other nuts, including tocopherols, phylloquinone, carotenoids, chlorophyll, and flavonoids.
As a result, it’s no surprise that studies have found that eating pistachios boosts blood antioxidant levels and decreases the oxidation of LDL cholesterol . That can help reduce your risks of cardiovascular and other diseases linked to uncontrolled oxidation, among other things.
How to Eat Pistachios on Keto
Pistachios on keto are ok only when you keep your intake moderate. Since most people on the keto diet aim to keep their daily carbs to less than 50g per day, it’s a good idea to limit pistachios to a maximum of 2 oz a day, which provides about 10g of net carbs.
In our opinion, the best way to limit your pistachio intake while enjoying their flavor is by adding them to sweets and desserts.
Pistachios are loaded with earthy flavor, and you don’t need to eat much to enjoy them. Here are just a couple of examples that make good use of pistachios while keeping carbs low:
Besides that, you could sprinkle a handful of pistachios over yogurt, smoothies, breakfast bowls, muffins, pancakes, and almost anything, really.
So, are pistachios keto-friendly? Most would say no, given their carb content. But when you keep your intake to one or two servings a day, you can safely enjoy pistachios without jeopardizing ketosis.
Sure, there are high-fat nuts that better fit a low-carb lifestyle. But let’s be honest, none compare to pistachios where the flavor factor is concerned. So sprinkle a bit of this nut over your favorite keto desserts and sweets so you don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself of your favorite flavor.
- Mandalari G, Barreca D, Gervasi T, et al. Pistachio Nuts (Pistacia vera L.): Production, Nutrients, Bioactives and Novel Health Effects. Plants (Basel). 2021;11(1):18. Published 2021 Dec 22. doi:10.3390/plants11010018
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Nuts, pistachio nuts, dry roasted, with salt added. April 2019. - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169426/nutrients
- Mashek DG, Wu C. MUFAs. Adv Nutr. 2015;6(3):276-277. Published 2015 May 15. doi:10.3945/an.114.005926