Nuts pretty much have it all. Packed with protein, fiber, healthy fats, and plenty of crunch, they level up everything from salads to oatmeal to sweet treats.
Not all nuts are created equal, though. Different varieties of nuts provide varying amounts of different nutrients—including one currently on every healthy eater’s radar: carbs.
What Nuts Do for Your Body
Try not to let the high fat content scare you off—nuts do a body good. “Nuts contain both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which support heart health and can help lower LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol,” says Rebekah Blakely, R.D.N., a dietitian for The Vitamin Shoppe and Only Me.
“Fats increase satiety and help regulate blood sugar,” Blakely says. Plus, they help our bodies utilize another nutrient nuts provide: the fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin E.
Given that, nuts are a great addition to any healthy diet—and can be especially beneficial for people with diabetes, who are trying to lose weight or have dietary restrictions.
Nuts And Carbs
With popular low-carb diets like keto and paleo causing pretty much everyone to question the carbohydrates on their plates, many who used to fear nuts’ fat content now worry about their carb content.
It’s true, some nuts do contain enough carbs to give keto eaters pause—however, “a good portion of most nuts’ carbs come from fiber,” Blakely says. Keto dieters should track the net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) in the nuts they eat, she adds.
Keto or not, if you’re looking to keep carbs as low as possible while enjoying the nutritious crunch of nuts, opt for the following varieties.
1.3 grams of net carbs per one-ounce serving
Though macadamias are often heralded as the low-carb nut, pecans actually deserve the title. These slightly-sweet nuts provide more than 60 percent of your daily magnesium needs—a plus for bone health, blood clotting, and more, says Blakely.
2. Brazil Nuts
1.4 grams of net carbs per one-ounce serving
Brazil nuts clock in as the second lowest-carb nut—and also happen to be a fabulous source of selenium, the mineral and antioxidant known for its thyroid health, immunity, and mood benefits, Blakely says.
3. Macadamia Nuts
1.6 grams of net carbs per one-ounce serving
High-fat macadamia nuts are a good source of vitamin B1 (a.k.a. thiamin), which supports nerve function and our body’s ability to break down sugar.
1.9 grams of net carbs per one-ounce serving
Creamy walnuts often don’t get the love they deserve. These bumpy nuts are one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids in the game, Blakely says.
2 grams of net carbs per one-ounce serving
Another often-overlooked nut, hazelnuts happen to be super-low in carbs. Also known as filberts, hazelnuts provide a whopping 86 percent of our daily manganese needs—and 24 percent of our daily copper needs, says Blakely.
2.1 grams of net carbs per one-ounce serving
Okay, yes, peanuts are technically legumes—but they’re still low-carb and totally worthy of a spot in your nut rotation. Peanuts are by far the highest-protein, low-carb nut, containing a solid 7.2 grams of protein per serving, says Blakely. They also contain a good amount of folate, the B vitamin crucial for DNA and blood cell production.
Now, while no nut qualifies as a ‘high-carb’ food, certain varieties do contain more carbohydrates than you’d expect.
4.9 grams of net carbs per one-ounce serving
While a mere five grams of carbs may not seem like much, it adds up should you find yourself cracking pistachio shell after pistachio shell. However, pistachios are a little lower in calories and higher in protein (5.8 grams per serving) than many other nuts, Blakely says.
8.3 grams of net carbs per one-ounce serving
Also technically legumes, cashews contain more than twice the net carbs of most nuts. (No wonder they’re so addicting!) Sweet and creamy, they’re easy to overeat—and a potential danger zone for keto eaters.
Rules For The Road
Since a one-ounce serving of nuts lands somewhere around 200 calories (and is smaller than you think), watch your portions when eating nuts—regardless of what type of diet you follow, says Blakely. (Pre-portioning out that giant bag can help you stick to proper serving sizes.)
Blakely also recommends buying organic when possible, since most nuts are exposed to pesticides when grown, and subject to some pesticide residue.