When it comes to introducing cashews into the keto diet, there can be a lot of conflicting information about how suitable they are.

They taste great, they’re high in fat, and they’re chock-full of nutrients.

So, at face value, they sure seem like the perfect snack when you’re trying to achieve ketosis.

but be wary, they also have some carbs!

This shouldn’t put you off completely, however, because there are still plenty of excellent nutritional benefits to be gained from cashews.

Moderation is key!

Let’s take a look at the benefits you can get from eating cashews as part of your diet.

But First, Are Cashews Keto friendly?

Funny enough, cashews are actually not a nut!

Rather, cashews are actually seeds that are found at the bottom of the cashew apple, which is the fruit of the cashew tree native to Brazil.

While it’s true that cashews, like most nuts, can be a great addition to your diet, it’s important understand their macro content.

When you take a look at the macros of cashews in isolation, they’re a decent match for the keto diet.

A 1 oz. serving of cashews contains:

  • 12.4g of fat
  • 5.2g of protein
  • 8.6g of carbs

While the high-fat content makes cashews ideal as a keto snack, you just have to be careful of their carb-content. That ounce is a snack-sized portion, but it contains a third of your daily carb allowance.

Not let’s take a look at how incorporating this healthy snack into your diet can help you in the long-run!

Lose Weight

When compared to diets that don’t contain nuts, evidence [1] has shown that those who do consume nuts regularly, and in moderation, actually lose weight faster.

This can be especially true for nuts like cashews that are full of Omega 3 fatty acids which boost the metabolism and help burn excess fat more quickly.

They’re also high in magnesium, which is another excellent supplement for supporting the metabolic process. Just keep in mind that as tempting and tasty as roasted and salted nuts can be, you should be sticking to raw nuts and seeds if you’re aiming to lose weight.

Keep Your Heart Healthy

Studies show that there’s a significant link between nut consumption and a lower risk of death from heart disease [2], and they mostly agree that it’s due to how dense in nutrients they are.

The protein, fiber, antioxidants, unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals all help protect the heart, and cashews in particular are great at lowering bad cholesterol [3].

Not only do they lower LDL cholesterol, but they also allow HDL to absorb more cholesterol from the heart and move it down to the liver to be broken down, reducing your risk of heart issues.

Boost Your Immune System

Our immune system relies heavily on copper and zinc to function optimally, and not only are cashews a great source of zinc, but they also contain more copper than any other nut—with an ounce serving providing a third of our recommended daily.

Both elements are crucial for the immune system’s development, as well as for producing antioxidant enzymes. An increased zinc intake has also been linked with a healthier immune response, meaning cashews can potentially help fight off minor illnesses.


Healthier Bones and Joints

Cashews’ high copper content is also great for keeping your bones and joints flexible by synthesizing both elastin and collagen [4], the connective proteins that are crucial for supple movement.

Cashews are also rich in magnesium, which works with copper to strengthen bone mass and keep your teeth strong.

Additionally, magnesium is essential for the metabolism and absorption of calcium, another mineral that’s important for building bone density and strength.

A Great Source of Fiber

Cashews are an excellent source of dietary fiber, containing approximately 1g per ounce, which our body doesn’t produce on its own.

Dietary fibers can aid with digestion, and increasing your intake can even help with some digestive diseases. It’s important not to go overboard though, as too much fiber can cause short-term stomach discomfort and bloating.

Protect Your Eyesight

One of the key antioxidants in cashew nuts is the carotenoid alcohol Zeaxanthin. While small amounts of this antioxidant can help prevent eye disease linked with old age, such as macular degeneration, it’s also absorbed directly into our retinas.

Zeaxanthin helps to form a protective layer over the retina, which not only helps protect against harmful UV rays but also from surface eye infections.

The high zinc and vitamin E content in cashews also help to protect the eye’s cells from being damaged by free radicals that can break down healthy tissues and lead to eyesight issues.


Bottom Line

So, what’s the final verdict on cashews? Well, they’re definitely a healthy, versatile food that can make a great addition to your keto diet, but they can also be easy to overeat.

If you’re careful with your portion sizes, there’s no reason you can’t take advantage of the many benefits they have to offer.

Just remember to eat them raw rather than salted, flavored or roasted in oil, and you should try and source some delicious, creamy cashew butter next time you’re shopping for wholesome foods.

Related:

The Healthiest Nut Butters For Your Keto Diet

Are Flaxseeds Keto Friendly?

Are Beans Keto Friendly? Carbs In Beans & What To Avoid

Is Peanut Butter Keto Friendly?

7 Reasons Why Almonds Are A Great Choice For A Keto Diet

 

References:

[1] Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center. (2017, September 20). Eating nuts can reduce weight gain, study finds: Five-year study examined diet, weight of 373,000 Europeans across 10 countries. ScienceDaily.

[2] Guasch-Ferré M, Liu X, Malik VS, Sun Q, Willett WC, Manson JE, Rexrode KM, Li Y, Hu FB, Bhupathiraju SN. Nut Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017 Nov 14;70(20):2519-2532. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2017.09.035.

[3] Eunice Mah, Jacqueline A Schulz, Valerie N Kaden, Andrea L Lawless, Jose Rotor, Libertie B Mantilla, DeAnn J Liska; Cashew consumption reduces total and LDL cholesterol: a randomized, crossover, controlled-feeding trial, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 105, Issue 5, 1 May 2017, Pages 1070–1078, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.116.150037

[4] Price C. T., Langford J. R., Liporace F. A., 2012. Essential nutrients for bone health and a review of their availability in the average north american diet. Open Orthop. J. 6: 143–149. 10.2174/1874325001206010143

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Jessica Cotzin is a freelance writer, web developer, and avid traveler. Born and raised in South Florida, she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Multi-Media Journalism from Florida Atlantic University and currently resides in Miami Beach. Her passions lie in reading great literature and traveling the world, bumping blindly into new adventures.

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