If you’re finally getting started with your own keto diet plan, you’re probably in the process of figuring it all out.

What can you eat?

What’s off limits?

What is questionable?

Two foods that stand in the questionable zone are nuts and seeds. Some people say yay while others say no-way!

So what’s the real deal?

What is the truth about having these two foods on your list of foods to eat? The pros and cons?

Let’s go over all that and more…

The Pros

First let’s talk pros. As you are hopefully well aware of, both nuts and seeds are considered healthy foods by most diet standards. As such, it would seem that there are many pros stacked on their side.

Some of these include:

  • Protein Rich

The first benefit is the fact that nuts contain protein.

Some people struggle to consume a sufficient amount of protein on their diet. In fact, you may be at a place where you feel as though if you have to even look at another chicken breast, you are going to scream.

If that’s the case, you’ll take any protein you can get – and nuts and seeds can help you reach your daily intake goals.

  • Source Of Monounsaturated Fats

Nuts and seeds are also a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids. These are important to take in to improve your overall fat intake profile and to help ward off heart disease [1] and diabetes.

Some people on traditional keto diets tend to notice their saturated fat intakes climbing, which can pose a real health threat.

While this isn’t always the case, if they are feasting on cheese, fatty cuts of meat, and butter, you can rest assured they are experiencing higher than normal levels.

While there’s nothing wrong with having some saturated fat in your diet, you definitely do not want to go overboard.

  • Offer Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Certain nuts and seeds provide omega-3 fatty acids. These are health goldmines as they help to do everything from combat the following:

  1. depression [2]
  2. lower blood pressure [3]
  3. improve insulin sensitivity [4]

They are a must to take in. Options such as flaxseed or walnuts are both great sources.

  • Contains Fiber (assists in satiety)

Fiber is one of the key nutrients to help keep you feeling full between meals and nuts are great sources.

Eating more dietary fiber will also help improve your cholesterol profile and may help to reduce your risk of heart disease [5].

  • A Healthy Fat Source

Finally, nuts and seeds are a fat source that you can eat. Sometimes you just want to feel like you are eating, not just having something added to meals that contribute fat.

For instance, if you cook your chicken in oil, you are still only eating that chicken breast. But if you grill your chicken without oil and serve it with some nuts, you now have more volume to consume. This can help you psychologically while dieting.

The Cons

Now for the drawbacks…

While there are good things about having nuts and seeds on the keto diet, there are also reasons to avoid them.

  • Contains more carbs than oil or butter

First, they do contain more carbs. Nuts and seeds can inch your daily carbohydrate intake upwards to the point you need to be very careful about how many you eat.

This could also cause you to have fewer carbs available to consume from fresh vegetables, and you definitely don’t want to sacrifice your intake of these nutrient dense foods.

If you’re on a 1500 calorie per day diet, you only get to have about 19 grams of carbs total for the entire day and one ounce of almonds contains 5.6 grams of carbs.

So that alone will be about a quarter of your total daily allowance.

  • May Be Salty or Sugary Depending On The Variety

You also need to really watch how the nuts are prepared. Some are roasted in salt, meaning the sodium content is going to be far higher than what’s considered healthy.

Likewise, others are candied, which is never going to be an ideal option for anyone on keto as it’ll provide far too much sugar content.

If you plan on having nuts or seeds while on keto, opt for plain or simply roasted without salt. This will provide you with just pure nut and nothing else.

Also it’s worth noting that if you choose to include nut butters, then you’ll want to always opt for natural nut butter. No other ingredients should be listed on the label except for the nuts (or seeds) and possibly some salt.

  • A Known Allergen

Finally, nuts are a known allergen.

For some people, they just don’t sit right and even if you aren’t deathly allergic, you may not feel so well after eating them so they just aren’t an option.

So there you have the pros and cons of adding nuts and seeds to your diet plan while on the keto approach.

Some people do choose to include them while others simply opt to avoid. The choice will be yours but being prepared by knowing the facts about these foods will definitely help you make an informed decision.

If you are going to have nuts and seeds on your diet, you’re best off choosing those that contain the most total fat content and the lowest level of dietary fats.

The top choices then include pecans, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, and peanuts and flaxseeds.

References:

1. Hu, Frank B., JoAnn E. Manson, and Walter C. Willett. “Types of dietary fat and risk of coronary heart disease: a critical review.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 20.1 (2001): 5-19.

2. Nemets, Boris, Ziva Stahl, and R. H. Belmaker. “Addition of omega-3 fatty acid to maintenance medication treatment for recurrent unipolar depressive disorder.” American Journal of Psychiatry 159.3 (2002): 477-479.

3. Cabo, Jorge, Rodrigo Alonso, and Pedro Mata. “Omega-3 fatty acids and blood pressure.” British Journal of Nutrition107.S2 (2012): S195-S200.

4. Popp-Snijders, C., J. A. Schouten, and R. J. Heine. “Dietary supplementation of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids improves insulin sensitivity in non-insulin-dependent diabetes.” Diabetes Research (Edinburgh, Scotland) 4.3 (1987): 141-147.

5. Trowell, Hugh. “Ischemic heart disease and dietary fiber.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 25.9 (1972): 926-932.

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Shannon Clark holds a degree in Exercise Science from the University of Alberta, where she specialized in Sports Performance and Psychology. In addition to her degree, she is an AFLCA certified personal trainer and has been working in the field for over 12 years now, helping others lose weight, build muscle, and improve their athletic performance. She’s worked with people of all ages and helped them find the right fitness path for themselves. She is a regular contributor to Bodybuilding.com and has also contributed well over 400 articles to a variety of different websites dedicated towards muscle building and athletic performance. For more about her, find her at ShannonClarkFitness.com.

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