Are Cashews Keto-Friendly?

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Written by Brenda Peralta, Registered Dietitian and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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Most people know that nuts are one of the most basic foods you can include in a keto diet. However, did you know that they all have different carb content? This can make or break your ketosis levels. 

So, are cashews keto-friendly? Or are they higher in carbs compared to other nuts? 

This article will teach you everything related to cashews and a keto diet. How many carbs do they have? Are you allowed to eat them? How many can you eat without affecting ketosis? What kind and what can you eat with them? Finally, other keto-friendly alternatives you can munch on.


What are cashews?

Cashew nuts are a popular type of nut. They are a very nutritious and versatile food since you can make them into nut butter or dairy substitutes like milk, or even cheese. 

This nut is cultivated from the cashew tree. They are obtained from the fruit’s seed that grows in this tree. While they were initially cultivated in Brazil, they are now found in several parts of the world. 

They are often expensive nuts due to the process of separating the fruit from the seeds. It’s been found that doing it with equipment can damage the product. Thus, in some cases, it’s done manually. That is why it elevates the costs of the food. 


Cashews nutrition facts

These nuts are high in nutrients like copper, selenium, manganese, and magnesium. All essential nutrients that our body needs to stay healthy. But what about the carb content?

Serving size: 1 oz (28 g)

  • Calories: 157
  • Fat: 12.4 g
  • Net carbohydrates: 7.7 g
  • Total carbohydrates: 8.6 g
  • Fiber: 0.9 g
  • Protein: 5.2 g

Its carb content is high compared to other nuts like almonds. Cashews have 7.7 g of net carbs for one ounce, while the same amount of almonds has only 2.6 grams of carbs. 

One of the benefits that it has is its high protein content. For someone having trouble reaching their protein requirements or want to follow a plant-based approach, this nut can help you increase your protein intake. 

Finally, it is high in unsaturated fats. This type of fat seems to have more benefits for the heart when they take the place of saturated fats (typically found in processed and animal products). 




Can you eat cashews on keto?

In most cases, the answer you will hear is no, cashews are not keto-friendly. You cannot eat them on a ketogenic diet. 

However, I believe that if you track your macros and stay within your carb budget, you can include them in very small portions. 

It depends on the number of carbs you have during the day. Keep in mind that the lower your daily carb intake, the lower the portion size.
They are still a very nutritious and high-protein food worth including, as long as you can balance them with other carb sources throughout the day. 


How many cashews on a keto diet can you have?

The amount depends on how many carbohydrates you stay under for the day. 

For example, if you want to stay below 25 g, ½ ounce is probably a good portion size since it will provide you with 3.8 g of net carbs. This is still a very manageable amount to have with this lower budget. 

On the other hand, if you stay below 50 g, you can have 1 ounce (about 28 g) of nuts. This will give you 7.7 g of net carbohydrates. You still need to make adjustments in your carb intake for the rest of the day to avoid going overboard. 

1 ounce is about 18 whole cashews.


What kind of cashews on keto can you have?

One of the benefits of cashews is their versatility. You can have them raw or include them in other forms like cheese, milk, or nut butter. So, what kind can you include on a ketogenic diet?

  • Powder. The nutrition content depends on each brand. The one from PB2 offers a great option for those that want to include cashews without too many carbs. For every 2 tablespoons, you only get 3 g of net carbs. Add them to your shakes to increase the nutritional content. 
  • Milk alternative. It is another great option to include a lower content of cashews. For every cup of this type of nut milk, you get roughly 1 g of net carbs. 
  • Butter. You need to be careful with this option since it is higher in carbs compared to other versions. Two tablespoons of nut butter offer around 8-9 g of net carbs. 
  • Oil. It is the only version of cashews that doesn’t contain any carbs in its nutritional composition. While you can cook with it, many people also use it as a skincare product. 
  • Cheese. Some brands use cashews as a vegan replacement for dairy products. You can find it shredded or in powder cheese form. They contain 2-4 grams of net carbs per serving. 
  • Cream cheese​​. It is also a replacement for cream cheese. In this case, this plant-based option offers 3-4 g of net carbs per serving. 

Any option that you decide to use remember to keep track of the portion size and how many grams of carbohydrates it provides. 




What can you eat with cashews on keto?

Since cashews are somewhat high in carbohydrates (depending on the type that you use), it’s better to pair them with foods that are not going to provide you with a lot of carbohydates. That way you compensate for your carb intake throughout the day. 

There are several different ways that you can use cashews:

  • Nut butter with celery sticks
  • Nut milk with keto granola and berries
  • Keto cashew Asian chicken 
  • Cauliflower cashew balls
  • Cashew butter keto energy bites 

You can also create tasty keto dressing by using its oil. It will increase the flavor and it won’t add any carbs to your meal. 


Keto-friendly cashew alternatives

If you are not a big fan of cashews, or you are looking for an alternative that is lower in carb, here is a list of foods that you can replace it with:

Remember that while nuts and seeds are high in fat, they also contain some carbs. Thus, it is essential that you always track the portion size and keep count of how many grams of carbs you consumed. 


FAQ about cashews on a keto diet 

For those of you who still have questions about the keto diet and this nut, we’ve gathered the most frequently asked questions to clear up any remaining questions. 

Yes, they are high in vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fats (healthy type of fat), and plant-based protein. They contain selenium, magnesium, manganese, and iron, all essential nutrients for a healthy diet.

Also, they have 5 g of protein per ounce, which is similar to the protein content found in one large egg. 

They have a glycemic index of 22, making them a great option to avoid spiking your sugar levels too much. They are good for people following a ketogenic diet (as long as you count the carb content) and people who have diabetes. 

They have several health benefits:

  • High protein. This helps support muscle mass and increase fullness levels. 
  • Good for heart health. Thanks to its high unsaturated fat content, when paired with a healthy diet, they can decrease the risk of heart disease. 
  • Prevent sugar spikes. This is ideal for people with diabetes to have better glucose control. 
  • High in nutrients.

It all depends on the portion size. One ounce of cashews has 137 kcal. As long as you keep track of your calories throughout the day and don’t eat more than you use, you will not gain weight. 

You can have several dishes with cashews. Here is a list of my favorite ones:

  • Cashew broccoli chicken
  • Coconut cashew air fried chicken 
  • Cashew shrimp stir fry 
  • Cashew butter energy keto bites
  • Coconut cashew bars

Walnuts are a better option since they have a lower carb content. For every ounce, they have 2 g of net carbs (compared to 7.7 g for cashews). This makes it a better option for those doing keto. 

However, if you prefer cashews, you can still have them as long as you keep track of the portion and the carb intake.