Cashews are now available in every supermarket. You’ll usually find them right next to walnuts or pecans.
But are they as healthy as real nuts and suitable for low-carb diets like keto? You’ll find out all about that in this article.
Are Cashews Keto?
Cashews are neither nuts nor fruits. They are the seeds of the cashew tree.
Because of the shape of the cashew seed, the plant is also called the kidney tree. Its fruits are called cashew apples.
Although only one kernel grows per cashew apple, they are available in vast quantities today.
The Portuguese brought the tropical tree and its seed to Europe through the colonization of Brazil.
Cashews are often marketed as healthy nuts. Yet they are not nuts. Are cashews, therefore, less suitable for low-carb diets?
Carbs in Cashews
How Many Net Carbs Are in Cashews?
100 grams of cashews provide the following average nutritional values (*):
- Energy: 553 calories
- Protein: 18.2 grams
- Fat: 43.8 grams
- Carbs: 32.7 grams
- Dietary fiber: 3.3 grams
- Net carbs: 29.7 grams
Compared to macadamia, which has only 5.6 grams of net carbohydrates (*), cashews provide a drastically worse result.
In cashews, the fatty acids only outweigh the carbohydrates. They are just not nuts.
Are Cashews Keto-Friendly?
Cashews are not a low-carb food. Their fat-to-net carbohydrate ratio of less than 1.5 is no longer compelling.
Cashews do not lend themselves well to the ketogenic diet. At best, they can be consumed in minimal amounts.
Are Cashews Healthy?
Cashews are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they score high on micronutrients; on the other, they are rich in anti-nutrients.
The following vitamins and minerals stand out positively in cashews (*):
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B6
This variety of minerals, however, comes with a caveat. Cashews are seeds. Therefore, they contain anti-nutrient phytic acid.
Since phytic acid can insolubly bind minerals in the digestive tract, it limits their absorption (Gibson et al. 20101).
In addition, seeds must be resistant to ensure the continuation of their genus. They produce large, sticky proteins to ward off pests, insects, and microorganisms (Dolan et al. 20102).
Although we do not digest these anti-nutrients, they can sneak into the bloodstream through the gut.
These lectins hide in seeds, grains, leaves, barks, and hulls.
Lectins bind viruses and bacteria and help them to cross the intestinal wall and reach organs (Dalla Pellegrina et al. 20093).
In addition, lectins can cause inflammation (Freed 19994).
Moreover, lectins can bind to insulin and leptin receptors, ultimately leading to weight gain (Shechter 19835).
After cashews are rich in carbohydrates and fats, they are a poor weight-loss choice. The carbohydrates, lectins, and fat mixture is ideal for building body fat.
In moderate amounts, cashews are not necessarily unhealthy. But reaching for real nuts is better if you want to lose weight.
Low-Carb Alternatives to Cashews for Keto
You can find out which high-fat nuts you can replace cashews with to lose weight more quickly in my article on the top 10 keto nuts.
Cashews Are High in Carbs
In summary, cashews don’t deliver what the cheers in magazines promise. Cashews do contain fats, but they are high in carbohydrates. They are perfect for spiking insulin levels and efficiently storing the supplied energy as body fat.
Cashews are not suitable for low-carb diets like the keto diet. There are far better alternatives for weight loss (see above).
Carbs in Cashews: Keto FAQ
How many net carbs are in cashews?
There are about 30 grams of net carbs in 100 grams of cashews.
How many cashews for keto?
100 grams of cashews can already kick you out of ketosis.
Are cashews good for a low-carb diet?
Cashews are not good for low-carb diets.
How many carbs are in 100 grams of cashews?
There are 33 grams of carbs in 100 grams of cashews.
1Teff KL, Elliott SS, Tschöp M, Kieffer TJ, Rader D, Heiman M, Townsend RR, Keim NL, D’Alessio D, Havel PJ. Dietary fructose reduces circulating insulin and leptin, attenuates postprandial suppression of ghrelin, and increases triglycerides in women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Jun;89(6):2963-72. doi: 10.1210/jc.2003-031855. PubMed PMID: 15181085.
2Meijssen S, Cabezas MC, Ballieux CG, Derksen RJ, Bilecen S, Erkelens DW. Insulin mediated inhibition of hormone sensitive lipase activity in vivo in relation to endogenous catecholamines in healthy subjects. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Sep;86(9):4193-7. doi: 10.1210/jcem.86.9.7794. PubMed PMID: 11549649.
3Chandalia M, Garg A, Lutjohann D, von Bergmann K, Grundy SM, Brinkley LJ. Beneficial effects of high dietary fiber intake in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. N Engl J Med. 2000 May 11;342(19):1392-8. doi: 10.1056/NEJM200005113421903. PubMed PMID: 10805824.
Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc. is an author and blogger from Austria who writes in-depth content about health and nutrition. His book series on Interval Fasting landed #1 on the bestseller list in the German Amazon marketplace in 15 categories.
Stephan is a true man of science, having earned multiple diplomas and master's degrees in various fields. He has made it his mission to bridge the gap between conventional wisdom and scientific knowledge. He precisely reviews the content and sources of this blog for currency and accuracy.
Click on the links above to visit his author and about me pages.