Turns out your ‘low carb’ snack may not be as low carb as you thought…
Nuts are typically seen as a convenient low carb option, but they’re not all created equal when it comes to their carb content. This list is in descending order of carb content, and we’ve also included a bit of a nutrient snapshot for each nut – so you can make the best choice for you.
Keep in mind that this is per 100g, and the recommended daily serve is 30-50g according to Nutrition Australia – that’s a handful or two. Happy snacking!
CARBS: 29.7g ~ PROTEIN: 2.4g ~ FAT: 0.7G
Fun fact: Chestnuts are the only nut that’s low in fat. Fresh chestnuts are a rare find in Oz; the sweet, starchy and nutty dry-roasted ones that you’ll come across now and then – albeit a delicious treat – offer very little in the way of protein, but a lot in the way of carbs! They’re particularly high in filling, gut-loving fibre though, with 100g having close to 14g dietary fibre; that’s around double the fibre content of other nuts on average.
CARBS: 16.8g ~ PROTEIN: 17g ~ FAT: 49.2g
There’s a reason creamy cashews are one of the key ingredients in all those in-vogue vegan raw, desserts: they’re naturally sweet, hence the higher carb content! That’s not to say cashews aren’t full of beneficial nutrients – including minerals like iron, zinc and magnesium – but if you’re watching your carb intake, we wouldn’t be snacking on these mindlessly straight from the packet!
CARBS: 8.9g ~ PROTEIN: 24.7g ~ FAT: 47.1g
Did you know that the peanut is technically a legume? (So it’s actually more of a pseudo-nut, but we’ll call it a nut for the sake of this post!). Don’t diss peanuts because of their higher carb content; they are the highest in protein of all the nuts, with a tablespoon of 100% peanut butter being significantly higher in protein than other nut butters, giving you 6g of protein and only just over 2g of carbs. Not all of us can be trusted with a jar of peanut butter in the pantry though…
CARBS: 6.8g ~ PROTEIN: 19.7g ~ FAT: 50.6g
Despite their higher carb content, pistachios are the second highest in protein after peanuts, so remember to look at the whole picture/all the macros, peeps! I like the kind of sweet/kind of savoury flavour profile of this gorgeous green nut, which means it works well in a variety of dishes. Plus, pistachios – along with macadamias – set themselves apart from the other nuts in that they’re rich in plant sterols – plant compounds with a cholesterol-lowering effect.
CARBS: 5.1g ~ PROTEIN: 14.8g ~ FAT: 61.4g
Score! I actually thought hazelnuts would be higher up on the list because to me they taste pretty sweet (and also probably because I associate them with a certain commercial chocolate spread). If you’re craving something sweet but don’t want to go crazy on the carbs, hazelnuts a good nut to go with. Try a handful in a homemade trail mix with a square of 85-90% dark chocolate chopped into chunks.
CARBS: 4.9g ~ PROTEIN: 9.8g ~ FAT: 71.9g
Creamy in texture and subtly sweet, pecans provide nutrients like magnesium and energising B vitamins. The pecan is also one of the nuts richest in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats – the same kind of ‘good fats’ you get in olive oil.
CARBS: 4.8g ~ PROTEIN: 19.5g ~ FAT: 54.7g
The most popular ‘snack nut’, almonds are awesome cos they taste kinda sweet, while also happening to be low in carbs…they’re also one of of the higher protein nuts and an excellent source of antioxidant-rich vitamin E.
I like buying the portion controlled boxes/packets of raw almonds so I don’t go overboard (look for brands like Lucky Nuts in the baking aisle at the supermarket – they do 30g snack-sized boxes). Tamari almonds (dry-roasted in gluten free soy sauce) from the health food store are also awesome if you’re in a snack rut.
3. Macadamias and Pine Nuts
Macadamias – CARBS: 4.5g ~ PROTEIN: 14.8g ~ FAT: 76.2g
Yay for macadamias being lower down on the list, cos they’re just so darn good…Now if only they weren’t so $$! Lower carb content aside, macadamias are also loaded with monounsaturated fat – one of the nutrients that’s a big part of the Mediterranean diet.
Pine Nuts – CARBS: 4.5g ~ PROTEIN: 13g ~ FAT: 70g
More of a salad-nut than a snack-nut, pine nuts are a particularly good source of manganese, important for bone health. Try pine nuts dry-toasted in a pan to bring out their rich, buttery flavour. Sprinkle over whatever greens you’re having to make them that little more special; I like a handful of toasted pine nuts on a simple rocket and parmesan salad dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
CARBS: 3g ~ PROTEIN: 14.4g ~ FAT: 69.2g
My go-to nut for snacking, the walnut is the only nut – and one of the few plant-based foods – that contains omega-3, an essential fatty acid (meaning we need to obtain it from our diets). Amongst its many benefits, omega-3 plays an important role in cognitive function (fitting, seeing that the walnut is shaped like a brain), and bringing down inflammation in the body.
If you’re not a fan of oily fish (read: tuna, salmon and sardines), which is the richest food source of omega-3, then walnuts are the nut to be snacking on…and if you find raw walnuts too bitter, dry-toast them in a pan (or dry-roast in the oven), as this helps remove the bitterness.
1. Brazil Nuts
CARBS: 2.4g ~ PROTEIN: 14.4g ~ FAT: 68.5g
…And we have a winner! Along with being THE lowest carb nut, just two creamy, crunchy Brazil nuts which have been cultivated in selenium-rich soil will give you the recommended daily amount of selenium. Not only a mineral, selenium is a powerful antioxidant, meaning it can help ward off oxidation/damage to our cells by the highly unstable and reactive compounds, i.e, free radicals.
- Images (excluding peanuts): Nuts for Life – www.nutsforlife.com.au
- Macros: Food Standards Australia New Zealand NUTTAB Database
- Peanut image: https://www.quora.com/Does-eating-peanuts-make-you-fat