One of the often forgotten nuts in keto is the Brazil nut, and that’s probably because they aren’t as readily available as nuts like almonds or academia nuts.
However, if you have access to these buttery and nutty flavored treats, you’re in luck.
Are Brazil nuts keto friendly? Brazil nuts are one of the most keto-friendly nuts you can eat with less than 1.5 grams of net carbs per 1 oz. (28g) serving.
In this article, I’ll discuss why you may or may NOT want to eat nuts while following a ketogenic diet, how many carbs are in different serving sizes of Brazil nuts, the health benefits, and some other nuts that are also keto-friendly.
Can You Eat Brazil Nuts On Keto?
Brazil nuts are one of the lowest net-carb nuts that you could eat, thus making it perfectly acceptable to eat while following a ketogenic diet.
Problem is, most people can’t find Brazil nuts on its own. Chances are that you’ll see them in a bowl of mixed nuts, but finding them for purchase separately is rare in many grocery stores.
If you have access to this crunchy, yet creamy nut, you’ll understand just how delicious and addicting these nuts are.
Are Brazil nuts low in carbs?
Relative to most nuts, Brazil nuts are on par with being some of the lowest (if not THEE lowest) carb nut.A 1 ounce (28g) serving of Brazil nuts has 3.4 grams of total carbohydrates, 2.1 grams of which come from dietary fiber, thus leaving 1.3 grams of carbohydrates in a 1 ounce serving. 1
Compare that to a 1 ounce serving of almonds which has 2.7 grams of net carbs, which is almost double that of Brazil nuts. While not that huge of a difference, if you’re trying to spare every carbohydrate, then all those negligible things add up.
If you prefer almonds over Brazil nuts, then just eat the almonds. There’s nothing you HAVE to eat while following a ketogenic diet.
Keto is more about what you don’t eat, or eat very little of, and those are carbohydrate-rich foods.
Health Benefits Of Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are nutrient dense (and energy dense), which makes them a great snack for backpacking or outdoor adventures when you want lots of calories in a compact package.
Here are just a few health benefits of Brazil nuts.
Rich in selenium
Out of every nut, Brazil nuts are the richest source of selenium averaging 96 mcg per nut with some packing as much as 400 mcg per nut. 2 The recommended dietary intake for selenium, is 55 mcg per day, so a single Brazil nut has nearly 200% of this mineral.
Selenium is a trace element essential for your thyroid, but also has influences on cell growth and your immune system. 3
They have linked higher levels to positive outcomes of pregnancy, heart disease, cancer, and even mood disorders 4
Low levels of selenium can reduce thyroid activity and may lead to autoimmune disorders like Graves or Hashimoto’s. There is also an increased risk for thyroid cancer with low levels of selenium. 5= 6
One study showed a correlation with low selenium levels and a higher percentage of hypothyroidism, thyroiditis, and an enlarged thyroid. 7
May reduce inflammation
One study found that a single 20 or 50 gram serving of Brazil nuts reduced inflammatory markers. 8 In another study, they fed people undergoing treatment for kidney failure one Brazil nut per day led to lower inflammatory markers and decreased cholesterol. 9
However, once people stopped eating Brazil nuts, all the positive benefits seemed to revert to where they were previously 10 11
Similar to weight loss, you must maintain these habits long term to reap the benefits (i.e., maintain your weight loss). Therefore, I strongly emphasize long-term habit change over quick fixes with my clients.
In an 8-week study, eating Brazil nuts containing 290 mcg of selenium significantly increased HDL (good) cholesterol. 12
In a 16-week study, obese teenagers eating one or two Brazil nuts per day reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels 13
Why You May Not Want To Eat Nuts On Keto
While there are mostly excellent things to say about Brazil nuts and nuts in general, there are some negatives, especially for weight loss.
With Brazil nuts specifically, since they are high in selenium, too much can have a negative effect.
Intakes as high as 5,000 mcg of selenium (about 50 Brazil nuts) may lead to a condition known as selenosis (selenium toxicity). Selenosis has been shown to cause things like heart attacks, kidney failure, and breathing problems. 14
However, communities in the Amazon, where Brazil nuts are very prevalent and diets are naturally high in selenium, do not seem to show any negative effects or experience selenosis. 15
Easy to overeat
Not related to Brazil nuts specifically, but all nuts. Nuts are quite energy dense, meaning that they contain a lot of calories relative to the volume (portion size).
Regardless of what you may have read or heard from other “keto gurus,” weight loss is still about creating a negative energy balance.
I.e., you still need to burn more calories than you consume in order for weight loss to occur. With nuts being so energy dense, it can be real easy for you to consume a sizeable amount of calories in a relatively short amount of time.
Unless you’re great at moderating your intake to small servings, nuts may not be the greatest use of your calories from a satiety standpoint.
I don’t know about you, but eating a few nuts isn’t that satisfying, and sometimes trying to eat only a few leads to eating the whole bag. If this sounds like you too, then eating Brazil nuts or any other nut on keto when attempting to lose weight may not be ideal.
What Other Nuts Can You Eat On The Keto Diet?
Assuming you’ve read the above little section, and you’re able to eat them in moderation, you’ll be glad to know that nearly all nuts are keto-friendly. You also have to be mindful that some nuts have more net carbs than others.
And related to the energy density point above, this also applies to net carbs in nuts. While nuts only have between 1 and 5 grams of net carbs per 1 ounce (28g) serving, you must realize just how small a serving is to begin with.
To put it in perspective, here is what a 1 oz. serving of nuts looks like for various nuts:
1 oz of nuts:
- 15 pecan halves
- 15 macadamias
- 12 hazelnuts
- 15 walnut halves
- 35 peanuts
- 18 medium cashews
- 24 almonds
As you see, it wouldn’t take much to ingest an extra 170 – 200 calories, which is how many calories most nuts fall between for a single ounce.
An equivalent serving in nut butter would be 2 tablespoons, which is also easy to overeat. Most people who measure out two tablespoons are realistically eating 4 tablespoons worth by eyeballing it.
As you see in the image below, unless you’re weighing it out or scraping the measuring spoon flat, you can easily ingest another 200 calories per serving.
Brazil nuts are rich in selenium and very low in net carbohydrates, thus making them a perfect addition to a ketogenic diet.
However, if weight loss is your goal, you should be mindful of your portion sizes as Brazil nuts and all other types of nuts are very energy (calorie) dense.