Like most legumes, peanuts are a contentious food for people on a ketogenic diet. Why? Because they contain anti-nutrients like omega-6 fatty acids, which can cause health problems such as IBS (inflammatory bowel syndrome) and a leaky gut.
But because of their low net carbohydrate levels and potential health benefits such as heart health and lower blood glucose levels, you might want to include them in your keto diet.
So, are peanuts keto-friendly? The short answer is yes. However, you should only eat organic peanuts and limit your portion sizes and frequency to get the most out of them. This review will discuss the nutritional value, benefits, and risks of peanuts in keto.
Nutritional Analysis of Peanuts
But peanuts also contain anti-nutrients like phytic acid. Let’s look at the breakdown of nutrients in peanuts:
Biotin in Peanuts
Biotin is a vitamin that is key in converting food into energy. Biotin also boosts hair growth and healthy skin, as well as cognitive, eye, and liver function.
Since biotin is soluble in water, the body doesn’t store it in fat, meaning you need to get it from the foods you eat. Peanuts are rich in biotin, with 100g offering roughly 20 micrograms of biotin or roughly 65% of the recommended daily value.
Carbs in Peanuts
Peanuts are low in carbs, albeit higher than most other nuts. If you have a carbohydrate limit of 25 grams, half a cup serving of peanuts should provide about 50% of your limit. As a result, you should consume peanuts moderately if you’re on a keto diet.
Fatty Acids in Peanuts
Peanuts have high-fat content, which is good if you’re on a ketogenic diet. However, while peanuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, a substantial portion of the fats in peanuts are omega-6.
This is a problem because the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 should be 1:1. But overall omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties while omega-6 fatty acids are inflammatory.
Therefore, if you want to eat peanuts, you should also eat high omega-3 foods like salmon roe and seafood to help you balance your omega-3: omega-6 ratios.
If you’re on a vegan diet and want to eat peanuts, you should balance your omega-3: omega-6 ratios by eating chia seeds since their omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is 3:1.
What Are the Benefits of Eating Peanuts on a Ketogenic Diet?
Peanuts are rich in antioxidants like coumaric acid. This acid has been proven to help protect the body against free radicals, unstable molecules that can kill body cells. Both conventional peanuts and organic ones rich in oleic acid have high antioxidant properties.
The primary fatty acid in peanuts is oleic acid, a fat that has been proven to help decrease inflammation in the body. Studies have shown that eating organic peanuts, rich in oleic acid, can reduce inflammation symptoms like IL-8 and TMF (tumor necrosis factor).
Numerous studies by the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) link peanuts to heart health. These heart health benefits can be attributed to the fact that peanuts are rich in B vitamins; B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), and B3 (niacin), as well as copper.
Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Blood sugar glucose levels can decrease when you consume peanuts, particularly those with plenty of oleic acids, such as organic peanuts.
An NCBI study found a faster return to normal blood sugar levels after people ate conventional peanuts instead of organic ones rich in oleic acid. Another study showed better results in blood sugar regulation when people ate organic peanuts as opposed to conventional ones.
People start following keto diets to help them lose weight, and peanuts can help with weight loss. Studies have proven peanuts can promote weight loss by making people feel satisfied faster. This satiating effect can help you eat less food, thus helping you lose weight.
A four-week study by TOS (The Obesity Society) comprising 65 overweight men fed two ounces of organic peanuts per day as part of a calorie-restrictive regimen shows that the men lost more fat and retained more lean mass.
What Are the Risks of Eating Peanuts on a Ketogenic Diet?
Peanuts contain aflatoxins, toxins produced by aspergillus mold that are often found on peanuts. Depending on where the peanuts were grown, they may have low aflatoxin levels.
However, if the peanuts have high aflatoxin levels, it can lead to liver failure. The risk of aflatoxin increases or decreases based on how the peanuts are stored. If they are stored in humid environments, the risk is higher.
Allergic reactions related to peanuts have increased drastically over the last couple of years. In persons susceptible to allergic reactions, peanuts can trigger an immune response that causes issues like inflammation in the gut and throat, itching, runny nose, and wheezing.
It’s Easy to Overeat Peanuts
It’s also important to note that some people find peanuts, especially peanut butter, very easy to overindulge. Therefore, if you find it challenging to eat peanuts moderately, avoiding them completely might be your best bet.
Phytic acid is a compound found in peanuts, and it can inhibit the absorption of vital minerals such as zinc which is also present in peanuts. Also known as Phytates, phytic acid is present in most nuts; the amount of phytic acid in peanuts is between 0.5% and 4.5%.
In conclusion, if you consider the macronutrient ratios of peanuts, they can fit into a ketogenic diet. They contain B vitamins, copper, and magnesium. Unfortunately, peanuts are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, therefore, not ideal for people with inflammatory bowel disorder.