Water chestnuts have been a part of Chinese cuisine for ages! They are very hydrating and have a crunchy sweet texture. But are water chestnuts keto friendly?
Even though their name contains “nuts”, they taste nothing of that sort! These small tubers are quite soft and taste more like fruit.
They are highly versatile and you can eat them raw, steamed, boiled, or roasted. Heck, you can even make flour by grinding them!
And the best thing about this vegetable is that it maintains all the crunch even after it’s cooked! So you can expect the same crispiness even in your stir fry!
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So far we have seen that water chestnuts are a type of vegetable.
We are often told that keto vegetables should be green, leafy, and grow above the ground. But these crispy tubers do not match a single criterion!
Let’s find out whether you can eat water chestnuts or bamboo shoots on the keto diet. I’ll also share some worthy low carb alternatives!
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Is Water Chestnut Keto-Friendly?
Water chestnuts are not keto-friendly because a 100g serving has 24g of net carbs. It is even more than the daily carb limit on a ketogenic diet!
No wonder why they taste so sweet! After all, it’s a tuber and they are well-known for their high carbohydrate content!
Tubers like water chestnuts are picked from the bulb of the plant. Each serving contains 97 calories and all of them come from starchy carbohydrates.
Had it been a calorie-oriented diet, water chestnuts would be an instant hit! They are super low in calories and contain good amounts of Vitamin B6, Potassium, Copper, and Manganese.
Scientists haven’t measured the exact G.I. of water chestnuts, but their macros say a lot of things!
So far we have seen that high-starch and low-fiber foods rank high on the Glycemic Index.
Water chestnuts have 24g of carbohydrates and only 3g of fiber, which tells us that it’s on the higher side of the scale.
While they aren’t as high as say, potatoes, but they can still cause spikes in your blood sugar (something dreaded by all keto-ers!)
Most of us have a daily carb limit of 20-25g, which is equal to a single serving of water chestnuts!
Carbs in Water Chestnuts
Each 100g serving of water chestnuts contains 24g of carbs and 3g of fiber, leaving us with 21g of net carbs.
Here is a complete look at macro and micronutrients present in a 3.5 ounce (100g) serving:
Water chestnuts are full of nutrients. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of raw water chestnuts provides (Source):
- Calories: 97
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Carbs: 23.9 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Potassium: 17% of the RDI
- Manganese: 17% of the RDI
- Copper: 16% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 16% of the RDI
- Riboflavin: 12% of the RDI
I must say they are packed with a lot of good stuff! Water chestnuts can be an excellent addition to a general diet, but unfortunately, we keto-ers have to part ways with this small tuber.
So can you have water chestnuts on a keto diet? The simplest and shortest answer is a big NO!
But I really miss that crunch along with the burst of sweet water!
Yeah, I can very well understand you! Having given so many years to the low carb diet, I have gone through such mournings a lot of times!
Even to this date, I come across certain items that I used to LOVE in the old days! And as soon as I look up its nutrition profile, they turn out to be a huge pool of carbohydrates!
Then comes those foods that you thought would be DEFINITELY keto and turn out to be completely OPPOSITE. One such product is imitation crab or crab sticks.
(Bookmark our “Is It Keto?” section because I regularly review such foods.)
Now that water chestnuts are packed with massive carbs, what other options do we keto-ers have?
Keto Substitute for Water Chestnuts
Luckily for you, I have a few alternatives that will give you a ray of hope!
They are almost as crunchy and watery as the good old water chestnuts! Use them in stir-frys, salads, or other keto Asian recipes!
Daikon radish is a highly versatile keto-friendly ingredient that can even replace potatoes in all recipes!
It has a texture similar to our water chestnuts WITHOUT the unnecessary extra carbs.
In fact, you’ll love this one if you also detest the bitter taste of a normal radish (just like me!) Daikon radish is very hydrating and has a mild taste, just like the water chestnuts.
It is a low carb root vegetable and you should consider peeling it if you want it to look good in your soups or salads.
However don’t expect the Daikon radish to be as sweet as water chestnut, but it still packs a lot of flavor and crunch!
Here’s a keto-friendly potato salad made using Daikon Radishes:
- 4 cups Daikon radish, cubed
- 1 tsp salt
- One-fourth cup diced celery
- One-fourth cup diced onion
- Four hard-boiled eggs
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- One-fourth cup sour cream
- One cup mayo
- One teaspoon mustard
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill
- Five strips of crumbled bacon
- One-fourth cup green onion
You can easily prepare it ahead of time. Recipes like these really simplify meal prepping on the keto diet!
Jicama is another crunchy and watery vegetable just like the water chestnuts. It is mostly eaten raw because of its fresh and juicy crispiness!
This root vegetable looks like a turnip but tastes like a non-sweet apple. The “meat” inside Jicama has a bright white color.
With just 4 grams of net carbs per serving (100g), Jicama is a keto-friendly vegetable.
It has a total of 9g carbohydrates, out of which 5 grams come from dietary fiber (which is deductible when counting net carbs!)
For a vegetable, that’s really a great amount of fiber. And not just fiber, Jicama is also rich in key nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron, and folate.
You can have Jicama on keto in any way you like.
Simply cut it into small matchsticks and enjoy it with a low carb dip like Tzatziki or Ranch. Or you can even make an instant dressing with lime juice, salt, and some chili powder.
You can also include Jicama in your stir-fry as they maintain their crispiness. But make sure you cook it lightly or you may end up losing the texture.
Baked Jicama fries is another keto-snack that is highly beginner-friendly and requires the least kitchen time!
Simply follow these steps for a batch of lip-smacking Jicama fries:
- Preheat your oven to 420 degrees F.
- Peel and slice Jicama into matchsticks.
- Toss Jicama with a seasoning of olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, and some pepper.
- Place it on a baking sheet and bake them for around 40 minutes or until crisp!
Even if you miss the high-carb carrots on a keto diet, Jicama will make your cravings disappear! In fact, I like it even better than the carrots due to its unique taste.
Are Bamboo Shoots Keto?
Bamboo shoots are keto-friendly because a half-cup (or 100g) serving contains just 3g of net carbs. It is a non-starchy vegetable and ranks lower in the glycemic index.
The keto diet is highly carb-restrictive and you should count each and every carb that you put in your belly!
Not many keto-ers are concerned about calories. But if you happen to care, then I have good news for you!
A single serving of Bamboo Shoots has less than 25 calories!
Bamboo shoots are native to China and hence they are an integral part of many Asian recipes.
They are essentially the young stems of a bamboo tree that are less than two weeks old. You can get them fresh or canned in any Asian supermarket.
Bamboo shoots are similar to water chestnuts when it comes to that watery, crunchy texture!
They are very mild in taste and can adapt to the flavor of any recipe.
Just make sure you don’t buy any fancy stuff such as chocolate-covered bamboo shoots. They are filthy rich in carbs and have a completely different macro profile!
White or cream-yellow is the ideal color for freshly picked bamboo shoots.
You may be concerned about the safety of consuming raw and fresh bamboo shoots. They contain taxiphyllin, which is a type of cyanide.
While it’s unlikely to kill you, you can still have certain unpleasant and short term side effects.
Here’s the solution: Boil them for 20-25 minutes in salt water to get rid of any possible toxins. Then put them in fresh water and again boil for 10 minutes to be double-safe!
And if you buy the canned version, there is no need to go through this step as the company would have already purified it for you!
You can easily store fresh and unpeeled bamboo shoots in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Exposing them to the sunlight may lead to the greening of their base. It turns your bamboo shoots bitter in taste.
Health Benefits of Bamboo Shoots on Keto
Whether keto or not, bamboo shoots are a great addition to any healthy diet!
They are low-calorie, low-carb, high-fiber, and enriched with many vital minerals and vitamins.
According to NutritionAndYou, Bamboo shoots have the following health benefits:
- A single serving of bamboo shoots contains 2.2g of roughage, which helps ease your constipation and lower the bad cholesterol in your blood (LDL).
- They are a rich source of various vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), and pantothenic acid.
- Bamboo shoots contain plenty of electrolytes that will help you get through the keto-flu. They contain good amounts of copper, iron, phosphorus, and manganese.
- You get 2.6g of protein per serving which is an excellent amount as compared to most vegetables!
On a keto diet, you can enjoy Bamboo Shoots sautéed, stir-fried, or in the form of a salad.
Your Guide to Keto-Friendly Vegetables
Vegetables are an essential component of any diet! They are rich in various micronutrients that you can never get from meats or dairy products.
However, you have to be very careful on a keto diet because veggies can easily add up carbs.
Your best bet is to stick with dark green and leafy vegetables that grow above the ground. Examples include Kale, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Spinach, etc.
Other varieties of keto-friendly vegetables belong to the cruciferous family. They include broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, lettuce, cucumbers, celery and more.
In fact, you can even enjoy low carb salad bowls at major fast-food chains. Check out our keto guides:
Chipotle, Wendy’s, or Red Robin.
Low carb vegetables also make for an amazing side dish with your otherwise meat-loaded keto meals. For example, this creamed spinach can gel well with most of your meals.
In my years of experience with the keto diet, I’ve generally seen that brighter vegetables tend to be higher in carbs! Think peas, corn, yucca, beans, potatoes, etc.
Jalapenos and Bell Peppers are some of the rare exceptions to this rule.
To play it safe, always avoid any sweet-tasting vegetables, like the water chestnut itself!
Pumpkin is one of the sweetest keto-friendly vegetables and you’ll find it in tons of keto dessert recipes.
Conclusion: Are Water Chestnuts Keto?
Water chestnuts are not at all keto-approved because a single serving packs 24g of net carbs!
It can consume your entire quota of carbohydrates for the day!
Jicama and Daikon Radish are the two similar-tasting veggies that you may enjoy on the keto diet.
Bamboo Shoots are also keto-friendly and they share a lot of similarities with the water chestnuts. Both of them are high-fiber foods with a crunchy, watery taste.
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