Pesto sauce has seen something of a culinary resurgence in recent years, especially among individuals following low carb diets like the keto diet. This isn’t exactly surprising, as the popular Italian sauce is traditionally prepared from scratch using a variety of low carb ingredients. But is pesto keto?
Read on as we take an in-depth look at pesto sauce in order to find out!
What Makes Pesto Such a Popular Choice for Low Carb Diets?
There are quite a few reasons why pesto sauce has become so popular among the low carb dieting crowd. In no particular order, here are 3 of the main reasons why it’s so popular:
- Pesto is traditionally prepared from scratch using a variety of low carb ingredients, including basil leaves, minced garlic cloves, pine nuts, cheese, and olive oil.
- Pesto is an excellent source of both dietary fat and protein; a 100 gram serving of pesto sauce provides approximately 50 grams of fat and 18 grams of protein.
- It’s a particularly good source of sodium and potassium, two electrolytes that can be especially beneficial for keto dieters who are trying to ward off the dehydration associated with rapid water weight loss that is common in the early stages of the keto diet.
Is Pesto Keto?
Pesto sauce isn’t just 100% keto-friendly. It actually just might be one of the most keto-friendly sauces you’ll find.
Offering up a whopping 50 grams of fat per 100 gram serving size, pesto sauce is also an excellent source of protein as well. That doesn’t even begin to consider the fact that pesto sauce keeps the carb count to a bare minimum (5 grams of carbs per same 100 gram serving size) by being made with a mix of high quality, low carb ingredients.
However, it’s important to stress that the best way to make sure that your pesto sauce is absolutely keto-friendly is to just make it from scratch yourself.
While it’s admittedly easier to just pick up some pesto at the grocery store, many pesto sauce brands contain too many hidden sugars and additives to really be considered keto-friendly. With that being said, you can still probably find some more health and/or keto-focused pesto brands in dedicated health stores.
Pesto Nutrition Facts
Here is the approximate nutritional breakdown for a 100 gram serving size of an average homemade keto-friendly pesto sauce:
- 534 calories
- 50 grams dietary fat
- 18 grams protein
- 5 grams carbs
- 1.6 grams dietary fiber
- 0.8 grams sugar
- 40 mg cholesterol
- 700 mg sodium
- 202 mg potassium
Good Keto Pesto Recipes
Health Benefits of Pesto
Beyond just tasting amazing, pesto sauce also offers some pretty impressive (and proven!) health benefits as well. Here are 3 of the best ones that you can gain by eating pesto:
- Helps protect against heart disease. As pesto sauce uses olive oil as a base, it naturally provides the exact same fantastic heart health benefits that are typically provided by the Mediterranean staple. Olive oil has been proven to reduce your risk of developing heart disease by relieving high blood pressure, lowering total cholesterol levels, and improving overall blood flow. (1)
- Provides you with antioxidant protection. Many of the traditionally used pesto sauce ingredients are also great sources of antioxidants. Olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, and basil leaves are all typical ingredients that have been proven to be fantastic sources of disease fighting antioxidants.
- Good for brain health. Since most homemade pesto includes pine nuts (or a similar option like walnuts), you’ll also be getting a modest amount of omega-3 fatty acids per serving. Studies have shown that omega-3 dietary fats are incredibly beneficial when it comes to relieving inflammation and improving overall brain health, memory, and cognitive functioning. (2)
Keto Pesto Alternatives
Here are a few of our top picks for keto-friendly substitutes that you can use instead of pesto sauce:
- Basil oil
- Parsley oil
- Modify the ingredients used and come up with your own spin on homemade pesto