Are Water Chestnuts Keto? (No, Here’s Why)

Are Water Chestnuts Keto

Do you like water chestnuts? A unique vegetable, this ingredient is not a nut at all! Water chestnuts are actually named after regular chestnuts because of their color and shape but they are not related at all. These vegetables are aquatic tubers and can be found in many Asian dishes. They offer some health benefits and are high in nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and essential minerals.

Water Chestnuts are not keto. This is because the ketogenic diet focuses on high in fat and low in carb foods so the body can use fat rather than carbs for energy. Unfortunately, water chestnuts are too high in carbohydrates to fit this lifestyle. The best keto alternatives to water chestnuts are Galil Hearts of Palm and Kroger Fennel Root.

Want to learn more about water chestnuts? Keep reading to learn more about them as well as their nutritional value and alternatives!

What are Water Chestnuts?

Water chestnuts are aquatic tubers and are closely related to root vegetables such as potatoes and yams. They are often grown in swap-like areas in Asian, African, and Australasian countries. The bulbs of the grassy crops are harvested year-round for use in mainly Asian dishes. Water chestnuts can be eaten raw, dried, or cooked and add an interesting texture to dishes like stir-fries and salad.

I like to use water chestnuts as a part of my stir-fries as they are easy to prep from canned. I just drain, rinse, and add to the pan. That being said, I don’t personally follow the keto diet, but I would not use this ingredient if I was.

Whole vs. Sliced Water Chestnuts

You may be questioning the variation between the whole and sliced water chestnut nutrition information above. This difference is due to the way the water chestnuts are served. As with any food, the more the ingredient is broken down, the higher the concentration in a given measurement.

What are Dried Water Chestnuts?

Dried water chestnuts can be bought whole or as a powder. When water chestnuts are dried, they can be ground and used as a thickener for things like soups and sauces. The starch can also be used as a gluten-free flour replacement; although it would need to be mixed with another form of gluten-free flour for the best texture. While it is a wheat flour replacement, unfortunately this product is still not keto-friendly due to its high carb content.

Health Benefits of Water Chestnuts

Water chestnuts are high in fiber, vitamin B6, and important minerals such as potassium, manganese, and copper. The nutrients in these water-dense vegetables have been shown to support healthy digestion and cell function. Fiber is especially important for bowel movements, healthy blood cholesterol levels, and even blood sugar regulation.

What Makes Water Chestnuts Bad for Keto?

Water chestnuts are a root vegetables that is very high in carbs. Like most root vegetables, water chestnuts surpass the average carbohydrate goal for most keto dieters. Most vegetables allowed on the keto diet are in the 0-2 net carb range, while water chestnuts have 14 net carbs per 1 cup serving. They are also very low in fat, so they cannot help keto-dieters reach their high fat intake goals, either.

Nutritional Content of Water Chestnuts

No matter if they are canned, frozen, raw, or even dried, water chestnuts are not keto-friendly due to their high carbohydrate content. Below we’ll cover some of these different preparations and their nutritional content. We’ll also go more in-depth on why water chestnuts are not keto and discuss some other keto-friendly alternatives.

La Choy Sliced Water Chestnuts


  • Water chestnuts
  • Water
  • Citric Acid

Nutritional Information:

In a 1 cup serving of La Choy Sliced Water Chestnuts

  • Calories: 120
  • Total Fat: 0 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 g
  • Sodium: 30 g
  • Carbs: 28 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Sugar: 6 g
  • Protein: 2 g

Dynasty Canned Whole Water Chestnuts


  • Water chestnuts
  • Water

Nutritional Information:

In a 1 cup serving of Dynasty Canned Whole Water Chestnuts:

  • Calories: 40
  • Total Fat: 0 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 g
  • Sodium: 5 g
  • Carbs: 10 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 0 g

Sukha Sabut Singhara Singhada Dry Whole Water Chestnut


  • Water Chestnuts

Nutritional Information:

In a 1 oz. serving of Sukha Sabut Singhara Singhada Dry Whole Water Chestnut:

  • Calories: 103
  • Total Fat: 0.5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 g
  • Sodium: 0 g
  • Carbs: 23 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 2 g

Minh Phat Frozen Water Chestnuts


  • Water chestnuts

Nutritional Information:

In a 1 cup serving of Minh Phat Frozen Water Chestnuts

  • Calories: 75
  • Total Fat: 0.3 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 g
  • Sodium: 78 g
  • Potassium: 646 mg
  • Carbs: 17 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Sugar: 4.1 g
  • Protein: 2.3 g

Alternatives to Water Chestnuts

Galil Hearts of Palm

Galil Whole Hearts of Palm, All Natural/Non-GMO, 14 Ounce (Pack of 12) Ingredients:

  • Hearts of palm
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Citric acid

Nutritional Information:

In a 1 cup serving of Galil Hearts of Palm:

  • Calories: 41
  • Total Fat: 0.9 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 g
  • Sodium: 622 g
  • Potassium: 622 mg
  • Carbs: 6.8 g
  • Fiber: 3.5 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 3.7 g

Hearts of palm are an excellent, keto-friendly substitute for water chestnuts. They are also canned and have a similar color and crunchy texture. Hearts of palm come from the inner most part of palm trees and are also known as palmitos and palm hearts. This vegetable has about 2 net carbs per serving and offers a substantial amount of protein, both suitable for the keto diet. Keep in mind that this brand’s canned hearts of palm is high in sodium. If you are looking to reduce your sodium intake, you can drain and rinse canned vegetables or buy low sodium/salt free canned goods.

Kroger Organic Fennel Root


  • Fennel

Nutritional Information:

In a 1 cup serving of Kroger Organic Fennel Root, there is:

  • Calories: 27
  • Total Fat: 0.17 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 g
  • Sodium: 45 g
  • Carbs: 6.34 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 1 g

Fennel root is another great swap for water chestnuts. While it rings in a little higher than other vegetables at 3 net carbs, it still fits within the keto diet and can be used in many recipes in place of water chestnuts. It has a similar crisp, crunchy texture and nutty flavor. You can also use the bulb, stems, and leaves of a fennel plant- so make sure you save your scraps for other dishes!

Kroger Radishes


  • Radishes

Nutritional Information:

In a 1 cup serving of Kroger Radishes

  • Calories: 9
  • Total Fat: 0.06 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.02 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 g
  • Sodium: 23 g
  • Carbs: 2 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Sugar: 1 g
  • Protein: 0.5 g

Radishes are similar to water chestnuts with their light, crispy, and crunchy texture. They’re packed with healthy nutrients and are also high in antioxidants. They are a great ketogenic replacement for water chestnuts in salads or other raw dishes. Keep in mind radishes are not the best when cooked, so stick to some of the other alternatives for warm dishes.

Kroger Celery Hearts


  • Celery hearts

Nutritional Information:

In a 3 oz serving of Kroger Celery hearts, there are:

  • Calories: 14
  • Total Fat: 0.15 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.04 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 g
  • Sodium: 68 g
  • Carbs: 2.5 g
  • Fiber: 1.4g
  • Sugar: 1.4g
  • Protein: 0.6 g

Celery is a well-known vegetable and is often used in many different dishes. Swap water chestnut with chopped celery in any recipe to get the same great crunch without the additional carbohydrates. Celery also offers exceptional flavor to almost any dish, so don’t be shy when tossing it in!


From this information, we can gather that water chestnuts are not suitable for the ketogenic diet. They are low in fat, high in carbs, and ring in at 7 g of net carbs per serving, all contributing factors to this determination. Water chestnuts can be bought in canned, frozen, or dried form and are best served cooked or raw. Try swapping water chestnuts with lower carb veggies like hearts of palm, fennel root, radishes, or celery. These replacements are all low in net carbs and keto-friendly but they offer the same crispy texture. 

Related Questions

Are water chestnuts vegan?

Yes, water chestnuts are vegan. They originate from grass-like shrubs in swap lands are not produced with any animal products or byproducts. However, they are often prepared in dishes with animal-derived sauces such as fish sauce or oyster sauce, so check the menu or label for these ingredients if this is a concern.

Are water chestnuts good for gut health?

Yes, water chestnuts offer many great nutrients that support gut health. One of the major components that water chestnuts provide is fiber. Fiber helps regulate bowel movements, supports healthy nutrient absorption, and acts as a prebiotic for your gut microbiome.

Are water chestnuts low in fat?

Yes, water chestnuts have a very low-fat content. In a one-cup serving, water chestnuts have 0 grams of fat. This can be a great option if you are on a low-fat diet, however, this is not ideal for higher-fat diets, such as the keto diet.

Are water chestnuts low in sodium?

Most water chestnuts are purchased in the canned form, therefore no, they are not often low in sodium. Canned items usually have added salt to help with preservation. As mentioned above, you can drain and rinse your canned items to remove some of the sodium.

Are water chestnuts sugar-free?

Yes, water chestnuts are sugar-free. Sugar is not added in their production process and they are actually naturally low in sugar content.

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Kelsey Butler

Kelsey Butler is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Masters in Nutrition Sciences. She is an expert in nutrition research, recipe and menu development, dietary advice, and food sciences. Currently she is working on a culinary nutrition certification, as well as working as a nutrition researcher for a health app and starting a meal planning business. Kelsey takes a mindful approach at nutrition and values the creation of healthy relationships with all foods. She also understands the importance of providing others with information about different food that anyone can enjoy, no matter their dietary restrictions or preferences. When she's not focusing on the world of nutrition, Kelsey has a passion for cooking, enjoys the outdoors, stays active, and loves to travel.

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