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Are Cranberries Keto-Friendly? (& Substitutes)

On the ketogenic diet the goal is to keep your carbohydrate intake low enough. What about cranberries, are they keto-friendly?

Cranberries are a red type of shrub berry and thus fruit. You can eat them raw on their own but most people consume them in other ways like as juice, dried, jam, or as cranberry sauce.

The net amount of carbs, which comes down to total carbs minus carbs from fiber, in raw cranberries is around 7.6 grams per 100 grams.

While it depends on the rest of your diet, for most people cranberries are not very keto-friendly. This fruit is not completely off-limits but you will have to exercise some portion control.

In any case, there are many substitutes for cranberries that are better for staying in ketosis.

When is a food keto-friendly

The goal of the ketogenic diet is to put your body into ketosis, a state where it starts mainly burning fat as a fuel (1). This comes down to more or less getting 55%-60% of your macronutrients from fat, 30%-35% from protein, and 5%-10% from carbohydrates.

For most people this comes down to eating around 20g – 50g of carbohydrates a day.

In reality, this number is different depending on a lot of factors. For example, people who exercise a lot may be able to consume more carbohydrates before getting kicked out of ketosis.

That being said that daily amount can be a good general guideline.

It is also common to exclude fiber from this amount since it doesn’t get absorbed into your body the same way as regular carbohydrates.

Carbs in cranberries

100 grams of cranberries contains the following amounts of carbs (2):

  • Total carbs: 12.2 grams
  • Of which fiber: 4.6 grams
  • Net carbs: 7.6 grams

Combined with the other foods in your diet the 8.4 grams of net carbs in 100 grams of cranberries can be enough to kick you out of ketosis.

One ounce of cranberries is about 28 grams and contains the following amounts of carbs:

  • Total carbs: 3.4 grams
  • Of which fiber: 1.3 grams
  • Net carbs: 2.1 grams

The number of net carbs in 1 ounce of cranberries, 2.1 grams, is a bit easier to fit into a keto diet. Whether or not cranberries are keto for you ultimately depends on your individual situation and the rest of your diet.

Carbs in dried cranberries

The above amounts of net carbs in cranberries are with raw cranberries. A popular way to eat them is in their dried form but this will impact how keto-friendly they are.

Here is the comparison between raw cranberries and dried cranberries as an example (2, 3).

One thing to note is that the nutritional values are for “sweetened dried cranberries”. Since dried cranberries generally have a more bitter taste you will mainly find dried cranberries with added sugar or sweeteners.

If you do have the choice between dried cranberries with or without added sugar, the ones with no added sugar are more keto-friendly.

Values Per 100gRaw CranberriesDried Cranberries
Total Carbohydrates12.2 g82.4 g
Of Which Fiber4.6 g5.7 g
Net Carbs7.6 g76.7 g
Chart of carbs in raw cranberries vs sweetened dried cranberries

As you can see, if you decide to eat cranberries on the ketogenic diet, you preferably want to eat them raw, not dried.

Other nutrients in cranberries

Other nutrients like fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals also still matter on the ketogenic diet.

100 grams of raw cranberries contains the following nutrients (2):

  • Calories: 46
  • Protein: 0.4 grams
  • Carbs: 12.2 grams
  • Part of the carbs that is fiber: 4.6 grams
  • Fat: 0.1 grams
  • Vitamin C: 22% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Manganese: 18% of the DV
  • Vitamin E: 6% of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 6% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 3% of the DV

And some other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.

On top of being slightly higher in net carbs, cranberries do not contain that many valuable nutrients per 100 grams compared to many other foods.

How to avoid eating too many cranberries

By now it is clear that to be able to fit cranberries in your keto diet, you will have to exercise some portion control. Having a big bowl of cranberries near you and hoping that you don’t eat too much is not the ideal way to do this.

You can avoid eating too many cranberries with some of the following tips:

  • Plan ahead, how many cranberries will you eat?
  • Put the planned amount in a bowl and leave the rest of the cranberries out of sight
  • Don’t eat during other activities like watching TV
  • Consider not buying this fruit if you can’t control yourself

If you notice you get out of ketosis you may need to reduce the number of cranberries you eat.

Substitutes for cranberries on keto

Cranberries are not the only option when you want to eat fruit on the ketogenic diet. Cranberries are actually one of the lower net carb options but there are still a few fruits that are more keto-friendly.

Some of the following substitutes may be better on the keto diet. These are the net carb values per 100 grams (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9):

  • Blackberries: 4.9 grams of net carbs
  • Raspberries: 5.4 grams of net carbs
  • Strawberries: 5.7 grams of net carbs
  • Watermelon: 7.1 grams of net carbs
  • Lime: 7.7 grams of net carbs
  • Cantaloupe: 7.9 grams of net carbs

If you have trouble staying in ketosis but still have cravings for fruit it may be smart to choose some of these substitutes over cranberries. However, even with these examples you will have to exercise portion control to stay in ketosis.

What is your goal with keto?

Even a small portion of cranberries added to certain daily diets can potentially put you just over the net carbs border, out of ketosis. Depending on the goal you have with keto this may or may not be a problem.

If your goal is to stay strictly in ketosis 24/7 you want to be careful about your carbohydrate intake.

If your goal is to lose weight and become healthier, cranberries can be a good food option even if they potentially put you at a carbohydrate level slightly above your ketosis level. Even just for losing weight, dried cranberries are generally not the best idea.