Consuming oils and butter is an excellent way to increase fat consumption throughout the day. However, all oils have different properties and are best suited for various applications.
You may wonder what qualifies an oil as bad or harmful. You may have thought all fats were game and advisable on a low-carb high-fat diet, but always remember that quality is paramount.
There is much to cover and we'll cover the best oils to eat on keto and share their nutritional benefits below.
Premium oils like MCT (medium-chain triglyceride), grapeseed oil, avocado oil, or even walnut oil can play a taste-inducing and nutritious part in a well-balanced ketogenic diet.
While cold-pressed, organic, and well-sourced oils are great options on a ketogenic diet, other highly-processed varieties like canola, peanut, or any other option containing trans fats are best to avoid.
Here are some ideal oil options to incorporate into your keto meal plan for weight loss:
In addition to acting as excellent cooking oil, avocado oil is loaded with nutrients like lutein, to aid in eye health.
Plus, avocado oil aids in skin health and improves wound healing. Also, the oil helps to neutralize gum inflammation and reduces free radicals in the body to prevent many diseases (e.g., heart disease, periodontal disease, etc.).
Like avocado oil, coconut oil is very nutrient-dense and useful in several different applications. Whether as cooking oil or a moisturizing element in a homemade deep conditioner, coconut oil is a versatile option.
Coconut oil provides a lot of additional significant health benefits. From its healing properties that help to rejuvenate damaged tissue within the liver and pancreas, to the ability to aid in kidney health, to preventing degenerative disease, coconut oil is a potent item.
Extra virgin olive oil:
Along with its unique taste when poured over a simple yet delicious Caprese salad, extra virgin olive oil also contains nutrients like vitamins E and K, as well as essential fatty acids.
Plus, olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, which provides anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects to prevent stroke and heart disease.
This powerhouse oil is abundant in a host of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, carotene (precursor to vitamin A), phytosterols, phospholipids, and several minerals including calcium, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, phosphorus, iron and zinc.
Also, hemp oil provides many benefits related to skin health and helps remediate issues like eczema, varicose eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, lichen planus (an inflammatory skin condition), and acne rosacea.
Fish oil (omega-3):
Eating fatty fish is an excellent option on a low-carb, high-fat, ketogenic diet. However, adding fish oil to your keto protocol is also valuable.
Omega-3 fish oil provides both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). And consuming an adequate amount of fatty acids, like DHA and EPA, is vital as they aid in promoting cardiovascular health and lowering blood pressure.
There are many brain-boosting benefits to adding walnuts to your diet, and there are additional benefits to integrating walnut oil into your meal plan, as well.
Plus, this phytonutrient-rich oil provides a medley of healthy fat. Walnut oil is dynamic and contains polyunsaturated, monounsaturated fatty acids and saturated fats.
Also, walnut oil is a potent source of B-1, B-2, and B-3, as well as vitamin E and niacin.
This nutty and fragrant oil has antioxidant properties and is known to have an anti-inflammatory effect, as well.
Plus, sesame oil is rich in vitamins (C, E, K), minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium,
phosphorous, etc.), and fatty acids (Omega-9, Omega-3, and Omega-6). And this antioxidant-rich oil also offers anti-aging benefits in addition to adding a unique flavor to any dish.
Similar to several other oils mentioned, hazelnut oil is a fantastic option for a salad dressing base, hair mask, or skin treatment. Also, hazelnut oil can work in keto-friendly fat bombs or even help seal in moisture in the skin and hair.
Furthermore, hazelnut oil contains tannins, potent antioxidants that can act as an
astringent to eliminate bacteria or shrink pores.
Trans fats form during a process called hydrogenation, the primary reason the products it produces are known as partially-hydronated fats.
The 80s flooded the country’s dietary consciousness with propaganda that framed butter as bad and margarine, or other hydrogenated fats, as good, but we now know that trans fats can have detrimental health effects, long-term, and it’s best to keep it real.
Furthermore, trans-fat based oils and butter-like products (a.k.a., margarine) appear to inform the body to store body fat and may even encourage intense food cravings, which, if satisfied, can stall weight loss or result in weight gain.
The following are some oils to avoid on a ketogenic diet, or any diet for that matter, as a result of their trans-fat content and associated potential health risks:
- Vegetable oil
- Corn oil
- Soybean oil
- Peanut oil
- Safflower oil
Fortunately, limiting trans fats isn't restricting at all on a ketogenic diet because there are so many organic, premium, cold-pressed forms of oil to purchase or render, and reuse, instead.
Why Quality Oils Matter on a Keto Diet
Once we decide to trade in glucose for fat as fuel for our body, it's essential to consume the highest quality oils possible to ensure well-rounded nutrition and prevent unwanted inflammation.
Plus, in addition to adding fantastic flavor to recipes and helping keto dieters hit fat macros with ease, many oils provide several health benefits worth noting and considering when planning your meals for the week.
However, some oils, mainly those containing trans fat, can cause several health issues if consumed long-term.
Although trans fats are found in trace amounts in meat, whole milk, and milk products, their effect on the body appears to be benign.
However, the process of hydrogenation used to create fats like canola oil and margarine does not produce the heart-healthy food 'authorities' once claimed.
Focusing on avoiding trans fats and limiting saturated fats to those that promote heart health (e.g., extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, hemp oil, grapeseed oil, et al.) on a ketogenic is advisable.
While consuming heavily-processed, less nutritious, oils, like soybean or corn oil, also tend to contain higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids, the type that can prove harmful if out of balance with omega-3 consumption.
Avoiding trans fats is an excellent approach to promote heart health and improve "good" cholesterol levels (a.k.a., HDL).
Conversely, consuming high-quality saturated fats like avocado oil, or fish oil, helps support cardiovascular health and prevent coronary disease.
Ultimately, the stark difference in the results produced in the body between consuming clean and organic oils versus hydrogenated oil and fat sources makes which to include in your diet quite clear.
A Word of Caution on Omega 6
Again, the impact of imbalanced levels of omega-6 fatty acids in contrast to ones' omega-3 fatty acid consumption can result in some significant health issues. However, we don't want to avoid omega-6 fatty acids entirely because they are essential.
The body uses omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fats, for their different nutritional properties. Still, it's the ratio of one to another that a person consumes in their diet that matters most.
Many packaged foods contain the most common omega-6 fat, linoleic acid. And although eating omega-6 fatty acids to some degree—because the body needs it but doesn't produce it—is acceptable, eating too many treats that contain it and skimping on healthy oils or products that contain them can prove unwise.
In addition to choosing premium oils in your diet: rather than indulging in omega-6-rich keto junk food, go for the following low-carb foods, which offer a better balance of all the fatty acids the body needs, minus the heavy carb footprint, instead:
- Chia seeds
Oils and food-like products, like margarine, produced via hydrogenation, require a considerable amount of energy to manufacture—and without a beneficial, health-based, return for consumers.
Whether grapeseed, avocado, or coconut oil, opt for cold-pressed varieties whenever possible.
Plus, the oils suggested enjoying on keto offer many health benefits, in addition to mostly having high smoking points that are ideal for a broader range of cooking applications.
Bad Oils to Avoid on a Keto Diet
There are many saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated oils to enjoy on a ketogenic diet.
However, you'll want to stay away from the following oils to maximize health:
- Soybean oil
- Corn oil
- Peanut oil
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower oil
- Vegetable oil
- Canola oil
Here's a bit more on the oils to avoid on keto and why it's best to limit or possibly even eliminate them from your diet.
Many of the oils noted below are quite controversial, but maybe none as much so as palm oil. Some suggest avoiding palm oil because of its high saturated fat content and the possible subsequent impact on cardiovascular health.
However, palm oil contains oleic and linoleic acids and vitamin E tocotrienols that are potent antioxidants known to support heart health.
Although shrouded in controversy in some dietary circles, a recent study noted that consuming palm oil in the context of a healthy and well-balanced diet presented no increase in cardiovascular disease.
Additional population-based studies may prove helpful to compare various properties of cooking with palm oil in contrast to using other more established "heart-healthy" oils like coconut or avocado oil.
However, a preliminary look at palm oil evidences no specific health problem correlations, if consumed in moderation, on a ketogenic diet.
With that said, there are still other healthier oil options to use on keto; choose your oils wisely and consume oils with a concentration on dense nutrition as the primary focus.
We've already noted our stance on canola oil and other hydrogenated trans-fat oils; our advice is to steer clear of them and use quality cold-pressed oils, instead.
Canola oil is a product of plant crossbreeding. This product originating in Canada is a genetically modified form of rapeseed, which, unaltered, contains toxic compounds called erucic acid and glucosinolates in its natural form.
Canola oil is a common ingredient in margarine and shortening and is solid at room temperature due to the hydrogenation process used to make them.
And while the hydrogenation process is an excellent way to extend the shelf life of canola oil, and other oils or products with trans fats, which is better for the manufacturer's bottom line, these forms of fat are tough on the body.
Furthermore, consuming these GMO-based products is associated with heart disease and elevated "bad" (LDL) cholesterol levels, offering no real upside at all.
Similar to canola oil, the health benefits or lack thereof in soybean oil is pretty hotly contested.
Although the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) allows soybean oil producers to hail the oil as 'heart-healthy' since it consists of more polyunsaturated fat than saturated fat—a suggestion made based on an outdated theory that all saturated fat is unhealthy—but the oil may pose some health issues.
Furthermore, we now know that premium forms of saturated fat are excellent options, to increase energy and mental acuity, especially on a ketogenic diet, so settling for lower-quality trans fats truly offers no benefit.
Instead, fatty options like golden ghee, grass-fed butter, bacon fat, or lard, et al., are much better options than any hydrogenated fat option, and they taste a million times better, too!
Furthermore, another concern regarding soybean oil is that almost all soybeans in the United States are genetically modified. Check it out for yourself, it's a genuine feat to find organic soybeans or its derivative products (e.g., tofu, oil, etc.) at mainstream markets.
Although corn oil contains vitamin E and phytosterols that offer some health benefits, the presence of trans fats in the oil have damaging effects on our health that make it a less than ideal option.
Like all oils made with trans fats, corn oil is highly refined and therefore filled with a disproportionate omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio, which promotes inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.
Corn is ubiquitous in the Western Diet, even in less-than-obvious places. The kernel is a cheap and often subsidized from of feed used by farmers to fatten stock and is also often used as a filler to bulk up many food products.
Also, similar to soybeans in the US, most corn sold in the country is a genetically-modified creation—usually bred to tolerate herbicides and pesticides, or particular weather conditions, to result in a more significant harvest and profit.
One of the many health benefits of the ketogenic diet is a reduction in inflammation.
Removing carbs and refined sugars alone are enough to regulate glucose and insulin and keep blood pressure and cholesterol in order, but adding high-quality oils to your diet can act as a dietary boost, as well.
Unfortunately, the levels of omega-6 fatty acid found in corn oil can cause an inflammatory reaction in the body, increasing the presence of free radicals and they're associated tissue damage, which can lead to an elevated risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.
Healthy Oils for a Keto Diet
You may have grabbed any vegetable oil for cooking, dressings, or sauces in the past without much thought, but now you know you have options—lots of healthy options.
Nowadays it’s much easier to make a better choice in terms of which oils we consume in our diets, as well as when to use which and when to maximize nutrition and flavor.
From grapeseed and avocado oil for frying to walnut oil for a simple dressing base, to coconut oil for baking or whipping up a stir-fry, the keto-friendly oil options at our disposal are extensive.
Here's more on some of our all-time favorite oils that are excellent staple options on a ketogenic diet:
Medium-chain fatty acids are highly bioavailable and processed by the body as an immediate source of energy when consumed. Plus, coconut oil is an excellent option to boost fat loss and satiety on a ketogenic diet.
Furthermore, coconut oil also provides the following health benefits:
- Boosts Good Cholesterol
- Helps to Regulate Blood Sugar and Prevent Diabetes
- Provides Neuroprotective Properties to Help Fight Against Alzheimer's Disease
- Prevents Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure
- Promotes Liver Health
- Boosts Energy
Also, coconut oil is an incredibly versatile ingredient you'll likely find yourself often using when eating a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet.
From keto coffee to a critical component in making bodacious fat bombs, coconut oil is a standard item in most any keto dieter's pantry.
You can purchase virgin coconut oil, which some say they can taste distinctly in recipes, or go for refined coconut oil, which is undetectable in recipes; choose which works best based on what you're making and your taste preferences.
Rich in oleic acid, avocado oil is a fantastic option on a ketogenic diet, as the oil is flavorful, and the acidity slows oxidation to extend shelf life.
Whether the base of light yet delicious marinade or a bubbling bath for frying battered keto treats, avocado oil is a mainstay on the low-carb, high-fat diet.
Plus, unlike highly-refined and processed oils (e.g., corn or canola, etc.), avocado oil is an excellent source of a variety of nutrients.
Beyond acting as a tried-and-true oil for virtually any cooking application, avocado oil also provides a laundry list of health benefits. Here are some of the most critical ways avocado oil positively impacts the body:
Lowers Cholesterol: Avocado oil is abundant in monounsaturated fats and low in saturated fats. Plus, avocado oil is cholesterol-free, which can help to improve low-density lipid (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol levels—a particularly important benefit for people with diabetes.
- Lowers Blood Pressure: Many are surprised to learn that avocado contains more potassium than a banana. Similarly, avocado oil is rich in potassium and vitamin E, which promotes supple blood vessels, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Plus, the hormone-regulating effect provided by avocado oil, as it alters the levels of essential fatty oils in the kidneys, helps the body regulate blood pressure, as well.
Furthermore, avocado oil's anti-oxidative properties can help to prevent damage to arterial walls, reducing the risk of coronary disease, which is the result of arterial plaque build-up.
Plus, adding avocado oil to your keto regimen is also a great idea because of its abundant vitamin E content, as the body absorbs vitamin E much more efficiently from natural food sources than from supplements.
The late 90s and early 2000s undisputedly belonged to olive oil, extra virgin olive oil to be specific.
EVOO reigned and was touted in culinary circles, over all others, as the healthiest form of fat, in no small part due to the cultural influence of tv personalities like Rachel Ray.
And while the praises olive oil receives make sense for its heavenly taste and quality fat content, this oil, unlike some others we've mentioned, is better suited for marination, dressings, and light frying at lower heats.
Monounsaturated fats are a heart-healthy fat option to incorporate into your arsenal of premium fats, and olive oil is an excellent source.
Plus, olive oil provides the following additional health benefits:
- Rich in antioxidants
- Abundant in anti-inflammatory properties
- May help prevent strokes
- Helps prevent heart disease
- Satiating and prevents overeating
- Has neuroprotective benefits to lessen the effects of conditions like (Alzheimer's disease and dementia)
- May reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
- Antioxidant content helps prevent cancer
- Aids in joint health and lubrication to help with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis
- Provides antibacterial properties that kill harmful bacteria in the body, specifically the gut
From dressings to the secret weapon in the hair deep conditioners of many savvy and beauty-conscious people alike, olive oil is nourishing and delicious.
Also, beware of brands that dilute their oil with cheaper fillers and go for the purest, cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil you can afford.
Whether its to get a quick boost in energy or used as a tool to help heighten mental sharpness or physical performance, MCT, or medium-chain triglyceride, oil is an excellent option to include in your keto meal plan.
Plus, in addition to enhanced energy and mental focus, MCT oil aids in weight loss and improved weight management, as well as reduced 'bad' cholesterol, and better-regulated sugar levels.
In addition to all its other noted benefits, MCT oil also supports neurological brain function to help those with Alzheimer's Disease, dementia, epilepsy, and autism.
Also, MCTs have an antimicrobial and antifungal effect. Plus, MCT oil or powder is so easy to add to food or beverages. It's so simple to get a little extra fat and other health benefits into your diet with a tablespoon or two of MCTs a day.
Whether added as a shot in keto coffee or as an addition to a serving of our Keto Slimming Shake, already rich in premium MCTs, it's no sweat to add extra nutrition to any meal.
Besides, MCT oil is a great item to apply to the skin to regulate or improve several common skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, etc.
Supplementing with Keto Shake
Two bits of great news:
- Consuming satiating healthy oils is not only allowed but encouraged on a keto diet, which helps you feel fuller for longer and helps to avoid carb cravings.
- There's such a wide variety of keto-friendly oils, great for an endless variety of food applications, so it's virtually impossible to get bored, even without the trans fats.
Enjoy the array of oils mentioned that are ideal for those on a ketogenic diet, and avoid those that contain trans fat, or are heated to very high temperatures during processing. Instead, opt for cold-pressed oils to preserve optimal nutrition.
In addition to using keto-friendly oils for cooking, sauces, or dressings, also consider using the various oils recommended, with their health benefits in mind, as a food-based nutritional supplement, as well. Let thy food be thy medicine.
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