On a keto diet, you embrace fat. Hearty portions of olive oil on your salad, an avocado for a snack, and butter in the skillet.
It’s a lot of fat, and some people worry all that fat will make you fat. Or clog your arteries.
Well, that’s not how weight gain and artery-clogging works. But there are links between fat quality, heart health, and body weight. Especially in the realm of cooking oils.
This article will be your guide to healthy fats on keto, especially for cooking. You’ll learn which fats to favor, and—perhaps more importantly—which to avoid. Let’s dig in.
Why Is Keto High In Fat?
The keto diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet. The bulk of your calories come from fat and protein, while carbohydrates are minimized.
Why is keto high-fat? Mostly by default.
You need to be very low-carb on keto to stimulate fat burning and ketone production. Carb restriction (net carbs, in particular) is the key to ketosis.
And you also need adequate protein (on any diet, really) to maintain muscle, support neurotransmitters, heal wounds, and much more. But getting 100% of your calories from protein is not only unrealistic, but it’s also a potential hazard to kidney health.
That leaves fat. On keto, you consume 60 to 70 percent of your calories from this macronutrient.
On keto, fat may win by default, but it’s no slouch. It helps you build cell membranes, absorb fat-soluble vitamins, and even make energy.
And yes, the type of fat you eat on keto matters.
The Types of Fat
Dietary fat takes many forms, and some are healthier than others. These forms fall into four main categories:
#1: Monounsaturated Fat
Olive oil, avocado oil, and macadamia nut oil are all rich in monounsaturated fat—the least controversial of all the fats we’ll talk about today.
Why? Because monounsaturated fat is uncontroversially healthy. It’s linked to lower blood pressure, better blood sugar, and many other health benefits.
Bottom line? Monounsaturated fat should be a staple of your keto diet.
#2: Polyunsaturated Fat
When you hear about polyunsaturated fat, you’re usually hearing about omega-6 or omega-3 fatty acids. Let’s take these one at a time.
Omega-6 fatty acids (like linoleic acid) are found in their highest concentrations in vegetable oils like peanut oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, and cottonseed oil. Some omega-6 is healthy, but too much creates inflammatory conditions that can drive weight gain. Over-consumption of vegetable oils, in fact, has been linked to the American obesity epidemic.
Cooking with vegetable oils is even worse, especially when it comes to heart health. We’ll talk about that later.
Omega-3s, on the other hand, are generally anti-inflammatory—partly because they balance the effects of excess omega-6s. The best natural sources of omega-3s are fatty fish like salmon and sardines.
Bottom line? Limit omega-6 polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils and get some fish into your diet for omega-3s.
#3: Saturated Fat
Saturated fats like butter, animal fat, and palm oil have been demonized for decades as artery cloggers.
It started in the 1950s when a doctor named Ancel Keys linked saturated fat restriction with lower rates of heart disease in a handful of countries. The Japanese ate less saturated fat, and also had lower heart disease risk.
Does this prove that sat fat causes heart disease? Well, not really. What if the Japanese were healthy for some other reason? Genetic or social reasons perhaps? Hm.
And today, better research—on hundreds of thousands of people, no less—suggests zero link between saturated fat consumption and heart disease.
Should you avoid saturated fat just to be safe? You could, but it won’t make keto any easier. Avoiding saturated fat would mean avoiding many nutrient-dense foods, like eggs. Plus you’d lose safe and tasty cooking oils like butter and coconut oil.
The bottom line? Saturated fat is cool on keto, especially for cooking.
#4: Trans Fat
If you see the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” on a food label, you’re dealing with trans fats. These fats—which used to be vegetable oils—have been engineered to be more shelf-stable.
But eating trans fats carries a tremendous health cost. In fact, the consumption of these pseudo-fats has been linked to almost every chronic disease in the book.
Fortunately, trans fats are being removed from the food supply of most developed countries. By January 2021, they’ll be completely banned in America. Phew!
Cooking With Fats on Keto
Choosing keto-friendly cooking oils isn’t complicated. There are just a few things to keep in mind.
First, it’s important to minimize cooking with vegetable oils. These high omega-6 oils are highly unstable, oxidize at high heat, and likely increase heart disease risk when consumed.
Here’s a list to avoid:
- Sunflower oil
- Safflower oil
- Soybean oil
- Peanut oil
- Canola oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Corn oil
Now let’s talk about the oils that you should embrace in your keto cooking. These oils tend to be high in saturated fat and monounsaturated fat, and low in unstable polyunsaturated fat.
Smoke point—the temperature at which the oil starts to smoke—is another consideration. If you’re cooking at high heat, you should choose an oil with a high smoke point.
Here are some of the best cooking oils on keto:
- Avocado oil (smoke point 520℉)
- Ghee (smoke point 450℉)
- Beef tallow (smoke point 400℉)
- Coconut oil (smoke point 350℉)
- Olive oil (smoke point 325℉)
- Butter (smoke point 302℉)
- Organic unrefined red palm oil (smoke point 250℉)
- Macadamia nut oil (smoke point 210℉)
Stick with these oils in your keto kitchen and you’ll be good to go.
Healthy Keto Fats
Eating keto means eating lots of fat. This is a good thing.
Eating fat (and minimizing carbs) trains your cells to run on body fat. Then you experience the health benefits of becoming keto-adapted.
To eat a clean keto diet, it’s crucial to choose your high-fat foods for keto wisely. Favor saturated, monounsaturated, and omega-3 fats—and avoid vegetable oils whenever possible, especially when cooking.
Now then. Ready to sizzle something up?
Author: Brian StantonBio: Brian Stanton is the author of Keto Intermittent Fasting, a certified health coach, and a freelance writer who helps health and wellness companies connect with their customers. Learn more about Brian by visiting his website at www.brianjstanton.com.