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The Ketogenic Diet guide to Fats and Oils

Since adopting a ketogenic diet means switching one’s diet to be mainly composed of fats, it is important to know the ‘good’ fats and oils (healthy) from the ‘bad’ fats and oils (ie. unhealthy) in order to make this switch in a healthy manner.

With this in mind, lets take a quick look at the types of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats (and oils), their benefits, recommended uses based on their smoke points and the products that contain each to help you navigate this transition.

‘Good’ Fats and Oils

Fats considered “good” keto options for health purposes can be broken down into 4 categories: saturated fats, monosaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and naturally occurring trans fats.

The health benefits of ‘good fats’ include improved LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, increased immune function, maintenance of bone density, lowered blood pressure, reduced belly fat, reduced insulin resistance, etc.
Saturated fats (and oils)

Recommended use:
High temperature cooking
Sautéing
Naking
Deep frying

Recommended sources:
Red meat (preferably grass-fed or organic)
Ghee
Butter
Lard
Cream
Eggs
Coconut oil or butter
Palm oil
Eggs
Cacao butter
MCT oil or powder
Raw, whole milk

Coconut oil is especially beneficial because it contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that are readily broken down by the liver and used as a form of energy. MCT supplements can also be taken and are a great source of healthy saturated fats.

Monosaturated fats (MUFAs) and oils

Recommended use:
Cold use and light cooking
Simmer sauces and vegetables
Cold salad dressings
Baking
Finishing dishes
Nut and seed oils should be reserved only for cold use

Recommended sources:
Olives and extra virgin olive oil
Avocado and avocado oil
Macadamia nuts and macadamia nut oil
Goose fat
Lard and bacon fat
Duck fat
Cashews
Almonds
Brazil nuts
Pecans
Chicken fat

Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) and oils

Recommended use:
Cold use and light cooking
Simmer sauces and vegetables
Cold salad dressings
Baking
Finishing dishes
Nut and seed oils should be reserved only for cold use

Recommended sources:
Olives and extra virgin olive oil
Flaxseeds and flaxseed oils
Walnuts
Wild, fatty fish (i.e. salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel)
Sesame oil
Chia seeds
Nut oils (not as many peanuts because high in Omega 6s)
Avocado oil
Krill oil
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds

Naturally occurring trans fats (and oils)

Recommended use:
High-heat or cold cooking

Recommended sources:
Grass-fed animal products (grain-fed animal products are high in Omega 6s)
Dairy (i.e. butter and full-fat yogurt)

‘Bad’ Fats and oils

‘Bad’ fats (ie. unhealthy) include processed trans and polyunsaturated fats. These should be avoided when increasing your fat intake on keto as they have negative health effects: increased risk of heart disease, increased risk of cancer, increased risk of diabetes, reduced HDL and increased LDL cholesterol, decreased gut health, increased inflammation, decreased immunity, etc.

Sources of processed trans and polyunsaturated fats to avoid:

Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils
Margarine
Packaged crackers
Packaged cookies
Cottonseed oil
Sunflower oil
Safflower oil
Soybean oil
Canola oil
Fast food

As a general rule-of-thumb, avoid all packaged and processed snack foods. They usually contain processed trans and polyunsaturated fats.

In summary, as you increase your overall fat intake on the ketogenic diet, is important to increase saturated fats (i.e. butter, red meats, and coconut oil), monounsaturated fats (i.e. avocado and extra-virgin olive oil), polyunsaturated fats (i.e. salmon or flax seed), and naturally occurring trans fats (i.e. grass-fed animal products or dairy).

You should avoid processed trans and polyunsaturated fats (i.e. margarine or packaged snack foods). You must be careful in how you cook and use “good’ fats, in order to receive their health benefits and avoid excess free radical consumption.

Dr Jerry Hizon