Good Fats and Bad Fats on Keto: The Best Fats and Oils for Your Keto Diet
Not all fats are equal: there are healthy fats and unhealthy fats. And since fats and oils make up a large proportion of your daily intake on a Keto diet, it’s important to eat the right ones.
We’ve put together a simple and easy list to help!
This list will show you the best kinds of fats and oils to use while on a Keto diet. You’ll also find out which ones to avoid! We’ll also provide some easy and delicious ways to use these fats and oils in your own cooking and baking.
Before we begin, there are 3 important facts you need to know about fats:
- Smoke Point – the temperature at which the fat/oil starts to produce a visible smoke. This is often caused by impurities in the oil (e.g., when it’s less filtered or processed).
- Oxidative Stability – this is how resistant the fat/oil is to oxidation (ie. reacting with oxygen).
- Omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio – this may not be as important as we previously thought.
The Best Keto Cooking Oils
What is avocado oil:
Just like its cousin, olive oil, avocado oil is simply the oil pressed from avocados.
Health benefits of avocado oil:
Avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fats. In particular, 70% of avocado oil is oleic acid (1), which has been linked to improvements in blood pressure as well as other health benefits. (2)
Heart surgeon Dr. Steven Gundry, M.D. recommends avocado oil. “The fatty acids in avocado oil also help to encourage more healthy blood lipids (like “good” HDL cholesterol), and several clinical studies have now shown that avocado oil consumption may help support cardiovascular health.“
How to cook with avocado oil on Keto:
- DRESSINGS: Avocado oil doesn’t have a strong flavor, which means it’s great for making salad dressings and sauces where you don’t want an olive oil flavor to dominate.
- MARINADES: Most avocado oils sold on the market have impurities removed so it has a higher smoke point. That’s why it’s great to use in marinades for your meats before grilling.
- SAUTES: But what makes avocado oil even better is that it’s also very resistant to oxidation during cooking. (3) That’s why it’s one of my go-to keto cooking oils for sautes and stir-fries. And because it doesn’t have a strong flavor, you can add in other sauces (like tamari sauce or coconut aminos) and it won’t change the flavor of the dish.
- MAYO: Use it to make homemade avocado mayo. (4) Or buy avocado mayo ready-made from Primal Kitchen here.
Check out these keto recipes using avocado oil:
What is olive oil:
Olive oil is the delicious oil that comes out of pressing the flesh of olives.
Health benefits of olive oil:
According to Registered Dietitian Katherine Zeratsky, RD, “The main type of fat found in all kinds of olive oil is monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). MUFAs are considered a healthy dietary fat.”
How to cook with olive oil on Keto:
- SALAD DRESSINGS: – a few tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and lemon juice can create an amazing keto salad dressing!
- SAUTES – contrary to popular belief, heating olive oil is not necessarily bad for you. Just make sure it doesn’t smoke. Olive oil is very resistant to oxidation during cooking, so don’t be afraid to use it. (9)
- SOUPS – a drizzle of olive oil over your soups before you serve can make it even more delicious and healthy.
- DIPS – dipping a piece of keto bread into a delicious extra virgin olive oil is heavenly. If you haven’t given it a try, then you’re missing out.
Check out these Keto recipes using olive oil:
- Chicken Shawarma Salad
- Avocado Toast
- 3-Ingredient Crispy Chicken Thighs
- Cauliflower Pizza
- Lemon Blueberry Chicken Salad
What is coconut oil:
Virgin coconut oil (not refined coconut oil) is the type I recommend using – it’s made by cold-pressing the white flesh of a coconut and then separating out the oil from the milk and water.
Health benefits of coconut oil:
Coconut oil is great for your heart health because it increases your body’s levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. (10)
And it’s also helpful for weight loss – particularly if you want to lose weight from around your middle. (11) Eating the fats it contains, called medium-chain triglycerides, can decrease your appetite. (12)
Registered Nurse Tana Amen, RN discusses emerging science on the benefits of coconut oil. “You may have heard that coconut oil can help improve the memory and functioning of Alzheimer’s disease patients. The ongoing research is promising and early findings encourage further research.”
How to cook with coconut oil on Keto:
- SOUPS – using coconut oil in your soup recipes can add a hint of aromatic coconut flavor, especially if you use coconut milk as a base.
- SAUTES – coconut oil is a great go-to cooking oil for sauteing meats, fish, and veggies. And you can use it to scramble eggs, too.
- BAKING – use coconut oil in your baking instead of butter, just be sure your ingredients are warm or they’ll make your coconut oil solidify!
Check out these Keto recipes using coconut oil:
- Keto Chocolate Brownies
- Keto Chicken Hash Recipe with Coconut Dijon Sauce
- Keto Zucchini Bread Recipe
What is ghee:
Ghee is a type of clarified butter. What makes it clarified? It’s an easy process that involves both removing the water from butter (usually by heating it) and then filtering (or “clarifying”) the residual product to remove any remaining milk solids. The result is a nuttier, clearer-looking version of butter that is very stable at room temperature.
Health benefits of ghee:
Ghee contains short-chain saturated fats (like butyric acid) – and these can reduce inflammation and improve your gut health. (13)
Ghee can also reduce your risk of heart disease, by increasing your levels of high-density lipoproteins (the good kind of cholesterol). (14) And it may reduce your risk of cancer, according to some studies. (15, 16)
Certified Clinical Nutritionist Lahana Vigliano notes that ghee contains a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate. “Butyrate is known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties, building a strong gut lining, and promoting healthy digestion.”
How to cook with ghee on Keto:
- KETO COFFEE: – adding a tablespoon of ghee to your morning coffee (along with a scoop of keto collagen) gives you an energy-boosting beverage to start your day with.
- SAUTES – ghee is great for browning meats with or sauteing vegetables. Try making it your go-to cooking fat for frying food with!
- BAKING – you can use ghee as a replacement when baking recipes call for butter. Or if you’re fresh out of coconut oil, you can use it to replace that too.
- VEGETABLES – ghee is the perfect partner for vegetables! You can drizzle it over steamed vegetables, or melt it and add it to a tray of vegetables before you roast them.
Check out these Keto recipes using ghee:
- Keto Apple Dijon Pork Chops
- Keto Lemon Garlic Ghee Salmon with Leek Asparagus Ginger Saute
- Keto Ginger Coconut Cookies
What is duck fat:
Duck fat is usually made from one single ingredient: natural fat from ducks. It’s usually rendered and filtered to make sure the fat is pure.
Health benefits of duck fat:
Duck fat is full of healthy monounsaturated fats. It contains high levels of a fat called linoleic acid, which helps your body absorb calcium more effectively (improving your bone health) and also supports kidney function. (17, 18)
How to cook with duck fat on Keto:
- FRYING – duck fat is great for frying foods with, especially if you’re making crispy fried chicken (you can use almond flour as a coating to keep your dish low-carb).
- SAUTEING – you can add a rich savory flavor to your vegetables by sauteing them in duck fat.
- SEARING – use duck fat to pan sear meats, poultry and fish. It gives them a flavorful brown crust.
- SALAD DRESSING – combine melted duck fat with citrus juice or vinegar and minced shallots for the perfect mix of savory, sweet and acidic flavors. Then simply toss it together with some leafy greens to create a side salad for your meal!
Check out these Keto recipes using duck fat:
Lard (aka Pig Fat)
What is lard:
Lard is made of pig fat – you can buy it already rendered (which removes all traces of protein and bone) or unrendered (and then render it yourself at home).
Health benefits of lard:
Lard is high in oleic acid – a healthy fat which can lower your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and potentially decrease your risk of cancer. (19)
How to cook with lard on Keto:
- SAUTEING – you can saute vegetables and scramble eggs with lard – it gives them a whole new depth of flavor!
- SAUCES – it’s easy to make a great sauce for meat/fish using lard. Simply find a simple Bearnaise sauce recipe and replace the butter with melted lard.
- DIPS – you can use lard to make bacon mayonnaise. It pairs well with chicken pieces or makes a great base for a mayo salad dressing.
Check out these Keto recipes using lard:
Tallow (aka Beef or Mutton Fat)
What is tallow:
Tallow is a rendered animal fat which can come from cows (beef) or sheep (mutton). The unrendered form of tallow is called suet.
Health benefits of tallow:
Tallow is packed with vitamins (like vitamins A, D, E and K) and healthy saturated fats (like palmitoleic acid and linoleic acid).
Linoleic acid can reduce your levels of body fat and may help fight atherosclerosis and cancer. (21) And eating plenty of vitamins is essential for your body to function properly.
How to cook with tallow on Keto:
- SAUTEING – you’ll add a pleasant hint of beef to any combination of vegetables by sauteing them in tallow. And you can make the beef taste of burgers even more intense by using tallow to saute them.
- FRYING – tallow is a great fat for high-temperature cooking. Try using it when you’re frying eggs or bacon, or making low carb vegetable fritters.
Check out these Keto recipes using tallow:
Other Keto Fats
There are lots of other ways to get more fat into your Keto diet. Check out these sources of Keto fats:
Almond butter is made from ground almonds, and it’s very easy to make at home – if you have a good food processor! All you have to do is food process your almonds for roughly 20 minutes.
You can use your almond butter to make desserts (like low carb brownies and fudge bars) and snacks (like Keto fat bombs). Or you can use it to add flavor to a Keto shake/smoothie.
Cacao butter is a natural oil made by extracting the vegetable fat from cocoa beans – which gives it a similar taste/smell to chocolate.
You can use it in recipes as a substitute for regular butter, or combine it with spices to create a dry rub for a steak. And you can also use it to make sweet recipes, like fat bombs and blondies.
Coconut butter is not the same as coconut oil! It’s made from pureed coconut flesh which gives it a similar texture to almond butter.
You can use it to stir-fry vegetables or drizzle it onto drier cuts of meat and fish. It also makes a good substitute for coffee creamer (just stir a spoonful into your mug). And you can use it to make egg-free mayonnaise, too.
Macadamia Nut Oil
Macadamia nut oil is made by pressing the white part of Macadamia nuts – and it contains high levels of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (over 80%). In fact, it has even more than olive oil does!
You can use it to saute, stir-fry or grill meats and vegetables. And it’s also great for salad dressings, thanks to its nutty, buttery flavor.
MCT Oil can come from many different sources – but the end result is always an oil rich in medium-chain triglycerides, which are a type of fatty acid with many health benefits.
You can add a teaspoon or two to your coffee or smoothies – it has very little flavor and makes most liquids smoother and creamier.
Red Palm Oil
Red palm oil is made from the fleshy part of the palm fruit. It’s full of vitamins – like vitamins E and K. An it also has very high levels of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene – which your body needs to make vitamin A.
You can use it to cook vegetables and meats (for example, by frying, grilling, baking and sauteing).
Sesame Oil (Only use in small amounts)
Sesame oil is a rich, nutty oil which is extracted from sesame seeds. It’s high in antioxidants and full of B vitamins (like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid).
The best way to use sesame oil is at the end of the cooking process – try adding a splash to your stir-fried vegetables or cooked meat/fish. It also makes a great addition to any salad dressing or dipping sauce.
Walnut Oil (Only use in small amounts)
Walnut oil is made from walnuts – no surprises there! It’s a rich source of manganese, copper, and antioxidants.
You can drizzle it over your salads or cooked steaks, to give them a slightly nutty flavor. It can turn bitter when heated, so it’s best to use walnut oil cold/uncooked.
Fish oil is naturally found in fresh fish, and most commonly sold as cod liver oil. It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids and good for your cholesterol levels, heart health and brain.
You can add a few teaspoons to your smoothies – don’t worry, it won’t give them a fishy flavor. Or, take a few spoonfuls as a supplement each morning!
Bad Fats – Avoid These On Keto:
Avoid using these fats and oils on Keto:
- Canola Oil
- Corn Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Rapeseed Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Soybean Oil
What’s so bad about these fats and oils?
- May Contain Trans-Fats – Trans fats are bad for your cholesterol levels. They increase your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and decrease your levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. (22)And they also raise your triglyceride levels.(23)
- Contains A Lot Of Omega-6 – Eating too many omega-6 fatty acids can increase your risk of developing blood clots. (24) And it’s also been linked to an increased risk of various types of cancer. (25)
- Oxidizes Easily – When an oil oxidizes it reacts with oxygen, forming harmful free radicals and toxic compounds. (26)That’s why oils which oxidize easily shouldn’t be used for cooking. You’ll end up eating these toxic substances along with your food!
- Linked to Inflammation and Heart Disease – Consuming these oils could increase your levels of inflammation and raise your risk of heart disease, because of the high omega-6 levels they contain. (27) And their negative effect on your cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels is another factor linked to an increased likelihood of heart disease and stroke. (28) Some of these oils have also been shown to increase your risk of cancer, specifically corn oil (29), soybean oil (30) and heated sunflower oil and corn oil. (31)
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