In a very basic nutshell, the ketogenic diet focuses on reducing carbohydrates while increasing your fat intake and including adequate amounts of healthy proteins.
This forces your body to burn fat for energy which is known as ketosis. The diet has many health benefits including reduced inflammation, improved brain health, enhanced energy, increased longevity, weight loss, better overall health and a potentially reduced risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Eating the right kinds of fat on a ketogenic diet is essential if you want to stay healthy. So, avoid processed fats and focus on healthy fat sources such as oily fish, nuts and seeds, avocado, olives, eggs and grass-fed (preferably organic) red meat and poultry.
Using the right cooking oils and fats is vital too, and you want to avoid processed and heated oils that may have been made from GMO ingredients, sticking to organic, raw, cold pressed ones instead.
It's important to remember that even healthy oils can become carcinogenic when they are overheated, so it's good to be aware of how to use them.
Here are six healthy cooking oils and fats to use on a keto diet.
1) Extra virgin olive oil
One of the healthiest oils around, this antioxidant-rich oil is high in oleic acid (OA), a monounsaturated fat providing many health benefits.
It’s important to note that the smoke point of extra virgin olive oil ranges from 176 to 210 Celsius, so be aware of cooking it at lower temperatures.
Of course, it’s always best to simply drizzle it over salads and cooked vegetables for optimal health benefits.
2) Coconut oil
Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs) which travel directly to the liver where they are used for energy or transformed into ketones.
Ketones can benefit brain function and may improve Alzheimer’s symptoms, and MCTs can increase fat burning, boosting metabolism and contributing to weight loss while increasing satiety and reducing appetite.
The smoke point of coconut oil is 177 Celsius which is suitable for very gentle frying or sautéing, and you can also stir it into your morning coffee or tea.
3) Avocado oil
This heart-healthy oil is fantastically versatile and the safest to use at increased cooking temperatures as it has the highest smoke point of all at 270 Celsius.
Avocado oil is rich in oleic acid and also contains the carotenoid antioxidant lutein which benefits eye health.
Carotenoids are phytonutrients found in colourful fruits, and they need to be consumed with fat to enhance their absorption. Avocado oil has been found to increase this.
It also helps to reduce inflammation and may ease stiff joints, reducing arthritic symptoms.
If you are not lactose intolerant, then you can include some dairy in a keto diet. It must be grass-fed, and preferably organic and raw.
Casein is a protein, and lactose is a sugar molecule, and these are both found in dairy, often being responsible for the sensitivity experienced in some people.
Ghee has the milk solids removed and is free of (or sometimes extremely low in) casein and lactose, so it can still be a suitable cooking option if you are dairy intolerant.
Ghee has a high smoke point of around 252 Celsius, and research has shown it to release lower amounts of the carcinogenic compound acrylamide during cooking.
It is rich in vitamins A, D, K and E which are vital for overall health and wellbeing including reduced inflammation, eye health, increased immunity and skin health.
Lard is not as high in saturated fat as you might think. in fact, it contains almost 50% healthy monounsaturated fats and has less cholesterol than butter.
What’s more, lard is one of the most abundant food sources of vitamin D – and its saturated fat content means it doesn’t go rancid as quickly as plant-based oils.
Lard has a slightly higher smoke point than coconut oil at 188 Celsius, so is better used for sautéing and frying at lower temperatures. Just make sure it is grass-fed and organic for maximum health benefits!
When eating keto, it is crucial to stick to healthy fats, avoiding processed fatty foods and less healthy cooking oils.
The smoke point determines the safest cooking heat when using oils and fats to ensure minimal exposure to carcinogenic toxins. Avocado oil and ghee are the most stable oil and fat to use as they can tolerate much higher temperatures.
It’s also important to store your oils appropriately to avoid rancidity which is harmful to your health (cool dark places or the fridge). Always remember to go for raw, cold pressed oils and grass-fed animal fats and try to buy organic.
Whether you are about to embark on your keto journey or are already following a ketogenic diet, you may be interested in our keto test strips by Divine Health. They monitor the ketone output in your urine so that you can keep better track of your diet success.
The urine strips are economical, easy to use and clinically tested for accuracy. They are recommended to low-carb dieters as well as those looking to manage their diabetes by closely monitoring ketone levels. They can also help you to identify any triggers that knock you out of ketosis.
This article was written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.
Lard is one of the most abundant food sources of vitamin D – and its saturated fat content means it doesn’t go rancid as quickly as plant-based oils.