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How to Choose Your Cooking Oil on Keto

So, Is there anything different with choosing cooking oils when you’re on a ketogenic diet? To be honest, not really… Except for the fact that you can consume a whole lot more of them as a part of keto. I am going to go out on a limb here and make a prediction about you. 

You’re a health-minded person. You wouldn’t be reading this article if you were not. So, let’s focus on that. This article is not about which of these oils is compatible with keto… It’s about which of these oils is the HEALTHIEST given the task you are trying to perform. That’s what really matters anyway, right? 

When it comes to cooking oils, none of them are going to affect ketosis. Oil is nearly 100% fat. But, some are no doubt superior. 

3 Things That Matter The Most When Choosing a Cooking Oil

  1. The oil needs to be able to handle your cooking surface temperature.
  2.  The oil should have a good omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.
  3. The oil should not be hydrogenated, refined, or processed unless you have no other option (ie. high heat req)

So, let me ask you a question. How hot are is your cooking surface going to be? 

Step 1. What is Your Cooking Temperature?

Every oil has a smoke point. The different oils vary greatly from each other. We need to see what options you have. First, we need to know what temperature you are going to be cooking at.

The oven spells out clearly what temperature you are cooking at, but the stovetop does not. Use this as a reference.

Stovetop Burner Settings Temperature Reference 

So, which of the burner modes below do you think you’ll be cooking on? Make note of that range. 

stovetop burner temperature ranges keto cooking oils

These ranges are estimates only. Depending on your particular stove top your, range could differ. [*]

To accurately check your burner temperatures use an infrared temperature gauge.

Step 2. Pick an Oil That Handles Your Cooking Temperature

Here is the bottom line. The oil you choose needs to have a higher smoke point than your cooking temperature. All the health benefits of the individual oils are moot points if you are causing them to break down when you are cooking.

Refined oils to usually have higher smoke points than their natural counterparts. So, I have included some of them in the list.

(⭐) = “best pick

520°F (271°C) – Refined Avocado Oil

Refined oils have higher smoke points, but it comes at a cost. These oils retain some of the nutrition qualities of their unrefined counterparts, but some of them are lost. The process of refining oils can result in harmful compounds in the oil being formed. Choose refined/hydrogenated/processed oils only if you have no other option for your cooking temperature. 
 

480°F (249°C) – Virgin Avocado Oil (⭐)

Rich in oleic acid which is said to have numerous health benefits. Avocado oil may help reduce harmful cholesterol and improve heart health. Both Avocado oil and olive oil were found to be the most effective at increasing HDL (good) cholesterol. It is also known to be a great antioxidant, a preventer of gum disease, and a healing agent for the skin. [*]

480°F (249°C) – Ghee Butter (⭐)

Ghee has been used since ancient times in India as a therapeutic agent. [*] Studies suggest that ghee has favorable benefits to health markers such as increasing HDL.  Research also shows that Ghee may help reduce the risk of cancer, including breast cancer. [*]

450°F (232°C) – Refined Coconut Oil

Refined oils have higher smoke points but it comes at a cost. These oils retain some of the nutrition qualities of their unrefined counterparts, but some of them are lost. The process of refining oils may result in harmful compounds in the oil being formed. Choose refined/hydrogenated/processed oils only if you have no other option for your cooking temperature.

410°F (210°C) – Extra Virgin Macadamia Nut Oil (⭐)

There aren’t as many studies about this oil. However, the macadamia nut itself is extremely healthy. Some studies suggest that macadamia nut oil can lower total LDL levels.[*] The oil is naturally low in Omega-6 which may reduce inflammation. [*]

401°F (205°C) – Lard (⭐)

Lard comes from pig fat. If you can get it from a local farmer, that may be your best option. You want a leaf lard that is non-hydrogenated. Many health leaders such as Stephen Phinney, Jeff Volek, and Ali Miller are fans of using lard for cooking. 

374°F (190°C) – Extra Virgin Olive Oil (⭐)

Olive oil is one of the most heavily studied oils. It’s known for reducing LDL cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, improving heart health, reducing inflammation, managing pain, as well as having other benefits. We wrote an article specifically dedicated to olive oil and keto.

350°F (177°C) – Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (⭐)

Some research has shown that coconut oil is anti-bacterial [*]  and may also help prevent against blood clots.[*] It is also quickly metabolized by the liver and helps the body to burn fat. [*]

302°F (150°C) – Butter

Butter, like coconut oil, is high in saturated fat. We know that saturated fat increases total cholesterol. But, saturated fat also improves HDL (good) cholesterol which may be beneficial to your heart. Butter works for low-heat cooking situations and will add a bit more flavor to your food than ghee butter.

Step 3. Check The Healthiest Oils For That Temperature  

All of the oils I listed above are pretty good options. But, you need to stop and ask your self – Is that really the healthiest option for your application?

Can You Cook At a Lower Temperature to Get a Better Oil?

Whoohoo, you picked an oil that isn’t going to catch your kitchen on fire. Now, if you picked a refined oil, can you reduce the heat to get a better natural oil in your recipe? If so, you get a sticker and a sincere pat on the back from me. 

Double Check Your Omega Ratio of that Oil

Wondering why some oils didn’t make the list? 

You want an oil with a good omega ratio. A high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is bad (inflammation). The table below highlights some of the worst omega-6 to omega-3 cooking oils. If an oil is going to be high in PUFA, it should have a good omega ratio. 

Highlighted oils (in blue) below have high amounts of omega-6 with poor amounts of omega-3 to balance it out. I would avoid those oils. 

cooking oils omega ratios and smoke points keto

Data reorganized from Wikipedia [*]

On top of high amounts of omega-6, some oils are known to be highly processed and may contain harmful chemicals. I have omitted some of those such as sunflower oil and canola oil. 

Conclusion

  1. Your biggest concern with cooking oils should be the smoke point. First, figure out what temperature you are going to be cooking at. 
  2. Once you know your cooking temperature, you can decide on an oil from the list that can be used for what you are doing.
  3. Check to make sure you’ve picked the healthiest oil for your application. The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of the oil is important. 

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