I’m Tito Dudley, also known as Chef T and as many of us may already know, fat is a very important macronutrient that you do not want to avoid in your keto diet (or in any eating regimen in my opinion). Fats and oils are composed of fat molecules known as fatty acids. What makes one oil different from the next, is the combination and types of fatty acids each contains.
There are many benefits to eating healthy fats some of which include but are not limited to:
- promoting weight loss
- keeping you satiated longer (so fewer cravings)
- regulating hormones
- good for brain health
- good for heart health
For the sake of this topic, I will not be diving deep into the importance of fat, but rather I‘ll discuss some of my favorite oils to cook with while following a keto regimen, and why.
When cooking with oils, depending on the cooking method, there should always be a conscious choice behind the oil that you decide to use. Every oil has its own specific smoke point, aka burning or flash point, which is the highest temperature that it can handle before it starts to smoke. What is a smoke point you ask? Well, its defined as the point at which the oil stops simmering and starts smoking or oxidizing. Why does this matter? Once an oil begins to smoke, two things happen. First, the oil begins to break down which changes the flavor of the oil. More importantly, at that point, the oil begins to release free radicals and harmful compounds which we should all avoid. Once you start to understand the profile of the various oils out there, you can learn their nutritional benefits, and decide which oils will work best for your cooking style and needs.
Whether you’re roasting, grilling, sautéing, tossing a salad, or simply baking, you should know which oil is right to use for each recipe, without losing its nutritional benefits. Below, I will discuss three of my favorite cooking oils to help you choose which would work best for you when meal prepping for keto.
3 Keto oils to cook with:
Olive oil has been an integral part of the Mediterranean diet for centuries and is one of the healthiest cooking oils. There are several flavor profiles such as grassy, nutty, woodsy, and even peppery in various olive oils. The richer the olive flavor, the better quality olive oil. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is the preferred type of olive oil because it has a high content of monosaturated fats which help reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL’s). It also has a high content of omega-9 fatty acids which reduces blood pressure and improves heart health. It is important to make sure that the olive oil that we use is Extra Virgin Olive Oil which means the oil was extracted by pressing the olives without the use of heat or chemicals. EVOO is great for stir-frying, sautéing, tossing into salads and even baking. Ideally, your EVOO should not go above 325 degrees F to be able to utilize all the health benefits of this flavorful oil.
Known to be a superfood, coconut oil is also very versatile in its uses. Some of the benefits of coconut oil are that its great for brain function, boosting fat loss, and supporting a healthy heart. Coconut oil is high in saturated fats, but these fatty acids get utilized in your body for quick energy and can even reduce the risk of heart disease by raising your good cholesterol (HDL). There are many other uses for coconut oil besides using it for cooking. It can be found in many cosmetic/beauty items that are tailored to improve your hair, skin, and even teeth. Most widely used in baking and sautéing, coconut oil can be safely heated to 375 degrees F without it being denatured. As an interesting point, coconut oil, has an approximate melting point of 76 degrees F which means below this temperature the oil will be solid, and above it, the oil will be liquid. In either state, coconut oil is a delicious and useful oil to use for a keto diet.
Although avocado oil is not as well-known as the other two oils I discussed in this blog, it is an oil that has many benefits worth highlighting. High in heart healthy oleic acid, avocado oil also helps reduce blood pressure, is an excellent source of quality fat, and is high in vitamins E & B. Avocado oil also helps to increase HDL, the good cholesterol and is beneficial for our skin health. It helps us absorbs certain nutrients such as carotenoid antioxidants which are pigments found in many plant foods.
Avocado oil has a high smoke point of 520 degrees F, making it a great oil to cook with at higher temperatures. Baking, sautéing, roasting, and grilling are some cooking techniques you can use with avocado oil.
Remember, how you cook with your oils matters as well as which oil you choose to cook with. They each will eventually reach their smoking point, so it’s important to be mindful of the points I made in this blog regarding those temperatures. When they have reached that point, the oil is being oxidized causing the release of free radicals. These compounds are extremely detrimental to our health causing cellular damage which could lead to disease development over time.
High heat damages the omega-3 fats, so the right oil choice is important for the style of cooking. Always lean towards the higher temperature oils for when you think the cooking temperatures will be high. If the oil in your pan is smoking, it has already become rancid, so be careful when increasing the heat in your cooking process.
Also, another note: highly refined oils may have higher smoking points but contain fewer nutrients than unrefined oils. Many health-conscious consumers, like myself, prefer to also use cold-pressed oils for their health benefits, which means that the oils were extracted without heat Like EVOO. After reading this article I hope you can see how important that aspect is when choosing your oil products. Hopefully, this blog helps guide you in the right direction when your shopping for your oil, and remember don’t forget to snack SHREWD FOOD in between your meals to keep your energy up!