There’s a lot of talk about fats these days. Good fats, bad fats, saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, trans fats, … And, then there is the whole omega 3 fats vs. omega 6 fats discussion. It all gets so confusing. So let’s keep it simple. Our bodies need fat to support many different bodily functions. The outer layer of our cells (the cell membrane) is composed of fat, and our brains are comprised of 60% fat. Clearly, our bodies need good fats to support good health. However, choosing the wrong fats can cause inflammation bringing harm to our systems which may lead to weight gain and disease. So, choosing the right fats is an important decision especially if you are following a low-carb or ketogenic diet.
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Scientific experts are not completely in agreement over which fats are good fats and which ones are bad. For example, Healthline, the world’s largest health website, says that saturated fats are bad. However, people living in the blue zones, those areas around the world that have the lowest disease rates and highest longevity, eat plenty of saturated fats. In addition, canola oil is one of the most commonly used and controversial oils. Some experts say it’s healthy while others say that it’s highly processed and causes inflammation. We’ll talk more about canola oil in later post.
So to try to keep it simple, we will turn to one of America’s top naturopathic doctors, Dr. Josh Axe. His information is always well-researched and is generally free from bias. Here’s a list of good fats and bad fats that Dr. Axe recommends:
Best Healthy Fats for Keto
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil tops the keto fats list thanks to its content of medium-chain fatty acids, which are easy to digest and able to supply the cells with a quick boost of energy. Not only that, but this healthy fat and its components have also been shown to bump up brain function, relieve inflammation and decrease hunger in both animal models and human studies alike.
2. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Rich in monounsaturated fats, olive oil consumption has been linked to improved heart health thanks to its ability to fight free radicals, reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure. Plus, according to animal and in vitro studies, certain compounds found in olive oil can also decrease plaque build-up in the brain to prevent Alzheimer’s disease while also blocking the growth of cancer cells in the body.
3. Grass-Fed Butter
Although butter has long been villified as an unhealthy, artery-clogging ingredient, more and more research is beginning to prove just the opposite. Grass-fed butter, in particular, is loaded with conjugated-linoleic acid, a compound that has been shown to help boost fat-burning and aid in weight loss. Butter is also rich in several micronutrients and beneficial fatty acids, including butyrate and arachidonic acid.
Avocados are a great source of healthy fats, packing around 21 grams of total fat into a single cup. However, their fat content is just one component to consider when it comes to their stellar nutrient profile. In fact, this superstar ingredient also contains a good amount of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K, folate and pantothenic acid as well.
Salmon and other fish varieties such as sardines, anchovies and tuna are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is an anti-inflammatory fat that has been associated with a long list of benefits. Specifically, getting enough omega-3s in your diet has been shown to play an integral role in healthy aging, heart health, fetal development and dementia.
6. MCT Oil
MCTs, or “medium-chain triglycerides” are a type of fat that are often lacking in the modern diet. But while foods like coconut oil, palm oil and full-fat dairy can supply a hearty dose of these essential fatty acids, a more concentrated form of MCT oil is also available as a supplement. According to one review out of Brazil, MCT oil may help speed up metabolism, increase satiety and enhance weight loss to keep you looking trim.
Ghee is a fat that is produced by heating butter to remove the milk solids and water, resulting in a final product with a nuttier flavor and higher smoke point. In addition to being free of lactose and casein, ghee is high in many key fat-soluble vitamins as well as butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid involved in gut health. Studies also also show that butyrate can reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity to support better . health.
Worst Fats for Keto
Although there are plenty of keto good fats to choose from, not all fats are created equal. In fact, some types of fat can actually clog your arteries and crank up your risk of heart disease while bringing little to the plate apart from extra calories.
Trans fats, in particular, are a form of hydrogenated fat that have been tied to a slew of adverse side effects, especially when it comes to heart health. This sneaky type of fat is most commonly found in processed foods, so steer clear of unhealthy, high-fat foods such as:
- Pre-packaged cakes, cookies and pies
- Microwave popcorn
- Cream-filled candies
- Frozen dinners
- Fried foods
- French fries
- Ice cream
- Dairy-free coffee creamers
Trying to learn the world of fats can feel like trying to learn biochemistry. What makes even more confusing is that there’s a lot of conflicting information from experts about good fats and bad fats. Here are two basic principles to follow: 1) processed oils and fats are generally bad. Instead, look for clean sources of oils with as little processing as possible. 2) fats from plant sources are generally healthier better than animal sources. However, small to moderate amounts of animal fats are not harmful especially if the animals are grass-fed and free from hormones and antibiotics. Here are the healthy fats to look for when you go shopping: coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, MCT oil, salmon oil, butter (grass fed), and ghee (clarified butter).
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