Not all fats are created equal. Fat has historically been positioned as a dietary enemy and for some fats rightfully so. But healthy fats do exist and they are the cornerstone of the ketogenic diet. Let's breakdown good fats vs. evil fats once and for all.
- Monsaturated Fats - These are anti-inflammatory, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and are full of healthy nutrients. Monosatured fats can be found in olive oil, avocados, almonds, cashews, pecans and macadamia nuts.
- Polyunsaturated Fats - The two main types are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and they are essential for brain function and cell growth.
- Omega-3s are beneficial for every aspect of heart health, and are mostly found in fish, algae, nuts and seeds.
- Omega-6s can be found in certain plant-based oils and work alongside omega-3s to lower LDL cholesterol. Research suggest that eating more omega-6 than omega-3 may contribute to inflammation and weight gain, so the key is to make sure your omega-3 intake is always higher. In most standard American diets, omega-6s significantly outweigh omega-3s due to the poor quality of the protein & amount of refined oils that are being consumed.
- Saturated Fats - The guidance on saturated fat is a little more complicated. Many of the healthy foods encouraged on the ketogenic diet have some saturated fat in them, but it doesn’t make up the majority of the fat content and won’t negate the positive effects of the healthier fats. Also, saturated fat is bad when eaten with carbohydrates, but when eaten alone it is much more safer for you.
- Trans Fats - Trans fats are in processed foods and listed on the nutrition label as “partially hydrogenated oils.” Most are artificial and raise your LDL cholesterol while lowering your HDL cholesterol (the good kind that helps keep blood vessels clear). According to the American Heart Association, trans fats increase your risk of developing heart disease and stroke, and are associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Refined Oils - Refined cooking oils are made by highly intensive mechanical and chemical processes to extract the oil from the seeds. This process removes the natural nutrients from the seeds and creates a final product which oxidizes easily. The oxidation factor makes these oils more likely to break down into cancer causing free radicals within the body, especially when heated. There are many different kinds of commercially refined vegetable based oils on the market, including canola oil, grapeseed oil, soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and peanut oil. The consumption of these vegetable oils created through chemical extraction processes has been linked to widespread inflammation within the body, elevated blood triglycerides, and an impaired insulin response.
Avoid trans fats and refined oils at all costs! This is easier said than done, because most restaurants use refined oils in their cooking. You don't have to be perfect, but once you are informed you can start making better decisions of what you are putting in your body. Always read food labels and feel free to ask questions when you are at a restaurant. It is your right to know what you are ingesting! When it comes to fats on the ketogenic diet stick to these clean, unrefined sources below and choose raw & organic whenever possible.