The 5 Best Fats to Eat Plenty of on the Ketogenic Diet
Though technically a fruit, avocados offer a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). They're also packed with fiber to bolster digestive health. One-half of an avocado contains 161 calories, 2 grams (g) of protein, 15 g of fat, 9 g of total carbs, and 7 g of fiber (bringing it to 2 g of net carbs), notes the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
2. Olive Oil
“We know that when we have fats in our diet like MUFAs, they not only fill us up but keep cholesterol levels lower,” says Keatley. Olive oil is great for light sauteing, using in dressings, or drizzling over cooked meats or vegetables as a finishing oil. One tablespoon (tbsp) offers 119 calories and 13.5 g of fat, only 2 g of which are saturated fat, according to the USDA.
3. Avocado Oil
Like olive oil, avocado oil is rich in anti-inflammatory MUFAs, but the benefit to using avocado oil is that it stands up to high-heat cooking. For instance, the popular brand Chosen Foods says its avocado oil has a smoke point of 500 degrees F. According to the USDA, 1 tbsp of avocado oil has 124 calories, 14 g of fat, and 0 g of carbohydrates.
4. Nuts and Nut Butter
Nuts may offer unsaturated fats, but they also contain carbs, so look at the label to calculate exactly what you’re getting, says Whitmire. As an example, 1 tbsp of almond butter has 98 calories, 3 g of protein, 9 g of fat, 3 g of total carbs, and about 1.5 g of fiber (equaling about 1.5 g of net carbs), per the USDA. And, the USDA also notes, a 1-ounce (oz) serving of almonds (23 almonds) has 164 calories, 6 g of protein, 14 g of fat, 6 g of carbohydrates, and 3.5 g of fiber (totaling about 2.5 g net carbs).
5. Chia Seeds and Flaxseed
Whitmire recommends these because they offer omega-3 fatty acids. “Getting more of these fats will improve the ratio of omega-6s to 3s you consume, which some research suggests optimizes health,” she says. For example, an article published in September 2016 in the journal Open Heart cited research that linked consuming more omega-3s and fewer omega-6s (which are high in Western diets) to a lower risk of insulin resistance — the hallmark of type 2 diabetes — and obesity, among other protective health benefits. The USDA says 1 oz of chia seeds has 138 calories, 5 g of protein, 9 g of fat, 12 g of carbs, and a whopping 10 g of fiber (so only 2 net carbs). And also according to the USDA, 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed has 37 calories, 1 g of protein, 3 g of fat, 2 g of carbs, and 2 g of fiber (basically 0 net carbs). Just be sure to buy ground flaxseed so your body can absorb their omega-3s.
The 4 Fats You Should Limit on the Keto Diet
A slice of cheese contains 115 calories, 7 g of protein, 9 g of fat (5 g of saturated fat), about ½ g of carbohydrate, and no fiber, per the USDA. The saturated fat qualifies it as a food you ought to limit, but some research suggests the food has health benefits as well. A meta-analysis published in December 2017 in the European Journal of Nutrition found that cheese eating was associated with a 10 percent lower risk of heart disease and stroke, particularly for those consuming about 1.5 oz (or a slice and a half) per day.
Adding heavy cream or half-and-half to your coffee is one way to get an additional source of fat into your day, says Keatley. Just realize that it is a source of saturated fat — and, given the small serving size, it’s easy to go overboard. According to the USDA, 1 tbsp has 51 calories, 5 g of fat (3.5 g saturated fat), and is just shy of ½ g of carbohydrate.
3. Coconut Oil
Given that coconut oil is trendy, it’s been credited as a panacea for health ills — and given the general go-ahead to consume as much as you want. That’s not exactly the case. “There’s a controversy with coconut oil because of its high levels of saturated fats, which are the ones that clog arteries,” says Keene. But the argument some make is that coconut oil is different. Part of its fat is made up of medium-chain triglycerides, fatty acids that the body metabolizes quicker and are less likely to get stored by the body as fat, she says. That said, the USDA indicates that 1 tbsp has 121 calories, 13 g of fat (11 g are saturated fat), and 0 carbohydrates. Eat healthier unsaturated sources of fat first, and moderate amounts of these saturated sources, says Keene.
“Eating a significant amount of butter has some of the worst effects on your health compared with other fats,” says Keatley. It’s okay to use butter in your fat rotation, but best not to make it your go-to fat; instead opt for more unsaturated sources. Per the USDA, 1 tbsp of butter has 102 calories, 12 g of fat (7 g of which are saturated fat), and 0 carbohydrates.