A very common ingredient you will find in baking recipes is vegetable oil. However, you will very rarely find vegetable oil in keto baking recipes. Vegetable oil is rarely classified as keto approved on most websites and in most books. This might make you wonder — if it’s high in fats and contains zero carbs, then why wouldn’t vegetable oil be keto friendly?
The truth of the matter is that vegetable oil is not likely going to knock you out of ketosis. However, I personally would not recommend cooking with vegetable oil on the keto or any diet. This is because of the potential health risks, not because I think it will kick you out of ketosis.
So really it is up to you on whether or not you want to allow vegetable oil in your keto diet plan. That said, I just want to briefly explain why I choose to stay away from it and what I recommend using instead.
The Reason I don’t Use Vegetable Oil In My Keto Recipes
First off I would like to just define which oils I am talking about when I refer to vegetable oils. I am talking about oils that are extracted usually from seeds. This would include canola oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil, just to name a few. I know what your thinking, there aren’t very many vegetables on that list.
Now, of course, there is a lot of debate on the health benefits and risks of vegetable oils. One doctor will tell you that the polyunsaturated fats in vegetable oils are unstable and easily oxidized. They will, in turn, cause your body to become inflamed.
Whereas, another doctor will recommend using vegetable oils because the polyunsaturated have protective qualities against heart disease. So what advice should you go with, then? Well first off I will say that I am by no means a doctor and everything I’m about to say should not be taken as medical advice. That said, I see more reasons not to cook with vegetable oils than I do for cooking with them.
Are Polyunsaturated Fats In Vegetable Oils Good For You
Vegetable oils have a fair amount of polyunsaturated fat. There is evidence to show that these fats may have protective qualities against heart disease and your body does need some polyunsaturated fats. However, these fats are easily susceptible to becoming rancid by something as simple as light exposure when stored in a clear container. Which, by the way, seems to be the most common practice.
Additionally, we in the west will likely get enough polyunsaturated fat from the rest of our diet. There is really no need, in my opinion, for the use of vegetable oils in your diet. A better option would be to get your polyunsaturated fats from sources such as salmon and other high omega-3 fish.
Both omega-3 and omega-6 are found in polyunsaturated fats. However, most Americans are getting too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3. That being said, I recommend getting most of your polyunsaturated fats from sources that are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
When cooking with vegetable oils high in polyunsaturated fats, they can become oxidized, potentially creating inflammation and even mutation of the cells. Saturated fats, on the other hand, are less likely to become oxidized when exposed to high-temperature cooking.
Of course, like I previously stated, many doctors will suggest using polyunsaturated fats instead of saturated fats. Personally, I believe that the demonizing information on saturated fats over the past few decades has been largely debunked. That said, I myself choose to cook primarily with saturated fat sources.
Best Oils To Cook With Instead Of Vegetable Oil
My favorite fat to cook with is grass-fed butter or ghee. I use butter in almost all of my keto dessert recipes. Butter is made up of mostly saturated fat and monounsaturated fat. It also only contains a very small amount of polyunsaturated fats.
That said, butter is a great option to use when cooking since there is less chance of oxidation due to the high amount of saturated fat. Though it was looked down upon for years, many experts are coming around to the idea that grass-fed butter might actually be good for you.
It is packed full of healthy fatty acids including conjugated linoleic acid, also known as CLA. Amongst many other amazing benefits, CLA has actually been shown to be potentially protective against chronic inflammatory disease. Grass-fed butter and ghee also contain vitamin A, Vitamin K, and Vitamin D, just to name a few.
Note that butter has a smoke point of around 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Ghee, on the other hand, has a smoke point all the way up to 485 degrees Fahrenheit. So if you are going to cook with very high temperatures go with grass-fed ghee! My favorite brands of grass-fed ghee are Bulletproof and Ancient Organics.
Coconut Oil Vs Vegetable Oil
Another great oil for baking and cooking instead of vegetable oil on the keto diet is coconut oil. Over 85 percent of the fats in coconut oil are in the form of saturated fat. This makes coconut oil a very stable oil and an excellent choice to cook with on a keto diet.
Vegetable oil, on the other hand, is made up of only about 15 % saturated fat. In addition, about 61% of the fats in vegetable oil is polyunsaturated fat. That said, vegetable oil is much more likely to oxidize when cooked.
Usually, I would recommend going with a refined expeller pressed coconut oil if you are cooking with it. This is because, unlike extra virgin, it does not carry as much of the coconut flavor. I would suggest going with a brand like Nutiva Coconut Oil. Most coconut oil has a smoke point of 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Nutriva refined coconut claims a smoke point of up to 400 degrees.
Other Good Cooking Oils For Keto
Other good choices to cook with would include grass-fed beef tallow and other high-quality animal fats. They are good choices to cook with on many occasions. Beef tallow is high in both saturated and monounsaturated fat.
However, I’m not sure I would recommend using them for baking desserts. If I use beef tallow it is usually for cooking up some vegetables or meat. Many people use tallow for baking bread and crackers. These, of course, are not keto friendly, but I would be curious how well they would work in a keto bread recipe.
What About Olive And Avocado Oil?
Since both avocado oil and olive oil are high in monounsaturated fats they are ok for lower temperature cooking. Monounsaturated fats fall somewhere in between saturated and polyunsaturated fats when it comes to how susceptible they are to oxidation.
That said, outside of cooking with high temperatures, these two oils are probably my favorites. Avocado oil actually has a very high smoking point but since it is still high in monounsaturated fats, I can’t say it is my favorite for cooking.
When it comes to many other recipes such as salad dressing and light sauteeing, avocado oil is my most highly recommended oil. Avocado oil contains many healthy fatty acids and antioxidants that are great for your health. My go-to brand is Chosen Foods Avocado Oil.
Nut oils are also typically high in monounsaturated fats. Of all of them, I would most recommend using macadamia nut oil. It actually contains more monounsaturated fat than olive oil. In addition, macadamia nut oil contains the fewest amount of omega-6 of all the nut oils.
So, as you can see, with so many great options to choose from, there is really no reason to include vegetable oil in your ketogenic diet.