Can I eat canola oil on a ketogenic diet?

By Dr. Stephen Phinney and the Virta Team

Sources of saturated and monounsaturated fats should provide the majority of your dietary fat intake with a limited amount from polyunsaturates, which are highly concentrated in most vegetable oils. Canola oil contains a high proportion of monounsaturated fat (about 60-65 %), only 15-20% omega-6 (the pro-inflammatory stuff). Canola also contains about 10% omega-3, so it is actually a very good source of the shorter-chain vegetarian omega-3 fat called alpha-linolenic acid. Given its economical price and this beneficial fatty acid composition, canola oil can provide up to half of the ‘added fats’ (i.e., those added to the fats already in food) in a well-formulated ketogenic diet.

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21 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Can you comment on the concern regarding canola oil becoming oxidized and going rancid during the refining process, thus causing more harm than good to the body when ingested?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      For Dr. Phinney’s stance on canola oil, please go to https://blog.virtahealth.com/canola-oil-keto/

      Reply

  2. Avatar

    Your comment returns you to this page. This page clearly doesn’t deal with the concern.

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      We have submitted the previous question to our scientific team and will post the answer when we receive a response. Thanks for your patience!

      Reply

  3. Avatar
    Christopher Knight December 1, 2018 at 3:49 am

    I happen to refine canola oil fora living. At no point in refining does oil get oxidized, it is kept under absolute vacuum to prevent just that. If it was rancid you would taste it.

    Reply

  4. Avatar

    I would like to to know that answer too 😳

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Canola oil is — like most commercial vegetable seed, nut, and fruit oils – extracted by heated solvent and then purified. The purification process removes the solvent, impurities, and any peroxidized byproducts of the extraction process. What remains is an oil that is predominantly mono-unsaturated similar to olive oil (which, other than ‘extra virgin’ varieties, is also solvent extracted). But unlike olive oil, canola contains about 10% omega-3 fat. By contrast, soybean oil is 7% omega-3 and all the rest (corn, safflower, sunflower, cottonseed, olive, grapeseed, and avocado oils are less than 1% omega-3.

      There is a very valid concern that we eat too much omega-6 fat compared to our dietary omega-3 intake. Most nutrition experts recommend that we eat less than 5 times as much omega-6 compared to omega-3 fat – i.e., less than a 5:1 ratio. And some experts recommend getting this down closer to 2:1. With the exception of soybean oil at an 8:1 ratio, most other commercial oils vary from 20:1 to 100:1; and thus all of these heavily distort our dietary omega-6 to omega-3 balance. Canola oil, on the other hand, has a ratio of 2:1.

      Thus canola oil has the best polyunsaturated ratio among the vegetable fat sources. But this relatively high omega-3 content is also a reason to store and use canola oil with caution to prevent peroxidation once it is opened and exposed to air. First, keep it in a cool dark place (preferably the fridge). Second, avoid subjecting it to prolonged high heat when cooking. That means not using it as a frying oil for longer than an hour or two.

      Keeping these relative pros and cons in mind, canola oil can be an economical and healthful component to a well-formulated ketogenic diet, with the one caution of avoiding prolonged heating at frying temperature. Given that it is high in mono-unsaturated fats like olive oil, plus being relatively rich source of omega-3 fats, canola oil can used in cooking, dressings, and sauces to help reduce our omega-6 fat intake and keep our polyunsaturated ratio in better balance.

      Reply

      1. Avatar

        If Canola oil is 10% O3 (Omega 3), then wouldn’t the ratio be 9:1 (90% O6 and 10% O3?) rather than 2:1?
        Is the ratio by calories or by weight or by volume? (Which may all be the same in this particular case).

        Reply

        1. Virta Health

          Hi! Canola oil contains about 60-65% monounsaturated fat, 15-20% omega-6, and about 10% omega-3, which makes the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 ~2:1.

          Reply

      2. Avatar

        Oh ok…..but is canola oil keto friendly?

        Reply

        1. Virta Health

          Hi Marc! Yes it is. As a fat, canola oil does not raise blood sugar or cause an insulin response.

          Reply

  5. Avatar

    Where does Flax oil fall in your spectrum of good oils and fats?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Great question! Flaxseed oil is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids and can be used as part of a well formulated ketogenic diet. However, flaxseed oil has a low smoke point and should not be used for cooking.

      Reply

  6. Avatar

    I have read that 90% of canola oil is from GMO sources and produced by Monsanto. I agree with others that this makes me question the validity of other things this group says.

    Reply

    1. Avatar

      What makes you question the validity of this group, as opposed to the validity of the source you read stating 90% is GMO?

      Reply

  7. Avatar

    I heard at a health seminar recently that fat (including coconut and nuts) can cause blood sugar levels to rise. I have always thought that healthy fats are low in carbs and has minimal effect on blood sugar levels. I would like to investigate further and wonder if you could please advise if Virta may have any info on their site.
    Thank you in advance,

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Hi Julie! Thanks for your question. If you’re talking about pure sources of fat like coconut oil, olive oil, butter, etc., there is no impact to the insulin or blood sugar response. However, foods like coconut and nuts also contain carbohydrates, and that is what will increase blood sugar.

      Reply

  8. Avatar

    Where does High-Oleic Sunflower Oil come in as far as healthiness?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Thanks for your question! High oleic safflower and high oleic sunflower oil both have fat profiles that are acceptable. You can read more about it here: https://blog.virtahealth.com/fats-oils-ketogenic-diet/

      Reply

  9. Avatar

    What about Sesame Oil and Toasted Sesame Oil

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Sesame seed oils are similar to other vegetable oils in that they are high in omega 6 fatty acids. While that can be ok on a low fat diet, it is best limited when consuming a high fat diet. You may find this post helpful: https://blog.virtahealth.com/fats-oils-ketogenic-diet/

      Reply

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