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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9 Comments

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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

  5. 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

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