Which fats and oils should I eat on a ketogenic diet?

By Dr. Stephen Phinney and the Virta Team

On a well-formulated ketogenic diet where 70-80% of your daily energy comes from fat, the majority of your dietary fat should be from sources of monounsaturates and saturates.

Here’s a table of the best fats and oils to consume on a ketogenic diet:

Keto diet - acceptable fats and oils

We only need about one teaspoon (5 grams) each of omega-6 and omega-3 fats each day to meet our essential fatty acid needs. Too much omega-6 in particular is not well-tolerated by our digestive tract. The older ‘high linoleic’ versions of safflower and sunflower oil are 65-75% omega-6, so if even one third of your daily energy needs (say about 600 out of 1800 Calories) came from one of these oils, that 600 kcal would contain 8 teaspoons of omega-6 fat. That’s way too much, and way out of balance with a normal omega-3 fat intake. High omega-6 oils such as corn, soybean, cottonseed, peanut, and the older versions of safflower and sunflower are good sources of essential omega-6 fatty acids if one is consuming a low fat diet. In that case, most of your daily energy comes from carbohydrates and fat is just a sliver of your daily energy use.

Olive oil is pretty close to ideal in its fatty acid composition. Other good fat sources are high oleic safflower and sunflower oils, plus lard (which is typically half monounsaturated) and canola oil.

Back to Keto FAQ


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18 Comments

  1. Avatar

    What about dairy products ? Do they have to be grass fed animals
    or any regular dairy

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Dairy products are OK as long as they don’t have sugar in them. Some examples of acceptable dairy products are cheese, cream cheese, heavy cream and sour cream. These dairy items do not have to be from grass fed animals, they just have to be full fat. I hope that helps!

      Reply

  2. Avatar

    Hi , what about peanut oil .

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Peanut oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids, so we recommend sticking to the oils in the table above.

      Reply

  3. Avatar

    Is baking/roasting meats with avocado oil ok?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Yes!

      Reply

  4. Avatar

    If you’re allergic to avocados can you safely use avocado oil?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      I would recommend discussing this with you medical provider just to be safe.

      Reply

  5. Avatar

    Can you have Sunflower oil on Keto diet yes or no?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Yes- Just look for high oleic sunflower oil

      Reply

  6. Avatar

    Can I fry with olive oil? + is sunflower oil keto?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Olive oil typically doesn’t have a high enough smoke point for frying. Canola oil or avocado oil are better options. High oleic sunflower oil can be a good option for those following a ketogenic diet.

      Reply

  7. Avatar

    Why does the Keto Herd talk so bad about Canola Oil when it’s so high in MUFAs? Is it the high pufas?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      Hi Rob! Dr. Phinney wrote a post about canola oil and how it can be a good source of omega 3 fatty acids on a well formulated ketogenic diet: https://blog.virtahealth.com/canola-oil-keto/

      Reply

  8. Avatar

    What about duck fat? How does it compare to tallow or lard?

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      That is a great option!

      Reply

  9. Avatar

    What about cold pressed pecan oil on keto diet? I use it to make mayo because it has a neutral taste

    Reply

    1. Virta Health

      As Dr. Phinney writes, “On a well-formulated ketogenic diet where 70-80% of your daily energy comes from fat, the majority of your dietary fat should be from sources of monounsaturates and saturates.” There is a great chart on this page that shows the fatty acid breakdown of a variety of fants and oils we recommend to our patients: https://blog.virtahealth.com/fats-oils-ketogenic-diet/

      The pecan nut is close to 51% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), much higher than any of the oils that we recommend. Compare that to avocado oil (another great tasting and neutral option for mayo or dressings) that only has 15% PUFA and you can see the avocado oil would be the better way to go.

      Reply

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