The ketogenic or “keto” diet has numerous health benefits for men, women, and seniors, including weight loss, reduced cholesterol, and lower blood pressure. But going on the keto diet doesn’t mean you have to give up the foods and flavors you love. Since keto is focused on fat and protein, dieters have thousands of culinary options – including some that might surprise you. Read on to learn more about what the ketogenic diet is, how oils and fats play a role in the keto diet, and why extra virgin olive oil is such a good option for keto dieters.
What is the Ketogenic (“Keto”) Diet?
The ketogenic diet, or “keto” for short, is a low-carb diet that minimizes foods like bread, rice, and pasta, while emphasizing foods that are rich in fats and proteins, such as meat, seafood, cheese, and eggs. The term “keto” comes from the word “ketones,” which are molecules the body produces to supply energy when “glucose,” or blood sugar, is low. By reducing carb intake while consuming a moderate level of protein and high levels of certain fats, a keto dieter can reduce ketone production, which stimulates the body to run on fat stores instead of ketones. As a result, the keto diet makes it easier to burn off excess body fat and maintain a healthy weight.
Like any diet, the key purpose of keto is weight loss and sustained weight management. However, some experts believe that a ketogenic diet can also have other health benefits, which may include:
- Fighting high cholesterol, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack by causing dangerous buildup that clogs the arteries.
- Increasing energy levels.
- Lowering high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular (heart) disease.
- Reducing cravings for sugary junk foods, such as chocolate, candy, and soda.
Can You Have Olive Oil on Keto?
As mentioned above, the keto diet emphasizes medium-protein, high-fat foods. While the idea of a “high-fat” diet may sound counterintuitive, certain fats are actually very low in carbohydrates, making them ideal components of a healthy keto diet when consumed in moderation. Though keto dieters should try to avoid cakes, biscuits, crackers, donuts, and other carb-rich foods that are high in trans fats, which can raise cholesterol, it’s important to include certain types of natural fats in a balanced keto diet for optimal results.
Natural Fats – Saturated vs. Unsaturated
Here’s where it gets a little complicated. “Natural fats” are, as the name suggests, foods that are naturally rich in saturated fats and/or unsaturated fats. While too much saturated fat can pack on the pounds and increase the risk of heart disease, unsaturated fat has the opposite effect – not to mention it can fortify bones and help the body absorb vitamins. Importantly for keto dieters, unsaturated fats increase “good” cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which works to remove deposits of “bad” cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL), from the arteries.
Oils, which many people use for cooking meat, cooking vegetables, or preparing dressings and sauces, are good examples of naturally fatty foods. Unfortunately, many oils are high in saturated fat, such as palm oil and coconut oil, making them poor options for keto dieters.
Olive Oil as a Source of Unsaturated Fat
The better option is to focus on oils that primarily contain unsaturated fats. Olive oil, which is mainly comprised from monounsaturated fat (and, to a lesser extent, polyunsaturated fat), is an excellent example. In fact, many keto experts recommend incorporating olive oil into a ketogenic diet – and with so many ways to use olive oil, dieting has never been easier (or tastier). Whether you’re drizzling it over salad with a few hardboiled eggs for protein, stirring it into a hearty stew or soup for added texture, or simply using it to add a burst of flavor to a sliced avocado, sliced tomato, or other midday snack, the keto diet’s uses for olive oil are practically endless.
Try Our Olive Oil as Part of Your Keto Diet
While many foods associated with olive oil such as chickpeas, hummus, and bread should be avoided on the Keto diet, there are tons of other Keto-friendly foods that extra virgin olive oil is great with. Keto-friendly olive oil foods include:
- Egg Salad
- Low-Carb Vegetables such as zucchini, broccoli, and kale
Il Re is proud to offer the finest selection of handcrafted, small-batch extra virgin olive oils to restaurants, catering companies, and home chefs across the United States. Our delicious, health-conscious, keto-friendly olive oils are harvested by hand from family farms located in Calabria, a region of southern Italy renowned for its lush olive tree crops, which produce some of the purest, most flavorful oils in the world.
To learn more about the olive oil products we offer, feel free to get in touch with us. Whether you’re looking for one or two bottles for your home kitchen, or need to place a bulk wholesale order for your restaurant or catering business, our friendly and knowledgeable olive oil experts will help you find the perfect product for all your cooking needs.