Just as important as the foods to eat, are the ones you should avoid.
Let me start with the caveat that we don’t always have an abundance of options available at all times. Make the best choices you can given your circumstances.
I’m not here to judge you because I’m not perfect either.
Sugar & Processed Carbohydrates
The most obvious which I won’t even expand upon – sugar and processed, refined carbohydrates.
The sugar industry funded studies to misinform the public and demonize fat for decades.
Now high-sugar food companies shell out millions of dollars to lobby against any positive health agendas.
I’m all for having these items as occasional treats, but I think there has to be some limit on how these large companies operate to halt progress towards fixing obesity.
Aside from those offenders, the biggest no-no is trans-fats.
Margarine is a classic example of taking a perfectly good food (butter) and turning it into a franken-food with human “ingenuity”.
Of course, it’s nice to adjust the texture and shelf stability of vegetable oils. But at what cost to your body?
Humans are both really smart yet ignorant because of our massive egos while using technological innovations. When it comes to food and nutrition, nature developed over thousands of years and knows best.
Trans-fats literally cause your arteries to harden, and until recently they were in the vast majority of processed foods.
Thankfully many trans-fats are being eliminated from our food systems with regulation, though it took years to acknowledge they are unhealthy.
Look for the word, “hydrogenated” within the ingredient list, because if the amount per serving is less than 1 gram, food manufacturers are allowed to list this as 0 grams on the nutritional label.
Omega-6 Rich Vegetable Oils
Next up are vegetable fats that require heavy processing to extract. Unlike naturally fatty foods like coconuts and olives, these oils were not likely to be part of a human diet in large amounts before the industrial revolution.
They have a high-level of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats.
A lower ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids is desirable in reducing the risk of many high prevalence chronic diseases.
As such, it’s a good idea to limit the amount of omega-6 fatty acids you eat and increase your omega-3 intake.
You can see the fatty acid breakdown from a variety of cooking oils below:
From the chart above, linoleic acid is omega-6 (yellow) and alpha-linolenic acid is omega-3 (green).
It’s best to avoid all of the following:
- Vegetable Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Corn Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Canola Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
Peanut oil is on the fringe, yet widely known as a superior option for frying with Chick-fil-a being the best example of its use. I don’t use it, but I do eat mixed nuts and peanut butter in moderation.
Also falling into this category is sesame oil, which I use sparingly for flavor within a stir fry.
My top 3 for cooking are coconut oil, butter and light/regular olive oil. I’ll use extra virgin olive oil for added flavor.
It’s worth mentioning that flaxseed oil is by far the highest in omega-3’s. That’s why I use it in keto bread recipes and find other ways to sprinkle it into my diet!
Factory Farmed & Non-Organic
For animal and plant-based foods, organic is always the best choice when compared to factory-farmed.
The conditions of factory-farming are filthy and the animals are pumped with antibiotics or food they wouldn’t naturally eat to grow faster.
The result is while you save money, the end-product is not nearly as healthful as one where the animal lives in conditions similar to the wild.
We go back to the omega-3’s – you’ll get more of them in organic, grass-fed, wild-caught meat and eggs.
Many of the plants we eat have residual chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The massive farms growing one crop eventually sap the ground of minerals through years of overuse. The food isn’t as nutritious.
We all can’t afford or access the highest quality food, but please consider that every dollar you spend is either a vote for large companies whose sole concern is profit, or small farmers who actually care about how they produce food.
Learning about the right practices got me interested in gardening, and I highly recommend you consider starting your own backyard garden.
If you are beginning the keto diet, go for the biggest wins and avoid the obvious foods like sugar, trans-fats and vegetable oils. Over time, you can ascend the hierarchy of quality from good, to better, to best!