Plenty of delicious fats and oils can be used in your paleo cooking. Some of the most widely used and loved include coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil, all in their unrefined forms. Animal fats such as beef tallow are also popular and can add great flavors to your food.
Let’s look at the best oils on the paleo diet and why!
The Role of Fats in the Paleo Diet
Paleo or not, fats are crucial for providing energy to the body and supporting cell function. They play a protective role for organs and contribute to maintaining body warmth. Fats also aid in nutrient absorption and facilitate the production of vital hormones. For paleo dieters, fat is one of the body’s primary energy sources.
Healthiest Paleo Cooking Fats and Oils for Your Meals
Some of the most widely used, healthiest, and recommended oils from paleo dieters include:
- Flaxseed oil – contains omega-3 fatty acids and is packed with antioxidants
- Walnut oil – has a higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids than most other oils.
- Extra-virgin olive oil – Full of antioxidants, EVOO is great for your heart health.
- Macadamia nut oil – Contains an abundance of healthy monounsaturated fats.
- Coconut oil – A rich source of medium-chain triglycerides, it is known to support brain health and immunity.
- Avocado oil – Contains a generous amount of both monounsaturated fats and antioxidants.
- Animal fats, such as lard, beef tallow, duck, and chicken fat.
When using any of these oils for cooking, be aware that some handle heat better than others. Animal fats and avocado oil are great choices when cooking at high temperatures as they don’t oxidize as easily as things like extra virgin olive oil.
Balancing Health and Flavor with Paleo Cooking Oils
Let’s look at some of these oils’ health benefits and flavor profiles in more detail.
Olive oil is packed with around 30 phenolic compounds that help reduce oxidative stress on the body. It is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, which aid in controlling cholesterol levels and promoting heart health. The world offers a wide range of olive oil varieties, each with its own distinct flavor and color that can be explored to enhance the taste of your dishes. Despite its smoke point at 325°F, extra virgin olive oil is pretty resistant to oxidation because of its high level of antioxidants.
Macadamia nut oil contains higher monounsaturated fats and the lowest omega-6 fats among nuts. It has been found to improve oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. With a smoke point of 413°F, macadamia oil is suitable for various cooking methods such as grilling, sautéing, and stir-frying.
Coconut oil is known for its medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are great for energy levels. It is also abundant in lauric acid, which possesses anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties. While unrefined coconut oil has a smoke point of 320°F, it can be used as a substitute for butter, especially when roasting a whole chicken, or in Caribbean and Asian recipes.
Avocado oil obtained through cold-pressing retains its high vitamin E and chlorophyll concentrations, giving the oil a greenish hue. Research indicates that consuming avocado oil enhances the absorption of carotenoids from vegetables and reduces the risk of coronary artery disease. Like olive oil, it has a higher Omega 6:3 ratio but can withstand high heat, with a smoke point of 520°F. Consider using virgin avocado oil instead of canola or vegetable oil for high-heat cooking, such as stir-frying or grilling.
Lard, derived from pig fat, may sound unhealthy, but it is primarily composed of monounsaturated fats and contains no trans fat, making it a heart-healthy choice for Paleo cooking.
What Fats and Oils Need to be Avoided on Paleo?
Some various fats and oils need to be avoided on the paleo diet. These include:
- Rapeseed oil (Canola oil)
- Corn oil
- Peanut oil
- Vegetable oil
- Sunflower oil
- Safflower oil
Basically, the paleo diet does not allow oils that are highly processed or refined, that come from genetically modified crops (GMO) or that are legume-based. Why? Because the diet is a nutrition plan focusing on foods consumed by humans during the Paleolithic Era. This diet excludes foods that became prevalent with the advent of small-scale farming around 10,000 years ago, such as grains, legumes, and dairy products.
You can eat up to 40% of your daily calories from fat on the paleo diet.
Technically no. A strict paleo diet does not allow any dairy products. However, some paleo dieters say ghee is okay, as the milk solids have been removed, and some also allow grass-fed butter.
Raw honey is allowed on the paleo diet, but not refined/pasteurized honey. It should still be consumed in moderation as it is a high glycemic index food and can cause blood sugar spikes if eaten in large amounts.
Yes, you can still bake on the paleo diet, but you need to ensure you use only paleo-approved ingredients in your baking. For example, swap the grain flour for nut flour! You can check out paleo-approved flours from our list of over 60 different types of flour!