There are many things to think about when you’re following a paleo diet, but one of the most confusing aspects is what sorts of oils and fats you can use.
And, when you consider that some oils are best used for cooking while others are better suited to salad dressings or baking, things can become even more confusing!
So, to help make things a little clearer, we’ve put together a list of paleo-friendly oils. You’ll also learn what purpose each of them is best suited for, along with some of the incredible health benefits you’ll get from incorporating them into your diet.
Flaxseed oil is the fist paleo-friendly oil on our list. However, it’s not one that you should use for cooking! This is because it is very high in ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). This is the parent fatty acid to Omega-3 and, although it’s very good for you, it is extremely sensitive to heat, oxygen, and light.
The best way to use flaxseed oil is as a base for a salad dressing, or as a finishing oil over roasted vegetables once they’ve cooled off a bit.
Flaxseed oil comes with many potential health benefits, the first of which is that it’s high in Omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation, improve heart health, and help protect the brain against aging.
It’s also believed to be very good for your skin and one study found that it could be capable of decreasing the symptoms of atopic dermatitis including redness, swelling, and itching.
Walnut oil is another paleo-friendly oil that is packed with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. However, as with flaxseed oil, it’s best to avoid cooking with walnut oil wherever possible. This is because it is sensitive to high temperatures and, when placed over a hot flame, it can develop a very bitter taste.
With this in mind, it’s best to use walnut oil as a salad dressing base or as a finishing oil. Some refined walnut oils can be used to cook with, but these are still only suitable over a low-medium heat.
As well as being high in antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids, walnut oil is believed to improve blood sugar control. One study found that, within a group of 100 participants, consuming one 15g tablespoon of walnut oil everyday for 3 months significantly lowered fasting blood sugar.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The health benefits of extra virgin oil have been known for some time now, but did you know that it was also paleo-friendly? There are also many different types of extra virgin olive oil, and each comes with its own unique flavor.
Extra virgin olive oil is the first type of oil on our paleo-friendly list that can be used for cooking with. It has a high, 325ºF smoking point and is resistant to oxidation. This means that it’s even suitable for deep-frying. It’s also suitable as a salad dressing base, finishing oil, and as a baking ingredient.
Some of the health benefits you’ll get from using olive oil in a paleo diet include protection against heart disease, a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and even the potential to help prevent certain cancers.
Macadamia Nut Oil
Macadamia nut oil isn’t only paleo-friendly, it’s also high in phytochemicals which protect against oxidation. This makes it suitable for cooking with and it’s super-high smoke point of 413ºF means it can be used in almost any dish. And, as with most other oils, it’s also suitable as a finishing oil and as a dressing base.
There is another benefit to macadamia nut oil’s high level of phytochemicals, too. Since they protect against oxidation, you’re able to store it at room temperature for up to two years without it going bad.
Coconut oil has become incredibly popular in recent years, but one thing many people don’t realize is that it is 100% paleo-friendly. It’s also extremely versatile and can be used for cooking (thanks to its 320ºF smoke point) and as a baking ingredient.
One of the best things about coconut oil, and certainly something that makes it an excellent choice for a paleo diet, is that it can be used as a direct replacement for butter in some recipes. For example, if your recipe calls for 1 tbsp of butter, simply replace it with 1 tbsp of coconut oil.
Coconut oil also has some incredible health benefits. These include boosting heart health and raising good cholesterol. It may also have the ability to encourage fat burning, so it’s an ideal choice if you’ve adopted a paleo diet as part of a weight loss plan.
Believe it or not, avocado oil is one of the best paleo oils for cooking at high temperatures. This is because it has a high smoke point of 400ºF, making it an ideal alternative to canola or vegetable oil.
It’s equally as good for drizzling over a salad, or encouraging under-ripe avocados to blend together in your food processor!
As with most other paleo-friendly cooking oils, avocado oil has several health benefits. The most impressive of these is its high levels of lutein. This is a carotenoid and antioxidant that is naturally found in the eyes. This means that avocado oil has the potential to reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
You might be surprised to find lard on this list, but it’s actually one of the healthiest paleo-friendly fats available. This is because it contains mostly monounsaturated fats and has absolutely no trans fat at all which, in turn, means it’s pretty good for your heart.
Lard also has a high smoke point of 370ºF making it suitable for deep frying, sauteing, grilling, and pretty much anything else you can think of. The only thing we’d advise you to not do is melt it and pour it over a salad. It won’t harm your health, but it won’t taste very nice!
As you can see, there are several paleo-friendly oils and fats that can be used on a paleo diet. The main thing you need to pay attention to when using any of them, however, is that only certain ones are suitable for cooking with.
Get this wrong and you could find yourself with a smoke-filled kitchen and bitter-tasting food!