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What Fats Can I Cook With in Paleo?

by
author image Melodie Anne
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.
What Fats Can I Cook With in Paleo?
Two pork chops frying in a pan on a stovetop. Photo Credit Stepan Popov/iStock/Getty Images

Following the Paleolithic diet, or Paleo for short, requires you to consume a diet rich in meats, fruits, vegetables and nuts. The term "Paleolithic" refers to the Stone Age era when cave men had to hunt for food while the women and children gathered nuts and other foodstuffs for meals. Proponents of Paleo believe that our bodies are not meant to digest grains, legumes and dairy. Since your diet is somewhat restricted, you can only use certain types of fat for cooking. If you are new to Paleo, talk with your physician before making any drastic changes to your diet.

Lard

Lard is a Paleo-friendly cooking fat that works well at high temperatures. Although by definition lard is pig fat, when people speak of lard today they also include beef tallow and duck fat, which, like pig fat, are highly saturated, making them very stable for cooking. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, but render into liquid form during cooking. Even though animal fats may be ideal for cooking while following the Paleo diet, too much saturated fat can be harmful. A diet rich in saturated fat can increase your chances of cardiovascular disease by raising your bad low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol, according to MayoClinic.com.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil or butter is allowed on the Paleo diet, although the foods you cook will take on the strong coconut flavor. Similar to lard and animal fat, coconut oil or butter is also rich in saturated fat. Other heart-friendly fats may be healthier options on your Paleo diet.

Nut Oils

If you love nuts, cooking with nut oils gives your food a rich nutty flavor. Peanut, macadamia and walnut oil are just a few of the Paleo-friendly types of nut oils. These types of fats provide monounsaturated fats, also known as MUFAs. Monounsaturated fats are especially beneficial since they help improve your cholesterol levels, thus reducing your risk of heart disease. MUFAs are also tied with stabilizing your blood sugar levels, which is important if you suffer from diabetes. The high MUFA content in nut oils gives them a lower cooking stability than saturated fat options and you need to cook with them over a lower temperature than you do with lard.

Avocado and Olive Oil

Other types of cooking fat you can use while following the Paleo diet include avocado and olive oil. Both of these oils are loaded with MUFAs and are super healthy for your heart. If you decide to work with either of these oils, cook at a medium-low to medium heat for a short time. These oils can burn easily, which can give your food a bitter taste.

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