The popularity of the ketogenic diet is due in large part to its potential benefits for weight control and blood sugar control (1 2, 3, 4).
Early evidence suggests that the keto diet, which is low in carbs and high in fat, may be effective in treating certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other conditions. However, more high-quality research is needed to confirm the keto diet’s safety and effectiveness over time (1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).
The keto diet restricts carbs to between 20 and 50 grams per day.
Some people who are on keto count total carbs, while others count net carbs. Net carbs are total carbs less fiber. Because fiber is indigestible, it cannot be broken down or absorbed by the body.
Although this diet can seem difficult, it allows you to eat healthy foods.
Here are 20 healthy keto foods.
Shellfish and fish are keto-friendly. Salmon and other fish are almost carb-free and rich in B vitamins and potassium (9).
The carb count of shellfish can vary depending on the type. Octopus and oysters are carb-free, but shrimp and most crabs do not contain them. These foods can be eaten on the keto diet. However, it is important to monitor your carbohydrate intake to ensure you stay within your calorie limits (10, 11, 12, 13, 13).
Also, salmon, mackerel and sardines are high in omega-3 fats. This has been linked to lower insulin levels in overweight and obese people (14).
Regular fish consumption is associated with improved brain health, and lower risk of developing diseases (15-16).
The American Heart Association recommends that adults aged 18 and older eat 8-10 ounces seafood per week (17).
2. Meat and poultry
The keto diet includes meat and poultry as staple foods.
Fresh meats and poultry are low in carbs, and high in vitamins and minerals. They are also high in protein, which can help maintain muscle mass on a low-carb diet (18, 19, 20, 21).
A small study of older women showed that a high-fat, high-carb diet led to 8% more HDL (good cholesterol) than a low-fat, high-carb diet (21).
If possible, it is better to choose grass-fed meat (22, 23). It has more omega-3 fats (CLA) and conjugated linoleic acids (CLA), than meat from grains-fed animals (22-23).
Eggs are a great source of protein.
Large eggs are ideal for keto (24). They contain less than one gram carbs and 6 grams protein.
Eggs have also been shown to increase the feeling of fullness (25).
Whole eggs are better than egg whites. The yolk contains the majority of egg’s nutrients. This includes the antioxidants Zeaxanthin and Lutein, which help protect your eyes (26).
Egg yolks, despite being high in cholesterol (27), don’t seem to increase your risk for heart disease.
We love easy tray bake recipes, such as Green Chef’s Mozzarella and Pesto Hasselback Chicken.
Chicken breasts tenderly stuffed with creamy mozzarella and juicy tomatoes, and served with crispy roasted broccoli and courgettes.
This easy recipe is packed with flavour and protein, making it a great mid-week meal.
> Summary: Most animal proteins, such as eggs, beef and pork, poultry and seafood, are low in carbohydrates and suitable for the keto diet.
There are many types of cheese. Most of them are low in carbs but high in fat.
Only 1 ounce (28g) of cheddar cheese contains 1 gram carbs, 6 g of protein and good amounts of calcium (28).
Saturated fat is high in cheese, but this has not been shown to increase your chance of developing heart disease. Some studies have shown that cheese may actually help prevent this condition (29, 30, 31).
CLA is also found in cheese, which has been shown to be linked with fat loss and improved body composition (31).
Consuming cheese on a regular basis may also help to reduce muscle loss and strength associated with aging.
In a 12-week study of older adults, 7 ounces (210g) of ricotta was found to be less effective in reducing muscle loss and strength than those who did not consume this amount of cheese.
These cheeses are low in carbs and suitable for keto.
Keto cheese list
* blue cheese
* Colby Jack
* cottage cheese
* cream cheese
* goat cheese
* Pepper Jack
* string cheese
* Swiss cheese
5. Cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt
Cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt are high-protein, nutritious foods. They can be eaten in moderation on keto, even though they do contain carbs.
Yogurt and cottage cheese both have been shown to reduce appetite and increase feelings of fullness (33 and 34).
You can make either one a delicious snack or combine them with cinnamon, chopped nuts, or other spices for a quick keto treat.
6. Cream and half-and -half
Cream is made up of the fat portion of fresh milk, which has been separated during milk processing. Half-and-half is made from 50% cream and half of the whole milk.
These dairy products are low in carbs, high in fat, and ideal for keto (35,36).
Butter and cream, like other fat dairy products, are high in CLA. This may help promote fat loss (31).
It is better to have cream and half-and half in moderation, however.
According to the American Heart Association 2021 diet guidance, people should avoid foods high in saturated fat. Lower stroke and cardiovascular disease risk can be reduced by replacing animal fats with plant-based fats or polyunsaturated oils (37).
Studies have shown that high-fat dairy products are not as closely associated with heart disease. Some studies suggest that moderate consumption of high-fat dairy products may help reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack. The evidence is still inconclusive (30-38, 39).
This area is still under discussion and may depend on many factors such as the processing level of food (37, 40).
Half-and-half and cream are great choices for adding to your coffee, or as keto alternatives to milk in small quantities.
7. Unsweetened plant-based milk
Many plant-based milks are keto-friendly, including almond, soy, and coconut milk (41-42, 43, 43).
Unsweetened options are best. Sweetened products are too sugary to be suitable for keto.
Oat milk should be avoided as it is too high in carbs (44).
> Summary: There are many dairy options and types that can be used to make keto-friendly dairy products, such as cheese, cottage cheese and cream. Also, there is half-and-half and some unsweetened plant milks.
8. Vegetables with green leaves
The carbohydrate count of green leafy vegetables is very low, which makes them great for keto. They are also high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (45).
Particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale and collard greens, are rich in vitamin K and iron (45).
Greens can add bulk to your meals, without increasing the carb count. You can also add flavor to your meals with herbs like rosemary and oregano, which have almost no carbs.
These are keto-friendly leafy leaves:
* Salad greens include lettuce, baby spinach and escarole.
* Cooking greens include bok choy and collard greens as well as mustard greens, mustard greens (kale), spinach, Swiss Chard, and cabbage
* Herbs: Thyme, sage and mint. Oregano, dill. Parsley, cilantro. Basil, rosemary.
There are many varieties of peppers, and all of them are suitable for the keto diet. Although technically they are fruits, they can be used in cooking as vegetables.
Jalapenos, small hot peppers, add spice to recipes. They are perfect for keto-friendly appetizers. Larger, milder peppers like bell peppers or poblanos can be used in many dishes. You can also stuff them to make low-carb main dishes.
Peppers are also a good source of vitamin A. One bell pepper contains 107% of the daily vitamin C value (46).
10. Summer squash
The versatility and low carbohydrate content of summer squashes like yellow squash and zucchini is what makes them so versatile.
Actually, zucchini is very popular in keto. You can make zucchini noodles with a spiralizer. These noodles are a great substitute for pasta and noodles.
To make zucchini into a substitute for rice or to add to baked goods, you can grated it. To make a cold salad, you can slice it using a mandoline.
11. Vegetables high in fat
Although technically they are both fruits, avocados and olives are different from other vegetables in that they contain a lot of fat. They are also high in fiber and low in net carbs (47,48).
Oleuropein is the main antioxidant found in olives and can protect your cells against damage (49).
A study also found that those who consumed one avocado per day had lower levels of LDL (bad), cholesterol, and other risk factors for heart disease.
12. Other non-starchy vegetables
Many other vegetables, including non-starchy ones, are low in calories as well as carbs but high in nutrients and antioxidants.
Low carb vegetables can be substituted for high carb foods.
You can make low-carb cauliflower rice or mashed cauliflower, for example. Spaghetti squash is a great alternative to spaghetti. Low carb root vegetables like jicama or turnips are also good options for replacing roasted potatoes and french fries.
These are just a few other keto-friendly veggies.
List of Keto vegetables
* green beans
* spaghetti squash
* Brussels sprouts
Avoid vegetables when you are following keto
Remember that not all vegetables have low carbohydrate content. Avoid these vegetables if you are following keto
* Sweet potatoes and potatoes
* Onions (in large quantities)
* Certain winter squashes such as butternut squash and acorn squash are allowed.
> SummaryKeto should include plenty of non-starchy vegetables, such as leafy greens and summer squash, peppers and avocados.
13. Nuts and seeds
Nuts, seeds, and other nuts are high in fat and low in carbohydrates.
A reduced risk of developing heart disease, certain types of cancer, depression, or other chronic diseases is associated with frequent nut consumption (51, 52).
Additionally, fiber is a major component of nuts and seeds, which can make you feel fuller and help to lower your calorie intake (53).
Net carbs are very low in most nuts and seeds, but the amounts vary by type. 54, 55, 56 and 57 are the lowest carbs (and therefore best for keto):
* macadamia nuts
* chia seeds
Many fruits are too high carbohydrate to be able to eat on the Keto diet. However, berries are an exception.
Low in carbs, strawberries and raspberries are high in fiber. Although blackberries and blueberries have lower carbs than other fruits, they might not be suitable for strict keto diets (60-61, 62, or 63).
These small fruits are rich in antioxidants, which may help reduce inflammation and protect against diseases (64, 65).
15. Shirataki noodles
Shirataki noodles make a great addition to the keto diet. Because they are mostly water (66), they have less than one gram net carbs and only fifteen calories per serving.
These noodles are made with glucomannan, a viscous fiber that has many health benefits (67,68).
Viscous fiber forms gel which slows down food movement through your digestive system. This can reduce hunger and blood sugar spikes and may help with weight loss and diabetes management (67-68-69).
Shirataki noodles are available in many shapes and sizes, including rice, pasta, and linguine. They can be substituted for regular noodles in nearly all recipes.
16. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder
Delicious sources of antioxidants include dark chocolate and cocoa.
Flavanols in dark chocolate may lower your risk of developing heart disease. They can lower blood pressure and keep your arteries healthy (70-71, 72).
You can eat chocolate while on keto, which is quite surprising. It is important to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids, preferably more, and to eat it in moderation.
> SummaryBerries, shirataki noodles and nuts are all good options for keto diets.
17. Olive oil
Olive oil has many benefits for your heart.
It is high in oleic acids, a monounsaturated oil that has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease (73,74).
Extra-virgin oil also contains high levels of polyphenol antioxidants, plant compounds that protect the heart by decreasing inflammation, improving blood flow, and enhancing cardiac health (75,76).
Olive oil is a natural fat source and contains no carbs. Olive oil is a great base for salad dressings, and healthy mayonnaise.
Olive oil is less stable at high temperatures than saturated fats, so it’s better to use it for low heat cooking.
Coconut oil and avocado oil are two other excellent plant-based oils that you can use for keto.
18. Butter and ghee
Ghee and butter are great fats to include on the keto diet. Ghee has no carbs and butter contains very little carbs (77,78).
Ghee, clarified butter, is made by heating butter and then removing any milk solids. Ghee is a concentrated buttery flavor and is often used in Indian cooking.
As with other full-fat dairy products, butter and ghee are not as dangerous to your health as we thought (30).
> Summary: The best oils and fats for keto baking and cooking are butter, olive oil, and ghee. Coconut and avocado oils are also good options.
Pin it on PinterestCatherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images19 Unsweetened tea and coffee
Tea and coffee are healthy, low-carb beverages.
They are high in caffeine which can increase your metabolism and improve your mood (79-80, 81).
A significant reduction in diabetes risk has been found for coffee and tea drinkers. Although a cause-and-effect relationship between coffee and diabetes has yet to be established (82)
You can add heavy cream to your coffee or tea, but it’s best to avoid tea lattes and “light” coffee while you are on keto. They’re usually made with high-carb flavorings and nonfat milk.
20. Sparkling water unsweetened
Unsweetened sparkling water is an excellent choice if you are looking for a keto-friendly substitute to soda.
These drinks are refreshingly fizzy, can be flavored and are usually free from sugar or sweeteners. They are low in calories and carbs (83).
Some varieties may be flavored with fruit juice in small quantities, which could contain carbs. Extra carbs can quickly add up (84).
> Summary Unsweetened tea, coffee, and sparkling water are all good choices for keto.
Is keto the right choice for you?
Many people continue to enjoy the low-carb, high-fat keto diet. It may not suit everyone.
Keto is very restrictive in comparison to other diets. This can cause stress for some people.
Side effects of the keto diet can also occur, especially when you first start. Side effects include (85):
* digestive changes
* Increased cholesterol
You may consider other healthy eating habits if keto is not for you.
The keto diet can help you lose weight, control your blood sugar, and achieve other health goals. Its low-carb and high-fat approach can seem restrictive at first.
This eating style allows you to eat a variety of healthy, delicious, and versatile meals that will not exceed your daily carbohydrate intake.
It’s important to eat a variety of foods in order to reap the full health benefits of the keto diet.
Only one thing
This is what you can do today: It’s crucial to track your carb count, especially when you start keto.
Many keto apps can help you find out more about the carbs in the foods you eat the most.