A few months ago, I wrote an article called “How to Avoid a Heart Attack on a Keto (or any other) Diet.”
Truth be told, I really didn’t expect it to get much attention, but it now accounts for tens of thousands of visits to this site. That’s because people are interested in the keto diet, but they are dead scared that eating all that fat will cause heart disease. In that article, I discussed ways that you can do the keto diet as healthy as possible. If you haven’t read that article, you should read it before reading this one.
In this article, I want to cover some specific foods that you should be including in your diet to help you remain heart healthy and avoid chronic disease.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar has been demonstrated to have numerous benefits from lowering resting blood sugar to lowering bad cholesterol. It’s also very helpful for the ketogenic diet because it increases insulin sensitivity and decreases reliance on glucose for fuel (1). It’s also not very expensive and you don’t have to use much of it. Scientists have found that diabetic subjects improved their insulin sensitivity with as little as two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar a day (2). Just don’t drink it straight. It isn’t pleasant and it can burn your throat and ruin your teeth. Simply add two tablespoons to a glass of water and drink it approximately 15 minutes prior to a meal to improve your health and aid with fat burning and building insulin sensitivity.
Celery is a very low carbohydrate high fiber food that contains many beneficial nutrients including polysaccharides that act as anti-inflammatories including polyphenols and flavinoid anti-oxidants. Inflammation is a contributing cause in heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
One of the biggest benefits to eating celery for the ketogenic dieter is that it is packed with insoluble fiber, something that’s lacking in many keto diets. Soluble fiber aids in helping stool to form properly, which will help to avoid constipation. Additionally, it also helps to attract friendly bacteria, which can also help to fight chronic inflammation that originates in the intestinal tract.
Avocados are a great source of healthy fats, fiber, and Potassium. Most keto dieters are deficient in Potassium, which is a vital electrolyte that helps you to avoid muscle cramps, weakness, and headaches. In severe cases, a Potassium deficiency can cause heart palpitations and even heart attacks. Getting an avocado a day could seriously help you to avoid these problems.
Pumpkin seeds are a great keto friendly source of Magnesium. Magnesium is highly anti-inflammatory and it aids in over 300 processes throughout the body, including helping you to get a good night’s sleep. Having a handful of raw pumpkin seeds a day will help you to get a great dose of magnesium to help you stay strong, rested, and healthy.
Brazil nuts are particularly important for women because they contain selenium. For women, the ketogenic diet can negatively affect thyroid production without proper nutrient density in the diet. Selenium helps to protect the thyroid.
Coconut and MCT Oil
Many people think that any fat is good on the keto diet. Not true. If you are consuming mostly longer chain fatty acids, you could have a really hard time getting into and maintaining ketosis. This is where medium chain triglycerides come in. They are shorter chain fatty acids that provide the brain with quick fuel in the absence of glucose. Your best source of MCT’s is going to be MCT oil, but coconut oil is also rich in MCT’s with the added benefit of Lauric Acid, which is anti-microbial and very good for the intestinal tract. My advice is to include both for these reasons.
Fatty Fish or Algea
One thing we really want to focus on with higher fat consumption is in getting a good amount of high DHA Omega 3 Fatty Acids. DHA stands for Docasahexaenoic Acid and it is highly absorbable. One reason we really want a good dose of Omega 3 either in supplement or food form on a daily basis is because of the high levels of Omega 6 most of us are exposed to. Omega 3 lowers inflammation, while Omega 6 tends to raise it. We can be exposed to high levels of Omega 6 directly by consuming nuts and seeds, or by eating animals that have been grain fed or whose meat was fried in seed or corn oil. I opt for 3000-5000 mg of high DHA Omega 3 every day from fish or algae. You can also get a great and inexpensive source of omega 3 from canned sardines, but be warned, they are not for the faint of heart.
A lot of times, people who are following a ketogenic diet are so concerned with what they shouldn’t be eating, that they forget about what nutrition they should be feeding their bodies to remain healthy. This is by no means a complete list. Fibrous vegetables, grass fed organ meats, and plenty of water should also be included regularly. Let me know what you think of this list, and if you’re interested in learning about the ketogenic diet the right way, check out StartKetoRight.com, our free introduction to creating your own ketogenic program.