Is keto safe for high cholesterol?
One of the more popular diet trends these days is the ketogenic diet. It has the potential to support people with their health issues. However, since the ketogenic diet may be linked with increased Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, people are naturally going to ask is keto safe for high cholesterol?
The Ketogenic Diet
As mentioned earlier, the ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate diet that aims to achieve weight loss in the quickest time possible. This can be achieved by strictly consuming low carbohydrate planned meals and food items that will force the body into ketosis. This state of ketosis should ideally shift the body’s consumption of consumed glucose to consumption of stored fats. This in essence will result in weight loss and improved health.
However, can the ketogenic diet pair well with increased cholesterol levels particularly for Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol or should the ketogenic diet be altered or altogether stopped by individuals experiencing an increase in their LDL? In this article, we will look at why LDL increases while on a keto diet and what can one do about it.
Why Do LDLs Increase While Doing the Ketogenic Diet?
Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol has been identified by experts as the one of the main causes of cardiovascular disease. Increased levels of LDL in the bloodstream can contribute to the risk of developing atherosclerosis or the hardening of the arterial walls.
The traditional lipid profile provides acceptable ranges for the various types of cholesterol within our bodies and it gives the following values:
- <200 mg/dl for total cholesterol (5.2 mmol/L)
- LDL cholesterol at <130 md/dl (3.4 mmol/L), <40 mg/dl for VLDL (3.4 mmol/L)
- HDL Cholesterol for men at 40 mg/dl (1.04 mmol/L) and for women 50 mg/dl (1.3 mmol/L) and triglycerides of <150 mg/dl (1.7 mmol/L)
Some keto dieters however, reported having increased levels of LDL and it is natural that this be considered a serious health concern. There are some explanations though regarding the increase of LDL while doing the ketogenic diet. Listed below are some them:
A temporary increase in LDL cholesterol due to the ketogenic diet
Evidence suggests that LDL cholesterol temporarily increases during and after a major weight loss. Due to the high probability of significant weight loss, those on a ketogenic diet may experience a temporary increase in their LDL cholesterol.
Significantly Increased LDL cholesterol due to the ketogenic diet
A researcher and software engineer, Feldman hypothesized that the various factors of the ketogenic diet interacting with each other may have caused the significantly increased LDL cholesterol of patients. Some of these factors are higher energy demands, lower body fat stores and lower supply of glycogen. All these factors may have contributed to increased LDL cholesterol levels according to Feldman.
Increased LDL Due to the Ketogenic Diet: Helpful or Harmful to the Body?
The main question now is are elevated levels of LDL cholesterol brought about by the ketogenic diet helpful or harmful to the body? The answer is it may be too early to tell. No long term studies have been conducted yet to check whether or not increased LDL cholesterol levels due to the keto diet is really harmful or helpful to the body.
While LDL has been identified as a major factor in the increased possibility of cardiovascular disease, there are other contributing factors. These include hyperinsulinemia, high levels of small LDL-P, genetics, aging, and menopause. The bottomline is that low carb diets such as the ketogenic diet have produced impressive results in terms of health benefits and enhanced quality of life.
How to Reduce Cardiovascular Disease While Still Doing Keto or Going Low Carb?
The good news is that one can further decrease or reduce the chances of developing a cardiovascular disease while continuing to enjoy the health benefits of a low carb diet such as keto. The following are some of the things one can do against cardiovascular diseases:
Eating more Fatty Fish
Fatty fish or fish that contain significant amounts of omega 3 fatty acids can help reduce triglycerides. This might contribute to the inflammatory response of the body. Less inflammation means less possibility of complications that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Some examples of fatty fish are salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring and anchovies.
Increase your intake of fiber
Those on a ketogenic diet may opt to increase their intake of fiber to reduce their chances of developing any cardiovascular disease. Fiber has been shown to help in digestion and further lower cholesterol levels which means better heart health and reduced risk of cardiovascular issues. Some ketogenic friendly sources of fiber are avocados, blackberries, broccoli, brussel sprouts and flaxseed.
Increase your intake of fat soluble antioxidants
Increasing the intake of antioxidants such as vitamin e, lycopene and beta carotene can help fight against cardiovascular diseases. These antioxidants can prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Some of the best keto friendly sources of these antioxidants are green leafy vegetables, almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, tomatoes, avocado and red peppers.
Have your doctor do a CAC or CIMT test on you
A coronary artery calcium (CAC) scan or CIMT can definitively provide specific information on heart an artery health. Having your doctor conduct a CAC or CMIT may help confirm if you have heart issues. Doing so equips you with the knowledge on what to do to maintain your health.