Keto and Cholesterol
Many people have wanted to try the Keto diet, but they don’t because they have high cholesterol. What is the problem with keto and cholesterol, and why are people afraid to try the diet? We have been told all our lives that fat is bad for us and causes heart problems. What are the facts?
What is Keto?
Basically, what it boils down to is this. Instead of eating a lot of high-carb foods, your diet consists of high-fat food, low-carb foods.
The switch from a high carb, low fat to a high-fat low carb is the part that tends to scare many people away from trying the keto diet. The reason being that we have had it drilled into our heads that high-fat foods are bad for our heart and bad for our cholesterol. Typically, that is true. I was one of the people afraid to try the diet because, in my mind, keto and cholesterol didn’t go together.
However, after speaking with my cardiologist, who told me to give it a try, I did. Within three months, all of my numbers were so much better. Cholesterol levels, blood sugar level, blood pressure, all of it.
Yes, at first, it raised my cholesterol. You eat things like eggs, bacon, butter, red meat, and coconut oil. Keto is extraordinarily rich in fats, and that does include saturated fats.
How Does Cholesterol Work?
Cholesterol plays a vital role in the body. Some of the functions of cholesterol include:
- It forms the structures of your brain.
- Cholesterol helps with the production of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone.
- It helps to absorb nutrients such as Vitamins A, D, E, and K.
- Cholesterol supports mental and cognitive function in both adults and children.
- It helps usher in triglycerides, nutrients, and many other compounds into the cells to use as energy.
Cholesterol shows up in the body as lipids (fatty acids) that flow through the bloodstream. What most people do not realize is that you have two different cholesterol.
You have the LDL (low-density lipoproteins, the bad cholesterol), and you have the HDL (high-density lipoproteins, the good cholesterol). There needs to be a balance between these two.
What this means is that HDL needs to be higher if your LDL is higher. HDL will aid in clearing the LDL from your bloodstream.
How Does The Keto Diet Affect Your Cholesterol?
The keto diet will increase your HDL, and this will aid in balancing with the LDL.
It helps increase the size of the LDL particles, which lowers the risk of oxidative stress.
HDL to triglyceride levels improve.
Keto will lower your triglycerides, which is excellent news since high triglycerides will raise your chance of heart problems and stroke.
Aids in the reduction of inflammation.
It aids in the reduction of hunger which aids in the prevention of obesity.
It helps in the reduction of “insulin resistance.” Reducing insulin resistance will help to be able to manage your glucose (blood sugar) levels.
LCHF (low-carb, high-fat) diets help to decrease all cardiovascular problems.
- Triglycerides are lowered
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces small LDL particles
- Lowers saturated fat concentrations
- Your HbA1c (glycated hemoglobin) is lowered
- Increases HDL cholesterol
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces body weight
Does Keto or Ketosis Contribute To High Cholesterol?
Ensuring that you eat “healthy” fats, the keto diet will help decrease your triglycerides, blood glucose, body weight, and LDL cholesterol.
Healthy fats will increase your HDL cholesterol which helps to balance out with your LDL cholesterol.
Is There A Keto Low Cholesterol Diet?
Yes, by eating foods that are low-carb and foods that aid to lower your cholesterol. Foods like olive oil, seeds, nuts, vegetables, and avocados.
The problem with this is that if you avoid foods with cholesterol like cheese and eggs, you also avoid essential nutrients.
Moderation is the key to this. You need to find a healthy balance of these foods. Also, make sure to eat natural foods, and that can help to fight most inflammation.
Can The Keto Diet Lower Cholesterol?
Studies show that keto and cholesterol are good for each other. Keto can indeed help lower cholesterol.
Keep in mind that each person is different in how their body will react to a high-fat, low-carb diet, but evidence supports that this diet is effective and safe and even promotes heart health.
Many things can affect your cholesterol levels in a negative way—things like stress, genetics, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and inactivity.
An unhealthy diet will be the most significant factor, especially if you eat many processed foods. The typical “American Diet” causes nasty inflammation, and that alone can raise your bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower your good cholesterol (HDL).
Eating a clean keto diet will have the opposite outcome.
Low-carb diets are safe to use in the long term for obese patients with high cholesterol numbers and normocholesterolemic patients.
Those with increased heart disease risk will need to limit their cholesterol intake and saturated fat intake carefully. You can not just eat all bacon and be safe. Talk to your cardiologist before and during your diet.
Taking Care of Your Heart/Chronic Inflammation
Here are some ways to prevent inflammation that is chronic and to take extra care of your heart.
Make sure that you eat a ‘clean keto diet”. Clean keto means eating foods such as herbs, nuts, spices, bone broth, vegetables, unprocessed fats, and high-quality proteins.
You will need to stay away from sugar, vegetable oil, artificial ingredients, salt, pasteurized & homogenized dairy products, alcohol, caffeine. If possible, products from farm-raised animals. Free-range animals have fewer toxins that affect humans.
Be sure to include vegetables, nuts, seeds, beets, cabbage, onions, greens, and high-fiber foods in each meal. This is hard to do and stay within your carb count.
Healthy, quality proteins are needed, such as chicken, turkey, seafood, eggs, and wild-caught fish.
Remember that sugars and refined grains are inflammatory, and they will contribute to problems like obesity and diabetes
So, the question was, do keto and cholesterol go together?
The keto diet can raise cholesterol because of its high-fat content, but the diet overall has more positives on heart health.
Inflammation is the leading cause of hardening arteries. Yes, even more so than cholesterol. Remember, this significantly adds to the risk of all types of heart disease.
Since everyone has a different reaction to this diet, it is best, as with any diet, to talk to your doctor before deciding on whether to try the keto diet or not. Safety is always best.