Keto Diet and High Cholesterol – Overview
The ketogenic, or keto, diet is a trendy low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that is extremely low in carbs. Compared to most low-carb diets, it is far more restrictive regarding the macronutrients you can consume.
Carbohydrates, fats, and protein are examples of macronutrients the body needs for good health. They are also the primary sources of calories and energy and make up for the bulk of micronutrients that we ingest.
In the medical community, the term “keto” refers to a metabolic state known as ketosis, which occurs when you limit carbohydrates in your diet.
Your body produces ketones from the fat you consume and the fat stored in your body. Actually, it is a better and healthier way of eating that dates back several years.
The impact of a ketogenic diet on heart health, on the other hand, is less specific. Below, we look at what cholesterol is, the keto diet, and what to include in your diet to maintain good cholesterol levels.
What Is Cholesterol, And How Does It Affect Us?
The body contains a waxy, fat-like material known as cholesterol found within the cells and organs. Good cholesterol levels aid in normal cellular membrane and vitamin D formation and improved hormonal levels.
On the other hand, a high cholesterol level can result in heart health problems, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and other health issues.
There are a few different kinds of cholesterol, each of which has a distinct effect on cardiovascular health and other health outcomes.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, referred to as “bad” cholesterol, contributes to the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries, which increases the risk of heart disease.
The fatty buildup results in a narrowing or blocking of the arteries leading to the development of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis increases the likelihood of having a heart attack or a stroke.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, referred to as the “good” cholesterol, reduces some people’s risk of heart attack and stroke.
HDL cholesterol aids in the removal of some LDL cholesterol from the arteries, which may help reduce the risk of developing heart disease and other health issues caused by high cholesterol levels.
In addition to LDL and HDL cholesterol, your total cholesterol level includes triglycerides, which account for 20% of your total cholesterol.
Even though triglycerides are not a type of cholesterol, they are the most common type of fat or lipid found in your body.
The body converts additional calories from the food you eat into triglycerides, used as energy sources between meals. Combining a high triglyceride level and a high cholesterol level increases your risk of coronary heart disease.
Is The Keto Diet Good For People With High Cholesterol Levels?
The keto diet is diverse, but typically, it limits an individual’s total carb consumption to 5 to 10 percent of the total calories consumed daily. That also translates to about 20 to 50 grams of carbs daily.
Furthermore, the diet allows a fat consumption of 70 to 80 percent of the total calories consumed daily. The other 10 to 20 percent of your calorie intake should come from proteins.
Since the keto diet is extremely high in fat, it raises a question as to whether it will influence your cholesterol levels, either positively or negatively.
Because high cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, this is a legitimate issue to ponder, especially for those on a keto diet.
Several studies show that the ketogenic diet can have a positive impact on cholesterol levels, cardiovascular health, and metabolism in the ways listed below:
- Changes the size of LDL particles which reduces the likelihood of oxidative stress occurring
- It helps improve the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol
- Raises HDL cholesterol that also assists in counteracting the adverse effects of LDL cholesterol
- Known to reduce triglycerides, which is beneficial because high levels of triglycerides in the blood suggest an increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease
- Increases the ratio of triglycerides to HDL cholesterol
- Minimizes insulin resistance and aids in the management of blood sugar levels, especially in comparison to high-carbohydrate diets
- Aids in the reduction of chronic inflammation
- Reduces food cravings and calorie intake on an ad libitum basis, thereby assisting in the prevention of obesity
What Foods Should You Eat On A Keto Diet That Will Not Affect Cholesterol Levels?
Although you are aware that you must follow a very low-carb, high fat, moderate-protein diet, it can be challenging to know which foods to eat on a restrictive diet, such as the keto diet.
However, we can help identify the best foods you can eat, foods you should avoid, and foods you can occasionally consume while following the ketogenic diet that will not increase your cholesterol levels.
Fish and Seafood
- Green beans
- Bell peppers
Low-Fat Dairy and Its Substitutes
- Low-fat cottage cheese
- Low-fat plain yogurt
- Low-fat milk
- Almond milk
- Coconut milk
- All types of berries
- Star fruits
Lean Animal Proteins
- Lean pork tenderloin
- Lean beef cuts
Nuts, Seeds, and Healthy Oils and Fats
- Brazil nuts
- Macadamia nuts
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
Drinks and Beverages
- Unsweetened coffee and tea
- Dark chocolate and cocoa powder
Foods You Should Consume In Small Quantities
The following foods are high in protein and fiber and make for a healthy diet at any time. However, it would help if you consumed them in small amounts to maintain good cholesterol levels while on a keto diet.
- Whole grains
Foods You Should Eliminate From Your Diet
Starchy veggies, high sugar fruits, sweetened drinks, baked goods, crackers, chips, and processed foods will spike your sugar levels, raise your cholesterol levels, and make you gain weight or experience other health issues.
It is advisable to avoid them to maintain good cholesterol levels on a keto diet. Some of the foods to eliminate from your diet include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Fruit juices
The above foods may spike your cholesterol levels, leading to adverse health issues. So, avoid them.
Several myths surround the keto diet and its effect on cholesterol levels.
The restrictive diet requires you to work with a dietician to develop a plan that ensures you get all the nutrients you need without affecting your cholesterol levels.
Moreover, the ketogenic diet may be beneficial for preventing many illnesses, even though some people find it challenging to maintain their diet for an extended period.