The ketogenic diet requires eating fewer carbs but more fats. This makes a lot of people wonder if this low carb high fat diet could affect their cholesterol level. Many believe that eating too much fat could raise their cholesterol level and could end up clogging their arteries.
Related reading: Does Keto Lower Cholesterol
But recent researchers have shed light on how a low carb diet like keto can optimize one’s cholesterol level and in fact improve heart health. Below are some of the most recent studies on how the low carb high fat diet can affect your cholesterol level.
Related reading: Doesn’t A High Fat Diet Clog Up Your Arteries?
Calorie Reduced Diets – Low Carb versus Low Fat
Interestingly enough, one of the principles behind the low carb diet is that although there’s no strict limit to the amount of fats consumed, those who are on this diet tend to benefit from appetite suppression. This leads to a reduction of calories, unlike a non-carb restricted diet.
A certain study has looked into the effect of calorie-reduced diets among patients who have elevated cholesterol. In a 12-week period, a group of patients were given a low carb diet while another group was put on a low-fat diet.
Related reading: Low Carb vs. Low Calorie Diet for Weight Loss
The group which had the low carb diet had three times a higher fat intake compared to the other group.
Patients belonging to the group on low carb diet, despite the high amount of fats they had consumed, showed an improvement in their cholesterol profile.
Writing in Healthline, Kris Gunners states:
One of the best ways to raise HDL cholesterol levels is to eat more fat. For this reason, it is not surprising to see that low-carb diets (higher in fat) raise HDL significantly more than low-fat diets.
Having higher HDL levels is correlated with improved metabolic health and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Having low HDL levels is one of the key symptoms of the metabolic syndrome. 18 of the 23 studies reported changes in HDL cholesterol levels.
No Calorie Restriction – Low Carb versus Low Fat
In another study, patients were assigned randomly to two groups. The first group was put on a low carb diet without any restriction on the number of calories while the second group was put on a low-fat diet, and also without any calorie restriction.
Patients belonging to the low carb group were shown to have a greater decrease in their triglycerides (blood fats) and showed an increase of HDL, the good cholesterol.
Overall, the study shows that a low carb diet such as keto certainly has favorable effects on one’s cholesterol profile and is not linked to any harmful effects.
Low Carb Diets
Finally, another study has looked into the result of about 23 different studies that have examined how a low carb diet can affect the cardiovascular health.
The low carb diets have been shown to decrease the triglyceride levels as well as increase the level of good cholesterol. Furthermore, the diets have not shown any effects on the amount of bad cholesterol and have not shown to cause any bad effects on a patient’s overall cholesterol profile.
It would seem intuitive to think that a low carb, high-fat diet could worsen one’s cholesterol profile. The studies mentioned above suggest that low carb diets can, in fact, result in an improved cholesterol profile.
However, it should be noted that these studies have limitations therefore these conclusions must be interpreted with caution.
The main point here is that a low carb, high-fat diet like a keto diet does not seem to have any harmful effects on one’s cholesterol profile contrary to what a lot of people thought. It is however still prudent to check your cholesterol levels regularly to see how the diet affects it.
It’s not sufficient to just know your HDL and LDL levels. It is more important to know the particle size of the LDL. The size seems to be an important predictor of coronary heart and cardiovascular disease.
Particularly small and dense LDL is thought to increase cardiovascular risk while larger, fluffier particles may be less dangerous.
Also, some people have certain alterations in their genes that may predispose them to high cholesterol levels.
If you want to get started on a keto diet then check out my 7 Day Keto Jumpstart Guide.
Keto diet image by Ted Eytan