Following the keto diet may increase your risk of heart disease and other deadly cardiovascular conditions, a study suggests.
The ultra-low-carb diet has become incredibly popular in recent years as a powerful weight-loss tool, with an estimated 13 million Americans following it.
But Canadian researchers who followed 1,500 people for more than a decade found that the diet can raise “bad” cholesterol levels.
They found that those who followed a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet were twice as likely to have cardiovascular events such as clogged arteries, heart attacks and strokes than their peers.
The team believed this was because high levels of bad cholesterol cause fatty deposits to build up in artery walls that can narrow or block them.
Americans who stick to the keto diet have higher levels of bad cholesterol and double their risk of heart disease, a study has found (stock image)
Dr. Iulia Iatan, a physician at the University of British Columbia’s Center for Heart Lung Innovation who led the study, said: ‘Among the participants on a low-calorie high-fat (keto-like) diet, we found that those with the highest levels of LDL cholesterol were at the highest risk for a cardiovascular event.
‘Our findings suggest that people considering going on an LCHF diet should be aware that this may lead to an increase in their LDL cholesterol levels.
“Before starting this diet, they should consult a healthcare provider.
“During the diet, it is recommended that they get their cholesterol levels checked and try to address other risk factors for heart disease or stroke, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, physical inactivity and smoking.”
However, a major limitation of the 12-year study is that participants were only asked about their diet once. There was no way to tell if they followed the same diet all those years.
Our bodies naturally produce “bad” cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL), but eating diets high in saturated and trans fats causes your body to produce even more LDL.
LDL contributes to the buildup of inflamed fatty deposits known as plaques in the arteries, which increases the risk of heart attack or stroke.
It is one of the two types of cholesterol in the body. The other – high-density lipoprotein (HDL) – absorbs cholesterol in the arteries and carries it back to the liver, which then flushes it out of the body. For this reason, it is called “good” cholesterol.
The keto diet involves getting between 60 and 80 percent of daily calories from fats, including cheese, avocado, and oily fish, and 20 to 30 percent from protein.
Supporters try to consume as few carbohydrates as possible, which means, among other things, that they use less bread, rice and potatoes.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy that the body uses every day when exercising or exercising.
But the lack of carbohydrates in the body pushes people into a state called “ketosis,” where it begins to break down fats for energy.
The idea is to hopefully tap into stubborn fat stores and accelerate weight loss, as well as help with mental clarity – although there are mixed results on how effective this is,
Celebrities such as actress Halle Berry swear by the keto diet and have followed it for over 30 years to help manage her type 1 diabetes.
Legendary basketball player LeBron James also reportedly followed a version of the diet when he ate only meat, fish, fruits and vegetables for 67 days in 2014. He even turned down desserts made for him by a resort in Greece.
In the study, led by scientists at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, researchers scanned the UK Biobank for participants following the keto diet.
After finding 70,684 people who once had data on daily calorie intake and blood cholesterol levels, they found 305 participants who followed a “keto-like” diet.
This was defined as getting more than 45 percent of their daily calories from fats and less than a quarter from carbohydrates.
They were matched with 1,220 individuals whose diets didn’t meet this definition – and were described as “standard eaters.”
In total, about three-quarters of the participants were female and had an average age of 54 years. They were also all considered overweight.
The data was analyzed taking into account factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking and obesity.
During the 12-year study, about 9.8 percent of people in the keto-like diet group developed serious heart disease.
This included heart attacks, strokes and a blockage in the artery that required a stent procedure – an operation in which a coil of mesh is inserted into an artery to support it and keep it open.
In comparison, in the group that ate the standard diet, only 4.3 percent experienced serious heart problems during the same period.
The researchers also found higher levels of LDL cholesterol — or bad cholesterol — and apolipoprotein B, a protein that helps transport fat and cholesterol around the body in the keto group.
Limitations of the study include that participants were only questioned once about their diet, meaning they may not have adhered to it during the 12-year study.
The study was presented Sunday at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session Together with the World Congress of Cargiology in New Orleans, Louisiana.
What Is The Keto Diet And Is It Safe?
- According to Healthlineis the keto diet a “low carb, high fat diet” that “means that carbohydrate intake is drastically reduced and replaced with fat”
- The reduction in carbohydrates puts your body in a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes “incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy”
- UChicagoMedicine reported that the keto diet can cause low blood pressure, kidney stones, constipation, nutrient deficiencies and an increased risk of heart disease
- Mayo Clinic also claimed, “There is very little evidence to show that this type of eating is long-term effective – or safe – for anything other than epilepsy. In addition, very low-carb diets often have more side effects, including constipation, headaches, bad breath, and more. Meeting the diet’s demands also means cutting out a lot of healthy foods, making it difficult to meet your micronutrient needs’