The Keto (Ketogenic) diet is a popular diet as it is effective for losing weight and can help ease a variety of medical conditions. Many people feel generally healthier when they are on the Keto diet, but can the Keto diet cause high cholesterol?
For many people, the Keto diet does not impact their cholesterol levels and in the long term can even lower them. However, those who already have high cholesterol will need to adjust their diet to avoid a rise in their cholesterol levels.
What is the Keto diet?
The Keto diet restricts the intake of carbohydrates to less than 50g per day and increases the intake of quality fats. With no carbohydrates to burn for fuel, the body is forced into the metabolic state of ‘Ketosis’ which means that it breaks down fat stored in the body into ketones which it then burns for energy.
Who is the diet not suitable for?
The Keto diet is safe and suitable for most people. However, if you have type 1 diabetes or familial hypercholesterolemia – which is high cholesterol levels passed down through your family – the Keto diet may make your condition worse. It is essential that you speak with a dietician before beginning the Keto diet.
If you are interested in following the Keto diet and do have high cholesterol levels, it is important to seek your doctor’s advice as they can advice you on the suitability of the diet for you, knowing your general health and your cholesterol levels. They may then refer you to a nutritionist.
What can the Keto do to cholesterol levels?
Research shows the Keto diet can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while raising HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
However, in some cases, the Keto diet can raise LDL cholesterol or total cholesterol levels in the short term as your body adjusts to the Keto diet. Research shows that in most cases, these levels do fall, but that the HDL (good) cholesterol level can rise and remain slightly higher.
Is there a way to solve this?
Opt for monounsaturated fats
If you do have high cholesterol and want to follow the Keto diet, you will need to adjust what you eat to prevent a rise in your cholesterol levels. This can usually be achieved by replacing saturated fats with monounsaturated fats. Avocados, olive oil and nuts are all good sources of monounsaturated fats.
Omega-3 fats can help too
Although Omega-3 fats are polyunsaturated fats, they may lower triglyceride levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels which would be beneficial. Omega-3 is found in oily fish including salmon, herring, trout and sardines. Other Omega-3 rich foods are walnuts and some seeds.
Increase your fibre intake
Ensure your choice of Keto foods is rich in fibre as this could help lower your cholesterol levels. Good foods to include in your daily intake include berries, nuts, seeds and plenty of low carbohydrate vegetables including leafy greens.
The bottom line is that if you already have high cholesterol levels and are keen to try the Keto diet, it is well worth seeking the advice of a nutritionist who will advise you on how to adapt the diet so that it works well for you – with no increased cholesterol levels.