Predicting How Keto May Affect Your Cholesterol Levels
To have an idea if the keto diet may have a negative effect on your cholesterol, consider your starting triglyceride number. According to Mayo Clinic, triglycerides are another type of lipid in your blood that your body uses for energy high triglyceride and LDL levels can lead to fatty deposits that gum up arteries, notes the AHA. Normal levels are less than 150 milligrams per deciliter . About a quarter of the population has triglyceride levels above 150 mg/dL, which is the threshold to consider elevated triglycerides. This is a large percentage of the population, so its not uncommon, says Soffer.
If you have normal levels, keto is likely safe to try. For people with normal or perfect triglyceride levels, the impact from keto is minimal or none, says Soffer. If, on the other hand, you have insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and/or abdominal obesity, and your triglycerides are elevated it may seem like you should shy away from keto, but the opposite may be true, Soffer argues, explaining that the low-carb nature of keto has the potential to decrease insulin resistance and improve triglycerides.
Still, though, the aforementioned Nutrition & Metabolism study involved just 34 people so more research is needed before scientists can fully understand the true effects of keto on insulin resistance and triglycerides.
What Is Considered Healthy Total Cholesterol For Children
For children, a healthy total cholesterol level is less than 170 mg/dL, with an LDL level lower than 110 mg/dL.
Children with a total cholesterol level of more than 200 mg/dL with an LDL level higher than 130 mg/dL have high cholesterol. Children with high cholesterol should monitor their levels since they are more likely to have the condition as adults.
Due to the obesity epidemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises cholesterol level tests for all children between 9 and 11 years old.
The AAP advises cholesterol tests for children between 3 and 9 years old if they:
- have parents or grandparents who have had heart attacks or received a diagnosis with blocked arteries or disease affecting the blood vessels, such as stroke, at age 55 or younger in men or 65 or earlier in women
- have parents or grandparents with total blood cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or higher
- have a family health history of risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and obesity
- have a family health history thats unknown, including children who are adopted
The following conditions can cause high cholesterol in children:
- numbness in your legs and feet
- reduced blood flow
- may help to reduce LDL and triglyceride levels.
Lifestyle tips to reduce cholesterol include:
If implementing healthy lifestyle changes is ineffective, your healthcare professional may recommend cholesterol medications, often called statins.
Health Conditions Keto May Help And 6 It Wont
Because its not a forever diet, there will be life after keto. But even when you go off it, you can expect that your taste preferences will have changed. You likely wont want as many carbs, and things will taste extremely sweet, she says.
While everyones nutrition requirements differ, generally, you may eat 40 to 45 percent fat and stick to 120 to 150 g of carbs per day to help you keep the weight off, she says.
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Keto May Harm People With A Genetic Mutation That Affects Ldl Regulation
Where things get possibly dangerous is if youre one of the people who has an inherited genetic mutation that affects the way LDL particles are regulated. If these individuals follow a keto diet, their LDL levels can skyrocket, says Soffer. This result doesnt happen often enough to skew overall results in population studies, but what matters most is the effect the diet has on your individual health. Its a long-recognized phenomenon that hasnt been published well, he says, adding that the genetics that drive this response arent completely understood.
You may not be aware that you have a preexisting genetic mutation, also called familial hypercholesterolemia . In fact, as the AHA notes, only 10 percent of people with FH know they have it. Being aware of your family history, including members who have had a heart attack at a young age, is important and can help point your provider in the right direction. In some instances, research shows that a low-carb diet may actually be beneficial for those with FH who also have insulin resistance, suggests a past analysis. This is not something to tease out on your own. Instead, its just another reason why you should talk to your doctor about a dietary change, particularly if you have other health conditions, like high cholesterol.
Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Heavy drinking is associated with many health issues, including high triglyceride levels. Too much alcohol leads to cholesterol problems by adding extra calories, carbs, and sugar to your diet.
When youre trying to curb your drinking, it helps to avoid triggers that cause alcohol relapses. This includes people, situations, certain foods, and places that increase the urge to drink.
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What Is Ldl And Why Is It Bad
LDL, or low density lipoprotein, is often referred to as bad cholesterol.
The primary role of LDL is to carry cholesterol and triglycerides to cells for energy and to repair the damage.
Recent science is showing that the most important cholesterol marker is the LDL particle number . This is a measurement of how many LDL particles are floating around in your bloodstream .
Yet most standard blood tests only measure your LDL-c, or how much cholesterol the LDL particles you carry around. Its important to compare your LDL-p and LDL-c numbers. If LDL-c is high and LDL-p is low then you probably dont have anything to worry about .
Follow A Lower Carb Diet
Much like added sugar, extra calories from carbs in your diet are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells.
Not surprisingly, low carb diets have been linked to lower blood triglyceride levels .
A review of 12 randomized controlled trials found that people following reduced carb diets typically saw a reduction in triglyceride levels at 6, 12, and 24 months. Across these studies, triglyceride levels decreased the most 6 months after starting a reduced calorie diet .
A 2020 review compared low fat and low carb diets. Researchers found that 612 months after starting their relative diets, those on the low carb diet had greater decreases in triglyceride levels than those on a low fat diet .
Following a low carb diet can lead to a significant reduction in blood triglyceride levels, at least in the short term, when compared with a low fat diet.
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How To Follow Keto In A Heart
One of the draws of a keto diet is the idea that you can eat any and all fat that you want. Thats not a healthy mindset to step into. I recommend patients choose cardioprotective fats, like nuts, nut butter, seeds, avocado, and extra virgin oils, such as olive oil, says Ryskamp. Similarly, avoid foods that are high in saturated fat as your primary fat sources.
Its not just fats that are important, but maximizing the small amount of carbohydrates youre allowed. Getting enough fiber can be a challenge, and youll want to make sure youre eating plenty of low GI-index veggies . Ultimately, the benefits come from replacing foods, like processed carbs, that experts believe are detrimental to overall wellness, with those that are heart-healthy, like unsaturated fats, she says.
Its been repeated over and over: If youre drastically changing your diet which includes going keto you need to talk to your doctor first and make sure its safe for you and your individual health concerns. You also want to get your lipids checked before and during keto, so your doctor can watch for a cholesterol spike and determine if this is a healthy diet for you.
What Happens To Triglycerides On Keto
Studies show that on a keto diet, triglycerides generally decrease . This makes sense when considering that triglycerides are a type of stored fat. When youre on keto your body uses fat for fuel leaving less triglycerides to be stored in your fat cells.
Reduced triglyceride levels decrease the risk of developing chronic diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease .
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What Happens To Hdl Levels On A Keto Diet
Though eating fat doesnt affect blood cholesterol levels in a standard carb-heavy diet, when carbs are restricted and fat becomes the basis of your diet, HDL levels ultimately improve.
So on a keto diet eating fat does affect your cholesterol levels, just in the opposite way weve been told!
Supporting these observations, A 2017 review of human and animal studies found keto diets to be generally associated with reductions in total cholesterol, increases in HDL decreases in triglycerides, and reductions in LDL .
A 2020 high quality randomized control study of 34 older adults with obesity found that over 8 weeks participants on the keto diet lost three times the body fat compared with a group eating a low-fat diet. The keto group also had greater improvement in insulin sensitivity, triglyceride levels, and HDL cholesterol
A 2013 meta-analysis of 12 high quality studies involving more than 1200 participants investigating the impact of very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets vs. low fat diets, found that the average increase in HDL particles in the low carb group was double that of the low fat group .
Taken together these findings all affirm that differences in HDL are due to carbohydrate intake, not fat intake.
The Difference Between Dietary And Blood Cholesterol
Although it may sound like common sense that eating a high-fat low-carb diet filled with cholesterol-rich foods would raise blood cholesterol levels, thats not the way it actually works.
Your body expertly regulates your blood cholesterol by controlling how much cholesterol it makes. When you eat more cholesterol, your body makes less. When you eat less cholesterol, your body makes more.
Because of this regulating ability, studies show that foods high in dietary cholesterol have very little impact on blood cholesterol levels in most people . This is why for most people, high-cholesterol keto foods do not negatively impact your blood cholesterol levels.
A 2012 study in Nutrition compared a low-calorie diet to a low-carb, high-fat diet among 360 overweight and obese participants. After one year, participants on the keto diet saw their total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL decreased, while HDL rose. HDL is often referred to as good cholesterol.
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On Keto 8 Signs The High
In addition, there are medical conditions that should make you think twice about starting keto or at least talk to your doctor before trying it out. Those include people on insulin, as well as those on oral and noninsulin injectable medications for high blood sugar or high blood pressure, says Hultin. Even struggling with GI issues may be a barrier to starting. One of the side effects of a ketogenic diet is constipation, so if thats a struggle, its a serious reason not to go on this relatively low-fiber diet, says Hultin. Last consideration: If existing personal dietary restrictions require you to avoid foods like soy, eggs, nuts, dairy, or seafood, a ketogenic diet may be too limiting for you. Coming from a place of elimination in an already restrictive diet can make it incredibly tough to follow, she says.
How Quickly Can I Lower My Cholesterol
Your cholesterol levels may lower as quickly as a few weeks to a few months, depending on your treatment plan.
If your levels are very high, your healthcare provider may recommend taking medications at the start of your treatment plan. This may help lower your cholesterol levels more quickly. The sooner you can lower your bad cholesterol levels, the sooner you can lower your risk for plaques to form.
You can also lower your cholesterol through lifestyle and diet changes alone, but it may take three to six months to see results. Talk with your healthcare provider to figure out the best treatment plan for you.
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The Best Diet For Lowering Triglycerides: A Mediterranean
Throughout the research on lowering triglycerides, two trends emerge. The first is that limiting carbohydrates and increasing fat consumption leads to lower triglyceride levels. The second is that polyunsaturated fats decrease triglycerides more than any other fat.
If we combine these two trends together, we come out with a Mediterranean-style ketogenic diet that restricts carbohydrates more than any other diet and places emphasis on omega-3 rich fish like sardines and salmon and polyunsaturated fat rich nuts and olive oil.
The Mediterranean-style Ketogenic Diet will also provide a healthier amount of vegetables, fiber, and protein than a typical Americans diet, which further improves triglyceride levels.
Not sure what a Mediterranean-style Ketogenic meal would look like? Here are some delicious examples:
Or have a can of sardines on a delicious Oven Roasted Caprese Salad.
The Mediterranean Keto Lifestyle
The Mediterranean take on the centuries-old ketogenic diet is not a fad but rather a pairing of proven approaches to eating associated with optimal health and longevity.
The fundamental approach when cutting carbs and boosting heart health is focusing on a healthy, holistic approach that includes clean eating, physical activity, and sharing meals with family and friends.
The consumption of vegetables, select pulse vegetables like lupin beans, and olive oil regular, moderate exercise lower stress levels close relationships with friends and family interaction, and being an active part of a community, collectively contribute to our overall health and well-being.
Consider adopting these seven principles, to approach the keto diet from a Mediterranea perspective, to optimize triglycerides and promote heart health while adopting a low-carb, high-fat diet:
- Eat healthily: This tip seems obvious but its importance makes it worth reiterating. Keto-friendly convenience foods have their place in any low-carb, high-fat lifestyle, but sourcing clean whole food sources is crucial when also seeking to improve heart healthso beware.
- Seek the silver linings: Life can get heavy, and finding moments to laugh and do things that bring you joy are essential to well-being while journeying to cut the carbs.
- Get moving regularly: Theres no one right way to get active. Find activities you enjoy and make you feel invigorated and incorporate more of those experiences into your weekly routine.
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The Truth About The Ketogenic Diet And Lipids
Lets look at some of the most important facts about the ketogenic diet and its relation to ones lipid profile:
Lipid Profile Changes on the Ketogenic Diet
The facts show that a well-planned low-carb diet can actually lead to a better cholesterol profile, not a harmful one.
In obese patients, a ketogenic diet has been shown to significantly :
If you hear anyone talk about elevated cholesterol from a low-carb diet, thats likely due to an increase in HDL cholesterol, which is actually beneficial and means a LOWER risk of heart disease because it increases HDL to LDL cholesterol ratio.
Plus, a whole foods, ketogenic diet eliminates sugar-creating foods that can cause inflammation and damage to the arteries. Since your body has less glucose available to make cholesterol, total cholesterol levels will drop.
You can also expect a drop in triglyceride levels, as eating carbohydrates spikes your triglyceride levels so, a great decrease in carbs means lower triglyceride readings.
A Keto Diet May Be Harmful For Certain People
The review highlights five key findings. Among them: The keto diet is particularly unsafe for women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Thats because low-carb diets are linked to a higher risk of neural tube defects in babies. Barnard says: You’re not eating the things that you need for a healthy baby on a typical ketogenic diet. You’re not having the vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. For unplanned pregnancies in particular, he said, the risk of neural tube defects is 89 percent higher for those on a low-carb diet.
Another finding: Keto diets raise levels of LDL cholesterol for many people when, typically, you would expect to see those levels drop when you lose weight, Barnard says. In a six-month study that the review cites, 30 percent of participants experienced LDL cholesterol increases greater than 10 percent.
Keto diets high in protein may also cause kidney stones, plus hasten kidney disease in those with kidney disease, the review found. That is probably because the kidneys job is to filter out toxins from the blood. And if you’re eating a big load of animal proteins, it’s just harder on the kidney, Barnard says.
Barnard notes: We do think that the risks go back down when a person quits that diet, which is good.
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Effects On Cholesterol Levels
As previously mentioned, high-density lipoproteins and low-density lipoproteins are two significant categories of cholesterol . HDL is a necessary lipid as research has proven that it helps promote estrogen, progesterone, and vitamin D levels and also consists of some protein.
In contrast, LDL is not a harmful lipoprotein. Still, it readily converts into small dense and oxidised LDL , which are very dangerous as they can block your arteries which may lead to inflammation that gradually leads to atherosclerosis.
A study also found that HDL cholesterol rises and triglycerides fall on a low-carb diet, while total and LDL cholesterol levels remain nearly constant. Nevertheless, there is a reduction in LDL particles which further results in LDL reduction as a whole.