Keto-like diet linked to higher risk of heart attack

  • New research shows that the keto diet could cause serious long-term heart health issues.
  • The researchers found that a “keto-like” diet was associated with higher levels of “bad” cholesterol and a doubled risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes.
  • Experts explain the risks of a keto diet.

The ketogenic or “keto” diet has been the talk of the healthcare world for quite some time. But as the diet grows in popularity, researchers are finding that the the diet poses serious side effects. A new study has found a link between a keto-like diet and heart health.

A study presented at the American College of Cardiology Annual Scientific Session with the World Congress of Cardiology suggested that a “keto-like” diet may be associated with higher blood levels of “bad” cholesterol and a doubled risk of cardiovascular events such as chest pain (angina), blocked arteries requiring stenting, heart attacks and strokes.

The researchers used data from the UK Biobank and identified 305 participants who indicated that their diet during the 24-hour reporting period met the study’s definition of a low-carb, high-carb diet. fats (LCHF). These participants were categorized by age and gender and compared to 1,220 people who reported following a standard diet.

For this study, researchers defined an LCHF diet as having no more than 25 percent of calories from carbohydrates and more than 45 percent of total daily calories from fat. They dubbed it an LCHF and “keto-like” diet because it has slightly more carbs and less fat than a strict ketogenic diet. They defined a “standard diet” as individuals who did not meet these criteria and had more balanced eating habits.

Compared to participants on a standard diet, those on an LCHF diet had significantly higher levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. After adjusting for other heart disease risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking, researchers found that people on the LCHF diet had more than twice the risk to have several major cardiovascular events, such as blockages in arteries that needed to be opened with stenting procedures, heart attack, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease. In total, the researchers concluded that 9.8% of participants on the LCHF diet experienced a new cardiac event, compared to 4.3% of those on the standard diet, which is twice the risk for those on the LCHF diet.

What is the keto diet and what risks does it pose to our heart health?

Ketogenic, or “keto,” diets are high-fat, low-carb diets that are so low in carbs, in fact, that they force your body’s metabolism to break down fat and turn it into energy, explains Yu-Ming Ni, MD, cardiologist, non-invasive cardiology at Orange Coast Medical Center’s MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute. Keto diets have been studied as a way to lose weight for their ability to burn fat, he adds. “A big controversy has been that several studies have shown that high-fat, low-carb diets generally have poorer cardiovascular outcomes than high-carb, low-fat, plant-based diets. study adds to this data.

So how exactly does keto affect your heart health? It turns out there’s more inflammation with keto diets in general — high fat is generally more inflammatory, and inflammation is a key factor that regulates cardiovascular health and disease, says Dr Ni . “Diets high in red meat or processed meat – we certainly have evidence for the pro-inflammatory nature of these foods.”

Keto diets also typically raise your cholesterol levels. This is largely because the foods you eat are already high in cholesterol, but high-fat, low-carb diets also affect your cholesterol levels, especially if you follow the diet for a long time, says Dr. Neither. He reminds us that “high cholesterol is the number one factor that leads to the development of strokes and strokes.”

In general, heart attacks and strokes are linked to three factors: cholesterol, inflammation and TMAOexplain Kim Williams, MD, former president of the ACC and specialist in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and nutrition. “It’s important to keep these three things from building up in your bloodstream because they promote plaque,” he adds. But when it comes to the keto diet, it brings up these three factors. “When you lose weight, your blood pressure goes down, so you might think your risk of heart disease would also go down, but it doesn’t.”

The bottom line

The keto diet may work for some in terms of short-term weight loss, but these new findings demonstrate the dangers of a long-term commitment. It could pose serious risks to your heart health by raising cholesterol levels and promoting inflammation.

For your long-term health, keto is not the way to go, says Dr. Ni. He explains that it’s too much stress for the body, too much fat, too much cholesterol. “Long-term ketogenic diets are not as healthy as plant-based, high-carb diets such as mediterranean diet or the DASH Diet. I would recommend these diets for daily maintenance. However, the main caveat is that the keto diet can be effective for short-term (3-6 months) weight loss, if that’s what you’re aiming for, adds Dr. Ni.

In fact, there are different types of keto diets, and not all pose the same threat to your heart health. For example, Dr. Williams explains how a plant-based or vegan keto diet can actually lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. “Vegan keto, where you do peanut butter, whole grains and avoid carbs, use olive oil for fat, actually reduces mortality. So it’s not keto itself, it’s keto with animal products.

If you’re considering going on a keto diet, be sure to discuss it with your doctor first, as you may be doing your heart more harm than good.

Portrait of Madeleine Haase

Magdalene, Preventionassociate editor of , has a history with health writing from her experience as an editorial assistant at WebMD and her personal research at university. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience — and she helps strategize for success across Preventionsocial media platforms.

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