Keto-Like Diet Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Attack

  • A ketogenic diet may lead to serious heart health problems in the long run, new research suggests.
  • The researchers found that a “keto” diet was associated with higher levels of “bad” cholesterol and a doubling of the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.
  • Experts explain the risks of the ketogenic diet.

Ketogenic or “Ketogenic” diet It's been the talk of the health community for some time.But as the diet grew in popularity, researchers found Diet does come with some serious side effects. A new study finds a link between a keto diet and heart health.

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

Using data from the UK Biobank, the researchers identified 305 participants who said their diets during the 24-hour reporting period met the study's definition of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet. The participants were categorized by age and sex and compared with 1,220 people who reported eating a standard diet.

For this study, the researchers defined an LCHF diet as one containing no more than 25 percent of calories from carbohydrates and more than 45 percent of total daily calories from fat. They dubbed this the LCHF diet and the “ketoid diet” because it's higher in carbohydrates and lower in fat than a strict ketogenic diet. They defined a “standard diet” as someone who did not meet these standards but had a more balanced diet.

Participants on the LCHF diet had significantly higher levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, than those on the standard diet. After adjusting for other heart disease risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking, the researchers found that people on the LCHF diet more than doubled their risk of several major cardiovascular events, such as requiring stent surgery , heart attack, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease open up clogged arteries. All in all, the researchers concluded that 9.8 percent of participants on the LCHF diet experienced a new cardiac event, compared with 4.3 percent of participants on the standard diet — doubling the risk for those on the LCHF diet.

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

A ketogenic diet, or “keto,” is a high-fat, low-carb diet that's so low in carbohydrates that it actually causes your body's metabolism to break down fat and turn it into energy, explains Ni Yuming, MD, cardiologist, noninvasive cardiology specialist at MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center. The ketogenic diet has been studied as a way to lose weight for its fat-burning abilities, he added. “A lot of controversy has been going on, and multiple studies have shown that high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets generally have worse outcomes from a cardiovascular standpoint than plant-based high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets. This study adds These data.”

So how exactly does ketosis affect your heart health? It turns out that ketogenic diets generally cause more inflammation — and high fat is often more likely to cause inflammation, which is a key factor in regulating cardiovascular health and disease, Dr. Ni explained. “Diets high in red or processed meat — we do have evidence that these foods are pro-inflammatory.”

A ketogenic diet also generally increases your cholesterol. This is mostly because the foods you eat are already high in cholesterol, but a high-fat, low-carb diet can also affect your cholesterol levels, especially if you stick to it long-term, says Dr. Ni. He reminds us that “high cholesterol is the number one factor in the development of seizures and strokes.”

In general, heart attacks and strokes are associated with three things: cholesterol, inflammation, and Trimethylamineexplain Kim Williams, MD, former president of ACC, expert in cardiovascular disease prevention and nutrition. “It's important to prevent these three substances from building up in your blood because they promote plaque formation,” he added. But when it comes to the ketogenic diet, it brings up all three of these factors. “When you lose weight, your blood pressure goes down, so you would think that your risk of heart disease would go down as well – but it doesn't.”

the bottom line

The ketogenic diet may work for some people when it comes to short-term weight loss, but these new findings demonstrate the dangers of long-term commitment. It can pose a serious threat to your heart health by raising cholesterol levels and promoting inflammation.

For your long-term health, a ketogenic diet is not the answer, says Dr. Ni. He explained that it was too much physical stress, too much fat, and too much cholesterol. “Long-term ketogenic diets are less healthy than plant-based high-carbohydrate diets such as mediterranean diet or DASH diet. I would advocate those diets for daily maintenance. The key caveat, however, is that ketogenic diets are effective for short-term (3 to 6 months) weight loss, if that's your goal, adds Dr. Ni.

In fact, there are different kinds of ketogenic diets, and not all of them pose the same threat to your heart health. For example, Dr. Williams explains how a vegan or plant-based ketogenic diet can actually reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. “Vegan keto, where you make peanut butter, whole grains, avoid carbs, replace fat with olive oil, actually reduces mortality. So it's not ketones per se, but ketones from animal products.”

If you're considering a ketogenic diet, be sure to discuss it with your doctor first, as it could be doing more harm than good to your heart.

Avatar for Madeleine Haas

madeleine, preventionShe has a long history of writing about health, based on her experience as an editorial assistant at WebMD and her personal research at the university.She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Biopsychology, Cognitive and Neuroscience – where she helps develop strategies for success preventionsocial media platform.

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