Keto Diet Increases Heart Attack Risk

Keto diet

Following a keto diet, which is the diet containing high fat & low carbohydrates, could more than double the risk of blocked arteries, cardiac arrest, & strokes, according to a new research. Keto diet has been a very celebrated weight loss diet in recent years.

This new research study’s results were presented on March 5, 2023, at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session along With the World Congress of Cardiology. These findings suggest that a “keto-like diet” was found to be associated with negative effects, including higher levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) & higher risk of heart disease.

People on a keto diet tend to eat more saturated fat. As per this new research finding, it is suggested that people stop taking carbs solely as the villain foods.

Previous research on keto diet

Previous research has found that keto is beneficial, surely in the short term though. This is due to their ability to reduce blood pressure, triglycerides, & glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), a marker for elevated blood sugar.

They are also associated with better levels of HDL (good cholesterol) & weight loss. However, the long-term effects of keto diets on cardiovascular risk were not known till now as no long term research was conducted. The present study happens to change the picture about keto diets as it was conducted for a long period of time.

About one in five American adults report being currently on a low-carb, keto-like diet or a full keto diet.

A true “keto diet” would require an individual to consume only 10 % of their daily calories from carbohydrates. This becomes quite difficult to follow practically. This becomes the reason why most of the people who try to follow a true keto diet do not succeed.

Though a keto diet has been hailed as a weight-loss wonder, it’s actually medically advised particularly as a short-term measure in a very small fraction of cases, predominantly to reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in kids.

The study in question covered a far less strict keto diet, which is a higher-carb version of the diet & is likely to be more parallel with what most people attempting a keto-like diet are consuming.

The average age of the study’s participants was 54, & about three-quarters of both groups (those on a keto-like diet, & those on a standard diet) were women. The latter is simply because women in general tend to follow more dietary patterns.

For the current study, a keto-like diet was defined as the one that was low in carbohydrates (25% of calories) & high in fat (45% of calories).

The research team examined the diets of 305 people who were following this keto-like diet, & of 1,200 people who were eating a standard diet.

Follow-up was done, on average, about 11.8 years with adjustments being made for other heart disease risk factors, like smoking & hypertension.

There’s a severe risk even if it’s not a “strict” keto diet

After a time period of nearly 12 years, adjusting for other risk factors like diabetes, hypertension, obesity & smoking, 9.8 percent of participants on a low-carb, high-fat diet had a new cardiac event, versus 4.3 percent of those on a standard diet. That’s a double risk for those on an LCHF(Low carbohydrate High Fat) diet.

The study rationale came from the fact that doctors would see patients in cardiovascular prevention clinics with severe hypercholesterolemia after following this diet.

Hypercholesterolemia involves high blood cholesterol, which if builds up in the arteries, can lead to serious conditions like heart attacks.

“This led to the interrogation of the relationship between these low-carb, high-fat diets, lipid levels & cardiovascular disease, however, there’s still limited data available on this relationship.

If you are following any of these diets, whether in their pure form or after a little modification, it is suggested that it becomes important to monitor cholesterol levels regularly.

What nutritionists say about keto ?

One of the major issues with keto diet is that there are very vague guidelines for how someone should follow it & most people take it simply as a high fat diet without being bothered to know about the quality or source of fat.

No efforts are made to provide distinctions between bad fat like saturated fat & good fats like unsaturated fat & omega-3 fatty acids.

Lacking knowledge, people keep on loading themselves with bad fats, the high saturated fat food like beef, bacon & butter.

As is the case with everything else, we tend to be focused more on our major target i.e weight loss. Keto followers and advocates talk only about the good amount of weight it can make you loose, without taking into account heart health.

Surprisingly, many true believers of keto diet, irresponsibly promote “unlimited amounts of bacon”.

Many nutrition experts & physicians have been concerned about keto related heart risks ever since keto diets gained popularity & they have been seeing cases of cardiovascular events associated with these diet patterns.

Other trials on keto diet

According to few other trials on the keto diet, it was found that even individuals on a standard diet have a less risk of cardiac events than people who have more ketones in their blood.

Elevated LDL cholesterol should not be dismissed merely as a negligible side effect of a VLCD (very-low-carb diet) or ketogenic diet. It is something a lot more serious than that.

Keto diet: Diet industry’s favorite

Keto-like diets have become increasingly popular lure of the diet industry in recent years, despite emerging significant evidence that they can be harmful if taken in the long run.

Ketosis is the emergency state our body resorts to after being deprived of carbohydrates for a sufficient period of time. Carbs are always the body’s preferred & quick source of energy. The brain for example is largely made up of glucose & only tends to burns ketones when it is in a state of deprivation. Glucose is the major fuel for brain & is the only fuel for erythrocytes.

Many odd or rigid diets, in order to persuade the consumer, have been rebranded as “lifestyles”.

More and more evidence is emerging that diets or so called “lifestyles” that require people to ignore hunger signals, restrict certain food groups totally, & think of certain foods as “good” & others as “bad” are harmful for our mental & physical health. Often, they’re publicized by people who have no specialized nutritional qualifications. They try to prove their claims with fancy words like “detox” and “unprocessed” & they just need to sell.

A healthy substitute to keto diet

A healthy diet is one that is good for overall health for the long run. We do not need quick fix solutions like keto which bring serious health issues later on.

Of course such a diet would be a diet that is more plant-based.

Instead of banning foods like fruits, whole grains & pulses, they should be the center of your diet to reap off maximum health benefits in every perspective.

Keto is anyhow often unsustainable for people because of the severe restriction on carbs.

FAQ(Frequently asked questions)

What is meant by keto diet?

It is a diet high in fat & low in carbohydrates. It causes the body to break down fat into molecules called ketones. Ketones circulate in blood & they serve as the energy source instead of glucose.

Is keto a healthy diet?

It could be healthy if done for a short duration of time. In long run, it causes heart issues.

Is rice good for keto?

No, because it contains a good amount of carbs & carbs are limited in keto.

Can you drink milk on keto?

No, because dairy milk is high in carbs.

When did the keto diet become popular?

The keto diet started gaining popularity in the 1990s, however it has gained momentum only in recent years.

What was the keto diet originally intended for?

It was developed as a treatment for severe epilepsy in infants & children.

Who introduced the keto diet?

The keto diet was developed in 1924 by Dr. Russell Wilder at the Mayo Clinic as a treatment for severe epilepsy in infants & children. It was very popularly used in the 1920s and 1930s.

Is keto diet used for epilepsy?

The keto diet was developed in 1924 by Dr. Russell Wilder as a treatment for severe epilepsy in infants & children. It was very popular in the 1920s & 1930s until anticonvulsant medications were developed. However, it is still utilized for those who have a pharmacological resistance to epilepsy.

My name is Amanpreet Kaur Samra. M.S. Biochemistry. I'm the founder and writer of this blog. I have been teaching Biochemistry for a good number of years. I started this blog because I have always been very passionate about writing, in particular about Nutrition and Healthy Weight Loss.

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