It seems like everywhere you look, new information is being reported on the benefits of ketogenic diet. Along with helping people shed pounds, it’s also been shown to ease chronic conditions like thyroid imbalance and high blood-sugar levels. But there is one condition that might not benefit from the low-carb lifestyle, though — high cholesterol.
Whether or not the keto diet is a healthy option for people watching their cholesterol levels is a little tricky to answer. The most recent study on the topic was published by the Obesity medical journal in June 2019. According to their results, researchers came to the conclusion that a ketogenic diet “significantly increased” levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol) in their subjects.
That sounds pretty scary, but it’s important to note a couple things. First, they started by observing a four week period of the participant’s normal diet followed immediately by another four weeks on the keto diet. Several critics of the results on social media sites like Reddit and Twitter have claimed that the time frame is not nearly long enough to truly understand how the diet can affect a person’s body. The study was also incredibly small with only 17 participants. So, we should probably take the results with a hefty grain of salt.
One undeniable lesson we can take away from the study, though, is everyone’s body is different and will react to any drastic changes in their own way. Medical News Today acknowledges that it is both possible for keto to help raise HDL (high-density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol), but that its emphasis on high-fat consumption could indeed cause a raise in LDL, too. They advise against eating high levels of saturated fats from things like coconut oil, butter, and ghee — all staples of the keto diet. Instead, they recommend that someone with high cholesterol should find options with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like olive oil and margarine. They also suggest choosing low-fat dairy products.
If you’ve been warned by your doctor about high cholesterol levels, you should talk with them about whether or not the keto diet can help you. There’s a good chance they will give you the green light with just a few slight modifications.