Keto diet includes eating of everything which is a usual ‘no’ for obese people from doctor’s side. For eg. Red meat, butter, milk, coconut oil, olive oil etc in bulk amounts and limiting the traditional cereals you where eating before. As a matter of fact, many people are worried that Keto diet or LCHF diet may increase their cholesterol level in the blood. Is there any truth behind? Is it a myth? We will try to get answer in this article.
What are Lipids and Cholesterol?
Fats, also known as lipids, are a diverse group of molecules with a “non-polar” characteristic that repels water. This means that you if you put a fat (such as oil or grease) in water, they will not mix.
In the human body, fats are most commonly found in the bloodstream in one of two forms. The first is triglycerides, a fatty acid that stores energy for later use.
These long molecules can be broken down into other fatty acids and glycerol to create fuel for the body. Glycerol can further be broken down and converted into glucose
The other important class of lipids in the body is a waxy substance called cholesterol. These molecules have a variety of functions in your body such as building hormones including estrogen and testosterone, maintaining the integrity of cell membranes, and aiding in the absorption of vitamins.
Your body produces all the cholesterol you need in the liver and other cells throughout the body. Cholesterol is also obtained by consuming animal-based foods such as poultry, dairy, and red meat. Typically, 75% of the body’s cholesterol is produced endogenously (internally) while the other 25% is ingested from external sources.
Cholesterol is most commonly transported in the blood by molecules composed of fat and protein called lipoproteins. From least dense to most dense, they come in five forms: chylomicrons, very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL), intermediate-density lipoproteins (IDL), low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).
The Good Cholesterol
HDL cholesterol is frequently known as “the good cholesterol.” In addition to transporting cholesterol around the body, HDL collects cholesterol that is not being used by cells and brings them back to the liver to be recycled or destroyed.
Research on effect of Keto diet on Cholesterol level
In a recent study participants where divided into a keto diet group and a low fat diet group.
Those in keto diet lost more weight with significant reductions in triglyceride levels with increased HDL levels. For this study researchers followed the participants for six months.
As a result of intensive research, researchers concluded that participants who follows keto diet had lower triglyceride levels and higher HDL cholesterol levels (good cholestrol) when compared to those following low fat diet.
One hypothesis is that when people consume low amounts of carbohydrates, the liver produces fewer triglycerides involving increased HDL cholesterol levels.
Saturated and unsaturated fats
Saturated fats occur in foods such as cookies, cakes and other snacks. Coconut oil, butter and ghee contains high level of saturated fats.
Monosaturated and Polyunsaturated fats are found in higher amounts in Extra virgin olive oil and Margarine.
All fish contain unsaturated fat such as omega 3 fatty acids which can be beneficial to body.
From researches conducted on effect of keto diet on Cholesterol, we can infer that the low-carb, high-fat diet optimizes cholesterol levels for two main reasons:
1.Replacing carbs with the fats that are commonly consumed on the ketogenic diet improve total-to-HDL cholesterol ratio.
2.Eating more unsaturated fats and lauric acid help to improve cholesterol levels even further.
In other words, when you restrict carbohydrates and get a majority of your calories from animal fats, coconut oil, and unsaturated fats like fish, nuts, avocado, and olive oil, it is highly likely that you will improve your cholesterol levels. One of the best ways to incorporate all of this into one diet plan is by following the ketogenic diet.