A new study revealed that a keto-like diet causes heart disease. After 11.8 years those on a keto-diet had a more than 2-fold increased rate of heart attacks and coronary artery narrowing compared to controls on a normal diet. As a result, cardiologists had to insert more stents into narrowed coronary arteries of the participants on a keto-diet.
The lead investigator of this study was Dr. Iulia Iata from the Healthy Heart Program Prevention Clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver, BC. Dr. Iata explained why they started this investigation: “Our study rationale came from the fact that we would see patients in our cardiovascular prevention clinic with severe hypercholesterolemia following this diet.” The researchers compared the blood values between keto-diet participants and the controls on a normal diet. They found that the LDL cholesterol levels were much higher in the keto-diet participants. This group of patients also had increased apolipoprotein B levels. Apolipoprotein B is a protein that coats LDL cholesterol proteins. Other studies showed that apolipoprotein B can predict heart disease better than elevated levels of LDL cholesterol. In addition, the keto-diet group of patients also had more than 2-fold more heart attacks, strokes and narrowed coronary arteries requiring stents.
Composition of keto-diet
The keto-diet has been around since the 1920’s when a doctor detected that this helped children with seizures where all other measures to control them had failed. With the keto-diet 45% of the total daily calories are coming from fat, 25% from carbohydrates and 30% from protein. In this study researchers compared 305 people eating a low carbohydrate/high fat diet with about 1,200 people eating a standard diet. The keto-diet allows saturated fats like lard, butter and coconut oil; but whole-fat milk, cheese and mayonnaise are also allowed. The high content of fat in the foods allowed on the keto-diet increases the production of LDL cholesterol. This can build up inside the arteries and restrict blood flow to the heart and brain.
Comments about the keto-diet study
Christopher Gardner is a research professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. He has conducted clinical trials on the keto diet in the past.
Gardner was not involved in the study. He said:” This study provides an important contribution to the scientific literature, and suggests the harms outweigh the benefits. Elevated LDL cholesterol should not be dismissed as simply a negligible side effect of a very-low-carb diet or ketogenic diet.”
Dr. Iata said that this study “can only show an association between the diet and an increased risk for major cardiac events, not a causal relationship”, as it was an observational study. But future studies will be able to show causation. This is important as about 20% of the US population is on a low-carb, keto-like or full keto diet.
Recently a study that went on for 11.8 years showed that a keto-diet has complications of heart attacks, strokes and coronary artery narrowing requiring stents, which a comparison group on a normal diet did not have. Instead of a keto-diet a Mediterranean diet is much healthier and is easier to consume. The key is to reduce the calories from carbohydrates, sugar consumption and processed foods. Unlike with a keto-diet, you avoid too much fat with a Mediterranean diet, which many nutritionists consider healthier.