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Warning: Low-Carb Diet May Increase Heart Disease Risk

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A study found that following a keto diet can increase the risk of fatal cardiovascular disease.

The low-carb diet has become incredibly popular in recent years as a powerful weight loss tool, and is followed by about 13 million Americans.

But Canadian researchers, who followed 1,500 people for more than a decade, found that the diet can raise “bad” cholesterol levels.

They found that those who followed a high-fat, low-carb diet were more likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases, such as clogged arteries, heart attacks, and strokes, compared to their peers.

The team thinks this is because high levels of bad cholesterol cause fatty deposits to build up in the walls of arteries, which can narrow or block them.

“Among participants in a low-calorie, high-fat diet (similar to the keto diet), we found that those with the highest LDL cholesterol levels had the lowest levels of lipoprotein cholesterol,” said Dr. highest risk of cardiovascular disease. Our findings suggest that people considering following a similar diet should be aware that doing so may lead to higher LDL cholesterol levels. While dieting, they are advised to monitor their cholesterol levels and try to eliminate other risk factors for heart disease or stroke, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, and smoking.”

However, the main limitation of the 12-year study is that the participants were only asked once about their diets. There was no way to check if they had been on the same diet all these years.

Our bodies naturally produce “bad” cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL), but a diet high in saturated and trans fats causes the body to produce more LDL.

LDL contributes to the buildup of inflammatory fatty deposits, known as plaque, in the arteries, which increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke. It is one of two types of cholesterol in the body. The other, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), takes up cholesterol in the arteries and transports it back to the liver, then flushes it out of the body. That’s why it’s called “good” cholesterol.

The keto diet involves getting 60 to 80 percent of your daily calories from fat, including cheese, avocados, and oily fish, and 20 to 30 percent from protein.

Followers try to consume as few carbohydrates as possible, which means avoiding bread, rice, and potatoes, among other sources. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy that the body uses during daily exercise or movement.

But the lack of carbohydrates in the body pushes people into a state called “ketosis”, when it begins to break down fats for energy. The idea is to tap into stubborn fat stores, speed up weight loss, and help with mental clarity—although results have been mixed regarding the effectiveness of this method.

In a study led by scientists at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, researchers scanned the UK biobank looking for participants on the keto diet.

After studying 70,684 people who had data on their daily calories and cholesterol levels, they found 305 participants who were on a keto-like diet.

This has been defined as getting more than 45% of your daily calories from fat and less than a quarter from carbohydrates.

They were compared with 1220 people whose diet did not meet this definition.

Overall, about three-quarters of the participants were women, with an average age of 54. All of them were considered overweight.

The data were analyzed with control factors including diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, and obesity.

Over the course of a 12-year study, about 9.8% of people in the ketogenic diet group experienced serious heart attacks.

This included heart attacks, strokes, and blockages in the arteries that required a stent procedure, an operation in which a coil of wire mesh is inserted into an artery to support it and keep it open.

By comparison, in the standard diet group, only 4.3% suffered a major heart attack during the same period.

The researchers also found higher levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol — or bad cholesterol — and apolipoprotein B, a protein that helps transport fat and cholesterol around the body, in the keto group.

The limitations of the study are that the participants were only tested on the diet once, meaning they may not have followed it during the 12-year study period.

The study was presented at the annual scientific session of the American College of Cardiology, as well as at the World Congress of Cardiology in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Source: Daily Mail

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