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Everything About Keto And Cholesterol

Egg, Eggshell, Broken, Yolk, Shell

Rumors surrounding the keto diet and cholesterol can cause fear in people. One of the most enduring, but erroneous anxieties is that the keto diet could have an effect on unhealthy cholesterol levels.

The concern about this comes from the fact that when a person follows a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet, they will likely be consuming more dietary cholesterol than they would if they followed the typical American dietary pattern rich in carbohydrates.

The issue is that these anxieties are born out of the false belief that the cholesterol we get from our diet influences our cholesterol levels in the blood and the chance of heart disease.

Despite popular opinion, numerous in-depth studies conducted by reliable sources have demonstrated that dietary cholesterol does not raise cholesterol levels in the bloodstream.

It can be difficult to come to terms with this fact, especially since there has been so much false information over the years. This is particularly true when following a keto diet which has a high fat and low carb content, as components like red meat, dairy, and eggs that have been unjustly criticized for their cholesterol content.

This piece looks more closely at the investigations being done on dietary cholesterol and its relation to cholesterol levels in the blood, as well as how it affects heart illness, along with how a keto diet specifically changes the amount of cholesterol in blood.


Keto is shorthand for the ketogenic diet. It requires consuming a minimal amount of carbs and a large amount of fat. The term ‘keto’ is derived from the biochemical process known as ketosis.

A high level of ketones in the bloodstream leads to ketosis. Your body produces ketones when you decrease carbohydrates in your diet, which come from the fat you eat and the fat stored on your body.

Humans have eaten food in a way that triggers ketosis for an extended period of time- it is a normal and healthy part of the evolutionary process.

Most individuals find a ketogenic diet somewhat of a challenge in comparison to what is usually advised about meals and nutrition.

The usual U.S. diet consists of around 65 percent carbohydrates, 15 percent protein, and 20 percent fat. The ketogenic diet usually entails obtaining energy from 70-80% fat, 15-30% protein, and no greater than 10% carbohydrates.

When one hears that a salad is the epitome of nutrient-rich dining, they might immediately think of keto in an unfavorable light and think, “Will the natural fats and cholesterol contained in foods like this block my blood vessels?”

It is highly unlikely, and more probably the other way round. Research reveals that following a ketogenic diet can assist one in attaining a higher standard of cholesterol and other heart health-related biomarkers.


Cholesterol is a kind of fat that is absolutely necessary for human life. A common misconception is that consuming cholesterol is detrimental to your health. Cholesterol is not only good, it’s vital!

Cholesterol plays many essential roles in your body:

  • Supports the membranes of every cell
  • Makes important hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and vitamin D
  • Repairs damaged cells 
  • Protects your intestinal tract
  • Insulates your nervous system
  • Protects against inflammation

Approximately three quarters of your cholesterol is produced naturally by your body. The remaining 25% of our daily nutrients comes from foods such as eggs, poultry, dairy, and red meat.

The Difference Between Dietary and Blood Cholesterol

It may appear to be intuitive that a high-fat, low-carbohydrate eating plan complete with cholesterol-containing foods would cause blood cholesterol levels to go up, but that’s not the actual outcome.

Your body is adept at keeping your blood cholesterol in check through the management of cholesterol production. When you eat more cholesterol, your body makes less. When you eat less cholesterol, your body makes more.

Studies illustrate that foods that are abundant in dietary cholesterol have only a slight effect on cholesterol levels in the blood in many people. The reason why most individuals do not experience a drop in their blood cholesterol levels when they eat ketogenic diet-related high-cholesterol foods.

In 2012, Nutrition conducted a study involving 360 overweight and obese individuals that compared a low-calorie diet to a high-fat, low-carb (keto) diet. After twelve months, those consuming the keto eating plan noticed their overall cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL levels drop while their HDL levels went up. HDL is often referred to as “good cholesterol.”


High density lipoprotein (HDL) is usually described as “good cholesterol,” yet it is not a kind of cholesterol itself. This is a protein that carries fat and is used to move cholesterol around in the body.

HDL’s primary job is to gather up any extra cholesterol and move it to the liver, where it will get reused or disposed of. This stops the cholesterol from accumulating in the blood, thus hindering it from amassing in the arteries and averting issues surrounding heart health.

HDL particles also have anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties. The amalgamation of these positive qualities is the reason why HDL is linked to heart health.

HDL Levels on a Keto Diet

Even when consuming fat does not have a direct effect on blood cholesterol levels in diets where carbohydrates are usually the main component, when carbs are not included in your eating pattern, and fat becomes the main source of sustenance, high-density lipoprotein levels tend to get better.

Eating fats while on a ketogenic diet does indeed have an effect on one’s cholesterol levels, but contrary to what we have previously been informed.

A review made in 2017 looking at both human and animal studies indicated that keto diets are usually linked to decreased total cholesterol, enhanced HDL, reduced triglycerides, and lower LDL.

A 2020 randomized control study of 34 elderly individuals who were obese was carried out, and the results showed that over an 8-week period the people who ate the ketogenic diet lost three times the body fat compared to those consuming a low-fat diet. The people on the keto diet saw more progress in regards to their insulin sensitivity, the amount of triglycerides in their body, and their HDL cholesterol.

A 2013 meta-analysis of 12 reliable studies involved more than 1200 people to measure the influence of low-carb diets in comparison to low fat diets. It was found that HDL particle levels in the low carbohydrate group were twice as high as those in the low fat group.

In 2006, a team of researchers conducted an investigation to assess the effects of minimal carbohydrate intake on HDL levels in a diverse group (which included individuals not of Caucasian origin) who were in good health.

The participants were split into distinct sections based on the amount of carbohydrates contained. The authors observed a rise in HDL levels in all the groups, but the group having the lowest carb intake had the most significant increase.

These results, collectively, show that the variations in HDL are caused by the amount of carbohydrates consumed, rather than the amount of fat ingested.

Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL): The Ones to Watch Out For

LDL particles deliver nutrients and energy to your cells. The issue is that, compared to HDL, LDL particles progress slowly and can be apt to get hung up in your bloodstream. When this occurs, the fragile LDL cholesterol particles become exposed to free radicals and become oxidized or destroyed.

LDL that has been exposed to oxidation can more easily penetrate the inner walls of your arteries.

This then causes your immune system to activate a strong inflammatory reaction, resulting in white blood cells attempting to take out any hazardous oxidized LDL that is causing damage.

Anything that is not restrained by beneficial HDL runs the risk of going into your arteries and beginning the formation of plaque (furthermore known as atherosclerosis). Are elevated LDL cholesterol levels associated with an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease?

Not exactly.

A traditional lipid blood test will reveal the amount of cholesterol present in the low-density lipoprotein, or the concentration, but this is not the most reliable indicator of cholesterol health anymore.

Researchers now understand that the quantity of cholesterol an individual has is not as crucial as the number of LDL particles in their body. This quantity gauges how many Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) molecules are present in your circulation, as well as their size.

Little LDL particles present a more serious hazard for coronary illness since they can readily get through the artery dividers and cause a blockage. Although if the majority of your LDL particles are sizable, there is less of a risk due to the lower potential of the situation coming to pass.

Then there’s very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). These are even tinier, therefore they are highly apt to slip past the artery wall, obstruct the flow, and cause arteries to stiffen. LDL transports cholesterol through your body while VLDL moves triglycerides.


Fats in food predominantly take the form of triglycerides. They produce energy reserves that your body is able to access later, not right away.

Here’s how it works:

When carbohydrates are metabolized, your body will utilize some of the simpler sugars for an immediate energy source. Some people lead to too much sugar accumulating in the bloodstream.

Your body releases insulin so that the sugar can be taken into your cells to be used. However, if your body does not require the energy, the majority of it will turn into triglycerides which will be kept as fat.

Your body produces additional triglycerides as part of the process of managing your sugar issues, which means not only that you are accumulating fatty tissue that is difficult to remove, but that your blood triglyceride content is also rising. That is the explanation for why high levels of triglycerides are often a secondary outcome of insulin resistance.

In a study, it was observed that having sugar and high fructose corn syrup in the diet will result in a rise in triglycerides and VLDL, a decrease in the size of LDL particles, and a drop in HDL. Taking the sugar out of the control diets resulted in a reversal of the effects.

Triglyceride levels going up can cause higher chances of cardiac disease and metabolic issues such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.

When following a keto lifestyle, replacing carbohydrates that tend to increase triglyceride levels with beneficial fats like omega-3 and omega-6 will raise HDL levels and make LDL particles bigger, aiding the body to regulate and balance cholesterol naturally.

A Low-Carb Diet Like Keto Can Help You Balance Cholesterol

Having a high quantity of LDL may not be an issue if your particles are large and you have an ample supply of HDL to take away the LDL when it is not required.

HDL stops LDL from building up in your arteries, which helps to decrease cholesterol levels since the presence of HDL particles generally has a positive impact.

Here is the pessimistic information: A large proportion of men (32%) and a fraction of women (13%) have low “good” cholesterol levels, which could prevent them from successfully resisting the negative impacts of “bad” cholesterol.

The solution?

A diet that is low in carbohydrates, such as the ketogenic diet with its high fat intake. Sylvan Lee Weinberg, former president of the American College of Cardiology, said that a low-fat, high-carb diet can no longer be defended by medical organizations because it:

It is possible that the present epidemics of obesity, lipid issues, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndromes may have been caused inadvertently.

Clearly, it’s time for something different. Limiting your fat intake and dietary cholesterol doesn’t work. Comparing to low-fat diets, reducing carbs to get ketone levels up has been demonstrated to be beneficial in increasing HDL levels while still assisting in weight reduction.

Research continues to show that a low-carb diet specifically:

  • Increases LDL particle size so they’re less prone to oxidation
  • Raises HDL to deal with LDL before it oxidizes
  • Improves your LDL to HDL ratio
  • Lowers triglycerides and improves your triglyceride to HDL ratio

In one study, those consuming a high-fat diet saw an average rise of 20.6% in their HDL cholesterol levels, which was almost four times more than individuals consuming a low-fat diet.

A different meta-analysis showed that a ketogenic diet with a reduced carbohydrate intake resulted in a substantial decrease in weight, higher levels of HDL cholesterol, and decreased LDL cholesterol levels during a 12-month period.

During an experiment which included 40 grown-ups with large amounts of triglycerides, a diet with few carbohydrates and more fat resulted in an over fifty percent drop in triglycerides and an approximated 13 percent improvement in HDL.

Are these findings worthy of making a fuss over? Should an individual who has excess weight, is overweight, or has elevated cholesterol levels begin a low carb diet?

Studies have proven that adhering to a low-carb diet does not have a negative effect on one’s wellbeing. In a single experiment, those who are overweight shed 10 pounds after adopting a low-carbohydrate eating plan, without any detrimental modifications in their total cholesterol level.

The participants of the long-term trial had been overweight and followed a ketogenic diet for a period of 24 weeks. The researchers were delighted with the results displayed, which included decreased triglyceride levels, lower body weight and BMI, as well as improved glucose and LDL levels.

A team of scientists conducted research to see what effect a keto diet could have on overweight males, who are more prone to atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease than women. After scarcely three months, the men found that their LDL had gone down by 8.9%, triglycerides had diminished by 38.6%, and HDL had increased by 12%.

The Truth About Keto and Cholesterol

The majority of knowledge on the functioning of cholesterol has come from studies done with the regular American diet, which generally encompass higher carb amounts.

As research progresses, it becomes more and more evident that low-carb diets such as keto can be beneficial for health and lead to better cholesterol scores. Consequently, this will spark further research and provide us with more data and information.

You can lessen your risk for heart disease and reform your HDL and decrease your LDL cholesterol by consuming healthy dietary fats, such as avocado and coconut oil and monounsaturated fat like olive oil, as soon as you can.

These are keto-approved foo

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