‘Keto-like’ diets might be linked to a higher risk of health disease, new research says

Recent findings suggest the trendy low-carb diet could heighten the risk of cardiovascular events. (Courtesy: Unsplash/ Brooke Lark)


“Keto-like” diets are associated with increased heart conditions according to new research

The ketogenic or “keto” diet, which has gained popularity in recent years, involves low amounts of carbohydrates and high amounts of fats. 

Recent findings suggest the trendy low-carb diet could be connected with higher blood levels of bad cholesterol and in turn heighten the risk of cardiovascular events, such as chest pain, blocked arteries, heart attacks and strokes. 

“Our study found that regular consumption of a self-reported diet low in carbohydrates and high in fat was associated with increased levels of LDL cholesterol — or “bad” cholesterol — and a higher risk of heart disease,” Dr. Iulia Iatan, lead study author with the Healthy Heart Program Prevention Clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital and University of British Columbia’s Centre for Heart Lung Innovation in Vancouver, said in a news release.

The American College of Cardiology reports carbohydrates are the body’s source for energy. However, low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diets, such as a keto-diet, restrict carbs found in foods like bread, pasta, rice, potato products, fruits and vegetables which forces the body to instead break down fat for energy. 

“Ketone producing” describes the breakdown of fat in the liver to chemicals the body uses as energy when carbs are absent. 

“Keto-like” diets generally associated with weight-loss suggest carbs for ten per cent of total daily calories, protein at 20 to 30 per cent, and gaining 60 to 80 per cent of one’s remaining daily calorie intake from fat.  

Iatan and her colleagues define “keto-like” diets as having no more than 25 per cent of total calories from carbohydrates and more than 45 per cent from fats, as these proportions are higher than strict ketogenic diets. 

Those on a low carb, high fat diet had significantly higher levels of both bad cholesterol and apolipoprotein B (apoB), the protein component that sits on bad cholesterol and may be a better predictor for risk of cardiovascular disease. 

People on a LCHF diet had more than two-times a higher risk of having several major cardiovascular events. In all, 9.8 per cent of participants on a LCHF diet experienced a new cardiac event, compared to 4.3 per cent of those on a standard diet. 

The questionnaire was extensively validated, although participants only provided dietary information once, and self-reports of food consumption can be inaccurate, which may provide limitations to the study, according to Iatan. 

The researchers compared the diets of 305 people eating a LCHF diet with about 1,200 people eating a standard diet, using health information from the United Kingdom database UK Biobank, which followed people for at least ten years.

The study has not yet been peer reviewed and was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session Together With the World Congress of Cardiology on Mar. 5, 2023.



Stay In The Know with Now Toronto

Be the first to know about new and exclusive content