If you are considering going on a Keto Diet, or are already on it, you might have heard the common myth that following it can cause your arteries to clog. You might hear people say this as you explain to them the diet that you are on. It might make you wonder where this myth came from and why people are stuck on it. The Ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet with moderate protein. It is commonly known that fats can cause your cholesterol levels to skyrocket and therefore clog your arteries.
Clogged arteries can cause heart attack, heart disease, other cardiovascular issues and even death. What you might not know is that research shows that although a Keto diet is high in fat, it can do wonderful things to the body, including increasing healthy cholesterol. Increasing healthy cholesterol can decrease your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Let’s start by discussing what cholesterol is and how it affects the body.
What is Cholesterol?
The cells in your body need cholesterol to survive. It is a molecule called “steroid alcohol” which helps the body build cells. For your body to work properly, cholesterol is a necessary molecule. Many people think cholesterol is bad, but this is not the case. There is both good and bad cholesterol in your body, and as with anything else, too much or too little can cause you harm. Both types of cholesterol are needed in order to maintain good health. HDL is the high-density Lipoprotein or the “good” cholesterol. LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein, which is the “bad” cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL can help to reduce your risk or a heart attack because it helps to get rid of the bad cholesterol for you.
How Does Cholesterol Affect the Body?
HDL travels around the body and gets rid of the “bad” LDL cholesterol. HDL can also help to unclog arteries by clearing out the artery walls. This also means that if your level of HDL is too low, you can also be at a higher risk for heart attack or heart disease. LDL gets stuck on the walls of your arteries, which can cause them to clog, and therefore, your risk of a heart attack is higher.
To find out your cholesterol levels, you can simply have a blood test done. Your doctor can let you know if your levels of each type of cholesterol are too high or too low. As you may or may not know, most of the cholesterol in our bodies, about 75%, is created inside our bodies. The rest of it enters our system through the foods that we eat. Some foods are higher in cholesterol than others. This is why a targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) is important to follow if you are looking to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol in your body.
What Foods Do You Eat on a Keto Diet?
When following a ketogenic diet, the idea is to eat foods that are high in fats, low in carbs and have a moderate amount of proteins. You should eat meats such as fish, poultry, and eggs. It is also important to eat a lot of leafy green vegetables, such as kale and broccoli. When it comes to eating dairy, eat cheeses, cream, and butter that are high in fats.
Nuts, seeds, avocados, and berries will make great snacks or additions to any of your meals. Low-carb sweeteners can be used to make food choices more delicious. You should also indulge in other fats such as healthy oils, high-fat salad dressings and other saturated fats. Foods that you should not eat are grains, sugar, fruit, and high carb vegetables like potatoes and yams. Stay away from sugars such as maple syrup and honey.
The Myth: A Keto Diet and Cholesterol
Since a Ketogenic Diet requires you to eat a large amount of saturated fats, this means that your cholesterol levels can increase, which many people immediately think is a terrible thing that can cause your arteries to clog and you to die. While it is commonly assumed that this increase in cholesterol is a bad thing; that is not necessarily the case. The biggest myth surrounding a Ketogenic Diet is that the diet, which is high in fat, will cause your arteries to clog and give you heart disease. There have been many studies done on the subject of eating a high amount of fats, a low amount of carbs and its effects on the body and cholesterol.
A meta-analysis completed in 2010, discusses this belief that high levels of saturated fat and cardiovascular disease, and reports that this connection has no validity. The meta-analysis did not find that there was a strong linking between high-fat foods and cholesterol. Another study looked into different diets that are low carb and found that these diets can actually decrease your risk of heart disease. And yet, another study done at Johns Hopkins University found that diets lower in carbohydrates and higher in fat posed no greater health risks to developing heart disease.
Why Follow a Keto Diet?
A Keto Diet has so many other benefits than just increasing levels of good cholesterol. Not only can it help you to lose weight, but it can also increase your good cholesterol levels, which helps to decrease your bad levels of cholesterol. Eating the many healthy foods on a keto diet plan can make your whole body feel better. When following a keto diet, your body can reach what is called ketosis. When you eat carbs, your glucose levels rise, causing your pancreas to secrete insulin. The insulin then creates glucose within your cells, and that is how your body gets energy. This is what happens when you are eating a diet high in carbs. When you change the amount of carbs you eat, eating a lower amount can help you to reach ketosis, which is a better process for the body.
On a high-fat, low-carb diet, your insulin levels decrease and fatty acids travel to the liver where they are turned into ketones, which give you lots of energy. This process is much better for the body than the first one described and will do less damage to your liver. Following a Keto diet also has other great benefits for the body.
Other Benefits of a Keto Diet
Being on a Keto diet can benefit you in many ways. A keto diet can also help to lower blood sugar in diabetics. The types of foods you will eat on this kind of diet will help you to be able to control your blood sugar more naturally. Some people follow a keto diet because it can increase their mental focus. Ketones are a molecule in the body that can increase energy levels, therefore, increasing your mental ability and focus. This can also help to increase your overall energy as well. The food you eat will help the body to get more energy, which will make you feel more energized and ready to take on the day.
Another benefit is that the foods you eat will make you feel full, so you will not be hungry and overeat. Once your body reaches ketosis, you will feel as though you are full for longer than being on a regular diet. Believe it or not, the keto diet has been around a long time. It has previously been used to treat patients with epilepsy. While on a keto diet, epilepsy patients will be less likely to need medications to reduce seizures.
So, Is a Keto Diet Safe?
The answer is yes. According to the research mentioned above, a keto diet is more beneficial than harmful to the body. This diet will not cause your arteries to clog. In fact, it will decrease your chances of heart disease because it produces higher amounts of the good HDL cholesterol. The good cholesterol can help to decrease the amount of bad, or LDL cholesterol. The more good cholesterol you have, the better your chances are of avoiding heart disease.
A Ketogenic Diet is perfectly safe and can be even more beneficial to the body than other types of diets because of it is low-carb, high-fat and moderate protein, which seems to be what your body needs. You will know your body has reached ketosis when you feel full, and after 3-4 days of eating foods low in carbs.
Now that you know more about cholesterol, the ketogenic diet, and the truth about how it can help your body, you should consider following it to improve the aspects of your life, increase your energy, and reach ketosis. Studies show that following a diet high in fat and low in carbs is beneficial and can help you maintain healthy levels of cholesterol. Food can be a great cure for many ailments if the right ones are eaten. A Keto diet will not clog your arteries as myths suggest. Research has proven this to be incorrect, so go ahead and enjoy your Keto diet.
About the Author
Amanda Maurois is a proud mompreneur, graphic designer, enthusiastic traveler and blogger who loves to write about healthy lifestyle, entrepreneurship, time management and more. She is also a co-founder at HowTonight.com lifestyle magazine.