Are keto-like low-carb and high-fat diets harmful to your heart health

New Delhi:  While popular fad diets such as keto-like low carbohydrate and high fat (LCHF) diets may help you lose weight, these are not good for the heart, said health experts on Sunday.

A recent study led by University of British Columbia researchers found that following a Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diet was associated with increased LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol or the “bad” cholesterol and apolipoprotein B levels, and an increased risk of incident Major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE). Apolipoprotein B is a blood test to gauge the risk of heart disease.

In the study of 305 LCHF and 1,220 standard diet participants, 11.1 per cent of LCHF had severe hypercholesterolemia — high levels of cholesterol in the blood, compared to 6.2 per cent of standard diet individuals.

After 11.8 years, 9.8 per cent of LCHF participants experienced a MACE, compared to 4.3 per cent of those on a standard diet, revealed the study, published in JACC: Advances.

“There is a popular belief these days that carbohydrates should be reduced in the diet. Some people are also advocating consuming a low-carbohydrate and high-fat diet. It may lead to weight loss but is associated with increased bad cholesterol (LDL) and also increased cardiovascular MACE events which means that the risk of heart attack, stroke, and deaths from heart attacks increase,” Ashwani Mehta, Senior Consultant, Department of Cardiology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told IANS.

“The latest study also demonstrates the risk associated with eating a higher amount of fat with derangement of the lipid parameters which can be life-threatening,” he added.

A previous study by the same varsity presented at the American College of Cardiology’s annual scientific session, in 2023, showed that a “keto-like” diet may raise “bad” cholesterol levels and a two-fold heightened risk of cardiovascular events such as chest pain (angina), blocked arteries requiring stenting, heart attacks and strokes.

Doctors recommended that one should not follow the fad diets, and instead go for healthier ways to reduce weight.

“The low carbohydrate and high-fat diet is more harmful to the heart because it leads to more ketones generation and higher incidence of bad cholesterol which we call LDL and EPO protein which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and increases the progression of heart disease,” Udgeath Dhir, Senior Director, Cardiothoracic Vascular Surgery, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, told IANS.

Udgeath said that the best diet is a balanced diet which comprises more vegetables and fruits. And if you have to have animal proteins or animal fat, then it should be in moderation. There we follow the Mediterranean diet — comprising carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

“Fats should not be more than 10 to 15 per cent of your diet. Try to have more plant-based products,” Udgeath said

The doctor suggested, “have a mixture of all the colours of the rainbow in your platter — an ideal diet, and you would not require any supplements. That would be a healthy diet for your heart and your whole body”.


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