Cholesterol and Keto
The past 5 or 6 decades have brought about a lot of myths, erroneous reports, and confusion about the complex subject of cholesterol and diet. It is sugar and starch and bad oils that cause bad cholesterol, not saturated fats from good food.
Eating a low-carb or ketogenic diet that includes the naturally occurring fats in meat, eggs, butter, olive oil, and avocados (for example), is a whole foods based approach for improving our cholesterol and other health markers. Ideally:
- We want triglycerides to be below 100, or below 80.
- We want Hdl (good cholesterol) to be over 60.
- We want Ldl (wrongly termed 'bad') to be large and fluffy, happily bouncing along, (regardless of the number), rather than small and dense and beady, at more risk of lodging in arteries and causing plaque.
- Do not test your lipid profile during a weight loss diet, as the lab numbers will look worse before they get better. Triglycerides are being released from the fat cells and will show up in the bloodstream. Wait about 6-12 months after you have lost weight for normalization. (And remember, those lab tests are just a snapshot of a moment in time. Cholesterol numbers can change within days or weeks!)
On a well-formulated low-carb, whole food, or ketogenic diet, triglycerides will go down, Hdl will go up, and Ldl will either go down, OR, if you are a hyper-responder, may go up. If Ldl goes higher on lchf (low carb / high fat) or keto, the particle size will go from small, dense, higher risk Pattern B, to the protective, lower risk Pattern A.
Our bodies need cholesterol! If we do not get it from our diet/food, we will produce more cholesterol in our body. We need enough fat and cholesterol to regulate and balance hormones and maintain the body's brain and cell function.
There is no science that cholesterol from food equals heart disease. But there is science that carbs from sugar and starch can cause inflammation, and that inflammation causes the body to produce cholesterol to fight that inflammation.
Think of inflammation in the body as a fire, and cholesterol as a firefighter. Just because a firefighter is present at a fire, does not mean he/she is the cause (correlation or association does NOT equal causation). In fact, the firefighter is there to fight the fire and protect. So it is with cholesterol, which increases to fight inflammation. Eat the right cholesterol foods to fight and prevent inflammation.
For this reason, we probably do not want to take statin medication for elevated cholesterol if we are on a well-formulated lchf or ketogenic whole food diet. Lowering cholesterol (when it serves to protect and heal our body and help us function) is not the answer. Stop fearing cholesterol.
For more in-depth information:
https://ketodietapp.com/Blog/lchf/high-cholesterol-on-a-keto-diet-should-you-be-concerned (lengthy article, plus lots of informative resource links)
Dr. Sarah Halberg: https://youtu.be/w8jUmCe3zDs (low carb and Ldl)
http://2ketodudes.com/show.aspx?episode=9 (long list of science links after the podcast link)
My (Tricia's) closed small group for free keto or low-carb, real food, support: