Watch What You Eat: How healthy is your keto diet?

The ketogenic diet – in which healthy fat-rich foods, a moderate amount of protein, and low-carb vegetables are a staple – has become a favourite of nutritionists and dieticians. 

But, a new research shows that a ‘keto-like’ low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet may be associated with ‘bad cholesterol’ and increases the chances of blocked arteries, heart attacks, and strokes.

The study conducted by researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada, was presented on Sunday at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session and the World Congress of Cardiology, as per Financial Express.

The researchers defined a low in carbohydrates and high in fat diet as consisting of no more than 25 per cent of total daily energy or calories from carbohydrates and more than 45 per cent of total daily calories from fat.

Compared with participants on a standard diet, those on a keto-like diet had significantly higher levels of both LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B (apoB) — a protein that helps carry fat and cholesterol through the human body.

Researchers also discovered that those on the LHCF diet had a total fat intake that was higher in saturated fat and more than double the consumption of animal sources (33 per cent) compared to those in the control group (16 per cent).

After about 12 years of follow-up, the team found that people on the keto-like diet had more than two times higher risk of having several major cardiovascular events.

It is also linked with a two-fold heightened risk of cardiovascular events such as chest pain (angina), blocked arteries requiring stenting, heart attacks and strokes, researchers said.

In all, 9.8 per cent of participants on the keto diet experienced a new cardiac event, compared with 4.3 per cent of those on a standard diet, a doubling of risk for those on the keto-like diet. 

Thus, before starting this dietary pattern, one should consult a healthcare provider.

The researchers also noted that their study “can only show an association between the diet and an increased risk for major cardiac events, not a causal relationship,” because it was an observational study, but their findings are worth further study.