Ketogenic Diets May Increase Risk of Heart Disease: Study
A new study recently presented at the American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Session Together With the World Congress of Cardiology suggests that diets similar to the popular ketogenic diet may increase the risk of heart disease. The study, authored by Dr. Iulia Iatan, M.D, PhD, and her colleagues, found that regular consumption of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet was associated with increased levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – also known as “bad” cholesterol – and a higher risk of heart disease.
The research team analyzed data from the UK Biobank, a large database with health information from over half a million people living in the UK who were followed for over 10 years. For the study, they defined an LCHF 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. This dietary pattern was dubbed “keto-like” because it is somewhat higher in carbohydrates and lower in fat than a strict ketogenic diet.
The researchers compared the diets of 305 people eating a LCHF diet with about 1,200 people eating a standard diet. After an average of 11.8 years of follow-up, and after adjustment for other risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and smoking, people on an LCHF diet had more than two-times higher risk of having several major cardiovascular events, such as blockages in the arteries that needed to be opened with stenting procedures, heart attack, stroke and peripheral arterial disease.
The researchers also noticed that the LCHF diet participants' total fat intake was higher in saturated fat and had double the consumption of animal sources compared to those in the control group.
The study authors note that the participants provided dietary information at only one point in time, which should be considered when interpreting the study findings. Iatan noted that this questionnaire has been thoroughly validated, even though self-reported food consumption can be unreliable.
Christopher Gardner, a professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center who was not associated with the study, stated that it “This study provides an important contribution to the scientific literature, and suggests the harms outweigh the benefits.“
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