The 2019 best diets list ranks the ketogenic diet as one of the top ten diets to follow this year. While the nutrient calculations may confuse you, a broad idea is that the keto diet is based on 70% of fats with a moderate intake of proteins, and a small amount of carbs.
This begs the question – are all these fats healthy for your heart? And, in association with this, is a keto diet good for your heart?
Undeniably, the keto diet is surrounded with myths that need to be understood. At the same time, it comes with its fair share of health benefits including the health conditions that it helps such as Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, there are certain negative effects too.
In this article, however, let’s look at how this high-fat meal plan affects the heart:
The impact of a keto diet on your heart health
Considering the fat content present in the keto eating plan, the meal plan may not be ideal for your heart. If you are concerned about your heart health or suffer from heart concern, then it is best to follow this diet plan only under close supervision of a doctor who is knowledgeable about the keto diet.
Several doctors are wary of the keto meal plan for optimal heart well-being though. Research suggests that there could be some benefits of the meal plan based on the evidence uncovered.
In this regard, the chief benefit of the meal plan is that it controls inflammation. Elevated blood sugar levels encourage inflammation, which damages the arteries. However, the ketogenic diet plan does not promote the intake of sugars as its carb content is low.
This is what makes the diet plan useful regarding your heart’s wellness. Moreover, the keto diet can assist in improving insulin function and lowering blood sugar levels as well. These markers are both anti-inflammatory, therefore, helping protect arteries from damage due to inflammation.
What does the research say?
Certain foods that are eaten on the keto diet plan are known for their positive effects on your health. A 2010 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on men and women learned that those who had low-carb diet had a 43% increased risk of mortality as compared to those who ate fat from vegetable sources.
Put simply, the participants who consumed fat from vegetable sources such as nuts and avocados, had a declined risk of death and heart disease. In fact, the risk declined by 20% in case of early death and 23% in the instance of developing heart diseases.
This clarifies that the type of keto diet you follow or the food sources that your nutritionist assigns play a significant role. What’s more, there is research on the effect of keto diet on your LDL (bad), HDL (good), and total cholesterol levels.
Common observation says that the triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol often go down on a ketogenic diet. However, the good HDL cholesterol levels rise. The HbA1c and blood sugar levels go down as well, which may possibly safeguard against type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.
However, studies are mixed when it comes to the role of a ketogenic diet on insulin resistance or insulin sensitivity. All this establishes one thing – eating a diet which is high in sugar content can culminate in weight gain, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. All these conditions amp up the risk of heart diseases.
Hence, in some ways, the keto diet can be helpful for the heart. However, someone with heart disease needs to take a lot of care before following a keto diet.
Should you follow a keto diet if you have heart disease?
The short answer to this is that you need to follow this meal plan only after consulting with a keto diet knowledgeable doctor. On top of that, the doctor needs to supervise as well. A doctor is more likely to suggest a Mediterranean diet for you instead of a keto diet though.
A 2016 research on 15,482 patients with stable heart disease asked participants questions about their diets. By the end of the term, a four-year follow-up showed that those who followed a Mediterranean diet had a decline risk of stroke and heart attacks as compared to those who were on a western diet.
The researchers concluded that the chief differences between the two eating patterns depended on the presence of healthier foods such as legumes, veggies, fruits, and whole grains rather than avoiding unhealthy food like sweets as an important factor boosting heart health.
In another study, it was highlighted that low-carb diets tend to have low or minor impact on the health. In other words, the ketogenic diet does not exactly leave a significant impact when it comes to improving your heart health.
The best alternative to keto diet for enhancing heart health
The Mediterranean diet is the best alternative to this meal, particularly, related to the fact that the meal plan is excellent for optimal heart health. If you have disturbed blood pressure, then you may opt for the DASH diet, which has been devised specially for controlling sodium intake and, with it, your blood pressure.
For enhanced cardiovascular health though, the Mediterranean diet is the best as it is filled with good fats such as omega-3s from fish and unsaturated fats from nuts and avocado. On top of that, it is also fiber-rich, making it a good meal plan to pursue for your cardiovascular well-being.
Wrap up thoughts
Summing up, a ketogenic diet plan is good for weight loss and may also help with certain medical conditions but it is not the best meal pattern for someone with a heart condition.