Although the ketogenic diet tends to be high in saturated fat, it has been found to optimize cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
In a recent meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Nutrition, for example, researchers investigated the impacts of very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets (VLCKD) on key metrics of cardiovascular health including HDL cholesterol. The authors concluded that carbohydrate-restricted diets confer cardiovascular benefits because they improve levels of HDL (“the good cholesterol”) in the body.
Low carb diets tend to have a positive impact on LDL cholesterol levels as well. In one 2006 study, for example, the researchers concluded that:
…weight loss induced by carb restriction favorably alters the secretion and processing of plasma lipoproteins, rendering VLDL, LDL, and HDL particles associated with decreased risk for atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
To put it in another way: Even though the ketogenic diet tends to raise cholesterol levels, this is typically a good thing because HDL cholesterol levels tend to increase and potentially harmful LDL particles are replaced by healthy HDL particles. (I say “typically” because people who have familial hypercholesteremia may experience a rise in cholesterol that is not healthy.)
To further optimize your LDL cholesterol levels, consider adopting a diet high in healthy monounsaturated fats, omega 3s, and low-carb vegetables. Some examples of keto-friendly foods that are high in monounsaturated fats are olive oil, avocado, and macadamia nuts, and keto foods that are high in omega 3s are wild-caught sardines and salmon.
If this is a bit confusing for you, please take a couple of minutes to read through our article on the ketogenic diet and cholesterol. It will provide you with all the info you need to understand cholesterol and find out if the keto diet works for you.