The Ketogenic Diet and Cardiovascular Health: A Deeper Dive

Oct. 17, 2023 by Ava Green

ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet, commonly known as the "keto" diet, has gained significant attention in recent years, both for its potential weight loss benefits and its impact on various health parameters. One area of interest is the diet's relationship with cardiovascular health. A recent publication delved into this topic, and here, we'll break down its findings for a broader audience.

Understanding the Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, and very low-carbohydrate diet. The primary goal of the diet is to shift the body's primary energy source from glucose (derived from carbohydrates) to ketone bodies, which are produced from fat. This metabolic state is known as ketosis.

The Heart of the Matter

The publication in question was a response to a comment on a previous article discussing the ketogenic diet's potential effects on cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). The authors clarified several points:

  1. Purpose of the Publication: The main aim was not to rank different diets or declare one as the best for preventing or treating CVDs. Instead, it focused on analyzing the ketogenic diet's potential in this context, drawing from the latest research, including meta-analyses, systematic reviews, and randomized controlled trials.
  2. The American Heart Association (AHA) Stance: Contrary to some beliefs, the AHA does not outright reject the ketogenic diet. However, it doesn't align with the AHA's criteria for recommended dietary patterns. The safety and health benefits of the ketogenic diet largely depend on its composition. For instance, a keto diet rich in non-starchy vegetables, nuts, fish, and devoid of added sugars can be beneficial.
  3. LDL Cholesterol and CVD: The publication highlighted that LDL cholesterol is still officially recognized as a CVD cause. However, the main focus was on the ketogenic diet's potential concerning various CVD parameters, not solely LDL's effect on CVD.
  4. Weight Loss and the Keto Diet: The authors emphasized that the primary factor influencing weight loss is a caloric deficit. Some individuals might find it easier to adhere to a ketogenic diet compared to other diets, possibly due to reduced hunger sensations. The role of appetite in diet adherence is crucial, and the ketogenic diet seems to have an advantage in this aspect.
  5. Glucose and Ketosis: In ketosis, the body primarily uses ketone bodies for energy instead of glucose. This shift can lead to significant increases in blood glucose levels when a glucose challenge is introduced. However, this is a reversible condition when carbohydrates are reintroduced to the diet.
  6. Vascular Endothelium and the Keto Diet: The publication dedicated an entire chapter to the potential beneficial effects of ketone bodies on vascular endothelium. It's essential to note that the diet's composition can play a pivotal role in its impact on health.

Concluding Thoughts

The publication's conclusions are grounded in cited research, including meta-analyses, systematic reviews, and randomized controlled trials. The authors did not advocate for or against the use of the ketogenic diet in CVDs. Instead, they provided a comprehensive literature review in this domain, emphasizing the need for further research.

For those interested in a deeper understanding or looking to explore the original research, you can find the publication here.