Study Offers a Note of Caution on Keto Diets

Researchers see a higher risk of heart disease
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2023 9:30 AM CST
Study Offers a Note of Caution on Keto Diets
Stock image of foods in a typical keto diet.   (Getty/kerdkanno)

A new study offers something to consider for adherents of keto diets: The low-carb, high-fat menu might bring a higher risk of heart disease. Using long-range data in a UK database, the researchers compared 305 people who ate a "keto-like" diet with 1,200 others who ate a more standard diet, reports CNN. For the purposes of the study, those who received 45% of daily calories from fat and 25% from carbs fell under the keto umbrella. Typically, those on keto, or ketogenic, diets are more aggressive, with the comparable percentages of up to 80% from fat and maybe 10% from carbs, per Mint. The database allowed researchers to look at outcomes of nearly 12 years.

"Our study found that regular consumption of a self-reported diet low in carbohydrates and high in fat was associated with increased levels of LDL cholesterol—or 'bad' cholesterol—and a higher risk of heart disease," says lead study author Dr. Iulia Iatan of the University of British Columbia's Center for Heart Lung Innovation, in a release. The study is by no means definitive. For one thing, it's observational, meaning it spotted an association between the diets and heart trouble, but it can't say the diets caused those problems.

Nor has the study, which was presented over the weekend at the American College of Cardiology's annual scientific session, been peer-reviewed yet. Still, a Stanford researcher not involved with the work called it an "important contribution" and said it "suggests the harms outweigh the benefits," per CNN. In the release, researchers say those who ate keto-like diets "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." (More diets stories.)

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