How Does The Keto Diet Affect Heart Disease?

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/11/2024

As more people are adopting the keto diet, many wonder if the ketogenic diet increases or decreases the risk of heart disease.

Learn more about the benefits the ketogenic diet provides for heart health and how intermittent fasting can also enhance cardiovascular well-being.

Understanding the Ketogenic Diet

A ketogenic diet, or keto for short, is a low-carb, high-fat diet praised for its health benefits. The goal is to get your body into a state of ketosis.

The Basics of a Ketogenic Diet

Ketosis happens when your body doesn't have enough carbs to burn for energy. Instead, it starts burning fat and making ketones, which it can use as fuel. This change in metabolism may lead to weight loss and other potential health benefits.

To accomplish the metabolic transition, you must significantly reduce your intake of carbohydrates while boosting fat consumption.

Woman behind a table with keto-friendly foods

Health Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet

Beyond weight loss, though, research suggests that being on keto could help manage certain medical conditions such as epilepsy or even Alzheimer’s disease.

Some studies also indicate possible cardiovascular advantages - from lowering blood pressure to improving cholesterol levels.

But remember: not all fats are created equal, for heart health especially. Good fats (think avocados) are preferred over bad ones (like those found in fried foods).

The Impact of a Ketogenic Diet on Cholesterol Levels

Let's explore the captivating realm of cholesterol and its connection to a ketogenic diet. Many believe that consuming high amounts of fats would increase bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, but interestingly, this isn't always the case.

Lowering LDL Cholesterol with a Ketogenic Diet

A study shows that humans following a ketogenic diet experienced decreased LDL cholesterol levels. This means fewer low-density lipoproteins floating in your bloodstream, potentially leading to less plaque build-up in your arteries.

The distinction lies in recognizing that not all fats are alike. A well-formulated keto diet emphasizes healthy fats like avocados and olive oil over unhealthy ones such as trans fats found in processed foods.

Increasing HDL Cholesterol through a Ketogenic Diet

In addition to lowering bad cholesterol, did you know that eating more good fats could boost your good (HDL) cholesterol?

An increased intake of these healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats is linked to higher HDL levels.

This is significant because an increased level of HDLs, paired with lowered triglycerides, may help reduce heart disease risk.

The Role of Insulin in Heart Disease and the Effect of a Ketogenic Diet

Insulin plays a pivotal role in our bodies, but when levels get too high, it can harm heart health. Studies have shown that elevated insulin levels are often linked to heart disease.

Understanding Insulin's Role in Heart Disease

The hormone insulin helps control blood sugar levels. However, excessive amounts cause inflammation and plaque build-up within arteries, which are both factors that contribute to heart disease.

This damage doesn't happen overnight; it builds with persistent high insulin levels over time.

How a Ketogenic Diet Lowers Insulin Levels

A ketogenic diet could be an answer to this problem. It involves eating foods rich in healthy fats while minimizing carb intake. By consuming fewer carbs, we can primarily shift our bodies to use fat for energy instead of glucose.

In doing so, we lessen the demand for insulin, which may lead to lower overall levels. Research shows that following such diets can decrease these harmful hormones in humans.

Blood Sugar Control with a Ketogenic Diet

Investigating the potential of a ketogenic diet to regulate blood sugar levels and its implications for heart health.

The Connection between Blood Sugar Levels and Heart Disease

High blood sugar doesn’t just give you an energy crash, it’s also been linked to heart disease.

Inflammation caused by high blood sugar damages arteries, paving the way for plaque formation. This buildup narrows arteries and escalates the chances of heart issues.

Maintaining balanced blood sugars isn't merely about avoiding diabetes; it's also crucial for safeguarding our hearts.

How a Ketogenic Diet Helps Regulate Blood Sugar Levels

The ketogenic diet flips traditional eating habits on its head—instead of burning carbohydrates for energy, your body starts using fats like switching from gasoline to electric power.

This process naturally reduces carbohydrate intake, which directly leads to lower blood sugar levels—the primary fuel source is cut off.

Studies show that following a ketogenic diet decreased blood glucose and reduced A1c levels—a key marker indicating long-term glucose control—in humans.

Incorporating Intermittent Fasting with a Ketogenic Diet for Heart Health

Concerning cardiovascular health, the ketogenic diet already has some powerful methods in its armory. But when you add intermittent fasting into the mix, things get interesting.

Understanding Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is not just about skipping meals. It's a conscious decision to eat your meals within specific windows of time while abstaining from food during others. This cycle can provide additional benefits beyond those achieved by keto alone.

The beauty of this approach lies in how our bodies react when we fast: they start using stored fat as fuel, similar to what happens on a ketogenic diet but even more so because insulin levels drop further during periods of fasting.

The Benefits of Combining Intermittent Fasting with a Ketogenic Diet

Marrying these two approaches – intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet might seem challenging at first glance, but don't be fooled. There are some remarkable potential benefits here.

This combination works synergistically to increase ketone production the compounds produced when our bodies burn fat for energy, leading to more weight loss and better blood sugar control, which is crucial for reducing heart disease risk.


Contrary to common misconceptions, the ketogenic diet may offer benefits for cardiovascular well-being. By inducing a state of ketosis through low-carb, high-fat consumption, the diet has shown potential in reducing LDL cholesterol levels while increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol.

Moreover, it may help regulate insulin levels and blood sugar, addressing key risk factors for heart disease.

Incorporating intermittent fasting with the ketogenic diet can further enhance these benefits, promoting weight loss and improved blood sugar control.

The ketogenic, when followed with an emphasis on healthy fats, can have amazing benefits for heart health and overall well-being.

Your takeaway should be clear: With careful planning and dedication to the keto lifestyle—your heart health may indeed thank you!

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