The keto diet (or very low-carb diet) relies heavily on fats. While it’s important to limit saturated fat intake, an appropriate keto diet can still be heart healthy.
Introduce fish into your diet is a smart way to support cardiovascular wellness, particularly fatty fish such as salmon. Try this easy weeknight dinner recipe as an example!
1. Limit Saturated Fat
Diets high in saturated fat may increase your risk for atherosclerosis, the condition which leads to heart disease and arterial blockages. But all fats aren’t created equal: Keto Diet’s emphasis on high-fat meats and processed butter can actually be heart healthy when conducted properly.
“Recent studies have demonstrated the Ketogenic diet’s efficacy at helping reduce blood sugar, triglycerides, and leading to weight loss in obese individuals,” according to Chokshi. But the diet scored poorly on Circulation’s new heart-healthy diet ranking system – which gives priority to Mediterranean, DASH and pescetarian diets focused on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean meat and limited processed dairy.
Saturated fats are found in animal meat, cream and coconut oil. Most studies consider all saturated fats together; however, eating too many can increase cholesterol levels and heart disease risk regardless of where the source may come from.
Cholesterol is a fatty acid produced by your liver and transported throughout your body in lipoproteins. Your cells use cholesterol for many functions, including helping produce hormones and cell membranes.
Limit the amount of saturated fat you eat, and focus on increasing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated heat-stable fats like avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil and fatty fish as sources for these heat-stable fats. Select healthy sources like avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil and fatty fish for their nutritious benefits; avoid high saturated fat vegetable oils which contain trans-fats and omega-6 fatty acids by choosing extra virgin olive oil or other plant-based oils instead – these make great additions for keto meals while salads or cooked vegetables are even tastier!
2. Increase Polyunsaturated Fat
The keto diet contains plenty of fats, but not all are created equal. Certain fats may increase cholesterol levels and lead to plaque buildup in your arteries while others can help lower them. For optimal heart health, opt for unsaturated over saturated fats for your diet – heart healthy keto diet includes various sources for these essential dietary components.
The ketogenic diet calls for 75% of your calories to come from fats, 20% from proteins, and only 5% from carbohydrates. By restricting carbs intake to avoid using up stored glucose for energy production, ketosis kicks in. When your body no longer has access to carbs as fuel it turns instead to fat for fuel; leading to increased levels of triglycerides in your blood.
Nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil all provide essential unsaturated fatty acids – but adding fish into your diet is also key for increasing unsaturated fatty acid consumption. Salmon, sardines and mackerel contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation while decreasing your risk of heart disease.
Coconut oil can also be an excellent addition to your cooking and baking. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a medium-chain triglyceride that has been found to support immune health while simultaneously lowering cholesterol levels.
When following a heart-healthy keto diet, selecting lean meats is of key importance. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), red meat should be eaten sparingly since it contains high levels of saturated fats. Instead, choose poultry, fish or skinless white meat as these have lower saturated fat levels and higher monounsaturated fat contents than their red counterparts. In order to minimize trans-fat intake from processed food consumption it’s wise to limit consumption of these items too.
3. Increase Fiber
Fiber intake should not be overlooked when on a keto diet. While most healthy adults should aim to consume 25-38 grams daily, excluding foods like bread and oats which contain plenty of this nutrient could potentially prevent you from fulfilling this recommendation.
An increasing fiber intake can help you meet the goals of a heart healthy keto diet while simultaneously improving digestive function. “Fiber is the food of the gut microbes,” according to Elia, helping them digest proteins and fats more efficiently as well as decreasing absorption of certain medications such as proton pump inhibitors for acid reflux and antacids.
Some of the best sources of fiber include high-carb foods like whole grains and beans. Since these aren’t allowed on keto, it’s essential to incorporate low-carb sources such as avocados and chia seeds as alternatives.
One medium avocado contains nine grams of dietary fiber, as well as healthy fats and the vitamins E and K essential for good health. Enjoy it sliced on salads, in an omelet or even alongside low-carb bread! Likewise, one ounce of chia seeds boasts 10 grams of fiber plus magnesium and folate for additional nutritional support – sprinkle these on yogurt, add them into smoothies or incorporate into other keto-friendly dishes!
Cooked Brussels sprouts provide another easy-to-incorporate fiber source, with one cup offering four grams and just seven net carbs. Roast or saute these vegetables with healthy fats like butter for a tasty meal option!
4. Eat Red Meat
Keto diets have experienced immense popularity over recent years. They consist of restricting carbohydrates while providing more calories from fat sources; this allows your body to break down fat for energy through ketosis, an ongoing metabolic process. Unfortunately, one new study suggests that eating high-fat ketogenic diets doubles your risk of heart attacks and stroke.
This study is not the first to highlight concerns over the heart health implications of keto diets. Previous research suggests that excessive saturated fat consumption increases cholesterol levels and may increase atherosclerosis risk factors resulting in blocked arteries and atherosclerosis.
However, not all fats are created equally and the heart health implications of a keto diet depend on which types of fat you ingest. A large intake of fast food or red meat-derived fat may increase cholesterol levels while choosing healthier sources like avocados can actually decrease it.
There is also an assortment of factors involved in producing and preparing different meat products; one example being that serving up a cheeseburger with fries and milkshake likely contains more saturated fat than grilling grass-fed beef over an open flame – this back-and-forth in nutritional recommendations can be frustrating for dieters.
As always, the best way to decide whether a keto diet is appropriate for you is speaking to your physician. They will help identify its benefits and risks while making any necessary adjustments. In the meantime, choose healthy sources of fats and proteins from the Mayo Clinic guidelines; fill your plate with low-carb vegetables, nuts and seeds; each full serving provides roughly 75% of your daily calorie needs from fat.
5. Add Capers
As a condiment, capers add zesty flavor to salads and antipasti dishes, while providing heart-healthy nutrients such as fiber and small amounts of Vitamin C, calcium, manganese and iron. Furthermore, capers contain flavonoids such as rutin and quercetin which act as powerful antioxidants against inflammation and oxidative stress.
One of the main concerns surrounding keto diet is its high fat intake, which has been associated with an increased risk for heart disease. While fat does play a role in heart health, its impact depends on what kind of fats are consumed – some can clog arteries and raise risk, while other types like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may help improve cardiovascular wellness by lowering triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.
The keto diet provides a unique opportunity to incorporate heart-healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. It is important, however, to limit sugar, salt, alcohol and red meat consumption to ensure optimal heart health.
A keto diet can be an effective way to promote cardiovascular wellness and energy levels. It involves eating plenty of healthy fats, low-glycemic fruits, lean proteins and whole grains along with less refined sugar, salt alcohol and red meat; all while cutting back on refined sugar, salt alcohol and red meat consumption. A diet like this can improve blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels while potentially even helping prevent heart disease altogether.