The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) eating plan designed to force your body into burning fat as fuel for energy production, leading to weight loss while potentially treating or preventing diabetes, high triglycerides or high cholesterol.
However, if you already have heart disease or risk factors for high cholesterol or other illnesses that increase risk factors for them, beginning a diet could be dangerous.
The keto diet focuses on high-fat, low-carb foods to promote weight loss and heart health. Although some individuals fear that high-fat intake will clog arteries and increase heart disease risks, fat has actually been shown to reduce cholesterol levels while increasing blood flow and thus helping patients achieve weight loss and improved cardiovascular wellness.
As part of a low-carb diet, when eating starchy vegetables such as corn, potatoes and beets it is also wise to limit their consumption as these contain more carbohydrates than fiber causing your blood sugar to spike quickly if consumed regularly on a ketogenic diet.
Sugar, honey and maple syrup are high in carbohydrates that can quickly raise your blood sugar. Instead, consume plenty of fresh fruit while limiting added sugars from dairy products.
Carbs play an essential role in providing energy for proper body functioning; however, an excessively high carb diet can have adverse repercussions for overall health and lead to obesity or diabetes.
Carbs may cause low blood sugars in some individuals, so it’s wise to consult a healthcare provider prior to beginning any new eating plan. You could start slowly cutting back your carb intake for best results and creating sustainable lifestyle habits.
Within the initial few weeks of starting a keto diet, it’s common to experience a temporary decline in blood sugar levels as your body begins its transition into ketosis – even for those who have never experienced issues with their sugar consumption before!
Your body turns amino acids (found in proteins) and glycerol (found in fats) into glucose, the energy source that powers your cells. Over time, your body will produce enough glucose from fats and proteins alone to meet all its energy requirements.
The American Heart Association recommends a healthy diet consisting of less than 30% calories from saturated fat, 5% from trans fats and no more than 10% added sugars. They also suggest increasing omega-3 fatty acids which have been proven to reduce inflammation and help control blood pressure – something especially helpful for people who are overweight or obese.
Limiting Saturated Fats
Saturated fats are one of the many unhealthy fats that contribute to higher LDL cholesterol levels, often found in meat, dairy products and tropical oils. Saturated fats also include trans fats that are commonly found in processed foods.
While saturated fats do offer some health advantages, such as helping to lower cholesterol levels, they should not be seen as heart healthy and should be limited by increasing unsaturated fat intake in your diet.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting your saturated fat consumption to no more than 10% of total daily calories – that amounts to no more than 200 grams a day. You can easily monitor this number by reading food labels, keeping an eye on portion sizes and opting for healthier options when possible.
Healthy fat sources to consider include olive oil, canola oil, butter, avocados, nuts and seeds; however, the exact percentage of saturated fat may differ depending on their type and nutritional content.
If you are on a keto diet, to reduce your saturated fat consumption it may be helpful to switch out red meat for skinless chicken on certain days each week and avoid foods containing hydrogenated oils which contain saturated fats.
Eat more whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy products as another way of cutting down on saturated fat intake and improving both cholesterol levels and blood pressure levels. Doing this will balance out your calorie consumption while simultaneously helping improve health markers such as cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds is the ideal way to keep your heart healthy and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, dementia and Alzheimer’s. Aiming for this goal means including fresh fruits and vegetables along with whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds into your meal plans as part of this strategy.
Limiting your intake of saturated fats can also help you lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. Saturated fats contain many calories; eating them in moderation is the key to maintaining your desired weight while protecting your heart health.
Increasing Unsaturated Fats
Ketogenic diets offer several health benefits that can enhance heart health while simultaneously decreasing risk for diabetes.
Unsaturated fats can be found in olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocados, low-carb nuts, fish, poultry eggs and high fat dairy products like cheese and butter. Each food provides important vitamins, minerals and anti-inflammatory benefits when consumed responsibly.
However, it is crucial that you limit your consumption of saturated fats found primarily in red meat, butter and processed meat products. Consumption of these saturated fats may increase cholesterol levels, increasing risk for heart disease and other serious medical conditions.
But if you choose to add more saturated fats into your diet, experts recommend selecting healthy sources like avocados, fish and fatty cuts of meat. Avoiding fast food, processed goods and sugary beverages will also help limit how much saturated fat you ingest.
Avoid unhealthy fats by opting for low-glycemic carbohydrates instead of sugary foods, which take longer to break down and thus don’t raise blood sugar as quickly as refined sugars do.
Eating too much sugar can elevate blood pressure, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease and other serious medical conditions. Therefore, it’s best to limit sugary beverages and foods with high-glycemic index ratings such as sodas, breads, crackers and cookies to minimize this effect on health.
Limit your intake of trans fats, which are artificial fats produced through hydrogenation to form longer chains of fatty acids. Trans fats have been shown to raise cholesterol levels and have been linked with heart disease and diabetes (*).
Consume a diet consisting largely of plant-based foods and limit consumption of meats roasted at high temperatures such as bacon or sausage to reduce cancer risks and other serious diseases. Such meats could contain carcinogenics that could contribute to this development.
Consume foods rich in unsaturated fats such as avocados, fish, poultry, and nuts as part of your keto diet plan to get enough unsaturated fatty acids into your body. These food are filled with essential fatty acids, vitamin A and K and other important nutrients which will support good health on this journey.
The keto diet offers plenty of fiber-rich foods, making it simple to boost your daily fiber consumption. Simply ensure you consume high-fiber sources such as nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetables and whole grains instead of refined flours or pastas.
Fiber is an integral component of health and can help you control your weight, blood sugar levels and cholesterol. Furthermore, it may reduce cancer and heart disease risk.
Fiber can be found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds as well as low-fat dairy products. Aim to include high fiber foods at every meal to maximize daily fiber consumption.
Most Americans do not consume the recommended daily dosage of 25 to 35 grams of dietary fiber, yet studies show it may lower risks of diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
One effective way to up your fiber intake is by adding soluble fiber-rich foods like oatmeal, barley, peas, carrots, apples and citrus fruits into your meals. Soluble fiber dissolves easily in water and can help lower cholesterol levels; commonly found sources include oatmeal, barley, peas carrots apples and citrus fruits.
Soluble fiber may also help minimize post-meal blood sugar spikes by slowing the rate at which food moves from your stomach into your small intestine, thereby decreasing the chances of your body absorbing glucose during this period, thus decreasing appetite and making you feel satisfied more quickly.
A high-fiber diet can improve gut health, leading to improved insulin sensitivity and lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, this diet may even alter your gut microbiome.
No matter the diet you’re on, eating more fiber can have a profound effect on your health and wellness. Fiber helps control blood sugar, cholesterol levels and weight while strengthening immunity, improving skin health and even helping prevent cancer.
Studies and meta-analyses revealing an association between increased fiber consumption and lower risks of type 2 diabetes were evident from several sources, such as how soluble fibers slow gastric emptying, which determines how quickly partially digested food enters your colon and thus provides essential nutrition and water sources to your gut bacteria.