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Keto diet causing higher levels of 'bad' cholesterol, new study shows

Those on the Keto diet may be doing more harm to their bodies than good, a new study says, due to high levels of animal fats.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A new study reveals that Keto-like diets may be harder on cardiovascular health than previously thought.

The study found that a keto-like diet may be associated with higher levels of “bad” cholesterol and twice the risk of cardiovascular events such as chest pain, blocked arteries requiring stenting, heart attacks and strokes.

"The Keto diet is not as healthy as you think it is, and just by losing weight, (it) doesn't really reduce your risk of heart disease, it depends on how you lose weight," Dr. Gregg Silverman said. 

Silverman said the diet consist of way too many fats, mostly animal fats.

"These Keto diets generally have over 50 or over 70 percent of their calories from fat, which is not good," Silverman said. "If you have that much fat, your LDL, or bad cholesterol, goes up, increasing your risk of heart problems. So, you're sort of out of the fire and into the flame."

Silverman said weight loss is important for heart health, but there are healthier ways to shed some pounds.

"The one that I like is just the Mediterranean diet," Silverman said. "Fresh fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, nothing fried-- everything baked or broiled, it's a much healthier way to do it." 

The study’s findings also suggest that not everyone responds to an low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet in the same way.

“On average, cholesterol levels tend to rise on this diet, but some people’s cholesterol concentrations can stay the same or go down, depending on several underlying factors,” said lead author Dr. Iulia Iatan, a physician-scientist at UBC’s Centre for Heart Lung Innovation and the Healthy Heart Program Prevention Clinic at Providence Health Care’s St. Paul’s Hospital. . 

“There are inter-individual differences in how people respond to this dietary pattern that we don’t fully understand yet. One of our next steps will be to try to identify specific characteristics or genetic markers that can predict how someone will respond to this type of diet.”

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