The Relationship Between Ketogenic Diet And Cholesterol

Ketosis diet and cholesterol have a strong connection. Many believe keto diets can raise cholesterol levels and cause cardiovascular disease in the long run because they are low in carb and high in fat so may likely increase cholesterol levels.

But while there are many verbal predictions, studies have been carried out to proven that keto diet is not responsible for cardiovascular disease. Here is what you need to know about keto diet.   

Cholesterol and Lipids: What you need to know 

Before going into details about the connection that exists between keto diet and cholesterol levels, there are things you should know about cholesterol. Most people arguing that keto people are in danger of high cholesterol or losing their lives may not even have enough information to back their claims.  

Here are simple details of cholesterol keto people should know about. 

Lipids are called fats that never mix with water. And this non-polar characteristic is peculiar to them. Place oil in water, for example, it will never mix with it. But in the body, you can spot fats in the blood. 

Understanding triglycerides: What are they?

As earlier said, fat is commonly found in the body either as triglycerides or cholesterol. Triglycerides are a special kind of fatty acid whose purpose is to store energy for future use. They are further broken down into glycerol (broken into glucose) and fatty acids to serve as fuel to provide energy for our day to day activities. 

High triglycerides level in the bloodstream is not advisable. It is risky and can increase an individual's risk of developing severe health challenges like cardiovascular illnesses, diabetes, and several other life-threatening conditions.

Understanding cholesterol: What is it?

Moving away from triglycerides, another type of lipids found in the body is known as cholesterol – a form of waxy substance. Cholesterol is not completely useless as many believe. It has different functions in the body which includes the formation of certain hormones such as testosterone, cortisol, and estrogen, helping cell membranes to maintain their integrity and aid vitamin absorption. So let’s get this straight before drawing the connection between ketogenic diet and cholesterol. 

Where does cholesterol come from?

The cholesterol found in the body is gotten from two major sources. The first is the liver, other cells and organs in the body which constitute about 75% of cholesterol found in the body, and the other source which is about 25% is the one gotten from the foods we consume.

High Cholesterol and heart disease: Debunking the myth

The question is keto diet safe for high cholesterol has been on for ages. Most people believe that high blood cholesterol is responsible for atherosclerosis or heart disease. The reason for this is that arterial plaques were found to partly comprise of cholesterol. So it was concluded that elevated cholesterol levels were partially responsible for atherosclerosis. And this believe have been on for decades.

To cut the long story short, it became clear that the body uses cholesterol as a form of bandages to protect the arterial linings when it becomes destroyed by inflammation. So it was thought that having cholesterol buildup in our arteries could be a great protective measure for this kind of condition if it does arise.

Certain tribes from different parts of the world consume a high-fat diet, and yet a high rate of heart attacks has not been recorded in these areas. The Tokelau in New Zealand enjoys their fish and coconut diet which contains 60 percent of saturated fat.

Cholesterol is commonly transported in our bloodstream by certain molecules made of protein and fat. These molecules are known as lipoproteins and come in diverse forms such as low-density lipoproteins (LDL), high-density lipoproteins (HDL), intermediate density lipoproteins (IDL) and others.

Understanding the low-density lipoproteins (LDL) bad cholesterol

LDL is named as bad cholesterol. We call it cholesterol but as earlier mentioned, both LDL and HDL serve as transport vehicles or mechanisms for cholesterol. LDL plays an important role in supplying cell membranes with fat-soluble nutrients for them to use.

Another thing to note about the LDL is that it has different particle sizes believe to have different health implications. So LDL is not as bad as many think. The issue is with the size of the LDL particles in the body

In terms of size, LDL has Pattern A particle size and Pattern B particle size. 

The Pattern A LDL Particle Size 

Actually, the particle size of pattern A is big and larger than that of pattern B. And as a result, pattern A tend to transport more antioxidants and fat-soluble nutrients in the body.

The anti-oxidants they carry are cardioprotective. They help to protect the LDL particle from oxidative stress, so there is no harm even if one has an elevated level of LDL pattern A particle size in his or her body.

The Pattern B LDL Particle Size

The particle size of the pattern B LDL is the issue. It is smaller and highly susceptible to oxidation. Because of their small sizes, pattern B can easily enter the artery's endothelial linings thus causing problems. Remember it can be easily oxidized, and hence can form plaque there too.  So you can see there is a connection between the particle size of cholesterol and possibility of cardiovascular disease developing.

Understanding the high-density lipoproteins (HDL) good cholesterol

The HDL is nicknamed as good cholesterol because of its impact in maintaining a healthy balance of cholesterol in the body. HDL helps to curb LDL particles in the body and take them to the liver for proper recycling.

So the bottom line is having high LDL is not the end of the road for you as far as you have enough HDL to clear it up from your blood. This is where the ketogenic diet (high-fat diet) comes in.

Ketogenic diet and impact on lipid profile

Ketogenic diet cholesterol level changes are not something one should be afraid of. Studies have shown that keto diets (low carb and high fat) have positive effects on cardiovascular health. Here is how they positively affect lipid profile. 

  • Elevates the levels of HDL in the bloodstream. This means keto people may likely have enough HDL to tackle the LDL before oxidation occurs. 
  • Increases the size of LDL particle. Remember the bigger LDL particle size transports more antioxidants. 
  • Improvement in HDL to LDL ratio.


Whether you have high LDL or HDL cholesterol as the case may be, the ketogenic diet is still safe for you. Many are afraid of the diet because it is high in fat, and there are fears that high-fat dieters are prone to cardiovascular diseases. However, this post and research on the subject prove otherwise. And there are several ways keto diets can raise good cholesterol (HDL) which is great for healthy cardiovascular conditions. 

So why not tip the odds in your favor?

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