When it comes to cholesterol, the first association is that it’s something terrible. However, its role in the human body is, without exaggeration, irreplaceable.

The human body uses cholesterol to produce hormones and vitamin D, and supports digestion. The liver creates it in sufficient quantities, but the body does not only receive cholesterol from the liver. Cholesterol-rich foods include meat, dairy products, eggs, and very little in fish, while it lacks in vegetables.

High Cholesterol on Keto Diet

Types of cholesterol

There are two main types of cholesterol. The first one is high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and the second low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Lipoproteins consist of fats and proteins. Cholesterol moves through the body while inside the lipoprotein.

HDL, or popularly called “good cholesterol,” transfers cholesterol to the liver to be excreted. HDL assists the body get rid of excess cholesterol, so it is less likely that it will end up on the walls of the arteries.

LDL is also called “bad cholesterol”; it takes cholesterol to various tissues and organs. If there is too much of it, that excess continues to circulate through the blood. Over time, it can accumulate on the walls of the blood vessels.

There are three types of LDL particles. Science says that only the smallest kind of LDLs can be problematic. The ketogenic diet is said to change the ratio of small, medium, and large LDL particles. The number of smallest decreases, while the number of largest increases.

Most people do not know that they have high cholesterol because there are no noticeable symptoms. The only reliable way to check your cholesterol level is through a blood test.

Causes of High Cholesterol

The causes of high cholesterol are most commonly associated with lifestyle. Unhealthy habits, obesity, lack of physical activity, followed by smoking and stress are common causes.

A 2013 study found that smokers typically have lower HDL cholesterol than non-smokers. Studies have shown that smoking cessation can increase HDL. However, you should consult your doctor before embarking on a not-so-easy process, such as quitting cigarettes. Most often it is a stressful process, and stress can lead to increased LDL and total cholesterol. 

High Cholesterol on Keto Diet

Scientists conducted a study with two groups following different diets for a year. The first group (“keto” group) was consuming 4% carbs, 35% protein, and 61% fat. The second group (“low-fat” group) brought in 46% carbs, 24% protein, and 30% fat. Both groups consumed an equal amount of calories. After 12 months, the findings were that in the “low-fat” group had the average HDL value increased by 4.9%. On the other hand in the “keto” group, the average HDL value increased by 20.6%.

Fat cells in a human body contain triglycerides and cholesterol. When those cells start to “melt” that cholesterol and triglycerides have to go somewhere. If you are on a keto diet and do not consume excess carbs, the body will (ideally) transform triglycerides into an energy source. However, cholesterol is not energy convertible but ends up in the liver. As long as the fat deposits are burned, we may notice elevated values of these parameters. That is a normal consequence of fat burning.

For these processes to take place undisturbed, it is necessary to maintain liver health and stimulate the proper functioning of the bile. For a healthy liver, we should consume sufficient quantities of green leafy vegetables. Intermittent fasting facilitates proper bile function.

We can conclude that the keto diet contributes to the increase of HDL, which will quickly and effectively eliminate the released cholesterol. It reduces the prevalence of small LDL particles; also promotes the growth of residual LDL so that it can carry as much cholesterol at once and, as such, be less risky for clotting and consequent vascular and heart disease.

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