I wanted to use most of this weeks blog looking at ketogenic eating, cholesterol & it’s relationship with fats and health.
Before I get into the meat of this article I wanted to just say that by researching this fascinating subject, my perceptions of cholesterol have truly been enlightened. Please excuse the length of the article, but I felt it was SO important to spread the word on this truly fascinating topic.
For years we have had the health benefits of low fat eating drummed into us. It was suggested that high fat eating, like in the ketogenic plan, especially saturated fats, would have a negative impact on cholesterol & our health.
A recent (2014) meta analysis (correlation of many studies/research papers- 76 in this one) showed that those who ate high levels of saturated fat did NOT have a higher risk of heart disease.
I have to be honest, I had some presumptions about cholesterol & especially ‘good’ & ‘bad’ types, but I’ve realised its a dangerous way of labelling anything, let alone cholesterol.
Interestingly enough, ketogenic eating can impact negatively on cholesterol BUT thankfully it appears to be very much within a minority of a predisposed, few.
Here it brings about another issue – we all want to know a definitive black & white answer i.e.
X happens to everybody. Science doesn’t quite work like that!
One of the KEY factors here however, is for almost all those following the ketogenic eating, there appears to be very much a POSITIVE impact on cholesterol.
Without getting too ‘sciencey’, when looking at cholesterol it’s important to understand what it is, the effects on the body & how diet can impact on their levels.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that the body makes but it can also be ingested with food. The body can make it entirely itself, which suggests how critical it is for us! (In fact, if we didn’t have it we would die!)
Cholesterol has many functions in the body & is FAR from being all negative!
It can help with sex hormones, absorption of vitamins & helps in building the cell membranes.
We all now know the benefits of breast feeding but what you might not realise is that breast milk is very high in cholesterol, to offer the many health benefits it gives the growing baby!
There are 5 main markers that are looked at for health in cholesterol, which are transported by lipoproteins (fat + protein). HDL – high density lipoproteins & LDL – low density lipoproteins, and VLDL seem to be the main observed ones.
One way that cholesterol markers were defined in a way to remember are; HAPPY (HDL) the good, and LDL (lousy) the bad, BUT from what I have read, this is a dangerous proposition as there are some benefits of LDL, as we will see.
So HDL & LDL are NOT cholesterol themselves but merely transporters of cholesterol. (Think of them like a train delivering its fatty/waxy goods).
HDL collects cholesterol not being used and either recycles it or disposes of it. (Quite useful!!)
It reduces accumulation of cholesterol & clogging of the arteries & has been known to have anti inflammatory effects (key in health).
Ketogenic eating has been shown to increase HDL compared to traditional eating!
LDL on the other hand, as a negative, can burrow into artery walls , impede cardiovascular function & cause inflammation, BUT recent research
suggests that it could help build muscle as we age, reduce cancer risks and protect the brain from aging. (Key factors in aging).
So IMO you need to know what the components of cholesterol are, not just the total figure because there’s benefits of higher HDL compared to LDL.
Interestingly it appears that the body makes whatever cholesterol it needs so can adjust accordingly. Secondly that foods high in cholesterol have been shown to have minimal effect on our own cholesterol levels.
Ketogenic eating has been shown to decrease damaging VLDL, and decrease particle size of the LDL, which can improve our health status.
When I think of cholesterol, Statin medication comes to mind. They are a common cholesterol lowering drug, that is one of the most prevalently prescribed.
It appears quite controversial as to whether it helps or hinders health for some.
When it’s primary function is to diminish cholesterol production (selectively) and knowing some benefits, one wonders if whether it should be taken. (Another blog on its own).
My reading on these issues questions whether cholesterol actually should be the main enemy target & perhaps more about getting the body’s overall inflammation levels reduced?! (Again another blog!!)
On my last note relating to my personal feedback; I’m feeling good, sleeping well, lost another kg, and the clothes aren’t quite as tight! I will write up more on my food choices very soon.