It’s a question I often get. Isn’t a low-carb and high-fat diet bad for the cholesterol? And what if you get an elevated cholesterol on LCHF, what should you do?
The good news
First the great news: A low-carb high-fat diet usually results in an improved cholesterol profile, indicating a lower risk of heart disease:
- New Analysis: LCHF Best For Long-Term Weight and Health Markers
- New Major Study: A Low-Carb Diet Yet Again Best for Both Weight and Health Markers!
The classic effect of a low-carb diet on cholesterol is a slight elevation, partly due to an elevation of the so-called “good” (HDL) cholesterol, indicating a potentially lower risk of heart disease. The cholesterol profile also typically improves in two more ways: lower triglycerides and larger, less dense LDL particles. All things that may reduce risk of heart disease, statistically.
It has also been shown that two years with low-carb, high-fat diet advice results in a reduction of atherosclerosis – people actually got less signs of heart disease, and after one year there is as a reduction of their cardiovascular risk based on standard calculations.1
The bad news
However, there are also potential problems, even if they are rare.
On average the elevation of total and LDL cholesterol is so small that most studies do not even pick up on it. But for a smaller number of people – possibly around 5-25 percent of the population – there can be worrying elevations of LDL and total cholesterol, beyond what can be considered normal.
This potential risk is worth taking seriously. It can also be worth taking steps to correct it. I’ve written more about it on the page about potential side effects of low-carb diets: