Does a keto diet improve markers for heart health? Virta Health just published more data from their study on a ketogenic diet for people with type 2 diabetes, and the results are in line with earlier studies.
22 of 26 markers of cardiovascular disease risk improved in their patients, many quite significantly. However, there was one exception, the same as in many earlier studies. LDL cholesterol went up a little bit on average.
This is very important to understand, and Virta Health and their team of researchers go into quite some depth to do so:
- Virta: Virta Health changing status quo in chronic disease care with strong cardiovascular outcomes from type 2 diabetes reversal study
- Virta: Improving cardiovascular disease risk factors with the Virta treatment
- Virta: Blood lipid changes with a well-formulated ketogenic diet in context: understanding the total risk ‘forest’ rather than focusing on the ‘LDL tree’
As mentioned, these results are in line with dozens of earlier studies. A keto diet tends to improve pretty much every single metabolic risk factor for disease… but there is a slight rise in LDL and total cholesterol on average. Is this something to worry about? We don’t know for sure, there are no good data to prove whether it is dangerous, neutral or even beneficial in this situation.
However, to me it is even more interesting to look at this from the other direction. For the last 40 years the medical field has mostly focused on lowering LDL and total cholesterol, using any method including a low-fat (and thus high-carb) diet. There is no high quality evidence that this lifestyle intervention reduces heart attacks or prolongs life. There is data, however, suggesting that a high carb diet can lead to increased weight, blood pressure, blood glucose, HDL, triglycerides and more.
The opposite dietary advice, a low-carb diet, results in improvement of all metabolic risk factors. The new Virta study demonstrates it yet again.