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  • Writer's pictureMadeline Kim

The keto diet might not be all that

Updated: May 11, 2022

The ketogenic diet, also known as keto, has been maintaining its popularity, but research on its health benefits is still lacking. However, that doesn’t stop popular figures such as Kim Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow from touting anecdotal evidence of what the diet has to offer.

Keto initially displayed promising results. Earlier this year, The Tartan reported a study conducted by Yale researchers that found that mice on the keto diet saw health benefits. The results suggested that the diet had the potential to lower the risk of diabetes and inflammation. After transitioning to a keto diet, the mice exhibited lower sugar levels and inflammation. However, the benefits seemed to cut off after the one-week mark, as the excessive fat consumption led to a higher chance of the mice developing diabetes and obesity.

Researchers at the National Jewish Health recently put out a press release that examined claims regarding the keto diet. Their study confirmed the earlier Yale study that suggested initial weight loss, but they also found evidence indicating that the keto diet “may lead to stiffening of the arteries,” and potentially, a higher risk of death.

Additionally, these controlled lab studies in animals may not translate into real-life execution in people who adopt the diet. The diet restricts carbohydrate intake, encouraging people to compensate those calories with fats. Keto-friendly foods can include high levels of saturated fats, which may lead to a rise in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. LDL, the so-called “bad” cholesterol, is associated with health problems such as artery diseases, heart disease, and stroke — some of the very ailments that the diet claims to prevent.

“Diets recommended by health experts, such as plant-based and Mediterranean diets, have been extensively studied for safety and efficacy, and demonstrated conclusively to improve cardiovascular health,” says Andrew Freeman, MD, director of cardiovascular prevention and wellness at National Jewish Health and co-author of the study. There may be instances in which keto may be beneficial, such as for those whose epilepsy is resistant to medication. But as far as the general public is concerned, the verdict is still out on the keto diet.

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