Will The Keto Diet Lower Cholesterol Levels?

minute read | Last update: Dec 1st2022

This article is backed by studies and reviewed by a certified dietician.

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The keto diet affects a lot of things internally and externally, such as glucose levels, meal choices, and body mass index. However, very few people ever wonder if the keto diet can increase or lower their cholesterol levels.

The keto diet lowers high-density cholesterol (HDL) and increases low-density cholesterol (LDL). This is a good outcome, as low-density cholesterol is the “good” cholesterol that promotes heart health and reduces the risk of heart-related complications.

This article hopes to educate you on how the keto diet can affect cholesterol levels, along with other crucial information. Keep reading till the end to find out all the important stuff worth knowing.

What is the importance of cholesterol in the body?

Cholesterol is an organic molecule present in the body and moving through our bloodstream. Cholesterol is a type of lipid, and it also serves as a vital structural component of the cell membrane in animals.

Cholesterol has a lot of uses in the body, as we shall see below:

Cholesterol helps with the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients and vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Since the fat-soluble vitamins are only dissolvable in fat, cholesterol is a lipid and an excellent absorption vehicle.

Each of the fat-soluble vitamins above serves important purposes in our system. Vitamin A is vital for excellent vision, D for bone health, K for better blood clotting, and vitamin E is an excellent antioxidant.

Formation of structures in the brain.

The brain is the organ with the highest cholesterol content in the human body. The majority of the cholesterol in the brain resides in the nerve cells.

The function of cholesterol here is cell protection and facilitation of quick transmission of electrical impulses.

Allowing nutrients and triglycerides into cells to be used for energy

Cholesterol aids in the production of hormones in both sexes (testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen).

Cholesterol plays a vital role in your sex life, as it is responsible for producing steroid hormones. In men, testosterone is essential in forming male reproductive tissues and the expression of sexual characteristics such as bone mass and pubic hair.

In women, cholesterol is to thank for producing estrogen that is responsible for the formation of female sexual features. Features like the anatomy of the vagina and the breasts are a result of estrogen.

What are the major types of cholesterol?

When you talk about cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, and high-density lipoprotein are the major types of cholesterol. Both forms of cholesterol are important in heart health and heart-related complications.

Below is a more detailed look at both types of cholesterol, starting with low-density lipoprotein;

Low-Density Lipoprotein

Low-Density Lipoprotein, often abbreviated as LDL, is the cholesterol you do not want to have too much of. The danger with this type of cholesterol is that it is capable of causing a build-up in your artery walls.

This build of cholesterol is responsible for a medical condition known as atherosclerosis. When atherosclerosis sets in, blood circulation becomes more challenging, or worse still, becomes completely blocked off from the heart.

This blockage could cause a stroke, coronary heart disease, or chest pain, known as angina. If the blockage is in the arteries of your heart, this could lead to cardiac arrest and death ultimately.

High-Density Lipoprotein

High-Density Lipoprotein or “good” cholesterol is the form of cholesterol that does not pose any risk to our heart health and overall well-being. HDL helps remove bad cholesterol from the body by absorbing the bad cholesterol and sending it back to the liver.

Having an increased level of HDL over LDL reduces your risk of suffering from a stroke. Also, higher HDL levels translate to a lower risk of heart disease and other heart-related problems.

How can your keto diet influence the levels of both types of cholesterol?

The liver is responsible for producing cholesterol in humans. However, cholesterol is available in certain foods like eggs, dairy products, and animal fats. Since the keto diet focuses primarily on fats, let’s see how your keto diet can influence the good and the harmful cholesterol levels.

When selecting foods to serve as your fat source on a keto dies, you need to read food labels. Once you sight the terms “trans fat” or “unsaturated fat,” it’s time to drop the container back on the shelf. Trans fat and unsaturated fats contain high-density lipoprotein, which is what you want to avoid.

On the other hand, the term “monosaturated fat” is the type of fat loaded with good cholesterol. Food sources with monounsaturated fat include olive oil and avocados, which are excellent fat sources on a keto diet.

Foods containing trans fat include non-dairy coffee creamer, and fried fast foods like French fries have trans fats within them.

The possible risks that come from consuming foods high in trans fats include stroke, high blood pressure, chest pain, and chronic kidney disease.

How does the keto diet affect cholesterol levels?

The keto diet affect your cholesterol levels in the following ways;

Improves the ratio of High-Density Lipoprotein to Low-Density Lipoprotein

Consuming foods with healthy fats like avocados and nuts on a keto diet helps you increase the HDL cholesterol levels in your body. If your HDL cholesterol levels are going up, then the LDL cholesterol levels are going down.

The ratio of your HDL cholesterol to LDL cholesterol is often used as an indicator of sound health in individuals, along with other parameters like blood pressure.

The higher your HDL cholesterol, the less LDL cholesterol you have in your system. Achieving an excellent HDL to LDL cholesterol level is essential to balance out the effects of LDL.

Help reduce chronic inflammation.

Having said earlier that HDL transports the bad cholesterol to the liver for expulsion from the body, this helps to reduce the possibility of inflammation. Inflammation can occur from the build-up of bad cholesterol in the arteries.

There is a report by Science Daily showing how HDL has anti-inflammatory properties. The build of bad cholesterol or “plaque” in the artery walls is atherosclerosis.

Lowers triglyceride levels and Body Mass Index in obese individuals

High-Density Lipoprotein has an inverse relationship with triglycerides, meaning the more HDL you consume, the lower your triglycerides level. Aerobic exercises like cycling and running should be a part of your keto routine to decrease your triglycerides further.

Also, HDL helps reduce blood glucose and the body mass index (BMI) of overweight individuals in a study showing the long-term effects of a ketogenic diet.

The BMI is a correlation between one’s height, age, and weight to give an idea of how healthy one is based on these three criteria.

  • Underweight: less than 18.5
  • Normal weight:18.5 to 24.9
  • Overweight: 25 to 29.9
  • Obesity: above 30

It helps manage blood sugar levels and fight insulin resistance.

Just as eating more carbs and added sugar is capable of increasing your blood sugar levels, HDL does just the opposite. If your blood sugar levels are kept within their reasonable limits, then diabetes should not be of concern to you.

Insulin resistance occurs when cells no longer respond to the hormone insulin. If left unattended to, it could result in high blood sugar levels, and ultimately diabetes.

The American Heart Association warns that diabetes could lower good cholesterol levels and increase LDL levels in the system. Boosting your HDL levels helps even out the effect of bad cholesterol, as seen in the first point.

What cholesterol-related conditions can make one unfit for the keto diet?


Diabetes is capable of upsetting the balance between the levels of HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. The LDL particles that build up in arteries tend to damage the walls of blood vessels easily.

Individuals with diabetes, primarily Type 2 diabetes, could suffer from high LDL and triglyceride levels. This is usually the opposite in individuals without diabetes who have good HDL levels and low triglyceride levels.

High triglyceride levels and a situation where there is more LDL than HDL are risk factors for heart diseases.

Erectile dysfunction

Although not a disease, erectile dysfunction is the inability of a man to keep an erection during sex.

Since low-density lipoprotein builds up and blocks arteries, there is the possibility of interrupting blood flow to the penis. This could lead to flaccidity and poor performance during sex in men.

Since one of the keto flu symptoms is decreased libido, it would be better to dust off the idea of keto altogether.

What are the fat-containing foods that I should avoid on a keto diet?

Although the keto diet places emphasis on fats, the fats that you can consume have to be healthy. Below is a list of foods with unhealthy fats, a.k.a low-density lipoprotein.

  • Fried foods, e.g., French fries and other
  • Pizzas
  • Vegetable oils
  • Margarine
  • Corn oil
  • Processed meat, e.g., deli meat, sausages, and salami

Processed meats fit into a keto plan, but there is a study highlighting the risk of cancers of the digestive tract with the consumption of processed meats.

What are the fat-containing foods that I should eat on a keto diet?

If you want to get in the good cholesterol that is beneficial to your health and stay away from low-density lipoprotein, you must be intentional about the foods you consume.

Foods containing monounsaturated fat that are suitable for the keto diet include avocados, walnuts, cashew nuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, and cold-pressed olive oil.

The foods above are just a few of many healthy fat sources available to you on the keto diet. The foods above are not just rich in healthy fats, but they contain essential minerals like potassium and fiber for easy bowel movement.

Final Thoughts

Cholesterol might not get as much importance as it should, but hopefully, this article has taught you what you need to know. This article carries some of the most vital information you will need for those looking to start the keto diet.

The next time you compile your grocery list when going shopping, cross-check and double-check the choice of fats you want. Bad cholesterol has many detrimental effects, and the last thing you want is to be in the hospital for a stroke.


What types of fats are suitable for the keto diet?

The types of fats suitable for the keto diet are unsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats.

What are the health risks of having a high cholesterol level?

The health risks include high blood pressure, chest pain (angina), coronary heart disease, stroke, and in severe instances, a heart attack.

Is there any correlation between cholesterol and blood sugar levels?

There is a correlation between cholesterol and blood sugar levels. As shown in a study, consuming sugar and carbs increases triglyceride levels while lowering HDL.

What are the ideal cholesterol levels for healthy humans?

In adults, the total cholesterol levels should be less than 200mg/dL, with optimum HDL levels being 60mg/dL and above. LDL levels should be below 100mg/dL and less than 70mg/dL if the person has any coronary disease.

Is the keto diet safe for someone with high cholesterol?

The keto diet is safe and highly beneficial for someone with high cholesterol levels. Healthy fats help reduce LDL and promote heart health.

Can my LDL go up on keto?

Your LDL can only go up on keto if the fats you are taking are artificial trans-fats. Swap olive oil for coconut oil, and make healthier eating choices in regards to fats.

Are there other ways to reduce cholesterol levels asides a keto diet?

Other ways to reduce your cholesterol that do not involve keto include consuming foods high in soluble fiber and using a niacin supplement.

About the author

The Authentic Keto Team is here to bring you health tips that help you with losing weight fast. We focus on a clean keto diet for beginners because we believe that is the easiest and most simple way to healthy eating. Our keto weight loss tips will not only bring you into ketosis fast but will also help you to improve your mental health, sleep problems, and wellness.

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