You may have heard that a paleo diet can help weightloss. It’s probably because it’s filled with lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds while being low in carbohydrates and processed and sweet foods.
But researchers are also studying how the paleo diet might affect your cholesterol.
Good and bad cholesterol
You have two types of cholesterol in your body: HDL, often called good cholesterol, and LDL, or bad cholesterol.
LDL stands for Low Density Lipoprotein. It contributes to the accumulation of fat in your arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis. This can increase your risk of serious cardiovascular problems such as heart attack, a stroke, or peripheral artery discomfort (BUFFER).
HDL, or high density lipoprotein, moves LDL cholesterol from your arteries to your liver. There your body breaks it down and gets rid of it. High levels of HDL help protect against heart attacks and strokes.
Triglycerides, the most common type of fat in your body, are related. High triglycerides with high or low LDL cholesterol HDL cholesterol can lead to a build-up of fat in the artery walls and a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
The paleo diet
When you are on the paleo diet, you can eat a lot of:
- Vegetables, nuts and seeds
- Lean meats, with an emphasis on grass-fed animals or wild game
- Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as Salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna
- Fruit and nut oils, such as olive oil or walnut oil
You usually avoid:
- Cereals like wheat, oats and barley
- Legumes, including beans, Lentils, peanuts and peas
- Dairy products
- Refined sugar
- Highly processed foods
A diet with a lot of whole foods is healthier than one loaded with highly processed foods. It can offer health benefits like:
But does that bring down cholesterol? The answer: it depends.
No clear answer
Because there is no definite diet that defines the paleo diet, it is impossible to say how it will affect a person’s health. cholesterol, says Alix Turoff, dietitian and nutrition consultant.
“The paleo diet consists of limiting certain foods such as grains, dairy products, legumes and sugar, but it doesn’t specify how much “allowed” foods one should eat, ”she said.
“This leads to a lot of variation in the way people follow this diet. … Some people can consume lesslarge/ Paleo high in carbohydrate diet, while others will consume a Paleo high in fat / low in carbohydrate diet, which would have a different impact on cholesterol. “
For example, the paleo diet places no limits on red meats like beef, pork or lamb, which are high in saturated fat. Because of the key role saturated fat plays in high cholesterol, the American Heart Association recommends that they make up less than 6% of your daily calories. That’s around 11 to 13 grams for most people. You can reach this level quickly with foods like bacon (about 1 gram per slice) and lean beef (about 4.5 grams per 3.5-ounce serving).
Another important part of the link between cholesterol and the diet is made up of fiber, which is closely related to carbohydrates.
“It is important to note that fiber has important benefits for lowering cholesterol. And because fiber is part of the carbohydrates, you can only get fiber in your diet by eating carbohydrates, ”says Turoff. “So for someone looking to lower their cholesterol by limiting their carbohydrate intake, they should also be aware that their fiber intake may also decrease. “
The best solution is to stock up on vegetables, which are rich in vitamins and minerals as well as fiber, thanks to their complex carbohydrates. These are different from simple carbohydrates like added sugars, which can raise your cholesterol if you eat too much.
Along with the amount of fat and fiber you eat, factors like activity levels and even your genes can affect cholesterol.
“There is a subset of individuals who may notice more unfavorable tendencies in their some blood lipid levels after adopting a paleo diet. In this case, the amount of saturated fat can be changed, along with other lifestyle factors, ”says Tara Allen, Registered Nurse and Certified Nutrition Coach.
A study of 44 adults on a paleo diet found that after 10 weeks, their LDL cholesterol increased by 12.5 milligrams per deciliter (mg / dL) and total cholesterol increased by 10.1 mg / dL. Triglycerides were also slightly raised.
But, says Allen, “The paleo diet has also been shown to increase levels of HDL, ‘good’ cholesterol, and reduce blood sugar level – a big factor contributing to damage to blood vessels.
More research is needed on how the paleo diet affects cholesterol.
“We have solid research to support this low carb diets can be effective in improving heart disease markers such as total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, ”says Turoff. “There are also studies that show that a low-carb diet can increase cholesterol levels. Again, it probably comes down to the specific breakdown of the low carb diet. How low in carbohydrates? How much total fat and how much saturated fat?
“The consensus is not yet there to say definitively how a low-carb diet will impact cholesterol levels, and it will likely take longer-term studies to give us better insight into that.”
If you’re worried about your cholesterol levels or how your diet might affect them, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian.
“Talk to them about your concerns,” says Lola Adeyemi, MD, prevention and public health physician and co-founder and COO of Magna Carta Health. “Often times, they will be able to guide you and help you monitor your health and wellness journey. It’s not just about following a “low-carb diet”; it’s about managing your overall health. You will be able to set a level at which you want to get your cholesterol level, and when and how to keep it on track. By combining this with exercise goes a long way.