Can a Carnivore Diet Lower Cholesterol? Tips and Science Behind Low-Carb Diet

carnivore diet

An excess of cholesterol in the blood is referred to as high cholesterol. Although cholesterol is necessary for the body to produce hormones and new cells, too much of it can be hazardous. It may cause major health issues, such as atherosclerosis, a condition in which cholesterol accumulates in the arteries and forms plaques that narrow or obstruct them.

This heightens the risk of heart disease and stroke. In the event that a plaque bursts, blood clots may form, obstructing blood flow to the heart and potentially resulting in a heart attack or stroke. It may also cause pain and limited movement by obstructing the arteries in the legs.

Every year, high cholesterol kills 4.4 million people, accounting for 7.8% of total deaths. It is a major cause of heart disease and stroke in both high- and low-income countries.

What Causes High Cholesterol?

There are several reasons why people develop high cholesterol. Consuming foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol, such as processed foods, red meat, and full-fat dairy products, can raise cholesterol levels. Smoking, being overweight, and not exercising all have a major role in high cholesterol. Some people inherit conditions that cause very high cholesterol levels. High cholesterol can also result from conditions like diabetes, hypothyroidism, and chronic kidney disease.

There are different ways to manage high cholesterol, such as changing your diet, exercising regularly, taking medications, and making lifestyle changes. One interesting way to manage high cholesterol that people follow is the carnivore diet, which focuses only on animal products and cuts out all plant-based foods.

What is the Carnivore Diet?

The carnivore diet is a way of eating that focuses only on animal products. This means you eat things like meat, fish, eggs, and some dairy while completely avoiding all plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans. The idea is to eat like our ancestors did, getting all nutrition from animal sources.

The carnivore diet is interesting because it focuses on high-fat, low-carb foods, which some believe can help with high cholesterol. By cutting out processed sugars and carbohydrates, supporters say the diet can reduce inflammation, improve how your body handles insulin, and increase HDL (good) cholesterol, all of which are good for heart health.

According to a study published in Current Developments in Nutrition, adults who followed a carnivore diet experienced few negative effects and reported significant health benefits and satisfaction. The study found that there were varying effects on cardiovascular disease risk factors, suggesting possible advantages for heart health. The study did note that additional investigation is necessary to fully comprehend the diet’s long-term effects.

How Does the Carnivore Diet Help with High Cholesterol?

The carnivore diet can impact cholesterol levels in several ways. Let’s look at how this diet influences different types of cholesterol and related factors.

1. Lowering LDL Cholesterol

LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol is often called “bad” cholesterol because high levels can cause plaque buildup in arteries, leading to heart problems. The carnivore diet may help lower LDL cholesterol through:

  • Cutting Out Sugars and Carbs: By eliminating sugars and refined carbs, the diet reduces insulin spikes and inflammation, both linked to higher LDL cholesterol. Many processed foods that raise LDL are avoided.
  • Eating Nutrient-Dense Foods: The diet focuses on nutrient-rich animal products, providing healthy fats and proteins without harmful additives.

2. Increasing HDL Cholesterol

HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol is known as “good” cholesterol because it helps remove other cholesterol from your bloodstream. Higher HDL levels are linked to a lower risk of heart disease. The carnivore diet can raise HDL cholesterol by:

  • Consuming Healthy Fats: Eating fats from beef, fatty fish, and eggs can boost HDL levels. These fats are essential for good cholesterol.
  • Entering Ketosis: The low-carb, high-fat nature of the carnivore diet can put your body into ketosis, improving lipid profiles and raising HDL cholesterol.

3. Impact on Triglycerides

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood. High levels can increase heart disease risk. The carnivore diet can help lower triglycerides by:

  • Reducing Carbs: Since carbs can raise triglycerides, cutting them out can lead to lower levels.
  • Improving Insulin Sensitivity: Better insulin sensitivity from eating fewer carbs helps manage blood sugar, which can lower triglycerides.

4. Reducing Inflammation

Inflammation is a key factor in heart disease and high cholesterol. The carnivore diet can reduce inflammation by:

  • Avoiding Inflammatory Foods: By eliminating processed foods, sugars, and plant-based foods that might cause inflammation, the diet can help lower overall inflammation.
  • Using Meat’s Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Certain meats, especially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids like fatty fish, have anti-inflammatory effects that benefit heart health.

The carnivore diet can help manage high cholesterol by lowering LDL cholesterol, raising HDL cholesterol, reducing triglycerides, and decreasing inflammation. By focusing solely on animal products and avoiding sugars and processed foods, this diet offers a unique way to improve heart health.

Combining the Carnivore Diet with a Healthy Lifestyle

While the carnivore diet can help manage high cholesterol, it works best when paired with a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise is important for heart health because it improves cholesterol levels, lowers blood pressure, and helps you stay at a healthy weight. Strive for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes a week of intense exercise.

Staying hydrated is also key. Drinking plenty of water supports overall health and helps your body function well, especially on a high-protein diet like the carnivore diet. Getting enough good sleep is another essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Poor sleep can harm your cholesterol levels and general health, so aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

It’s important to avoid smoking and limit alcohol. Smoking can worsen cholesterol levels and raise the risk of heart disease, while cutting back on alcohol can improve your overall health and cholesterol profile.

Before starting the carnivore diet, talk to your doctor. This is especially important if you have any existing health conditions or concerns. Your doctor can give you personalized advice and keep an eye on your health during the diet. By combining the carnivore diet with regular exercise, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and avoiding harmful habits, you can get the most benefits for managing high cholesterol. Always check with your healthcare provider to make sure this diet is safe and right for you.

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