Effects of Ketogenic Diets on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Evidence from Animal and Human Studies

Nutrients. 2017 May 19;9(5):517. doi: 10.3390/nu9050517.


The treatment of obesity and cardiovascular diseases is one of the most difficult and important challenges nowadays. Weight loss is frequently offered as a therapy and is aimed at improving some of the components of the metabolic syndrome. Among various diets, ketogenic diets, which are very low in carbohydrates and usually high in fats and/or proteins, have gained in popularity. Results regarding the impact of such diets on cardiovascular risk factors are controversial, both in animals and humans, but some improvements notably in obesity and type 2 diabetes have been described. Unfortunately, these effects seem to be limited in time. Moreover, these diets are not totally safe and can be associated with some adverse events. Notably, in rodents, development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and insulin resistance have been described. The aim of this review is to discuss the role of ketogenic diets on different cardiovascular risk factors in both animals and humans based on available evidence.

Keywords: NAFLD; cardiovascular risk factors; fibroblast growth factor (FGF21); insulin resistance; ketogenic diets; obesity; type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy*
  • Diet, Ketogenic / adverse effects
  • Diet, Ketogenic / methods*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / etiology
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Risk Factors


  • Dietary Carbohydrates