Keto vs. Whole Plant-Based Food

Key Takeaways

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, but knowing which dietary pattern can reduce the risk of developing cancer remains a challenge.In a recent study, researchers reviewed available data focusing on the plant-based whole food diet and the ketogenic diet. They looked at how both diets relate to cancer risk and outcomes for cancer survivors.The data supports the whole food plant-based diet more than the ketogenic diet. However, there are some potential benefits of going keto, so combining both diets may have unique benefits for certain people looking to lower their cancer risk.

While cancer is caused by many factors, diet, in particular, has a profound effect on a person’s risk.

Among the many diets recommended for cancer prevention and treatment, two tend to get the most attention: the ketogenic (keto) diet and a whole food plant-based diet.

In a recent review published in JAMA Oncology, researchers compared the two popular diets to see which one had more evidence supporting its potential to lower cancer risk and improve the health of cancer survivors.

The winner: Plant-based.

Keto Diet

High in fat

Moderate in protein

Low in carbohydrates

Study author Urvi Shah, MD, a hematologic oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, told Verywell the review was challenging because of the volume of studies dedicated to keto diets for cancer compared to whole food plant-based diets. But using the clinical trial data they had, researchers determined a plant-based diet can better negate several risk factors for cancer, including excess fat, inflammation, insulin resistance, and elevated levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (a protein known to promote cancer development).

Plus, because plant-based foods are also rich in phytochemicals (plant chemicals) such as flavonoids, they offer cancer-fighting antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, Shah said.

Plant-Based vs. Keto: What’s the Difference?

A whole food plant-based diet is focused on nutrient-dense plant-based foods, like nuts, fruits, vegetables, and beans. It’s low in fat with a moderate-to-high intake of carbohydrates. People who…

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