Saturday, March 03, 2007

Cholesterol Confusion And Concerns Continue

One thing I have noticed about writing here at my blog is that previous topics I have already addressed have a peculiar way of coming back around again and again as more and more new people suddenly discover this site for the very first time. If that's YOU, then let me officially welcome you to "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb." Feel free to browse through the archives in the lower right-hand side of the page to access the more than 1,600 blog posts I have written.

I certainly don't mind covering an issue over and over again as long as people are still asking the questions that they are most concerned about. Today I received a question from a concerned e-mailer that I am sure is on the minds of many people who are either on a low-carb diet for the very first time or are thinking about it. It's about cholesterol.

With the widespread prevalance of cholesterol-lowering prescription drugs such as Lipitor, Crestor, and Zetia (with that commercial featuring the fat female television cooking show host who is utterly annoying!), people have come to fear their cholesterol numbers like never before. Oh my gosh, am I gonna die if my cholesterol goes up above 200?! As absurd as that may sound to those of us who have educated ourselves about the cholesterol lie that exists, you have to realize that a great majority of people totally freak out when they perceive they have "high" cholesterol.

Here's the frantic e-mail I received from a new low-carber about her cholesterol:

Hello! I am in my second month of a low-carb diet. I am following a modified version of South Beach. To date, I have lost 14 pounds already and was feeling great...until this week. I had a physical and got my blood work done and the results were scary. My cholesterol is sky high:

Total -- 301 (yes 301!)
HDL -- 83
LDL -- 148
Triglycerides -- 62

Now I am afraid to continue on with my low-carb diet. My doctor only states that she "Does not trust the lab results....this profile does not make sense." Boy that really scares me to hear her say she is not trusting the results. Anyways, now I fear I'm gonna have a heart attack or stroke. Do you have any insight about this? It would be greatly appreciated.

Because this e-mailer is expressing a lot of issues that I believe may be on the hearts and minds of many other brand new low-carbers or potential ones, I'd like to share with you my thorough e-mail response including pertinent links to articles I have written about this subject before. Hopefully this will shed some light on the cholesterol issue and clear up the confusion and concern that apparently continues in the minds of many.

This was my response:

THANK YOU so much for writing to me today. CONGRATULATIONS on making livin' la vida low-carb your permanent lifestyle choice and I'm happy to address your cholesterol concerns.

First, let me calm your fears and ask you to try to relax about your blood test results. We have been conditioned by the medical establishment to assume certain things as it relates to health indicators (namely cholesterol) that people get in a tizzy when the numbers fall outside of the so-called "normal" parameters.

This may surprise you, but your lipid profile isn't all that different from mine actually. And it was about this time last year that I had many of the same feelings you did regarding my supposedly "high" cholesterol numbers. Check out just a few of the posts I wrote about it at the time:

"Cholesterol Conundrum: Do I Statin Or Not?"
"Doctor Gives Me Four Months To Get LDL Down"
"Consensus On Cholesterol Is Avoid Statins"
"My Cholesterol Craziness Continues"
"Lowering Cholesterol Through Better Choices"

Since I wrote all of those posts, I have become much more educated about cholesterol numbers for people who are on a low-carb diet. They should be measured quite differently than the traditional tests administered to people eating a high-carb diet. Respected physician and low-carb expert Dr. Mary C. Vernon has said that when your triglycerides are below 100 (as yours are), then your LDL numbers are not going to be accurate.

Dr. Vernon also added that elevated HDL (which you have and that's a VERY GOOD sign you are doing the diet correctly) and total cholesterol can happen "because intermediate density lipoproteins are being measured as LDLs." In other words, some of what is being measured as LDL is actually a false positive that could be LDL or could be HDL. It distorts the entire picture.

All the latest research is pointing to low-carb benefitting cholesterol greatly, that high LDL can be good, low HDL can be bad for heart disease risk, that the triglyceride/HDL ratio is what is most important, and that HDL and triglycerides are better markers for cardiovascular risk than LDL and total cholesterol.

Those are the cold hard facts directly from the latest research!

In fact, coming up this Tuesday afternoon there will be a HUGE study that will shock the world of diet and health set to be published in a major medical journal about how low-carb diets have been found to be just as good or better on all the health indicators than high-carb, low-fat diets, including on cholesterol number. Be sure to look for my post about it then!

Also, if you haven't yet picked up a copy of Anthony Colpo's "The Great Cholesterol Con," then it is well worth the time to read all the research this Australian man has compiled about the truth regarding cholesterol. I also was able to interview him last year just before he released his book.

Are you starting to feel a little better now? I sure hope so. Like I said earlier, we have been so conditioned to worry about issues that really have no negative bearing on our health whatsoever and cholesterol is one of them. That's not to say you can't have cholesterol problems when you are on a low-carb diet, but it looks from your numbers like you are doing AWESOME with your blood test results. Your triglyceride/HDL ratio is an astonishing 0.75 (that's better than my 0.83)!

Be proud of what you are doing and confident that you are living a healthier life than you ever have before. THANKS again for writing and please feel free to contact me anytime! Take care!

Does anyone else have a thought, comment, or question to share about this issue?

3-5-07 UPDATE: One of my "lurking" readers who doesn't even have a Google or Blogger account sent me the following e-mail because she just HAD to share her appreciation for what I wrote in this post.

Hi Jimmy:

I wanted to thank you for posting this entry. I am one of those like you described who just believed everything about high cholesterol. I have to admit that while I have done the Atkins diet before, and it worked BRILLIANTLY for me, I have about 15 more pounds I wish I could lose but was a little concerned about doing it again because of the "high" cholesterol talk.

I know Atkins works and I know that those in the media who try to say it doesn't work or doctors who try to say it doesn't work and that it is bad for you for all kinds of reasons (not just cholesterol) have NO idea what they are talking about. It DOES work and I've actually never been healthier.

I get the feeling that many of these people have never read Dr. Atkins' books and just go around stating that if you eat a pound of bacon every day, you'll do your health bad. I don't quite recall ever reading that you can eat a pound of bacon in those books.

You may wonder how I could have read his books and know firsthand that those who speak poorly about the low-carb diet were wrong. Nevertheless, I fell into the trap of believing all the hype about cholesterol. Why did I do this to myself? That's a very good question.

So, let me say thank you. I appreciate that you put this issue out there and all the information you provide for us to read and educate ourselves. Not only have you done great for yourself, you DO make a difference for other people out there.

How about my feelings regarding the Atkins diet and my concerns over cholesterol now? I think I will start the Atkins diet again and lose that final 15 pounds that just will not come off any other way. I can exercise until I'm ready to pass out and I can try low-fat, low-this, low-that...but the only thing that works for me is low-carb.

Thank God for Dr. Atkins (and may he rest in peace), and thank you, Jimmy, for not being afraid to fight against the untruths while keeping us all informed.

Anyway, I'll go back to lurking now, but this entry just needed to be commented on. You've done a wonderful thing by writing it. Have a great week!

WOW, this is AWESOME! THANK YOU for writing this comment because it started off my week on the right foot. I'm always happy to share my experiences with my readers so that others can benefit from the truths I have learned. Keep up the fight and never give up! Take care! :)

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Blogger Jeff Hamlin said...


"High cholesterol" is one of the greatest scams in health care today. One has absolutely nothing to worry about unless their artery walls get damaged by excessive consumption of trans fats, sugar, and other unnatural stuff. Then and only then would cholesterol be an issue. Too bad people like Dr. Robert Jarvik have their heads in the clouds.

3/03/2007 7:31 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...


You are preaching to the choir, my friend. The unfortunate reality is that most people just buy into the "high cholesterol" fallacy without checking it out for themselves. And we wonder why the pharmaceutical companies keep falling all over themselves creating new drugs for virtually every conceivable ailment?! UGH UGH UGH! THANKS for your comments!

3/03/2007 7:41 PM  
Blogger Carol Bardelli said...

Re: "Zetia (with that commercial featuring the fat female television cooking show host who is utterly annoying?!"

LOL! I always wonder why, if she's eating a healthy diet (an gawd's sake hosting a healthy cooking show) why is she fat?

Can't wait to read about the new study!

3/03/2007 10:27 PM  
Blogger mrfritznyc said...

if she is really worried, she could get a CT heart scan. My numbers were almost the same as hers, 301 total, 200ish LDL, low triglycerides. Doc tried to talk me into statins, tried to insist really. I refused but settled on doing the CT scan. I think the doc thought that would convince me i was in danger, but it proved the exact opposite, I have absolutely zero plaque, and of course no need to be on dangerous drugs.

one more thing worth mentioning about LDL for low carbers. Your triglycerides will be very low on low carb, which means your LDL will be the large fluffy kind. This type is considered safe because it is too large to penetrate cell walls and form plaque. So a high LDL no. for a low carber is actually a good thing.

If you want, you can have your LDL sub types tested, but if you have low triglycerides, that really isnt necessary, low triglycerides is directly associated with lots of safe large LDL. Search Dr. Eades posts on for more on this.

3/04/2007 10:19 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

There is perhaps no more important medical message of low-carb than its dramatic effictiveness to cure our cholesterol problems, in defiance of the myths of faulty science which say otherwise. Reduction of triglycerides up to 75% in less than a month is a typical response to low-carb eating. These are world-shaking results, yet the medical world ignores them.

Chemical solutions are only treating the symptoms of this disease, and admittedly have never established the cause. Hopefully the research on Tuesday will blow a significant hole in the status quo defense of a generation of ungrounded cholesterol advice. Low-carb must be recognized as the only real solution to cholesterol problems because the consumption of excess glucose is the original cause of this problem.

Per Jimmy's reporting, verifiable research has already established that low-carb rapidly eliminates type 2 diabetes, greatly reduces cancer tumors, and reverses every known indicator of metabolic syndrome. What other conclusion can we draw except that western medicine is on the verge of an epoch-making breakthrough, if it will only open its mind to it?

The unusually high cancer, triglyceride and diabetes rates of the western world are all effects of metabolic imbalance, and therefore can all be effectively treated through control of insulin and blood sugar levels, easily achieved by diet alone.

3/05/2007 10:40 PM  
Blogger Hellistile said...

The original poster stated they were on a "modified south beach diet". What exactly does that mean? This could be why their cholesterol figures are not ideal, although weight loss and a low triglyceride count is a very positive thing, and could improve with time.

It's just the "modified south beach diet" part does not translate to me as being true low-carb.

3/06/2007 12:45 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I had the same concerns at first, Hellistle, because I'm not a supporter of anyone making changes to the low-carb plan they choose when they first start off on it. Follow it by the book until you grasp what you are doing.

But obviously this person is doing the plan well as her triglycerides and HDL very clearly show. I don't think there's anything wrong with her cholesterol numbers in light of her high HDL and low triglycerides--the very point of this post.

THANKS for your comments!

3/06/2007 12:56 PM  
Blogger LowCarbCentralWI said...

I might be showing my ignorance here, but my understanding is you should divide triglyceride number by 5 before adding it to HDL and LDL to arrive at total cholesterol. So in your case I would add HDL of 83 (excellent), LDL of 148 and triglyceride of 12 for a total of 243, which was considered "normal" before the world went statin crazy.

3/06/2007 7:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home