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Primal vs Conventional Wisdom in a Cholesterol Battle - Who Wins?

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  • Primal vs Conventional Wisdom in a Cholesterol Battle - Who Wins?

    I am a new Primal member, just 2 months old and am loving it! I feel great and am looking better after fully embracing the Primal way of eating (much to my husband's dismay - he does not feel full after eating only meat and vegetables and misses pasta and rice). I was also very curious to see if the benefits of a Primal lifestyle would help my cholesterol levels.

    The back story is my grandpa died of a heart attack in his 40's (I have no idea what is diet or exercise program is like), and both my mom and dad have very high cholesterol levels and are on statins (neither one of them exercises very regularly and my dad eats terribly but my mom doesn't do so bad). 2 years ago, I went to my Dr. to get my cholesterol levels checked. The results were 265 for total, 133 for triglycerides, 89 for HDL and 149 for LDL. My Dr. did what most doctors do and put me on a statin.

    Medication brought my total below 200, which falls in the CW range of "acceptable":

    Total 190, TG 92, HDL 79, LDL 103.

    2 months ago, I decided to go off my medicine and switch to the Primal eating plan. Over the course of the last 2 years, I have had my cholesterol checked 7 times - some times on statins, sometimes not. It's generally lower on meds (no surprise), but always in the total range of 230-260.

    My latest test (OFF meds, ON Primal for two months):

    Total 303, TG 138, HDL 80, LDL 195.

    When my mom heard that my cholesterol was 303, I swear she had a mini stroke!

    So now I am very confused and need your help. A cholesterol level of 303 sounds very scary, and my Dr., husband and mom are all saying "I told you so - get back on your medicine." Of course my doctor is very unhappy I went off my meds in the first place.

    Did the Primal diet fail me? I was very strict for these two months, and even though I went off medication, I wouldn't have expected that my numbers would have gone up higher than my non-statin / "healthy (non Primal) diet level of two years ago. I estimate I had no more than about 100 grams of carbs per day. I ate red meat, sausage and bacon once or twice a week and had a lot of eggs. The only oil I used was olive.

    Without the support of my mom and husband, I'm not sure I can continue this experiment, especially if I don't have some way to help them understand that it is a better choice for my health. Any advice on what to do next would be very helpful, especially for those who have had some personal experience with this.

  • #2

    To start with, your ratio of trig:HDL is good, as is your Total:HDL ratio. (You want trig:HDL to be below 2, and Total:HDL below 4.4.) So those numbers look great!

    The LDL number was probably calculated rather than measured, and even if it is accurate, there is more than one type of LDL. People eating low carb tend to have a lot of big fluffy LDL which is neutral, healthwise, and not too much VLDL, which is considered dangerous.

    There are tests that can determine the types of LDL that you have, but at this point they're typically used only for research. You could ask for an NMR or VAP test, but your doctor probably isn't familiar with this test and may not know how to order it.

    And finally, Google the words statins and women, and then ask your husband and mother to do the same. There is no evidence that statins prevent the development of heart disease in women. Shocking, isn't it? But true.


    • #3

      Conventional Wisdom loses, and loses hard.


      • #4

        The only problem I see is that your triglycerides are rather high. Your high HDL is really good.

        My doctors bothered me about my high LDL for some time, so my endo finally did a VAP test,and it turns out that I have the "big, fluffy" LDL, so my 'high' LDL number (130) is actually good.

        My trig. is always <80. My endo told me that when he checks patients, a low trig, and high HDL almost always shows the &#39;good&#39; LDL.

        Do you eat fruit? If so, eliminating that might get your trig. down--it&#39;s related to sugar consumption, and fruit is pure sugar for the body.

        The total number in cholesterol is meaningless. What&#39;s important is its composition, and that isn&#39;t indicated on the standard tests.

        In addition, the CRP test (c-reactive protein) is considered a significantly more important marker for heart disease, so I would never take a statin without a VAP test to check the composition of my choleserol AND a CRP test as well.

        Putting patients on statins makes doctors feel good and puts money in the pockets of Big Pharma (who convinced doctors that statins are necessary).


        • #5

          ammvm, you are heading down the right trail. Keep questioning and keep reading. You&#39;ll come around. The whole CW take on the diet-heart and lipid hypothesis is a complete farce:

          Be certain to read through some of Dr Michael Eades&#39; blog past posts, get on Hyperlipid by Peter D, The Cholesterol Skeptics Network, oh boy there are alot of great sources. Read read read and keep eating and living (rest, exercise, sleep, fasting) Primally!


          • #6

            Thank you for helping me with this! I do eat fruit, maybe about 2-3 servings a day. But the same amount as when I was on a non primal diet. It seems like for every study or article that says statins are helpful, there is another one that disproves it. Very confusing!