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It's been a while since I've been on the forum and I've been doing great, or so I though, with sticking to the whole30. For me, I am taking this as a lifestyle change, not just something I'm doing for 30 days, because I really think that this is the best way to eat. However, I had blood work done two weeks ago and found out that I have high cholesterol! I was shocked because I have eaten healthy my whole life, lots of lean meats and vegetables, small amounts of oatmeal and rice, but all whole foods, and I have been sticking to the whole30 guidlines for the most part for the last 4 months. This was the first time I've ever had my cholesterol tested, but now I'm worried that all of the fatty meats, eggs, and clarified butter I've been enjoying are negatively affceting my health. I have been eating all organic, grassfed/free range beef and chicken, no shell fish, occasional tuna, and whole free range eggs. I don't eat any bacon or sausage, even the "compliant" ones. There is no way for me to know if my cholesterol was high before switching to whole30, but I can't help but wonder if it has caused this. I am really worried because my level is so high that the doctor mentioned medication, but I'm only 20! I still want to stick to the whole 30, because it makes me feel better and all of the reading makes sense to me, but I am really worried about the cholesterol. I went ahead and switched to extra lean beef, chicken breast, more fish, and replaced some of my whole eggs with whites. I added in more avocados and a little almond butter to replace the fats. I know it is discouraged while on whole30, but I have been making green smoothies in the morning with loads of green vegetables and just a half of a small green banana so that I can squeeze in some extra veggies, since they are hard for me to eat in the morning. I am also adding psylium husks to my smoothies, which I know is also discouraged, but I've heard/read about it lowering cholesterol. Has anyone else experienced hightened cholesterol after starting whole30? Any advice on lowering cholesterol while sticking to whole30? I should add that my HDL cholestoral was on the higher side at least, but I am still very concerned about the total. I have exercised with weights since I was old enough to do so and I have always been very active and I do plenty of cardiovascular activity. I have always eaten very well, so this diagnoses is really shocking. Any help/advise is appreciated.  

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That's a hard one cg as a lot of new research indicates high cholesterol is not necessarily unhealthy but only sometimes an indicator of a health problem. Also that reducing cholesterol through medication is only reducing a symptom not fixing the cause of the problem. So my advice to you is find out a lot more before acting. It's worth a retest too as sometimes the results can vary a lot. Also I hope you know your body makes its own cholesterol so its not just as simple as reducing animal fat consumption any way.

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First, relax. 2nd, what were your numbers? Not just the total cholesterol number, but the LDL, HDL and Triglycerides. The total # is meaningless unless it's something like 280 and above.

 

HDL is good cholesterol. If your ratio of HDL vs total is less than 3.5, you are good. Also if your ratio of HDL vs Triglycerides is less than 2, you are good.

 

For instance, my cholesterol was 216, 69 HDL, 69 Triglycerides 67 and LDL 133. Of course my doctors office orders were  - your cholesterol is over 200! go on a low fat high grain diet!. Um, no, I'm not going to do that. My ratios are excellent.

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I would suggest you take a look at this site before you panic: http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/cholesterol-and-disease.html - it can get a little scientific and technical but this is your health; it's worth wading through a few $5 words for. Cholesterol is a LOT more complicated than just "high" or "low" cholesterol; the type matters, the ratios matter, the particle density matteres..."high vs. low" makes a good story for news headlines but it isn't that simple in the real world. Also, even though blood cholesterol content is probably significant for health, for the majority of people it's very debatable whether dietary cholesterol raises blood cholesterol, just like eating fat doesn't make you fat. Again, not as simplistic as the media like to have it.

 

As you point out, there's no way for you to know that W30 eating caused your high cholesterol, since you didn't have it tested beforehand. Also, I'd really suggest that you get it tested a few more times, since cholesterol can vary widely with things like pregnancy and menstruation, significant fat loss, etc. So just one test is useful but not definitive; maybe you could get two or three spread out over a few weeks to get a clearer idea.

 

Whatever you do, definitely do a lot more research before you panic. Everyone kind of thinks "cholesterol = DEATH" because that's what we hear from the media all the time, but it's not nearly that clear-cut. If you post your specific numbers, people would be able to give you much more useful help.

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Serum (blood) cholesterol is produced by your own liver, it's not from dietary sources. Only a small percentage of people have a greater relationship between dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol. Most people have little or no relationship between the two. Cholesterol is vital to health. It is used by the body in the skin to produce it's own vitamin D3, which is more like a hormone than a vitamin, along with many other vital things.

 

The reason doctors and the medical community freak out over high cholesterol is that people with high serum cholesterol also seem to have more plaque and cholesterol deposits in their arteries, which cause blockages and lead to strokes and heart attacks. However, because the cholesterol in your blood is produced by your own liver and is the liver's response to excess carbohydrate consumption, it's not about how much dietary cholesterol you consume. The liver takes excess carbs and converts them into cholesterol, then the body uses that cholesterol in the blood to patch lesions in the artery walls that are caused by chronic high blood sugar (from insulin resistance and over consuming carbs) and high insulin levels. Both sugar in the blood, and insulin, are highly irritating to the artery walls and as one heart surgeon said, every time you eat something loaded with sugar, it's like scraping a wire brush through the insides of your arteries.

 

But as others have said, your total number of cholesterol doesn't matter to a certain extent. Your ratio between the different types of cholesterol are what's important.

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As long as my HDL is up and my triglycerides down, I don't worry much about LDL.

 

Some of us produce a lot of cholesterol. I have been having mine monitored for 25 years or more. No diet makes mine go down to a level that makes doctors happy. The Whole30 made my HDL go up and triglycerides go down, so even though my LDL and total were considered bad, I actually was healthier.

 

Here is a collection of links to good information I have found about cholesterol...

 

http://paleononpaleo.com/paleo-high-cholesterol/
http://paleononpaleo.com/paleo-cholesterol-testing/
http://chriskresser.com/the-diet-heart-myth-cholesterol-and-saturated-fat-are-not-the-enemy
http://chriskresser.com/the-diet-heart-myth-statins-dont-save-lives-in-people-without-heart-disease
http://healthcorrelator.blogspot.com/2013/05/sudden-cholesterol-increase-it-may-be.html
http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/
http://www.drbriffa.com/blog/

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As others have mentioned, cholesterol is something the body makes.  It's so critical for us to function that we have two ways to get it - through our diet, and by our body manufacturing it.  Cholesterol is in every single cell.  It's used to help repair cells, so high cholesterol can sometimes mean that the body has high inflammation, which means it needs more cholesterol in order to help repair as needed.  In addition, it's the building block for your hormones - estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, progesterone, etc.  Like I said, it's critical for life.  We need it.  Having extra is an indicator that the body needs more for some reason.  

 

The resources listed above may mention some of these things, but I haven't read them all.  A few things to consider.  

- Doctors prescribe statins to those with high cholesterol.  It works by lowering inflammation.  Unfortunately, statins don't treat the cause of the inflammation; they just tell your body to lower it.  That's not necessarily a good thing.  It's like 'fixing' the check-engine light on your car by disconnecting the light.  You can find other ways to lower inflammation.  Diet is one way, some people use exercise, and supplements like fish oil can help as well.  At your age, unless you have several other risk factors for heart disease, statins likely aren't needed.  Drug companies won't tell you that, though.  They'll just put the fear in you that if you're not on statins, you'll have a heart attack. 

- Have you ever had any symptoms or indications of thyroid disorders?  The thyroid hormone is what converts cholesterol into hormones.  If you have an under-functioning thyroid, it won't convert as much cholesterol, which means your hormones can be lower and cholesterol can essentially be building up in the body.  Getting my thyroid properly treated caused my total cholesterol to drop by over 70 points, all while eating Paleo.  My cholesterol is still a little higher than normal, but I know I'm still dealing with some inflammation in my body so I don't sweat it.  

- I've read that if you're losing weight, that can cause your cholesterol levels to temporarily jump for a bit.  I don't have a source, but I think I read that in one of Tom's sources.  

 

So, perhaps your test results are telling you something that you should listen to, but don't jump to conclusions just yet.  Do some research, learn the facts, and make decisions based on that.  It's not the end of the world.  It's just a piece of information you can use to help you fine-tune your health.

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I'm so glad to have found this thread. I believe all of the non-traditional/non-mainstream advice in this thread about cholesterol; I'm nervous b/c I *just* finished my first whole30 yesterday and tomorrow morning I'm having my blood drawn for life insurance. I might disagree with mainstream science but if my cholesterol is high (6 months ago the total and the ratios were fine, not amazing but totally fine) my rating for insurance will go down. Arg!  (I've never eaten so much meat in my LIFE as I have on whole30 and it hasn't all been as "clean" as whole30 would want; the area where I live simply doesn't always have the grass-fed options, etc. )

 

I'm really interested in the link btw blood sugar and high cholesterol. I was a tad worried about all the starchy veggies that I eat on whole30 (I was pre-diabetic 3 years ago and that's always in my mind), like sweet potatoes and now I wonder if that increased my blood sugar and thus increased cholesterol? Ay. Worry, worry.

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As long as you stuck to the meal template, you should be ok. Sure sweet potatoes have sugar in them, but you are not eating any grains or sugary stuff so chances are you are getting a lot less sugar. And getting it from natural sources.

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I'm diabetic and had been eating almost no carbs for about 4 months, its good for my blood sugar levels, but it made my cholesterol go up. I reduced my readings by eating more carbs (fruit, sweet potato) about 80grams a day. And eating more fish and coconut oil. I'm not sure which change did the trick?! It took about a month.

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Sorry that it took me so long to reply, Bet. I realized that I mis-spoke in my post. I was WORRIED that my cholesterol levels would be higher d/t the whole30. I just got the results yesterday. Here they are. I know they look okay but the life insurance company flagged the HDL b/c it was out of the "normal" range which is 35-55.

 

Cholesterol total: 162. Reference range: 140-220

HDL: 68. Listed as "high". Reference range: 35-55

LDL: 85. Reference range: 0-129.

Cholesterol/HDL ratio: 2.4. No reference given.

LDL/HDL ration: 1.26. Reference range, 1.0-3.7

 

So, my question is if any of you think that traditional science (which I'm sure insurance companies use) would think that an HDL level higher than normal would be a red flag?

 

I also noticed that my protein levels were on the low side of normal. (Total protein 6.7, ref. 6.5-8.5); Albumin (3.9; ref 3.8-5.2); Globulin 2.8 (2.1-3.9). I had been having severe muscle cramping which has gone away with slowing down on exercise and taking potassium. Does anyone know what functional medicine or alt. medicine would say about these levels?

 

Thanks!

Celina

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Sorry that it took me so long to reply, Bet. I realized that I mis-spoke in my post. I was WORRIED that my cholesterol levels would be higher d/t the whole30. I just got the results yesterday. Here they are. I know they look okay but the life insurance company flagged the HDL b/c it was out of the "normal" range which is 35-55.

 

Cholesterol total: 162. Reference range: 140-220

HDL: 68. Listed as "high". Reference range: 35-55

LDL: 85. Reference range: 0-129.

Cholesterol/HDL ratio: 2.4. No reference given.

LDL/HDL ration: 1.26. Reference range, 1.0-3.7

 

So, my question is if any of you think that traditional science (which I'm sure insurance companies use) would think that an HDL level higher than normal would be a red flag?

 

I also noticed that my protein levels were on the low side of normal. (Total protein 6.7, ref. 6.5-8.5); Albumin (3.9; ref 3.8-5.2); Globulin 2.8 (2.1-3.9). I had been having severe muscle cramping which has gone away with slowing down on exercise and taking potassium. Does anyone know what functional medicine or alt. medicine would say about these levels?

 

Thanks!

Celina

The higher the HDL the better, in traditional circles as well. Don't worry about it. Your levels look good!

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I was very reassured to find this thread (again)...I recently got my cholesterol results from my doctor and nearly fainted though she - being Paleo friendly, thank the Lord - said over and over that she was not worried. 

 

My total cholesterol jumped from a year ago, from 243 to 316, and my LDL calculated went from 169 to 200.

 

HOWEVER, my HDL was a whopping 106 (up from 74) and my triglycerides dropped from 62 to 52. My doctor said my HDL was one of the highest she's ever seen. My total cholesterol/HDL ratio is 3.0. Everything else was in normal limits. Again, she said she's not a bit worried and wouldn't dream of putting me on meds - plus she noted that triglycerides, not LDL levels, are the harbinger of problems in women.

 

I suspect that if there is a culprit to my LDL levels, it's my stubborn sugar issue, so I'm going to work really, really hard toward conquering that beast once and for all, then get them retested.

 

At any rate, this thread is hugely reassuring for me, while the results were a big kick in the butt to my sugar demon.

 

Win-win.

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Celina, HDL is good, I was told the good range was 60-80, so you are good. My HDL was 69. It's really the ration to HDL/Triglicerides that is important. The closer they are, the better. I'm not sure about the protein levels, sorry.

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Just had my numbers done, and I am in week 3---  according to what y'all are saying, I SHOULD worry.. my ratios are backwards.

 

Total Cholesterol 179mg/dL

Triglycerides 94mg/dL

HDL-C 51mg/dL

VLDL-C cal 19mg/dL

LDL-C Calc 109 (high)

the comment on my lab result states my low HDL is a risk factor for coronary heart disease...  FUN. 

 

Now, I am only 3 weeks in, and I had a VERY BAD diet and little to no exercise beforehand (add a very stressful job, working 7 days a week for long periods of time, etc), so this may be on its way to reversing itself, but... should I avoid certain foods on the plan, now knowing that I may be adversely affecting my heart?? 

 

Thanks! 

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It's not that bad, considering you had a bad diet. Now that you are on W30, if you continue, your triglycerides will do down and your HDL will go up. The food on the plan is what you need. Good fats and real food. What you were eating before is what made your cholesterol what you see there. 3 weeks is not going to make a huge change.

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If you are eating eggs, make sure you get good ones, pasture eggs if you can. If not look for Egglands that have a lot Omega 3 in them.

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Total Cholesterol 179mg/dL

Triglycerides 94mg/dL

HDL-C 51mg/dL

VLDL-C cal 19mg/dL

LDL-C Calc 109 (high)

Had you had a test before this? Or was this your first ever? Mine has been in the red zone for a while and just finished my 30+ and getting blood work tomorrow. I am hoping for some improved numbers. I have dramatically improved my numbers before with healthy eating, so I know I can do it. i just usually go back to my SAD ways and the numbers go back.

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Hi all! I just got retested for cholesterol since my numbers were a bit high in January when I had my complete physical. My numbers are below--should I be worried? My LDL went up over 50 points. My doctor's initial reaction was to put me on a statin, but I expressed my concerns and she said I could wait 6 months and get tested again, so I've at least avoided that for now.

 

total: 290

HDL: 67

LDL: 200

triglycerides: 117

 

I did a Whole 30 in April and have tried to stick to it pretty much since then, although I've added cheese back in (but going to cut it back out after these test results) and I know I eat too much sugar (gosh darn it). I also eat a lot of eggs--at least two a day, although I do mostly get pastured eggs. Anyway, I have family history of high cholesterol, but I'm only 29 and otherwise pretty healthy. I haven't lost a lot of weight recently, mabye 5-7 pounds total since I did the Whole 30 (started out at 5'7", 124 pounds or so, I think I just have leaned out since changing my diet). After doing some research, I think I'm going to work to eat more organ meats and fish and perhaps add in a multivitamin to make sure I'm getting enough selenium and copper. Does anyone have any other good advice for me?

 

Thanks so much!

 

Editing to add that I'm considering having a complete thyroid test, primarily to check for my rT3 numbers since the regular tests didn't show anything unusual but I am zonked all the time, have cold hands and feet constantly, and research shows there may be a link between high rT3 and high LDL. Anyone have any experience with this?

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Thanks, Renee! I bought some liver and found a recipe on Melissa's blog to use. They weren't as ooky as I had feared! I'm getting my thyroid test on Monday, so I hope to have a little more clarity on what to do soon.

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Great news!!! I saw a great endocrinologist who prescribed Armour natural dessicated thyroid. After being on it for 2 months, my numbers are as follows:

 

total: 185

HDL: 76

LDL: 93

triglycerides: 82

 

I'm so relieved and glad I figured out the real problem and didn't just blindly go on a statin. Thanks for all your support, guys! And get your thyroid checked!

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