Wednesday, 24 February 2010

LDL cholesterol goes sky high on fatty diet

I am reporting my blood lipids for your perusal:
Total cholesterol = 369 mg/dL
HDL cholesterol = 79 mg/dL
Trojglycerides = 90 mg/dL
LDL cholesterol (direct) = 271 mg/dL
LDL cholesterol (Fried) = 272 mg/dL
LDL cholesterol (Iranian)= 248 mg/dL

I have been on Paleo diet for about three months now, but about a month ago I started to enjoy more animal fat. In addition to chicken skin, fattier cuts of beef (brisket) and even some deer fat collected from stock bones, I gorged on cream and coconuts (whole and oil). And they do have 60% clotted cream in the UK! The LDL results were slightly lower six weeks ago.

Before going Paleo I was vegetarian with low total cholesterol (about 160), high TG (120-150), though not so low HDL (about 50). There are many factors involved, but it is very likely that my LDL went up mostly on extra sat fat.

Is it bad? I don't know. LDL can be dense or fluffy, I did not check Apo(B), but even it is mostly fluffy, I am concerned. I starting to think that diet very rich in saturated fat is not really Paleo, much like dairy, grains and legumes. Some people can indeed thrive on some or all of these foods; others may not, depending on your ancestors, perhaps even the not-so-distant ancestors.

By the way, when I was vegetarian, I had slightly elevated liver enzymes. Only slightly, so I did not bother to check further. Now the enzymes are perfect. This made me wonder if the liver was not getting fatty. Better late than never.

My plan is as follows: even more leafy greens, more EVOO (try making mayonnaise with it!) and avocado, more fish/seafood, more organ meats (ideally bone marrow as well), less fatty meat. (FYI, I have been supplementing 5,000IU vitD3 and fish oil daily for about three months).

Apparently, modern hunters-gatherers have very low total cholesterol. There is no reason to have high LDL and rationalise.

There is one more reason while I plan on cutting down on meat from mammals: Neu5Gc. I will elaborate in my next post.


  1. It appears that you are eating a lot of dairy fat. It, of course, isn't paleo. It may have some effect we don't know about. I'd get all the dairy out and go stricter paleo.

  2. With such a high HDL, I would bet that a good percentage of your LDL cholesterol comes from large particles, which are harmless. Have you done a lipoprotein particle test?

  3. Don,

    I have eliminated dairy. It may work for some people, probably not for me. Milk gave me horrible spots when I was in college, though yogurt seemed ok. But cream was almost an addiction.

    I think that my cholestorol went up not only because of dairy, but mostly because of excessive meat. This was not only deer, but also fatty pork loaded with sat fat. I will stick to venison and fish for a while and see what happens. I might also get into bone marrow business as well, deer bones can be bought locally "for a dog" :)


    You are right, moset of the LDL is probably largr particles, but still, I do not think this is natural. If hunter-gatherers had total cholesterol up to about 135 (Lindeberg gives 2.8-3.5mmol/L range). I would be happier with total 220 and HDL closer to 100.

  4. Those numbers for H-Gs are averages, with plenty of variation across individuals. Moreover, H-Gs typically do not undergo dramatic changes in diet during their adult lives, like yours. When they do, hormonal responses are often dramatic, and particularly bad if the change involves a dramatic increase in refined carbs. and/or sugars.

    A few other possibilities, in your case: (a) your metabolism is going through an adaptation period, which may take a few months to stabilize (the initial response may be very large VLDLs that do not shrink as much, leading to very large LDLs with a lot of cholesterol in them); (b) your omega 6 – omega 3 ratio is too high, which is consistent with your recent emphasis on pork, leading to an inflammatory response reflected in a high LDL (cutting down on pork and eating more seafood would help there); and (c) there is something else going on in your body that is causing an acute inflammatory response, as LDL is a marker of inflammation (the least likely possibility, if you have not been feeling ill lately).