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5 Health Markers That Matter More Than Total Cholesterol And LDL-C

Published on September 3, 2013,

Jimmy Moore’s  book Cholesterol Clarity challenges the approach of most physicians who, when analysing a patient’s cholesterol results, zero in their focus on two specific numbers to determine the state of heart health risk and treatment—total cholesterol and LDL-C. Instead, he says, there are 5 other numbers that matter more. This is from CarbSmart…

Cholesterol Clarity1. Triglycerides

This is one of two numbers that I describe in my book as the “forgotten and ignored” part of your cholesterol panel. This is critically important to not just your cardiovascular health, but your overall health as well. Although my own doctor quickly dismissed my low triglycerides as a positive sign of my state of health, virtually every single one of the 29 experts I interviewed and featured inCholesterol Clarity agreed that lower triglycerides are a much more relevant marker than total cholesterol and LDL-C. The goal to shoot for with your triglycerides is under 100 (mainstream medicine says it should be 150 or below, but you can show signs of metabolic health issues at this level), and optimally under 70. The best way to do that is to reduce the amount of carbohydrates you are consuming to suit your own personal tolerance level. I have to personally stay around 30g total carbohydrates in my diet or I’ll see my triglycerides go back up again. You’ll need to tinker and tweak your intake to see what level is best for you. Your triglyceride number will precipitously rise above 100 if you’re consuming too many carbs, so use this marker to your advantage.

2. HDL-C: High-Density Lipoprotein

The second leg in that “forgotten and ignored” part of your standard cholesterol panel is your HDL-C. Sometimes referred to as the “good” cholesterol, it’s definitely a healthy thing to have this number above 50 at the very least, and optimally above 70. There are many ways to get your HDL cholesterol higher, but the best way is to eat more fat in your diet, especially saturated fat. While things like butter, coconut oil, full-fat meats and cheeses, and other delicious fat-rich foods have been vilified as being “artery-clogging” in our culture for decades, the reality is these are the very foods that can help you become heart-healthy by raising your HDL-C. When you reduce your triglycerides by cutting the carbohydrates in your diet, while consuming more fat to increase your HDL, it’s a fantastic one-two punch that gives you a distinct advantage in your pursuit of optimal health. Higher HDL and lower triglycerides are much more indicative of robust heart health than whatever your total and LDL cholesterol numbers are.

3. LDL-P: LDL Particle number

You might be wondering what in the world this is since you won’t find it on a standard cholesterol panel. That’s true, you won’t. But it is important to know your LDL-P number. This can be obtained by asking your doctor to run what’s called an NMR Lipoprofile test. Many people erroneously believe LDL is just one number because all they’ve ever seen on their cholesterol test results is LDL-C. But the reality is there are many subfractions of LDL particles that can be measured directly through the use of some pretty sophisticated technology, like the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) testing. Getting this run by your doctor (who may push back at you when you request it claiming it is unnecessary) will begin to give you a much clearer picture about what is actually going on inside your body. The more LDL particles you have floating around in your blood, the greater the risk of those particles penetrating the arterial wall. There’s still some debate amongst the cholesterol experts about whether it is the total number of particles or the size of the particles that matters most. Since the science isn’t settled on this, we present both sides of that argument in Cholesterol Clarity and let the reader decide for themselves which side they choose to believe.

4. Small LDL-P: Small LDL Particle number

As I just shared, when you get an NMR Lipoprofile test run by your doctor, it will let you see exactly how many LDL particles there are in your blood (this comprises your LDL-P number). But it also will show you the size difference between those LDL particle subfractions. This is an important marker that you really need to know about, especially if you have a high LDL-C number that your doctor wants to lower by use of stains. When you have mostly the small, dense, and dangerous LDL particles in your blood, that’s what is known as Pattern B. Conversely, when the majority of your LDL particles are the large, fluffy, and buoyant kind, that’s referred to as Pattern A. The Small LDL-P begins to become much more problematic when this number comprises more than 20 percent of your total LDL particles. For example, if your LDL-P is 1000, then your Small LDL-P needs to be 200 or less. Not to sound like a broken record, but if you consume less carbohydrates to your own personal tolerance level, and eat more healthy saturated and monounsaturated fats in your diet, then your Small LDL-P will go down. Incidentally, that statin drug your doctor is trying to push on you will indeed lower your LDL cholesterol, but it will do so by eliminating the large, fluffy kind first, leaving you with a higher percentage of small LDL particles that put you at a greater risk for having a heart attack. It’s something to consider the next time your physician pulls out his prescription pad because of your “high cholesterol.”

5. hsCRP: high sensitivity C-Reactive Protein

Technically, this blood test is not a part of your “cholesterol panel.” But it is perhaps the most indicative test you could have run to see if actual heart disease is beginning to manifest itself in your body. The high sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hsCRP) is the marker that shows you the level of systemic chronic inflammation in your body. Without inflammation, there is no risk for heart disease. Period, end of story. So wouldn’t you want to test to see what your level of inflammation actually is? Absolutely. That’s why everyone needs to know what their hsCRP is, sometimes referred to simply as CRP. I’ve seen ranges of CRP between 0-10 being touted as healthy, but the ideal number should be below 1.0. Mine is currently at .55 which means I have minimal inflammation in my body and a very low risk for heart disease despite having a total cholesterol level of 306. Eliminating stress, cutting carbohydrates, and ditching those so-called “healthy” vegetable oils are all pro-active ways to greatly reduce your inflammation and make yourself healthier than you ever thought possible.

More at: 5 Health Markers That Matter More Than Total Cholesterol And LDL-C

Dean Ornish attacks low carb diets – but the science seems stubbornly to disagree

Published on October 1, 2012,

A week ago on Sunday there was an article in the New York Times by Dr Dean Ornish “Eating for Health, Not Weight” which challenges the health impact of Atkins-type low carb diets. It would appear, however, that Dr Ornish has previous form  for such attacks and the conclusions he draws are misinterpretations of the science. A number of organisations and  bloggers have taken Dr Ornish’s article to task and here are a couple of the points made, first from Ketopia and then from the Ancestral Weight Loss Registry.


Ketopia writes the following…

Dr. Dean Ornish

Dr. Dean Ornish (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The piece is a startling ramble that vacillates between vainglorious self promotion of his own (rather limited) research, and willful misinterpretation of the facts and conclusions resulting from some JAMA research supporting the health benefits of low carbohydrate eating. Really, should you trust a doctor that ignores and misrepresents research, compares low carb diets to abusing amphetamines, and tries to support this assertion by misrepresenting a study’s actual conclusions about how low carb diets affect C-Reactive Protein (CRP) levels in participants?

The study actually shows that both low fat and low carb diet groups showed a significant reduction in CRP, but does Dr. Ornish mention that? Of course not. Does he mention that the low fat diet resulted in a higher level of plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1) (another inflammatory agent associated with heart disease) than the low carb diet? Of course not. Instead of talking about the facts, he skewers and distorts the research to promote his own agenda. And lest we forget, Dr. Ornish is a franchise built around promoting a particular way of eating.

More at: Dean Ornish Pedals More Tripe, AWLR Responds


Then, in a detailed rebuttal of the article, the Ancestral Weight Loss Registry writes the following…

Dean Ornish just published an Op-Ed in the New York Times, touting the benefits of an ultra low-fat, high carbohydrate diet, criticizing the Atkins diet, and highlighting the dangers in eating this way.

In 35 years of medical research, conducted at the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute, which I founded, we have seen that patients who ate mostly plant-based meals, with dishes like black bean vegetarian chili and whole wheat penne pasta with roasted vegetables, achieved reversal of even severe coronary artery disease.”

This claim – which is ubiquitous in the medical literature – is based on one study on 35 people, deemed the “landmark heart disease-reversal trial” by US News and World Report. 20 of the 35 people were randomized to receive the intervention which included consuming a low-fat vegetarian diet for at least a year. The diet consisted of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and soybean products without caloric restriction. No animal products were allowed except egg whites and one cup per day of non-fat milk or yoghurt; 10% of calories as fat, 15-20% protein, and 70-75% carbs. Cholesterol intake was limited to 5 mg/day. Subjects were also asked to practice stress management techniques at least 1 hour per day, exercise for at least 3 hours per week, and quit smoking if they were smokers. They also attended group meetings two times per week. The control group was given no guidance besides to continue following their own physician’s advice.

Read the full rebuttal here: Response to Dean Ornish’s New York Times Op Ed

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