Back in March of 2011, I got a lipid panel run after eating a diet loaded with butter and cream and at or less than 100g of carbs per day for 6 months or so. Pretty standard "paleo/primal" or "perfect health" diet, right? My lipids were as follows:
Total cholesterol: 393 (srsly)
BTW: My total testosterone the first time was low 300s, so my total cholesterol was actually higher than my testosterone! I didn't get it tested this time, but I can tell that it has increased dramatically (ahem).
Obviously I said "LOL fuck this diet" and got rid of butter and cream and increased carbohydrates. Over time, I've stopped adding pretty much any extra fat to my diet from refined sources (I just eat the fat attached to the steaks, 3-4 egg yolks a day and a lot of raw sunflower seeds primarily) and I've greatly increased my intake of both carbohydrates from basmati rice(250g+ every single day) and fructose (I eat a metric fuckton of apples and other high-fructose tropical fruit every day).
This is the result of yesterday's lipid panel:
Total cholesterol: 190
HDL: 84 (srsly)
Triglycerides: 39 (srsly)
LDL (Iranian): 66
I can't possibly fathom how the latter could in any way be a worse result than the former or what benefit there could be from increasing fat or decreasing carbs/fructose, though I see people all the time recommend that for increasing HDL and decreasing TGs, respectively. That HDL is with zero coconut intake and a total fat % in my diet of about 30%.
To quote our good friend Mr. Taubes: What if it's all been a big fat lie?
this is really interesting, travis. and in my opinion it isolates the potential flaw of this diet, or at least the flaw in how people interpret (or potentially misinterpret) this diet.
i think the whole point of eating this way is to not fear naturally occurring fat. some people have taken that idea and mutated it to incredible degree. eating eggs every day and a fatty steak a few times a week is a far cry from adding 5 tbsps of butter to every meal, consuming copious amounts of bacon, and cutting out nutrient rich fruits and vegetables because CARBS WILL KILL YOU.
People don't live and die by their lipid numbers. While I agree that you had to do something about the TC of almost 400, health is a lot more complicated than just getting your LDL low.
In horribly general terms, the bulk of your energy has to come from either fats or carbs. Over-reliance on fats leads (usually, depending on genetics, insert all usual disclaimers here) to bad lipid profiles which, arguably, lead to greater CVD risk. But over-reliance on carbs leads to another set of dangers revolving around insulin, metabolic syndrome, etc.
I feel it's a balancing issue for which no one-size-fits-all solution exists. Some people will do well on a VLC diet with lots of fat and no carbs. Other people will do well on a lipophobic diet with lots of carbs and very little fat.
Reading the literature will lead you to the conclusion that every possible food is bad. And I guess it's true that every WoE has its own set of risks. You pick and choose, hopefully intelligently...
I think this is an extremely good question. There are a lot of these paradoxes floating around the paleosphere...
-why does high sat fat increase cholesterol in some, and decrease it in others?
-why does a keto diet spare lean body mass in some, and consume it in others?
-why does a paleo diet cause some people to lose scads of weight, and others to gain?
The only thing I can say is that MORE RESEARCH needs to be done. If nothing else, I hope paleo has opened a pandora's box for the scientifically curious. Maybe in the next 10 years we will start to see some answers as to WHY.
In the meantime, all we can do is be our own guinea pigs, and be open to being wrong. Don't assume any dogma is right. Keep tweaking. Have tests run to keep track. Figure out what works.
For instance, I've been dying to try a true keto diet, but afraid of some of the bad stuff I've read. I finally decided to have a body comp test run (using a bod pod), start the diet, and retest after 6 months. If I've lost lean body mass, discontinue diet (I've been almost 100% paleo for 3 years with no chance in body comp).
I think most people would be wise to do something similar with cholesterol. Don't get emotionally invested; get a panel before starting, check up at 6 months, tweak, move on. There's always something new to learn. :)
From a methodological point of view, one should be wary of extrapolating from just two small sets of data and expecting to derive a robust conclusion (for the individual and most especially for a cohort). With such a small sample size it is infeasible to know what the variability might be nor the periodicity (if any) of the effect. As Debra has already written, in addition there may be confounding factors at work that should also be taken into account.
The "cholesterol doesn't matter, the higher the better" crowd are clearly a bunch of loons. I think it's more nuanced than both sides claim but there's not much doubt that people with low low cholesterol levels have less of a chance of developing atherosclerosis. And people with very high cholesterol levels are at greater risk. Most hunter gatherers and other healthy ancestral societies tended to have low cholesterol, as do most free ranging animals and healthy babies. Drinking bulletproof coffees and having a total cholesterol of nearly 400 doesn't sound like a smart idea.
Another thing I've noticed is that when someone goes paleo and lowers their cholesterol you'll have everyone saying "congratulations, great job" But when someones cholesterol shoots right you you'll find commemnets like "GOOD NEWS, CHOLESTEROL IS ESSENTIAL TO LIFE".
Taurine deficiency perhaps.
Taurine lowers cholesterol by sending it to the bile to better digest fats. Without enough you won't be digesting the fat correctly and one would expect unnecessarily elevated cholesterol levels.
So to answer your question, No, we just aren't thinking paleo Enough!
Another factor to the lipid panel is what you ate the day before and especially the level of stress. My levels are almost all low (low cholesterol. low LDL, low HDL, and well high triglycerides which run in family and doc still gets confused by). Anyways if I have had a stressful day previous to the test my low LDL and Cholesterol while still low will be in the normal range and my triglycerides at times have doubled when it has been noted that I was extremely stressful the day before and when I have had extra fatty meat (bacon I noticed will up Cholesterol and Triglycerides if eaten the day before the test but not fatty beef).
Just a thought but look at as many variables as you can with lipid tests...and blood sugar tests for that matter.
You wash out your own argument, since you are Paleo in the beginning and then Paleo later on. This is a wide net, but some ate blubber, while others hung out on island beaches and ate tons of mangos.
Now, you have made the Standard American Doctor happy by making your test numbers conform with what he was taught in Med School. Congratulations. I had a jar of ghee in my backpack, in the doctor's office, while he was telling me about my awesome cholesterol numbers. Great.
It is doubtful it means anything.
I stopped eating meat a little over a month ago - I just lost the taste for it - so now I'm eating diary (full fat yogurt, pastured duck and chicken eggs), frozen fruit, raw sprouted nuts and seeds, fresh and frozen fruit, 100% dark chocolate or 100% organic cacao powder, avocados, purple sweet potatoes.
That's just me.
interesting thread. i don't particularly emphasize fat in my diet, though i also don't avoid it. however, the fat that i do eat is mostly from olive oil and from beef and lamb and eggs. i think that's what the MSM would call "heavy amounts of saturated fat," even though there's a good deal of MUFA and PUFA in those items. basically, i think animal fat is good for you, and i don't worry about it.
but, i do think that people go overboard with it. i don't add butter to things just cause, and i don't ever buy bacon at the market; i use fat as a cooking tool. butter maybe once or twice a week, mostly olive oil and yes, coconut oil. but they're cooking mediums (i don't want to burn stuff!), not large components of a dish. i take in anywhere from maybe 125 to 250 grams of carbs a day (never count), and some fat every day. my total cholesterol is at 205, and i'm quite fine with that.