Three hundred ninety-one. That was the total cholesterol count staring back at me 2 months ago from my lab results. Now, when I asked my doctor to order the test, I was expecting it to be out of range. 250 or so was what I expected and I was rehearsing some BS response to what I expected my doctor to say. After all, my diet consisted of 2 lamb steaks per day cooked in lots of butter, which I would then pour onto it after cooking. I was eating a lot of spinach then that was swimming in butter. When I would eat potato or sweet potato I would make not insubstantial percentages of the butter block disappear into it. If there was a way to cram some butter into a meal, I was doing it. I commented in another thread how I suspected that I was personally putting the kids of the owners of Organic Valley through college.
I just got another cholesterol test yesterday from the same doctor/test/lab and it came back 323. I've been largely butter-free for the last 5 weeks. So 5 weeks of more carbs and way less butter accompanied these changes:
TC: 391 to 323
HDL: 55 to 67
TGs: 54 to 37
LDL (Iranian): 269 to 192
So what's so special about butter? It appears that the 3 specific hypercholestemic fatty acids (lauric, myristic and palmitic) are present in significant quantities in butter. Coconut oil has them too, but it's skewed more toward the less potent lauric acid, with roughly the same myristic acid (the most potent), and much less palmitic acid, the second most potent. From this study: http://www.jlr.org/content/36/8/1787.full.pdf it was concluded that butter has twice the total and LDL-raising potential as coconut oil. It may be even more pronounced with pasture butter, the type I was eating.
I happen to be allergic to coconut oil, so during that period I ingested none of it. Though not shown in the aforementioned study, we see higher HDL increases in those ingesting coconut oil primarily due I'm sure to that ratio of fatty acids. Coconut skews cholesterol toward HDL, butter toward LDL.
As for whether really high LDL and total cholesterol by themselves are medically significant I can't say. I can say that ridiculous butterfat intakes are without a substantial evolutionary precedent. As such, I think the burden of proof would be on those arguing that such things are harmless. I'm personally unwilling to bet my life on it, and have thus decided to eliminate dairy fat from my diet. I still eat substantial quantities of grass-fed ruminant flesh and fat, the consumption of which of course has an extensive history among hominins. At the very least, we might use this knowledge to game cholesterol tests that affect us financially.
If anyone here has really high cholesterol and doesn't eat butter, or eats massive quantities of butter but doesn't have really high cholesterol, please chime in. I may be a particularly susceptible individual, but I'm guessing that there are others like me in the community.
I don't think isolating butter as a cholesterol culprit is appropriate. Butter is one of the healthiest fat to consume. A low triglyceride and high HDL profile points to an LDL that is virtually all the light, fluffy benign (or possibly beneficial) form of LDL. There are labs that will break down your LDL into how much small particle, dense LDL (the bad stuff) and how much is the benign form. Aerobic exercise will raise HDL.
Love your paleo insights!! We love lamb too... (the cuter the better, j/k)
I'd concur with your ambivalences toward the LDL. Having a tremendously high LDL seems troubling to the medical establishment but it is not a big deal at all (in fact protective) if there is no inflammation (e.g.paleo + optimal hormones + avoidance of toxins (PCBs, heavy metals lead mercury etc, plastics, xenoestrogens, drugs, pesticides, etc))...
Apo E4 is known as the 'ancestral' allele (or 'thrifty' or what I liken to 'SUPERHUMANLY EFFICIENT' haa). http://nephropal.blogspot.com/2010/05/overview-of-transporters-every-vital.html
Apo E4 does less 'housecleaning' in the brain and other nervous tissues therefore strict avoidance of toxins and trying to maintain good detox (antioxidants, decent blood sugars, exercise exercise exercise, occasional detones, etc) is more vital than E2 or E3.
I go through butter like other people go through milk, I'd say about 2lbs a week.
Total: 154 HDL: 71 LDL: 54 Trigs: 50
Pretty much perfect! I do supp with k2, mg, clo and selenium though.
Travis, didn't you add regular liver consumption to your diet since your last blood work? Perhaps this change in cholesterol was due to a correction of mineral imbalances leading to repair of low-grade vascular injury (as Paul Jaminet believes)?
Hi Travis I am curious to know after several months how your labs are going now and also whether you continue being sceptic on dairy fat. I mostly agree with you but I have been rather undecided lately so knowing about your experience with dairy and ldl would be very helpful!
I sometimes eat a half a pound or more of butter per day, plus copious amounts of heavy whipping cream, and my total cholesterol has never been higher than 150. LDL around 80. Go figure.
A similar result with me - HDL went down, LDL went up. I eat lot of butter, heavy cream, and coconut butter fairly regularly (generally as a dessert most nights, in an attempt to up my calories). My running lab results are listed here.
Got more labs done Monday, getting results tomorrow. I will update the above list when I can.
Of note, on May 1 began a no dairy stint. So in a couple months I will re-test and see where I'm at. Luckily my Dr is supportive of my "crazy ideas" and lets me test almost at will. I feel very fortunate for that.
Thanks for sharing this Travis, I'm curious what your fasting glucose and A1c levels are and if they've changed much? Also, one other variable to think about, and that is 'raw' grass-fed butter compared to the organic valley kind. I do buy the organic valley pastured butter and use it for cooking (alternating with coconut oil) and I'll also put it in my sweet potatoes. I eat about a pound of raw grass-fed butter a week in smoothies and while Ive seen a slight increase in LDL it's not off the charts. Also, my HDL is around 90 and triglycerides 45.
Here is something interesting about trans-palmitoleic acid, not sure if you've seen it
This study seems to show that high intakes of saturated fat only increase LDL if intake of linoleic acid is very low, below 4.5% of energy :
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