I am often asked over and over about the topic of cholesterol. This is a tricky topic with so much misinformation out there.
Cholesterol is a very important substance in the body. Having extremely low or extremely high cholesterol is not a good thing.
High cholesterol is typically all about inflammation! High cholesterol is not caused by eating too many meats, eggs, and fats, high cholesterol is caused by inflammation in the body as a result of eating carbs, sugars, gluten, and dairy. So trust me when I say you are on the right path towards a healthier heart with the LEAN program!
Understanding your heart health as it relates to your cholesterol numbers can be very confusing. Is it bad to simply have high total cholesterol? What’s the difference between good cholesterol, HDL, and bad cholesterol, LDL? What role do triglycerides play? Are there additional labs I should be looking at?
Many of these questions can be answered in this informative podcast with Dr. Lustig. You will leave this podcast with a clear understanding of how to properly interpret your lab work. Check it out HERE!
In general, you should focus mainly on your triglyceride and HDL numbers. Ideally, triglycerides will fall under 100 and your HDL will be over 60. Once you know these numbers, then you should be able to determine your Triglyceride to HDL ratio.
Do this by taking your fasting triglyceride number and dividing it by your fasting HDL number.
Ex: Triglycerides = 150 and HDL= 60 150/60 = a ratio of 2.5
Achieving a good triglyceride to HDL ratio should be your main goal!
If you are concerned about an elevated LDL then you need to request the lipid particle size (NMR profile) testing done to truly see if your high LDL is bad (small and dense) vs harmless (large and fluffy). Total cholesterol numbers will not tell you the full picture.
1) Focus on whole food nutrition! Aim to reduce the amount of carbohydrates and sugars in your diet. You don’t have to be carb free or super low carb but reducing your intake will improve your numbers! Aim for tons of veggies that are high in fiber and filling! Aim for good lean protein sources and incorporate healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and olive oil. Cut out as much processed foods as possible! Shop the perimeter of the grocery store!
2) Drink more water! Aim for at least 64 oz of plain water each day in addition to the other fluids you are consuming!
3) Exercise! Regular exercise is the BEST way to increase healthy cholesterol HDL and we want that number to be high! Incorporating some high intensity exercise, even just 30 mins, most days will really help!
4) Get enough sleep! Adequate sleep is so important for health! Aim for 6-8 hours, reduce distraction around bed time, reduce caffeine and high sugar foods to help you fall asleep better!