This is my second blood test after starting the low-carb/high-fat (LCHF) lifestyle over 2 years ago. In the past 3+ months, we've gone into ketosis. These numbers are pretty good, but I'll explain why in a minute.
The first test (pictured below) is the Atherotech VAP, which is an actual particle count, vs. the estimated LDL formula on a typical lipid panel. In case you did not know, the LDL is estimated using a formula created in 1974, so we're generally depending on a formula to estimate the "bad" cholesterol instead of measuring it directly. I chose this test in addition to my normal tests after reading the books, "Don't Die Early" and "The Great Cholesterol Myth." This shows size and type of particles measured directly. It is much more useful information to know the size and density of the cholesterol in your bloodstream. It also measures the other critical components like triglycerides and Lp(a).
For those with the gift of seeing the obvious, I have four results that show HIGH, so it must be alarming & bad, right?
First, lets look at the good & great stuff. My HDL (good) is 94 which is 19 points higher than last time. Any number higher than 45 in men is good; I'm more than double. My triglycerides are 48, which is very low, considering 150 is the level which causes concern; I'm less than 1/3 threshold. That low number is most likely due to my no-sugar, no-wheat, no-corn diet. But wait, I thought eating all that saturated fat makes a whole bunch of fat show up in your blood, right? Not if you're a fat-burning machine -- it gets consumed. Fat is dangerous when it is combined with wheat and sugars. (can you say doughnut?) because you're burning glucose, the fat is still floating around in your blood, then the sugar and wheat inflames your arteries creating lesions where the small dense LDL particles can lodge and start to build up into plaque.
So the total cholesterol of 233 is high, right? Well, people with cholesterol of 250 have heart attacks and so do people with 150. There is no direct correlation between high cholesterol and heart disease, in fact there is no correlation between high LDL and heart disease. A recent study of almost 140,000 patients admitted to the hospital for heart disease, almost half of them had LDL levels under 100 mg/dL. So the Lipoprotein(a) is the more serious one because that is the one that is sticky and collects on the arterial walls and promotes cardiac plaque. The issue is the definition of HIGH. Upon reading these results, I was a little scared that I was at 17 and the baseline is at 10. According to two sources, 30 mg/dL is considered elevated and one source said 20 mg/dL is to top of the normal range. Source 1 Track Your Plaque site and Source 2 NIH.gov. A quote from the prolipid.com site states this, "You may notice Lipoprotein(a) or Lp(a) on your medical chart. Lp(a) is a subtype of LDL, and individuals with high levels of Lp(a) or "very bad" LDL, appear to be at higher risk for heart disease. Researchers can't seem to agree on the exact level of "high" Lp(a), but most specialists consider a value of approximately 30 mg/dL (0.8 mmol/l) to be high."
The VLDL at 13, and VLDL-3 being low is encouraging. These are the small, sticky guys who cause problems with your arteries.
The good news is, a simple solution for lowering my LDL is available. It's Niacin, or vitamin B3. 500mg per day, some sources up to 3g, are recommended to lower Lp(a) up to 20-30%. I may choose to increase my niacin and see what that does to my numbers next year.
More to come, next week I'll be getting my physical with more numbers...stay tuned.
Tim & Lynette Jenné are learners first and foremost. We love to ask "why?" We question the status quo. We also love to research and find answers for ourselves. As parents of four adult children, we've learned a few things along the way that may be helpful to others. We love to live & eat clean, simple lives.