LCHF and cholesterol

It has now gone exactly a year since I back in March 2012 changed my lifestyle to LCHF. For a year I haven’t eaten any large amounts of carbohydrates, but instead replaced them with a larger proportion of natural saturated fat, such as proper butter, eggs, coconut, full-fat cream, full-fat cheese, animal fats etc. By skeptics I was warned my blood vessels would clog up with fat, much like blocked sink drains. Skeptics also warned me my blood cholesterol levels would shoot dangerously high and result in life-threatening heart diseases. I decided not to listen to these skeptics.

Earlier this month I was invited to do a NHS Health Check, which is said to assess the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease by checking the cholesterol levels. A few days ago came the results and my GP went through them with me.

My GP informed me blood cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, often shortened to mmol/L. The UK government recommends that total cholesterol (TC) levels for healthy adults after an overnight fast should be 5mmol/L or less with levels of LDL being 3mmol/L or less and HDL being 1.2mmol/L or more. In the UK, two out of three adults have a total cholesterol level of 5mmol/L or above. On average, men in England have a cholesterol level of 5.5mmol/L. Further, the TC/HDL ratio is recommended to be 4.5 or less. That is, your total cholesterol divided by your HDL cholesterol. This means that the more HDL you have, the better.

After an overnight fast my TC level showed 4.9mmol/L with levels of LDL being 5.17mmol/L and HDL being 1.43 mmol/L. Although my TC level was a bit high but it was absolutely within what NHS recommends. A high TC can statistically mean a slightly higher risk of heart disease but it depends on several factors. Generally by eating a larger proportion of natural saturated fat the level of the “good” HDL cholesterol increases. A high level of the “good” HDL cholesterol means a significantly smaller risk of heart disease. Also, thanks to my positively high HDL cholesterol level, my TC/HDL ratio which was 3.4 was well within recommended levels.

Additionally the triglycerides level was also tested at the NHS Health Check. A low level of triglycerides is good. High levels are often related to high intake in carbohydrates. Triglycerides level higher than 1.7 is often a sign on metabolic syndrome and an increased risk of heart diseases. My triglycerides level showed 0.88, which was positively low.

So am I on the verge of dying, which skeptics warned me would happen by eating a larger proportion of natural saturated fat, such as proper butter, eggs, coconut, full-fat cream, full-fat cheese, animal fats etc? My GP told me my levels are absolutely fine and very healthy. With my total cholesterol level of 4.9mmol/L I am not part of the two out of three adults in the UK with a total cholesterol level of 5mmol/L or above. I am also well away from the average men in England who have a total cholesterol level of 5.5mmol/L.

Of course there is a lack of scientifically interest in cholesterol levels from just one single person. However considerably larger studies show the science within this field.

I informed my GP about the LCHF lifestyle and he admitted he agreed and understood in full about the positive impact a low-carb, high-fat diet has. He continued however, as a GP working for NHS there are restrictions and guidelines to follow. Although my GP agreed the LCHF lifestyle most probably would help many of his patients with obesity, he would not be allowed to officially give such recommendations due to our fat-scared and cholesterol obsessed society.

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