Another Look at Cholesterol Tests [Health Fallacies]

Having read and written about The Great Cholesterol Myth, it had actually been a while since I had taken a test and could understand my results.

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When I got this last week, I was of course worried. (H Flags denote issues) I had been on a (lower) carb diet since 2013, and in the process had dropped over 20 pounds. For the most part I do not eat rice, bread, potatoes, or drink soda or beer, though if I am being social or go out to eat, I consume more of all those. During the last year at Kellogg, I have not been the best at working out (during the Fall, I occasionally played basketball and swam, during the winter, I did nothing and broke my finger during basketball, during the Spring, I swam), but I wondered if I was just super stressed out (I feel reasonably fine) or if I was doomed for heart problems down the road. After a restless night, I remembered that the book argued that traditional cholesterol benchmarks were based on faulty research(read the book to see the extensive history of traditional cholesterol tests and disproving research), and I needed to check my findings with the book’s.

If, for example, your triglycerides are 150 mg/dL and your HDL is 50 mg/dL, you have a ratio of 3 (150:50). If your triglycerides are 100 mg/dL and your HDL is 50 mg/dL, you have a ratio of 2 (100:50). This ratio is a far better predictor of heart disease than cholesterol ever was. In one study out of Harvard published in Circulation, a journal published by the American Heart Association, those who had the highest triglyceride-to-HDL ratios had a whopping sixteen times the risk of developing heart disease as those with the lowest ratios.1 If you have a ratio of around 2, you should be happy, indeed, regardless of your cholesterol levels. (A ratio of 5, however, is problematic.)

My Triglycerides : HDL ratio is .84, well below the happy ratio of 2, where the lower ratio is best. WIN!

A cholesterol level of LDL 160 mg/dL or less has been linked to depression, aggression, cerebral hemorrhages, and loss of sex drive.

My LDL is 172. WIN! (The book explains that cholesterol drugs lower LDL, are actually inflammatory drugs, and that memory loss is a side effect of these drugs)

Triglyceride levels higher than 120 mg/dL and HDL levels below normal (less than 40 mg/dL in men and less than 50 mg/dL in women) are usually associated with the small, dense, atherogenic LDL particles you don’t want!

I am both well beyond these levels (Triglycerides is 63 < 120, HDL is 75 > 40). WIN!

Thus, now I can feel a lot better about things. The only thing I wish I had gotten was a LDL particle size test, which was not included in my physical results. If you need help interpreting your results or in better understanding cholesterol’s impact on health, definitely check out The Great Cholesterol Myth or my blog post about 10 Things to Learn from the book!

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