This is one of the most frequent questions I received since switching to Low Carb High Fat nutrition. It almost every time goes something in the line with “…your cholesterol must be off charts because of the high fat intake…” As it turns out, 2 common myths about heart disease are wrong, namely:
- Eating cholesterol and saturated fat raises cholesterol levels in the blood.
- High cholesterol in the blood is the cause of heart disease.
To argue against these two popular (and stubborn) myths is well out of this blogs scope, interested readers are therefore kindly referred to the works of i.e. Gary Taubes (Good Calories, Bad Calories), Robb Wolf (The Paleo Solution), Denise Minger (Death by Food Pyramid), Jimmy Moore (Cholesterol Clarity) or internet resources like blogs of Chriss Kressers, Denise Minger, Mark Sisson or Chris Masterjohn.
With some of common misconceptions out of the way, it’s also time for a disclaimer. I do not advocate measuring blood lipids, as they seem to be very poor indicators of general health. I perform these measurements manly because of curiosity and my geeky nature, as discussed many times before.
Unfortunately I don’t have any baseline lipid measurement directly before going LCHF, only some old results from regular check-ups in November 2010. After going LCHF in November 2012, I have measurements on roughly monthly basis for the first ¾ of the year and on roughly bimonthly basis thereafter.
One obvious remark that stands out of the diagram are elevated values of my total cholesterol in the first 6 months after going LCHF, mainly due to elevated LDL. But I do not worry about high LDL (or total cholesterol, for that matter), as with high HDL values and low triglycerides this is most certainly sign of elevated “large fluffy” LDL particles, that seem to be benign in cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately it would take quite a financial investment to confirm this thesis, but as stated before, I do not worry about it.
Besides having much higher HDL levels and lower blood triglycerides levels, my ratios of blood lipid values on LCHF are also much better, with all three relevant ratios in the Ideal range. Hence I sleep like a baby 😉
And if you are a bit of skeptic trying out LCHF yourself and you are worried about higher cholesterol levels, you can check out What to do if a Low-Carb Diet Raises Your Cholesterol.
- Total cholesterol: 4,0 – 5,2 mmol/l
- LDL: 2,0 – 3,5 mmol/l
- HLD: >1,4 mmol/l
- Triglycerides: 0,6 – 1,7 mmol/l
- Total cholesterol / HDL ratio: preferably under 5,0 ideally under 3,5
- HDL / LDL ratio: preferably over 0,3 ideally over 0,4
- Triglycerides / HDL ratio: preferably under 4 ideally under 2