Benecol: Hi Just turned 59. Eat... - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

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JB1959 profile image


Just turned 59. Eat healthily, normal BP, swim twice a week & walk approx 10 miles per week

High cholesterol ( 8.2.. 2.26 HDL & 5.52 LDL)

I’m assuming it’s familial but not sure. No knowledge of heart attacks or strokes in the family. Dad lived to 92 & simply died of old age & Mum got cancer at 77

Q... what do you all think of going down the Benecol route before going on stations as suggested?

18 Replies

Hi JB.

Do some research into intermittent fasting and mediterranean, whole food, plant based diet and if it appeals to you, try it for few months than check your chollesterol again. Best speak to your GP, if they think you could try to lower your cholesterol with diet (your exercise seems sufficient), it's worth a try.

Some authorities say the single most important cholesterol metric is the ratio of HDL to total cholesterol, and that's a viewpoint that my GP subscribes to. Assuming your total cholesterol is 8.2, then it would mean your personal HDL ratio is 3.6.

That's actually pretty good, the target range is 1.0-4.0, so you're within those boundaries. And in terms of when the ratio starts signalling seriously high risk, I've heard both 5.0 and 6.0 stated as the critical red line, again you're well away from both of these.

You don't mention your weight. Along with lipid levels, BP, and resting pulse that's a key risk factor. You're probably familiar with BMI (Body Mass Index) however some authorities say BMI doesn't really reflect the impact of your natural body shape, and a better risk measure is your true waist measurement (which will probably have little relationship to your trouser waist measurement!), for men you really want this below 35" and for women below 32", some experts take a slightly different line and say your waist should be equal or less than half your height.

Going back to your original question. I'm with HB-HB, you can change your cholesterol levels, but to make a proper difference will require a significant and sustained change in diet rather than simply chugging a little bottle of Benecol every day!

MichaelJH profile image
MichaelJHHeart Star

Benecol is only likely to reduce your total cholesterol by 10% - 15% at most. Other dietary changes will have a bigger effect depending your current diet. One friend with high cholesterol cut out cooked breakfasts and fatty foods but still needed statins to get below 6.0!

BTW who measured it. I have heard of some quick tests offered by chemists being highly inaccurate!

JB1959 profile image
JB1959 in reply to MichaelJH

It was a proper fasting blood test at the doctors

MichaelJH profile image
MichaelJHHeart Star in reply to JB1959

That's good. There is a blood test for a genetic disposition that could be worth requesting.

Sorry to be a doommonger but I ate a Mediterranean diet; fasted (600 calories in 36 hours) weekly; exercised 90 minutes, 6 days a week (aerobic, weights and stretches), never smoked and moderate drinker. My Cholesterol and B.P were high but below the ratio for treatment and I certainly never wanted to take, or asked for medication. However I had a heart attack 11 weeks ago, have a 70% blocked artery and am now on 9 tablets a day. I don't think foods such as Benecol have any noticeable effect on cholesterol and in retrospect I wish I'd have been prescribed medication early to perhaps prevent my H.A. It's a really difficult decision to make but I recommend that you stay on this forum as there are some knowledgeable and supportive people on it and it's made a massive difference to my recovery.

Thank you for sharing. You’re right, you can never get too much info as Drs don’t have the time

Do you mind me asking your age?

I really hope you recover soon

Hi, I am 63. Walk average 10k per day, row, BMI 22. Ne er smoked. Healthy Vegetarian that likes veg. Don't eat proccessed or much sweet things. I had a heart attack in December. 9Only a minor one but now have a stent. Benecol is fine but I don't think it will reduce cholesterol by 4 points. Good luck.

JB1959 profile image
JB1959 in reply to Trinityzero

Do they think your cholesterol was a major factor? Or is there a family history?

Trinityzero profile image
Trinityzero in reply to JB1959

My cholesterol was 6.2 despite my best efforts. There is a family history.

Not sure that stuff does any good at all. After a Heart attack I got mine down from 5.8 to 3.2 by changing my diet and going almost Mediterranean; lots of fruit and veg, cooking with olive oil or rape seed oil in tiny amounts, cut out red meat and eat mostly chicken (Can't stand oily fish but that would be better). Nothing fried, no ready meals. BHF website has recipes that are easy changes.

If your GP is concerned about it and wants you to take statins, don't be afraid of all the scaremongering you may have heard. Yes, some do cause joint pain in some people. My husband had to stop taking them although the GP could have tried different ones. I take simvastatin no problems at all but got mine down before that by changing my diet.

DavidG1971 profile image
DavidG1971 in reply to Qualipop

Hi - did the statin reduce it again? I’ve just had a stent fitted, was around 6.3 and immediately onto statins. My diet wasn’t great before - I’ve cut out all the bad stuff, but because I’m on statins I’ll not know what made the difference if my number successfully comes down.

Qualipop profile image
Qualipop in reply to DavidG1971

Mine came down much more on statins- I think. I can't be 100% certain because of when the GP did the blood test but diet helped a lot. Looking back, my diet wasn't brilliant; addicted to crisps, tried to cook from fresh but my husband is a red meat and 2 veg man and pies pies and more pies. He even bought lard because he thought it was natural and therefore healthy !!!!!!!!! He has no choice now. We've had one pie in 6 months so I hope his has also come down and it helps his diabetes. If we are rushed and he wants fish and chips, I take the batter off and don't have chips or maybe just 4 on a slice of bread. The spread I use is mostly rape seed oil with some butter. Simple changes. I'm trying all sorts of things we've not had before like butternut squash noodles, sweet potato oven chips, courgettes, celeriac and using a lot of herbs and spices to get away from bland boring veg. Have you ever tried stir fried sprouts? Brilliant done in olive oil and sprinkled lightly with chilli flakes. I do allow myself bacon once a month and a beef roast once a month or so but no steak or fatty lamb, sausages or processed meats. Once I'd changed the meat we eat to chicken and turkey mostly and more fish, I found the rest easy and not a huge palate change.

DavidG1971 profile image
DavidG1971 in reply to Qualipop

I keep reading about plant based diets being best - but that would be tough for me. I’ve cut red meat (mostly) down to chicken and fish. Thanks for the tips.

Qualipop profile image
Qualipop in reply to DavidG1971

Oh goodness I could never go as far as all or even most plant. IT's about getting a sensible balance you can stick with.


Did his joint pain stop afterwards as I’ve heard some people carry on with the pains?!

I’ve had Atovastatin recommended

I really do eat healthily & never eat ready meals or takeaways

Think it’s familial in my case

Thanks for the info

My husband had joint pain on simvastatin. It went away when he stopped. He has no heart problems but his cholesterol was high. They didn't give him an alternative. I had to change atorvastatin because I had bad side effects. Swapped to simvastatin which is fine

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