Lipid panel says I reduced cholesterol... - Cholesterol Support

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Lipid panel says I reduced cholesterol from 320 to 171 in 6 weeks. Is that even possible?


My blood tests have always shown CHO on the high side but doctors have always told me not to worry about it because I was young (mid-30s) and otherwise healthy (175 lbs, 6 ft) and quite active, and my good CHO # was very high as well. But 6 weeks ago my Dr. was shocked to find that my CHO was ~325. He had me come in the next morning to repeat the test in a fasted state to double-check and # was slightly lower (315) but still alarmingly high, which he seemed rather worried by and booked me an appt for later in Feb with an endocrinologist.

I switched immediately from my typical meat-heavy diet to a 100% whole-food plant-based vegan diet (quite a change!), and got a new lipid panel yesterday, which (amazingly) showed:

Total: 171

HDL: 71

LDL: 85

Needless to say, I'm very happy, though somewhat suspicious since what little I've read online suggests that a 47% reduction in < 6 weeks is...atypical bordering on impossible.

Haven't posted here before, but wondering if those with more experience than me think this is...feasible or should I have reason to be suspicious?

8 Replies

Believe it. My total cholesterol wasn't that high, but it was just over 250 about a year ago. Went whole food plant-based, and within a month it was and still is below 130. It was 128 when I had it checked 3 months ago. Keep the refined concentrated oils very low and don't eat refined sugars. In other words "whole foods" and you'll do great. I'm 60 and my blood pressure is 117/65.

There are videos on Youtube about it and I remember one about a guy who got his below 90 which his doctor said was actually too low. But from what I've learned, it isn't. It's just that what we consider a normal range is really too high if you compare it to remote tribes that eat plant-based diets and have no heart disease. I'll try to find that video again.


David, welcome to the Cholesterol forum.

Your story is interesting and believable. A whole-foods, plant-based diet is very helpful to reducing inflammation in the body. The fact that your previous diet was that extreme probably plays a role in the magnitude of the decline.

I would guess though that the dietary change that made the most significant impact was giving up sugar, simple carbs and processed foods. The fiber heavy nature of a plant-based diet also significantly contributed to your improved lipid biomarkers.

To be certain that this last test result was accurate, simply repeat the test and compare.

I did something similar but my starting point wasn't as high.

Make sure you monitor your micronutrients through periodic blood tests so ensure you have a balanced diet that leads to a healthy gut microbiome.

Read this:

Also monitor your B12 and Vitamin D levels regularly.

Good luck and let us know if you repeat the test, and report your results.

in reply to sos007

Thanks all for the replies. Glad to know my results are at least plausible :)

The curious thing, though, is that while some suspect that the drastic improvement was probably in large part due to ditching processed foods / refined sugars, my prior diet was actually extremely low on those things; yes, definitely high in fat, but almost zero sugar, plenty of vegetables, mostly meats and fish; close to what some people would consider paleo or keto. Was probably higher in dairy than I usually am, but I wasn't starting from all that bad a place (i didn't think at least.) In any case, thanks for the replies; definitely encouraging to know that change like this is possible if my C #'s ever start to creep up again.

in reply to DavidBanes

Given that, I would guess the high-fat content of your diet was to blame for the high cholesterol. Paleo isn't the best diet to follow IMO. Keto might be ok for a few weeks but, again, the high-fat content would worry me a lot. Despite the latest "fat is good" craze, too much just isn't. I get oils from eating nuts, seeds, avocados etc. I get my omega 3 from ground flax seeds and supplements (algae-based, not fish oil which can be contaminated with mercury, etc.)

in reply to DavidBanes

Get your LDL-P (particle) number measured (NMR Lipoprofile test - privately done - about $100 USD). Among the lipid values available for clinical assessment, this is the most indicative of cardiovascular risk. If you have a low LDL-P but a high LDL-C, the LDL-P value would be considered more relevant.

With respect to Paleo and Keto - especially Keto, there is more emphasis on 'healthy fats' such as olive oil, avocado, omega 3 fatty acids, Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT), etc...

My experience anecdotally with people who have done both is that Keto reduced risk better than Paleo.

Red meat consumption has other potential negative implications such as increasing your ferritin level which results in oxidation of your organ tissues and accelerates aging.

Dairy is considered an inflammatory food so its best to keep consumption to lower levels.

Best of luck with your progress and please update us as time goes on.

Congrats on getting your C down in such a short time, those numbers are very good. When I was about 45 yo I got mine down from 240 to 185 in about four weeks using a Niacin supplement, eating oatmeal with flaxseed, and drinking more water. However recently I went plant/fish for four months and my TC and LDL went up 20pts! So getting off meat/eggs/milk doesn’t work for everyone!

in reply to timotur

Switching from red meat to white - chicken or fish - doesn't lower fat intake as much as people believe. For example, in 100 grams (about 3.5 oz):

Chuck shoulder steak: 1.9 grams of saturated fat and 6 grams of total fat

Skinless chicken thigh: 2.6 grams of saturated fat and 9.2 grams of total fat

Canned white tuna: 1.3 grams of saturated fat and 5.1g total

Salmon (cooked in dry heat): 0.9 grams of saturated fat and 4.7 total

Trout (cooked dry heat): 1.2 grams of saturated fat and 7.2 total

in reply to JAS9

JA, thank you, yes, after my last cholesterol test, I realized that substituting fish for red meat is not going to make a big difference, so I've cut back and only eat it twice a week. When I do eat red meat, I choose grass-fed tri-tip which has the lowest fat content of any cut of beef. I cook it in a pressure cooker and remove most of the fat left after the cooking process. Also, I stopped eating peanut butter out of a jar because it has relatively high fat content, about 8g per two tblsp with 2g of saturated.

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