Utilizing the standard cholesterol lipid panel alone cannot provide you with an assessment of your overall health. However certain things can be determined. If your objective is to minimize the risk of cardiovascular disease then it is best to keep (TG) triglycerides (fat in the blood generated by the consumption of simple carbohydrates, especially sugar) as low as possible.
"Elevation in the ratio of TG to HDL-c was the single most powerful predictor of extensive coronary heart disease among all the lipid variables examined."*
*Source: medical study: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl...
As a general guide, you optimally want your triglycerides below 0.8 mmol/l.
HDL-C initiates a process called 'reverse cholesterol transport' and helps clear LDL-C from the body. Optimally, you want to have this value above 1.55 mmol/l.
Overall, the ratio of TG/HDL should be <0.87.**
By lowering your TG, you will automatically lower your LDL-C, but more importantly, you will lower LDL-P (particle number) which is a more relevant CVD risk metric than LDL-C.^
Other behaviours that will lower LDL-P and triglycerides include, exercise, a low carbohydrate diet and increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids.##
Omega 3 fatty acids are abundant in cold-water fish such as wild-caught salmon as well as in extra-virgin olive oil, and walnuts among other foods.
A low carbohydrate diet will force your body to burn more body fat for fuel and will result in fat loss, and likely overall weight loss which will also lower your blood pressure and the burden placed on your heart.
General heart-healthy guidelines:
If you smoke, quit. If you drink alcohol, limit consumption to 3 glasses per week. Avoid processed foods, avoid juices and soft-drinks, and avoid sugar. Eat more vegetables, legumes (beans, chick peas, green peas, lentils, almonds), berries, and especially leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables like arugula and broccoli.
Exercise daily - target at least 30 to 60 minutes for a brisk walk.
Sugar is toxic to the human body, in the short term by negatively impacting your gut microbiome and in the long-run by creating an inflammatory state in your arteries that result in an immunological response by your body which triggers the process of atherogenesis.***
To make changes to your dietary and lifestyle habits it is necessary to initiate an accountability process. For lifestyle, get a wearable fitness tracker like a Fitbit or equivalent product. For dietary accountability, get a quarterly blood-test to monitor changes in your biomarkers.
Other important biomarkers for CVD risk include:
- LDL-P or ApoB
- Lp-pla2 or PLAC test;
- hb-A1C - average blood glucose over last 3 months;
- ALT - proxy for liver fat
- Uric acid - proxy for sugar in the diet
Good luck to all.
P.S. The picture of the salad was taken at 'The Ivy' a restaurant located near the Tower Bridge in London. The base of the salad is watermelon, it was excellent, as was the service.