My cholesterol is 12.5 but my BP is normal. Want to reduce it without statins. Can diet alone lower a very high cholesterol?

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43 Replies

  • Hi Bambat,
    12.5 is high enough to whizz you into the FH you know if you have it? I know Tricia on this site got hers down from 11 using the Portfolio diet, but to be honest I'm not sure you would get that level down using diet alone.
  • Hi Aliwally
    I don't know if I have it. Poor Tricia still has a high cholesterol. Am going to look into this diet and get active. Have spent the winter under the electric blanket watching rubbish. Thank you very much for the diet tip.
  • Hi Barmbat, my pre medication cholesterol is 14.8, BP normal.

    Using diet alone I was able to bring it down to the mid 10's. I was simultaneously referred to a specialist as the levels were so high (as are yours)

    I would ask to be referred to a specialist and request the gene test for FH.
    Have a quick look at the HEART UK fact sheet which details the Simon Broome criteria for FH - it can be found here:
  • Hi Traci
    My goodness, that's high! Did you have any symptoms? I hope the specialist is able to help you get it down even further. Will definately look at the fact sheet.. I wish you well. Thank's for the information.
  • Hi Barmbat, I showed one symptom and that was a baggy, fatty lump on my elbow. I had showed it to my Dr some 18 months prior to my cholesterol test but he said he didn't know what it was and if it grows come back!

    I only had the test done because my workplace was offering free 'lifestyle' checks. All my other tests were fine - Blood pressure, blood sugar etc. It came as a total surprise to me, but not so much to my parents who have since advised me that they both have high cholesterol! My Dad had a stroke in his early fifties which should also have been a warning!

    My levels went down to 2.4 but I have since changed my meds and so have risen again to 5 point something, I am confident they will come down again though!

    Good luck!
  • Hello Traci: Congratulations on getting it down so low. I think it'll be a life-time of careful diet and exercise from now. The fatty deposit on your elbow was a real missed warning sign.

    Keep up the good work
  • Hello there, I'm no Health Professional but would doubt that you can reduce such a high level without statins. I think you need to talk to your GP and experts and get good advice.

    My level was 7.8 originally earlier last year and I've got it down to circa 5, I was originally put on the highest dose of Atorvastatin which messed up my liver function. I was then put on Rusavastatin which my Consultant recommended I take every other day, I'm also on Omacor and have modified my diet to exclude cheese, crisps and pies/ pastries. You need to eat plenty of oily fish - mackerel etc.

    Best of luck
  • Hello Mike
    My GP had these results nine months ago but told me my blood results were normal I found out by accident that my cholesterol was high. He did suggest statins but I know the side effects can be nasty. Well done for getting it down to 5. Just the mention of cheese, crisps and pastries makes my mouth water. Will avoid Atorvastatin. Hope the liver has repaired itself.
  • I think an up to date test is in order, a lot can change in 9 months. I would make an appointment to get your bloods done and see what your current levels are.
  • Traci, I had a blood test this morning. I'm having an appointment to discuss results. We Brits have go a bad case of "nice" disease but I've realised that it can kill you. I was brought up in an age when "girls should be seen and not heard" and Doctors' were Gods.
  • Hi Bambat

    Aliwally is right I got mine down from 11 to about 7 using the Portfolio Diet between Oct 2010 and June 2011. I haven't had another test yet and have had Christmas and a week's holiday where I had cream and cheesecake so it may not be good. The dietitian at Heart UK who recommended the Portfolio thinks I won't get it down to 5 without medication and said it would only work for me if I was totally strict, which I haven't been lately. I was also told I need to do an hour's exercise every day which I haven't managed but that will become my main focus when I retire in a few months time.Perhaps I need the retest to scare me into doing it properly again.

    The Portfolio is based on soya, almonds, oats/soluble fibre and stanol/sterol supplements which leaves you to work out how to incorporate those into your diet. The Ultimate Cholesterol Lowering Plan (UCLP) is almost the same as the Portfolio but it doesn't seem to have been advertised to the public yet, you can find the info in the Health Professionals section of the website. The difference is in approach, getting you to add as many of the foods as you feel comfortable with rather than an all or nothing approach.

    I have silken tofu mixed with oatbran plus Flora or Benecol stanol yogurt drink for breakfast, plus a firm tofu stir fry at night and for lunches have ryebread and either salads or an egg and twice a week oily fish, plus I have loads of fruit and only use soya milk. Tofu has virtually no flavour but by ringing the changes with different vegetables and flavourings I have managed to make it interesting and am quite happy with the diet. I rarely eat meat now but for special treats have things like venison and usually have fish if we eat out. I could be more adventurous with recipes, I've been buying vegetarian cookery books but don't like cooking so at the last minute sling it all in a pan with a spoonful of rapeseen oil. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get tofu on La Palma in the Canaries but in fact their varieties are better than I can get in Sainsbury's, being less watery and with curried, Italian and smoked flavour available. Although they are usually more expensive I'm going to look at some of the health food shops to see if I can find better varieties here. If I stick to the diet I lose weight but unless I pack them into 1 oz portions I tend to nibble from the almond packet all day. By reducing sugar my partner has reduced his blood sugar levels to normal from prediabetic levels.


  • Waitrose and Holland and Barratt near me both stock silken, smoked, basil and almond(I think?) tofu, as well as the common type, but they're scattered throughout Waitrose: some with the pates, some with the allergy foods, some with the oriental.
  • Thanks DakCB-UK
    I'll check those out. There isn't a Waitrose in our part of Yorkshire but my partner has a flat near one in London. I have to trek down to the other end of town for H&B so might save some for an occasional treat.
  • Hello Tricia
    Thank you so much for the diet tips. I'm off to Morrisons now to stock up on tofu, soya and oats. Hope you're not getting sunburnt in La Palma uuurrggg! Frosty and cold here. I hope you have a happy and healthy retirement.
  • My own view is that our species evolved as omnivores eating predominantly meat, fish, eggs, greens, berries, nuts and seeds. We can tolerate other foods, but they shouldn't constitute a major part of our diet.

    Typically only 15% of blood cholesterol is related to diet. The vast majority is made by the liver. All cells need cholesterol.

    Such high levels may be hereditary, or your body may be fighting disease.
  • I completely agree. We're just primitive animals under the civilised veneer (some more than others). I ' m changing my views about the danger of every-day foods we consume.
  • Good luck Barmbat. I hope it works for you.

    No I'm back now in dear old Blighty. I was only there a week to treat my SAD but it returned 4 days after I got back. It was (relatively) cold there too, with no heat in the apartment and not enough blankets but we managed and the scenery was glorious.

    Trying to catch up on the work backlog so retirement feels a long way away but thanks for your good wishes.
  • I thought you might be lucky enough to live there. I think you'll feel a lot better when you retired and hopefully you can escape the cold and the bills every winter too.
  • Dear Bambat

    it sounds like you are getting a lot of good advice from other contributors to this site which is fantastic.

    Thanks to Traci for pointing out the Simon Broome diagnostic criteria - it might be useful to show these to your GP. There are some secondary causes of high cholesterol such as some medications and an underactive thyroid but if these are ruled out then the most likely cause is FH. A total cholesterol over 7.5 and an LDL over 4.9 are suggestive of FH. Family history of premature heart disease in a close family relative (below 65 in a woman - mum or sister and 55 in a man - father or brother) is another indicator of FH.

    Has your GP referred you to a clinic for a formal diagnosis, if not then you should ask him to do so. Check out our lipid clinics page to see where you nearest clinic is A referral and diagnosis is important not only for you, but it also kick starts the process of finding other family members who might also have FH.

    The clinic may well advise you to try the diet first, to see how well you can lower your cholesterol through this route, before commencing the appropriate level of medication to bring your cholesterol levels down further to normal levels. Even the strictest adherence to the portfolio diet and a renewed exercise regime is unlikely to lower your cholesterol to normal on its own.

    The original portfolio diet had a 20-30% cholesterol lowering effect at best so could bring you down to around 8 or 9 if you were able to stick to it long term. The more potent statins can lower cholesterol by up to 60%.

    If you want to talk any of this over please do call our helpline. 0845 450 5988
    You can find our FH booklet here:
    And here is a helpful short film:
  • Dear Linda - I can't thank the contributors enough for the great advice; including your own. I'm going to digest what I've read and get healthy.
  • Hi Bambat, Have you had your Dr break your figures down to LDL and HDL levels. If the majority of your figures are LDL this is not good, but if your HDL "good" chloresterol is good and high (over 2.0) then this shows that the body is getting rid of the LDL . I have found during this past year that a dairy free, oats high diet seems to be doing the trick. Replace your milk with soya or oat milk and if you are a yogurt eater soya yogurt. You will have to rethink your eating and you will find that milk is in all sorts of unsuspecting places in your diet!!! It has paid off though and my levels are going the right way for me."Pure" spread - soya only - for your toast, and sandwiches and no cheese. Watch your processed food and "ready" meals, full of dairy!!!!
    Give it 6 months. A long time I know but it will take this long to see definite results. Do you take supplements? I do. Fish oil, multivitamin, glucosamine for the joints and calcium to replace the dairy (most replacement milks have calcium but you must have Vitamin D to help absorbtion.) These have certainly helped me to get my LDL level down and my HDL level up.

    First, and foremost, your Dr must advise you but I am loathe to say statins are the only answer. He will be the best judge. But ASK HIM ALL THE QUESTIONS. Write them down before you go so that you have a list of them to ask him at the appointment. You always remember a pertinent question when you leave the Surgery!!!!!

    All the best Patch 14
  • So true about questions after leaving surgery Patch. Have got some children's soya milk which tastes creamy and lush but has very few calories.
    Best wishes to you
  • If you seriously want to look at an alternative to statins then look at this website there is some great content on diet in these posts.But as most people will find as soon as you mention the "d" word,what it actually means is denial.Habits that have been generated over years are hard to break.If it was as easy as flicking a switch to change the habits of a lifetime then a lot of the problems that plaque modern society would not exist. Pharmaceutical drugs all have a plus side and a down side.So we should treat our bodies like they are our most valued possession,because if you don't have good health then nothing else matters.
  • Agree - you could be rich, thin and beautiful but it's all worthless without good health and peace of mind.
    Thank's for the sound advice
  • Most people tolerate statins quite well and these people tend not to use this site. I have been on statins for 22 years and on the maximum dose of Atorvastatin for 15 years, as I have remarked elsewhere. Statins will allow you to make much more modest changes to your diet and live a normal life. My levels have been reduced from 12 to under 5 at the last test, and most significantly I am still alive, unlike my father and a brother who died much younger than I am now.
  • Do you feel tired and depressed? I have met a couple of people on it who feel rotten.
  • No, I feel very good. Perhaps I should mention I had a triple bypass op 21 years ago, which was probably life-saving.
  • I think it is possible for diet alone to lower a very high cholesterol. I'm reminded of Robert Kowalski's 8-week Cholesterol Cure book. One of the major things from that was a high-oatbran diet and oatbran also features in the UCLP mentions above. I bake it into my bread - I think the basic recipe idea is on my profile page (click my name).

    But I'm sceptical that diet will work alone well enough for everyone. Some of us will probably need some medication.
  • Am getting that book!
  • Saw Linda's answer and looked up local lipid clinics. Blue marker showed one in Worcester but was also a pink marker in Pershore with no key to show what a pink marker meant?
  • I just looked on the map but it seems all the pink markers have now been removed. If I remember correctly the pink markers details where Aphereisis clinics were. Link about apheresis here:
  • Hi Traci - hope you are well. Have found a lipid clinic near me run by Dr Jonathan Morrell. Will ask to be referred at my next appointment. Considering that I had agina and such high level in the summer, am not sure how my Dr will respond. I might organise a private appointment, although I don't see why I should. This web site has really opened my eyes. Have found the information excellent. Enjoy the weekend.
  • you lucky so-and-so! I would love to have Jonathan Morrell as my lipid Dr!! I have his book and have briefly met him at conference. He is very knowledgeable and approachable - that is great news :)
  • Hi Traci,

    As someone who has made a concerted effort to adjust your diet, what are your thoughts about this item?
  • Hi Concerned,
    I have skim read it because friday night is curry and cobra night ;-)

    As I have the genetic mutation it really wouldn't matter how fantastic my diet was, I would still have high cholesterol. I changed all my food to wholewheat, cut out all extra sugars and fats, took no alcohol and ate fish like there was no tomorrow! After a month my results were still sky high (down from almost 15 to 10) and I had to admit that diet alone would not bring me within a healthy range.
    I relaxed back on the diet and started statins. My level came down to 2 point something. My diet is still very hit and miss and I don't beat myself up if I have a takeaway or a krispy kreme donut (or two!).

    I do however think eating healthily is important for your body and mind. But for those of us that have a genetic disposition, diet alone may never be the answer.
  • I appreciate you only had time to skim read. You seemed to have missed the drift that when people are told that wholewheat is healthy, what isn't being considered is that it is still sugar to your body.

    Rather than following a specific diet, or what authorities consider healthy eating, have you considered how far removed what you are eating is from being natural?

    As an example, when we're told to have rapeseed oil because of its beneficial monounsaturated oils, are you aware that these oils can only be chemically extracted? We weren't able to obtain those oils until that process was developed - progress?
  • The same's true of almost all fats. They have to be extracted from where they occur naturally (there is no schmaltz fruit tree, despite what you may have heard on 1 April) and almost all extractions involve a chemical process. Chemistry is a natural science. The opposite of natural is synthesised and rapeseed isn't synthetic.
  • Why did it take so long to develop rapeseed oil then, lol :-)
  • Not missed your drift, sorry I should have explained better.. I love pasta and rice and so was advised to swap to wholewheat which is better for me than regular pasta or white rice. I am not going to cut all refined foods from my diet so I am trying to find the healthier options.
  • I underwent some pre-diabetes training recently, the primary message of which was to keep carb intake between 10 and 14 portions per day (each portion containing 10g of carbohydrate). This is a good guideline for most people, with quantity and quality being important.
  • Have you been diagnosed as to which type of hypercholesterolaemia you are suffering from; if not you should be, as 12.5 is extremely high. If the cause is genetic (or familial) diet alone will not suffice. You do not say how long since you were diagnosed, but I presume the blood test has been repeated & also at a fasting level. Are you being treated at a specialist clinic? If not, ask for referral & take their advice. I am quite clued up about this subject as I was diagnosed with hyperbetalipoproteinaemia at the age of 28 & I am now 66. I have never followed a low fat diet. I hate this type of food & have always been slim & only recently been diagnosed with hypertension (not unusual at my age). Untreated, my cholesterol would be about the same level as yours. On therapy it is around the 4-5 mmol/l level, without having to tolerate a horrible diet regime. When I was first diagnosed in 1973 the normal range for cholesterol was 3.6 - 7.2 mmol/l, so you can see how they have brought the acceptable level down over the years. I have taken various therapies which have all worked well, without side effects. I currently take Crestor 40 mg. daily & Ezetrol l0 mg. daily. I have always been seen at a specialist lipid clinic at Manchester Royal Infirmary & it is very important to have expert advice.
  • Have no idea what mine is, was 7.6 after I had put myself on a low fat intake so what it was originally not sure. The gp at the time refused test even though I had yellow blobs under eyes..thats why low fat intake. later after statins having advers effects, and fibrates. At a different surgery now, have not been told about blood results since 2006 when gp said he wasnt bothered about statins.
  • Had cholestrol test done, will ask for copy this time later this week , should be fine.


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