T Nation

Inherited High Cholesterol

My father is 72 years old and weighs abo9ut a buck sixty (skinny) He drinks a lot but is really active walking 18 holes a day playing golf (no carts) He is a vegeterian and does has not eaten meat for about18 years and yet he still has high cholesterol and has to take medication. I was told this is an inherited condition.
I am an active big guy and follow a ketogenic and/or cyclical ketogenic diet year round due to being very sensitive to insulin and type II diabetes running in the family.
Question: Am I screwed? Are people like Atkins right about lowering cholesterol through lowering car intake? He did have a heart problem a while back
Question: Do Protein powders contain anything (i.e., tropical oils) that would be bad for cholesterol?


The correlation between cholesterol and heart disease is terrible. My exercise science professor did an informal study at Wake Forest where they took blood samples and then sent each sample to three different labs. each lab sent back a different result. there were up to a hundred point difference in some of the samples. i wouldnt put much stock in cholesterol readings.

Adding to what Goldberg said, there is a growing opinion among doctors and scientists that cholesterol is not a good indicator of heart disease. Trigliceryde(sp?)levels are the best indicator… but pharmaceutical companies haven’t figured out a way to make any bread off that yet, so there just pumping everyone full of their cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Anyway, my understanding is that there hasn’t been any conclusive evidence that higher cholesterol means higher risk of heart disease. I wouldn’t be chalking yourself up for an early death just because your dad has high cholesterol. Some might even argue that one of the reasons your dad has high cholesterol is because he’s vegetarian and gets very little cholesterol in his diet, therefore his body produces much more which drives up his numbers.

Blood studies are fairly complicated and the results are mixed, but one lab (Berkely Heart Lab) is doing some amazing stuff when it comes to blood lipid studies.

They not only look at total, HDL, LDL, trigs but the various subfractions. There are actually 7 different HDL particles and 5 different LDL particles.

This kind of testing really paints the full picture. For instance, if you have a larger amount of small LDL particles, your risk will be significantly increased for CAD as compared to someone with larger LDL particles. There are many more examples like this.

For more information on this kind of testing, check out www.bhlinc.com

I agree with most of what has been said above. Just thought that I’d add too things:

  1. Cholesterol is as much, if not more, a result of saturated fat intake than actual dietary cholesterol. As such, the Atkins diet as it is written (loads of bacon, marbled red meat, and whole eggs) is certainly not ideal for an optimal blood lipid profile. However, one can adapt this diet (e.g. healthier high fat/ketogenic diets) so that they actually assist in decreasing cholesterol. Just take a look at the Mediterranean diet, or that of cold water fish eating people in Greenland, Japan, or anywhere else for that matter. Eat eggs in moderation, choose lean meats, and substitute healthier fats (fish oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil) for some of the saturated, and you can see fantastic results.

  2. I’m not a big fan of the statement “type II diabetes running in the family.” I’ll concede that there is a genetic component to the type II version of the disease, but I’ll argue to the death that this genetic component can be controlled, if not completely beaten. The vast majority of type II diabetics are diabetic because they chose an unhealthy lifestyle (devoid of exercise, high in processed carbs/simple sugars, saturated fats, and stimulants). Obesity in itself decreases insulin sensitivity, too. Common sense is the best way to prevent it.

  3. Also, you said that you follow “a ketogenic and/or cyclical ketogenic diet year round due to being very sensitive to insulin.” If you were sensitive to insulin, you would do better on a higher carb diet. I think you have it backwards; people who don’t tolerate carbs well are INsensitive to insulin. This insensitivity to insulin is one of the reasons that type II diabetics have chronically elevated blood glucose.

  4. “Lowering car intake?” Did I miss the latest Appetite for Construction column? Are we now eating automobiles for our protein and fat meals?

Heart disease is caused mainly to lipoprotein A (Lp(a)). In turn build up is caused by a vitamin C deficiency. All plaque begins with a lesion, and Lp(a) pinch hits for Vitamin C when it is not provided in adequate amounts to make collagen for lesion repair. Your body makes Lp(a) from LDL cholesterol and Apoprotein(a). Every species on this planet makes 60 mg of Vitamin C per kilo of bodyweight minus humans, fruit bats and some others I cannot recall. Two twime Nobel prize winner Linus Pauling suggests taking mulitple grams of Lp(a) inhibitors such as vitamin C and the amino acids L-lysine and L-proline.

I would also like to know the second half of the original question concerning protein powders… anyone?

“Do Protein powders contain anything (i.e., tropical oils) that would be bad for cholesterol?”

The answer to your question is on all the labels. Read the ingredients, look at the label and consider how much you eat. For instance, if a protein powder has 4g of fat and partially hydrogenated soybean oil is fairly high on the ingredient list, then it is time to find a new protein powder. Especially if you use several scoops a day.

Although some powders are bad, the major problem occurs with bars. Bars are loaded with sugar and hydrogenated oils. Honestly, there is not one bar on the market that I feel comfortable eating. But there are lots of protein powders and MRPs that are ok.