20-Somethings - high cholesterol levels--what to do?

09-29-2008, 08:35 PM
I just got a call from my doctor with my lab results. My thyroid is fine so I don't need to increase the medication (hypothyroid) but my cholesterol is elevated. They haven't sent me a copy yet but I think what she said was that my total number is 204 and my LDL is 140. So I guess that would make my HDL 64? Seriously I am freaking out here. I'm only 29 and I didn't think I would be getting these types of numbers. I don't even know anything about cholesterol other than that the LDL is bad and you can have a heart attack with high numbers. My doctor is sending me a diet to go on. I thought I have been doing a good job getting healthy so this is really devastating to me.

I'm 30 lbs overweight but I'm losing slowly-- I walk everyday and do some strength training dvds once or twice a week. I cook nearly everything we eat and get about 30 grms of fiber a day, no juice or pop, no refined flours only whole grains, red meat 1x a week, only olive oil, vegetable oil, and coconut oil for cooking, hardly any butter, no fast food, no starchy food, and eat lots of vegetables and fruit. I get maybe 1-2 servings of dairy per day, usually 1% milk and yogurt or cheese. Oh I'm breastfeeding a 3 mo old as well. I do eat chocolate but I try to limit snacks. What am I doing wrong?

Any advice appreciated. :stress:

Oh I have to go back in 6 months to get my levels checked again.

09-29-2008, 08:45 PM
It doesn't really sound like you are doing anything wrong. The more I read, the more I'm convinced that elevated cholesterol means absolutely nothing. The only thing I would change is to cut out the vegetable oil and just stick with the olive and coconut.

09-29-2008, 09:48 PM
You may be interested in reading this:
You may also want to read Dr. Malcolm Kendrick's book The Great Cholesterol Con.
Here's a brief video of him speaking on cholesterol & heart disease:

There are a few articles you may be interested in reading regarding cholesterol.

Another interesting article: http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/b/2008/09/29/small-dense-ldl-cholesterol-my-be-the-real-killer.htm

Just out of curiousity, what were your triglycerides? Those are the important numbers.

09-29-2008, 10:11 PM
I just did a 12 page paper on Quaker Oats (it was really quite boring) but there is a lot of info about oats reducing cholesterol. Both old fashioned and instant give the same results but it is 100% proven that it helps. Maybe you can try eating oatmeal a few times a week.. I've tried it with splenda instead of sugar, its really not too bad. Good luck!

09-29-2008, 10:33 PM
Do you take a multi-vitamin? I have seen studies that suggest vitamin C can lower cholesterol as good as some medications. Exercise can help as well.

I'm starting to believe that the medical profession doesn't really know what causes high cholesterol. I wouldn't freak too much, people who have heart attacks typically have many risk factors, not just one.

09-29-2008, 10:48 PM
Mmm I´ve read that a healthy cholesterol range is up to 200... that means you´re just 4 points above the healthy range. I don´t think is that bad, I mean it will be great if you can have less than 200 but don´t freak out, and I think tat if you continue eating right it will go down.
Do you know how much you had before starting eating healthy?

09-29-2008, 11:27 PM
Maybe Cheerios? I hear it also helps!

09-30-2008, 12:34 AM
I just did a 12 page paper on Quaker Oats (it was really quite boring) but there is a lot of info about oats reducing cholesterol. Both old fashioned and instant give the same results but it is 100% proven that it helps. Maybe you can try eating oatmeal a few times a week.. I've tried it with splenda instead of sugar, its really not too bad. Good luck!

Really! I LOVE OATMEAL! I eat it with a 1 1/2 teaspoons of brown sugar oh yum. Why is is helpful though?

09-30-2008, 08:25 AM
You may also be interested in reading this article regarding coconut oil & its benefit on cholesterol:)

09-30-2008, 08:29 AM
I know there's a lot of talk about coconut oil and its benefits right now, but I'm not 100% sold on it. It's super high in saturated fat, and some studies have shown that it's just as bad (or almost as bad) for your cholesterol levels as saturated fat from animal sources (while others have shown that it's not bad at all). If I had high cholesterol, I'd leave it out just to be safe, but it's up to you which studies you believe.

Overall, it sounds like you're doing everything right. Some people have naturally high cholesterol, for genetic reasons. Is there any history of that in your family? Sometimes people can eat very healthy and maintain a low weight and STILL need cholesterol-lowering medications. It's unfortunate, but nothing to feel bad about.

How long has it been since your cholesterol was tested last? How long have you been eating healthy and losing weight? It could be that your cholesterol was worse before and you didn't know it (scary!), and this reflects an improvement.

09-30-2008, 08:30 AM
Really! I LOVE OATMEAL! I eat it with a 1 1/2 teaspoons of brown sugar oh yum. Why is is helpful though?

Basically, oatmeal is rich in water-soluable dietary fiber which is believed to be very beneficial in lowering LDL ("bad" cholesterol) levels.

09-30-2008, 08:32 AM
Just keep doing what you're doing and add in oats and whole grains. Fiber really helps! Oh, and try drinking some of that orange juice with the plant sterols in it. These and exercise have helped me get down my cholesterol.

Plus remember that sometimes, genetically, some people's cholesterol is a little higher than others.

And to make you feel a wee bit better: After getting out of college (and losing 20lbs--went from 153 to 133), I went to get my physical and my cholesterol was 250!!! Turns out that even though I had been walking everyday and losing weight, I was still eating the school's horrid food. So by adding the oats and cholesterol reducing OJ, my cholesterol is ALMOST down to normal. It's taken two years, but it's better than what it was.

So hang in there! You're only 4 points over 200--which as someone already mentioned, 200 and below is desirable. :hug: Keep up with the exercise and healthy foods and you'll see a drop.

09-30-2008, 09:13 AM
I don't even know anything about cholesterol other than that the LDL is bad and you can have a heart attack with high numbers.


09-30-2008, 02:10 PM
Looks like jerseryGyrl and I are thinking along the same lines. :D

09-30-2008, 05:55 PM
Thanks for all the replies. I've never had my cholesterol checked before, so I figured now was a good time to do it. My husband suggested that maybe they were super high before and now that I have been eating better (maybe the last 6 mo or so?) they have come down from whatever they were before. I'll just keep doing what I have been. We eat lots of whole grains and oatmeal but I don't eat oats every day. I can definitely add a bit more in, though. I try to have a varied diet because I am breastfeeding. I do take a prenatal vitamin so I am sure I am getting enough vit C if I miss out on some fruits/green vegetables. The receptionist at the doctor is sending me a copy of the lab report so I can see the rest of the numbers like my triglycerides, etc. I'll post back when I get those.

I am sort of more confused now than ever. I poked around the internet about the link between breastfeeding and higher cholesterol levels. There wasn't really anything scientific that I could find, but my guess is that I have high levels of cholesterol in my blood in order to make milk. Breastmilk is high in cholesterol because babies need it for brain development. I do think it would be better to be in the normal range, though. Well, now I will just use this number as a baseline to make sure it does not go any higher. I will definitely be checking them again in a few years after baby is weaned to see what they are.

Thanks for taking the time to post the links--I'm not sure what I think about Weston Price--mostly woo if you ask me. I hope I don't offend anyone but I don't think a lot of it is sound advice (not looking to debate or anthing, just skeptical). I'm all for things in moderation, but WAP seems a bit to the extreme. WAP is all about "Traditional Foods", right? I mean, I'm not a hunter-gatherer walking 15-20 miles a day occasionally running for my life from wild animals. Also, there is no way I could afford organic butter, grass fed raw cows milk, and heritage meats.

09-30-2008, 11:52 PM
I got the lab results in the mail today.
Cholesterol: 204
Triglycerides: 56
VLDL: 11
LDL: 140
HDL: 53
Cholesterol/HDL Ratio: 3.8

09-30-2008, 11:59 PM
You are barely over the desirable level for cholesterol (only 4 points) and your HDL and Triglycerides look like they're where they should be. So just keep doing what you are doing and see if the over all number comes down.

Here's a link that explains what is considered low or high:


10-01-2008, 11:10 AM
Hi Liane,

I refered Weston Price basically to explain about cholesterol...not to actually promote their diet:) Books like Gary Taubes Good Calories Bad Calories & Dr. Malcolm Kendrick's The Great Cholesterol Con are invaluable when it comes to explaining the true issues of cholesterol.

You may be interested in reading these articles by Dr. Al Sears, MD

Personally, your cholesterol looks fine with the exception of your LDL being "borderline high" at 140. Dietary changes, exercise & supplements such as fish oil, garlic, niacin & green tea can be very beneficial in lowering your LDL (bad cholesterol)

Your triglycerides look great! You may find this article helpful regarding triglycerides:

I hope you find all this information helpful:)

All the best to you!!:hug:

10-01-2008, 02:34 PM
Oh, ok! Glad no one was offended. I am sure WAP's diet can work for certain people but I do better without so much saturated fat and I would like to get that LDL lowered. Thanks for posting all the links. I think I know a little more about cholesterol now--at first I thought I shouldn't have had it tested at all but it's not scary anymore> knowledge is power, right? LOL

10-16-2009, 06:16 AM
Hullo, thought I would bump my own thread. It's been a year since my last cholesterol freak-out post so here's an update.

My LDL went down by 19 pts! My total cholesterol is now 187, which is within normal limits. I need to drop my LDL down 22 more points for it to be in the normal range so I think I can do that in another year! My blood test must have been kind of weird since I just had a baby, or maybe just a year of exercise has helped. I'm going to try and cut out fatty red meat and high fat dairy completely (bye bye ice cream) and that should do it.