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You already know that you can change your own health and maybe the health of those you love, so I want to share some more useful research information with you.

As I work with people who have developed complex and chronic health problems, I have been looking up the latest detail on what contributes to inflammation and heart disease, especially Low Density Cholesterol (LDL).

That led me to check out the research behind the rumours I kept hearing of high levels of LDL Cholesterol (LDL-C) in people on low carb or ketogenic diets (my most common recommendation, especially if a client had gestational diabetes, pre-diabetes; was overweight or had high blood pressure) and whether high LDL-C was an issue or not.

Having said all this, this newsletter does not constitute medical advice, but information on the nutritional and medical evidence that is out there that you may not have come across, and might be curious about. 

Always refer to your GP for medical advice, of course.

LDL and Cardiovascular Disease Risk

When it comes to fats and cardiovascular disease, it is super complicated, as the statin/cholesterol hypothesis camp is still very strong. However, cracks have been appearing in the walls ever since it was first cobbled together from cherry-picked data and plausible but incorrect logic.

In fact great chasms, with light shining through them – have been visible in the biochemistry for decades, if you knew where to look.

It turns out that some of the most important research findings and evidence that did not fit that cherry-picked data and incorrect logic, were deliberately hidden in basements and the backs of garages. 2, 3

They were only published after forensic work, getting the data out of old files, tapes and punch cards of huge and expensive studies, which were stored, not published and intentionally forgotten.  It was decades later, when someone, Christopher Ramsden, a medical investigator, was curious enough to ask what happened to those studies that were looking for a causal link. 2,3

I kid you not – this is not conspiracy theory – this is conspiracy fact.

The available research had already shown that people with higher LDL tend to live longer 4 – a paradox, apparently.

Those two enormous, unpublished studies from Sydney and Minnesota showed conclusively that people, especially after heart attacks, did significantly worse when they consumed corn oil and even olive oil – than the control group who ate what was then a normal diet, containing lard, butter and saturated fat.

These findings flatly contradicted the fallacious logic that eating saturated fat led to saturated fat in your arteries and that therefore polyunsaturated oils were protective.

If the research had been published originally and honestly, the findings could have changed the course of food pyramid history and heart and diet guidance. They would probably also have prevented millions of deaths from heart attacks and strokes, worldwide.

And to give it a new twist, recently the whole cholesterol, dietary fat and (therefore statin) debate has been blown out of the water by Dr Adrian Soto-Mota, Dave Feldman, Nick Norwitz and their team.

Their crowd-funded new research confirmed that lean, athletic people on ketogenic diets who develop very high levels of LDL – have no more atherosclerotic disease or calcification in their arteries than matched-risk controls with lower cholesterol in the “normal” ranges 6.

In some cases, as in the diagram below, those with the highest LDL score of nearly 600 had NO atherosclerosis or plaques whatsoever, and this was checked using the latest Coronary Artery Calcium (CAC) scans.

LDL-C scores clearly did not make the difference – something else to drive plaque development was going on.

This rather complex diagram show different people’s LDL levels as data points, joined together as a sharp up and down line.

The blank area on the base at the left of the graph shows that these individuals do not have ANY plaques or sigs of atherosclerosis.

Note that one individual in the Lean Mass Hyper Responder (LMHR) group (a slim, muscular person eating a keto diet who developed really high LDL) is at nearly 600mg/dl and another three or four similar individuals are between 400 to over 500mg/dl, still with no plaque whatsoever.

The ones with the highest Total Plaque Score green blocks in the Lean Mass group have LDL levels between 200-500. The matched risk control group on the right, have about the same amount of plaque, but not much. if anything the higher their plaque, the more their LDL trends downwards a bit, but not enough to be significant.

In effect, there was no relationship between high LDL cholesterol and plaque.

In addition, all of these people had been tested for any genetic tendency to have high cholesterol, such as familial hypercholesterolemia, and found to be negative.

Even more significantly, these people had been on a ketogenic diet, with high LDL-C levels for nearly 5 years on average, whereas before they had gone keto, their LDL-C levels were the same as the control group.

The increased LDL-Cholesterol (LDL-C) which transports fat around the body, seemed more likely to be used to shift fats on their way to be burned.

Those with a high body mass index typically experienced no change or often a reduction in LDL-C, but these lean subjects did the opposite.

In summary, the research shows an inverse association between body mass index and LDL-C change with the consumption of a low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet.

See the diagram below.

To see it another way:

Even more interesting, is the importance of body mass index in explaining the response of raised LDL-C to a ketogenic diet.

You can see that the response seems to be far much greater than saturated fat intake in the lean mass hyper responders, which was what was often blamed as the sole reason behind high LDL-C in people on ketogenic or low carb diets.6

The research also showed that even people with familial hypercholesterolaemia were at low risk if they had low Coronary Artery Calcium scores, but if they had high scores then they needed careful supervision.(For these clients I would recommend high dose antioxidants, omega 3s, fish, nuts, Vitamin E complex [tocopherols and tocotrienols] and colourful vegetables high in Vitamin C and a vitamin C supplement, to reduce their risk.)

There is more on this fascinating research at the video link in the references7 – BREAKING – New Analysis of Heart Scan Data (CCTA) for Extremely high LDL vs Average LDL Cholesterol.

If you hadn’t already come across this research, I hope I’ve blown your mind with the news that high LDL cholesterol is NOT necessarily associated with heart disease risk, and highlighted the safety of low carbohydrate or ketogenic food choices for your clients, your family and yourself.

I hope I can tempt you with a follow-up newsletter (or blog, not sure which I’m going to go for yet) on taking a dip into seed oils and the wider research on their effects.

Spoiler alert – avoid seed (highly processed vegetable) oils as found in that hidden research evidence on heart health!

You can help to protect your family and friends from the chronic conditions that have only increased dramatically in the last 100 years. I’m talking about heart disease, overweight, diabetes and cancer– and it’s nothing to do with keeping the calories down. There are many factors contributing to these conditions, but it looks like vegetable (seed) oils may be one of them.

There is some controversy out there, with people saying reassuringly that the problems have been over-hyped, but I look into the biochemistry and use the precautionary principle…It is worth noting that seed oil use increased from approximately 2 grams per day in 1865, accounting for approximately 1/100th of total calories, and increased in some cases such as teenagers and those who eat a lot of ultra-processed food, to more than 25% of total calories today – a 25-fold increase!

They have also shifted the ratio we evolved with as hunter gatherers, from around 2:1 Omega 6 to 3, to something approaching 20:1 today.

And we now have a growing epidemic of inflammatory, chronic diseases…

I’ll explain how ‘vegetable’ (seed) oils might be problematic in the next article, but here’s a clue – they oxidise easily and get bent out of shape.

See you then!

And, here is my Spring gift to you…

If you would like an opportunity to talk about any health niggles or more serious concerns you have, or concerns for a client or family member, here’s a link below to book a complementary half hour mini-consultation with me. I can give you some suggestions and links to good quality supplements that can help, and you can get a good listening-to.

https://l.bttr.to/S6pAq

I hope you have found this newsletter helpful. See the References below.

I’d love to hear from you again, and if there’s anything I can do to help you, your family or your clients with any health conditions, mild or serious, please get in touch.

Every good wish for a beautiful Spring!

Liz McGregor

Registered Nutritional Therapist, Naturopath and Wellbeing Coach; B.Sc.(Hons) Dip.BA; Dip Nat; Dip.NT; mBANT | rCNHC Mobile: 07810 552 628

Email: [email protected] Website: https://lizmcgregorhealth.com

References: 

    1. Werkö L. End of the road for the diet-heart theory? Scand Cardiovasc J. 2008 Aug;42(4):250-5. doi: 10.1080/14017430802064981. PMID: 18609049.
    2. Ramsden CE, Zamora D, Leelarthaepin B, Majchrzak-Hong SF, Faurot KR, Suchindran CM, Ringel A, Davis JM, Hibbeln JR. Use of dietary linoleic acid for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and death: evaluation of recovered data from the Sydney Diet Heart Study and updated meta-analysis. BMJ. 2013 Feb 4;346:e8707. doi: 10.1136/bmj.e8707. Erratum in: BMJ. 2013;346:f903. PMID: 23386268; PMCID: PMC4688426.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23386268/
    3. Ramsden CE, Zamora D, Majchrzak-Hong S, Faurot KR, Broste SK, Frantz RP, Davis JM, Ringel A, Suchindran CM, Hibbeln JR. Re-evaluation of the traditional diet-heart hypothesis: analysis of recovered data from Minnesota Coronary Experiment (1968-73). BMJ. 2016 Apr 12;353:i1246. doi: 10.1136/bmj.i1246. PMID: 27071971; PMCID: PMC4836695.
    4. Ravnskov U, de Lorgeril M, Diamond DM, Hama R, Hamazaki T, et al. The LDL paradox: Higher LDLCholesterol is Associated with Greater Longevity. A Epidemiol Public Health. 2020; 3(1): 1040. https://www.meddocsonline.org/annals-of-epidemiology-and-public-health/the-LDL- paradox-higher-LDL-cholesterol-is-associated-with-greater-longevity.pdf
    5. Soto-Mota A, Flores-Jurado Y, Norwitz NG, Feldman D, Pereira MA, Danaei G, Ludwig DS. Increased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol on a low-carbohydrate diet in adults with normal but not high body weight: A meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2024 Mar;119(3):740-747. doi: 10.1016/j.ajcnut.2024.01.009. Epub 2024 Jan 17. PMID: 38237807. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38237807
    6. Biggest impact on cholesterol with Keto – Saturated Fat or BMI? Our new paper makes a powerful case. Dave Feldman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaFF1HddewM
    7. BREAKING – New Analysis of Heart Scan Data (CCTA) for Extremely high LDL vs Average LDL Cholesterol https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ny2JqAgoORo

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About the Author

Liz McGregor

I really am passionate about your health. What fulfils me and makes me truly happy, is helping you recover from whatever conditions you are struggling with.