Cholesterol Fact & Fiction

Filed under: General Health

Alan Aragon’s Research Review is absolutely fantastic stuff. If you are a fitness professional and you do not subscribe you are doing yourself a serious disservice. I know it can be a challenge to keep up on the research yourself, so why not let someone as bright as Alan take care of some of that for you? He breaks down research articles, provides his own review articles on relevant topics (like nutrient timing, saturated fat, grains & inflammation, etc) and delivers a top-notch product every month.

Anyway, his November 2011 issue contained a question from a reader who stated that his doctor was concerned about his cholesterol levels being high and was considering putting him on a statin. This reader stated how he follows Alan’s recommendations and hopes its not the three eggs per day and whole fat milk that is giving him such “high” cholesterol. The quotations are mine and you will see why in a moment.

Well Alan proceeded to ask this reader what his actual numbers were, and here is what he got (I have slightly rounded, by just a few points, to avoid any HIPAA issues):

HDL: 110 mg/dL

LDL: 105 mg/dL

Triglycerides: 25 mgdL

Does anybody see what is wrong with this picture? His doc is concerned because his total cholesterol is elevated, but this is simply because his HDL (considered good cholesterol) is through the roof! A level above 60 is desirable, and he is far above that, which significantly reduces his risk of cardiovascular disease.

In addition Alan astutely points out that the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL is a better predictor of heart disease risk than total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol (often called bad cholesterol, though that is somewhat misleading) alone. In men a ratio of 5 is average risk, while a ratio of 3.4 cuts your risk in half. This guy’s ratio is 2!

Alan also points out that a recent study stated that the triglyceride to HDL ratio is the “single most powerful predictor of extensive coronary heart disease among all the lipid variables examined.” It was found to be even more powerful than the aforementioned TC/HDL. The goal of the triglyceride to HDL ratio is 2 or lower. The reader’s score was 0.2!

As you can clearly see this guy’s doctor is missing the forest for the trees. Where he only sees high total cholesterol, the numbers actually show that this guy has an excellent cholesterol panel (from what these numbers show us anyway) and absolutely, positively does not need a statin.

For a more detailed breakdown of this scenario, and just for consistently good breakdown of current and past research, do yourself a favor and subscribe to Alan’s Research Review, you will be glad you did.

Clearly 3 whole eggs and whole milk were not a problem for this guy! The point of all of this was to encourage you to educate yourself prior to seeing your doctor. Doctor’s are smart people, but that doesn’t mean they know everything. It is ok to gather data and be an informed patient. In fact I think it is imperative because if you are not an advocate for yourself, who will be?

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Posted on February 2nd, 2012 by Brian St. Pierre


  1. Deborah Says:

    I have been fighting off docs trying to put me on statins for over a year. Two things happened. I agreed to pay for a carotid scan to see if I have plaque. 52 years old and none! That shut that doc up. 2nd doc took my values, plugged them into a formula and computed my risk for heart attack at 3%! No need for drugs! I never admitted my daily egg consumption because I think they both would have freaked. Stop poppIng pills, eat clean, lift heavy and advocate for yourself.

  2. Brian St. Pierre Says:


    Nice work! My point exactly.


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