Search
  • Dr. Bay

The truth about cholesterol and heart disease


I'm constantly asked about cholesterol. The old cholesterol myth of fat and cholesterol from food causing heart attacks is still very prominent in popular culture, but it can't be further from the truth. In fact, consuming cholesterol in foods has very little to no impact on your blood cholesterol and healthy fats such as omega 3 fatty acids can actually help you prevent cardiovascular disease.

A BIG PROBLEM: The standard lipid panel used by most doctors does not tell you particle size, which is imperative in understanding your cardiovascular risk. Most people just think LDL cholesterol is "bad" cholesterol, but there are different types of LDL particles. Small dense LDL cholesterol particles are the ones that damage arteries and cause heart disease! Large fluffy LDL cholesterol particles are a good thing. This is why it's important to find an up to date doctor who knows to order a lipid panel that determines the size of your LDL particles. The best tests out there for comprehensive lipid analysis are NMR testing, Berkeley Heart Lab cholesterol testing, Lipoprotein fractionation/Cardio IQ test.

What causes high levels of small dense LDL cholesterol particles? You may be surprised to know it's typically excess carbohydrates and sugar (which also raises triglycerides).

Nutrition and supplement interventions can be incredibly effective with improving lipid profiles. Aim to replace carbohydrates with non-starchy vegetables (also called slow carbs, the ones we are meant to eat, rather than excessive grains), keep alcohol to a minimum and consume healthy anti-inflammatory fats. This will help you decrease small dense LDL particles and improve beneficial HDL levels.