Q: I have high cholesterol and do not want to take any statin
My cholesterol from my last blood work in August 2004 was HDL ó 52;
LDL ó 156; triglycerides ó 138; and total cholesterol ó 236. I do
not know how they arrive at 236. Can you explain it? Iíve taken a
lot of supplements to lower my cholesterol, but havenít had any
luck. Can you help? ó Joyce M., via e-mail
A: Iím glad you donít want to take statins. These usually cause more
problems than they solve.
Your total cholesterol is the gross amount of cholesterol in your
blood. The total amount is then broken down into subfractions, since
cholesterol is carried in different forms. HDL is generally
considered the ďgoodĒ form of cholesterol. Yours is in the average
range. LDL is generally considered the ďbadĒ form, but new evidence
suggests that not all LDL is ďbadĒ either. The Lipoprotein-B fraction of
LDL may be the bad actor in LDL. We want that number as
low as possible, certainly below 100. Iíd like to know yours. Total
cholesterol is made up of not only HDL and LDL, but other
sub fractions of cholesterol not generally measured.
triglycerides (fats), if it was a fasting test, are a little
too high for my book. It is a sign that your body is producing
excess insulin in an effort to get rid of excess carbs you might be
eating. Insulin turns the carbs into fats for long-term storage. But
that storage might occur in places you wouldnít want. High levels of
insulin promote atherosclerosis.
I donít go as nuts about your total
cholesterol as conventional
docs. Iím more concerned about what your body does with the
cholesterol. Your numbers suggest a bit more risk than Iíd like.
Before you try supplements or drugs for cholesterol, you might
consider diet and lifestyle changes.
Consider my numbers: total cholesterol, 168, HDL 58, LDL 88. Now it
canít be my genes. Most of my immediate family members have
cholesterol well above 200. Iím an organic, nearly all raw food
vegan (minimal dairy) and get ample exercise. Iíve yet to see one
who eats like me with a cholesterol-related heart problem. While I
donít expect you to embrace my diet 100%, any movement in that
direction, I believe, will lower your overall risk.
Regarding specific supplements, there are a wide variety that might
work (such as oat bran, niacin, policosanol, guggul, calcium, to
name a few). But none work all the time in all people. For difficult
cases, I recommend taking Advanced Bionutritionals Advanced
Cholesterol Formula, PhosChol (available online), and red yeast
rice. The combination will often work when nothing else does.