35

votes

I Think I May Have Figured Out Why Some of Us Have Really High LDL

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created May 05, 2011 at 4:17 AM

Three hundred ninety-one. That was the total cholesterol count staring back at me 2 months ago from my lab results. Now, when I asked my doctor to order the test, I was expecting it to be out of range. 250 or so was what I expected and I was rehearsing some BS response to what I expected my doctor to say. After all, my diet consisted of 2 lamb steaks per day cooked in lots of butter, which I would then pour onto it after cooking. I was eating a lot of spinach then that was swimming in butter. When I would eat potato or sweet potato I would make not insubstantial percentages of the butter block disappear into it. If there was a way to cram some butter into a meal, I was doing it. I commented in another thread how I suspected that I was personally putting the kids of the owners of Organic Valley through college.

I just got another cholesterol test yesterday from the same doctor/test/lab and it came back 323. I've been largely butter-free for the last 5 weeks. So 5 weeks of more carbs and way less butter accompanied these changes:

TC: 391 to 323
HDL: 55 to 67
TGs: 54 to 37
LDL (Iranian): 269 to 192

So what's so special about butter? It appears that the 3 specific hypercholestemic fatty acids (lauric, myristic and palmitic) are present in significant quantities in butter. Coconut oil has them too, but it's skewed more toward the less potent lauric acid, with roughly the same myristic acid (the most potent), and much less palmitic acid, the second most potent. From this study: http://www.jlr.org/content/36/8/1787.full.pdf it was concluded that butter has twice the total and LDL-raising potential as coconut oil. It may be even more pronounced with pasture butter, the type I was eating.

I happen to be allergic to coconut oil, so during that period I ingested none of it. Though not shown in the aforementioned study, we see higher HDL increases in those ingesting coconut oil primarily due I'm sure to that ratio of fatty acids. Coconut skews cholesterol toward HDL, butter toward LDL.

As for whether really high LDL and total cholesterol by themselves are medically significant I can't say. I can say that ridiculous butterfat intakes are without a substantial evolutionary precedent. As such, I think the burden of proof would be on those arguing that such things are harmless. I'm personally unwilling to bet my life on it, and have thus decided to eliminate dairy fat from my diet. I still eat substantial quantities of grass-fed ruminant flesh and fat, the consumption of which of course has an extensive history among hominins. At the very least, we might use this knowledge to game cholesterol tests that affect us financially.

If anyone here has really high cholesterol and doesn't eat butter, or eats massive quantities of butter but doesn't have really high cholesterol, please chime in. I may be a particularly susceptible individual, but I'm guessing that there are others like me in the community.

7160a3fb485cb0af573c0292fdb08144

(35)

on March 05, 2014
at 07:46 PM

That's wonderful if it works for you, but there's not a one size fits all, and I would actually guess that the lower fat, higher protein diet works for fewer people than does the higher fat, moderate protein diet.

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on February 29, 2012
at 09:40 PM

Lucky you. When I see labs like this, I can only sigh and remark that genes really do make a big difference.

76f3ead3aa977d876bcf3331d35a36e9

(4620)

on January 31, 2012
at 03:47 PM

I think Travis did stop all butter and his total cholesterol dropped to a normal range. So it definitely changed something.

76fd821658bfeefcdd91a25eb67ec683

(65)

on January 18, 2012
at 05:36 AM

Do you think it only works for palmitic? I'd guess it works for the other 2 but I don't know. But it doesn't matter if you think that's too much linoleic.

A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

(4183)

on January 16, 2012
at 06:43 PM

Pretty sedentary, I do a bit of walking.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on January 16, 2012
at 05:33 PM

Thanks for the link, but it's not the palmitic as much as myristic and lauric acids in the butter that increase it's hypercholesterolemic effect above that encountered in, say, suet. Having to consume evolutionarily inconsistent amounts of linoleic acid (10g per day on a 2000 kcal diet) seems unwise as well.

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

(6719)

on January 16, 2012
at 05:13 PM

whats your activity level like?

22fd82abf435768244f8d074430cd1e6

(590)

on January 13, 2012
at 06:27 AM

Hi Travis, do you have any updates on this? Thanks

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on May 11, 2011
at 05:06 AM

Travis, I just updated the link above.

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on May 06, 2011
at 04:33 AM

Again Verena, these are Cordains "paleo principals", not all people share this belief. Different strokes for different folks.

8a8129d053df7365c6529b0c2ac95efb

(284)

on May 06, 2011
at 04:12 AM

I think one should not eat so much butter and fat in general...keep to the paleo principals of lean grass fed meat, wild fish, tons of veggies and fruit, and you will be fine! :)

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 05, 2011
at 11:31 PM

Most of the butter I ate during that time was clarified, so I don't think it makes a difference.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 05, 2011
at 11:30 PM

Tallow has about the same amount (25% or so) of palmitic acid, but way less myristic acid (3%). About 20% is stearic acid and around 40% is monounsaturated oleic acid. It raises cholesterol, but not nearly to the same extent. Personally, I would always choose tallow over butter.

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on May 05, 2011
at 06:05 PM

I'm not gonna lie... I'm kind of a big deal.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 05, 2011
at 05:13 PM

I forgot to ask for glucose this time around, but the first time it was 101 or so. I didn't run HbA1c either time.

4a7929c2aa05bf11349d9e55cb542d47

(646)

on May 05, 2011
at 05:04 PM

Your insurance pays for all the testing? How frequent and under what purpose?

39a1a0bc7855c084ac59df60fdf9c0dd

(1505)

on May 05, 2011
at 03:50 PM

I've wondered/worried about the same thing, so have stopped drinking heavy cream (still use a few tbs in my tea) and using much less butter. Waiting for labs back today so will post what happened. Not sure if it's the cause, but I've found my weight loss re-started after being on a plateau for several weeks.

91c2e2a35e578e2e79ce7d631b753879

(2081)

on May 05, 2011
at 03:39 PM

This is interesting - my last bloodwork showed a "normal" LDL, exemplary triglycerides and lowish HDL, and I used to eat quite a bit of butter. In the last couple of months I've given up dairy and increased my consumption of coconut oil and lard. Perhaps a new test is in order? But I hate going to my doctor, who *screams* at me about my diet every time she sees me.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 05, 2011
at 03:34 PM

Yeah, I've been consuming 1/4-3/4 of a pound of liver since then, but many people chimed in on Jaminet's post with TC of 400-something and regular liver consumption for 6 months+, so I dunno if his theory holds water. It's still a crucially important thing either way.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 05, 2011
at 03:32 PM

The first time around I got a VAP test and it was all pattern A. Pattern A at 200 TC might be a totally different beast than pattern A at 400 TC. As for FH, I've have much lower cholesterol readings in the past (168 in 2008) so I doubt that I have that (as does my doctor).

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 05, 2011
at 03:26 PM

The first time around I got a VAP test and it was all pattern A.

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on May 05, 2011
at 02:19 PM

Get a NMR lipid profile done or a vap test done to find out if you are mostly pattern A, large bouyant LDL particles. You may be one of us who has Familial hypercholesterolemia. There is no cure other than lipid aphrorsis...stripping out the LDL by dialysis. Just make sure you are all large bouyant...achieved by exactly what you are doing...high fat diet.

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on May 05, 2011
at 02:18 PM

Get a NMR lipid profile done or a vap test done to find out if you are mostly pattern A, large bouyant LDL particles. You may be one of us who has Familial hypercholesterolemia. There is no cure other than lipid aphrorsis...stripping out the LDL by dialysis. Just make sure you are all large bouyant...achieved by exactly what you are doing...hit fat.

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on May 05, 2011
at 11:43 AM

Any idea on the pattern composition of the high LDL? Physiologically speaking, I don't see anything to worry about if it's mostly Pattern A.

1fc9c11cf23b2f62ac78979de933ad83

(2435)

on May 05, 2011
at 06:47 AM

Butter is churned cream with a little less whey. Leave your whipping cream in the kitchen aid too long and you'll make butter. Done it. Wish I had the whipped cream.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on May 05, 2011
at 06:36 AM

i can't say it was every single day. i mean, i can put away some butter and I do like to use large amounts, but I am inconsistent with almost everything I do, certainly with food in that I like to eat a variety. I could never say I ate 2 lamb steaks every day. So I can't say I ate as much as you every day, but certainly I ate lots with regularity. At the time of that test I was working at a good French restaurant so I was eating a wide variety of food there after work too. There is a huge difference in our numbers though.

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on May 05, 2011
at 06:34 AM

Of note: the butter and cream I consume are both raw, grass-fed (Organic Pastures)

44348571d9bc70c02ac2975cc500f154

(5853)

on May 05, 2011
at 05:42 AM

Ditch the butter for a awhile and try marrow fat?

Bbc6e90e45ac205d0ebb544b8928f294

(100)

on May 05, 2011
at 05:15 AM

I eat about a pound of butter a week, and my numbers are 61 HDL, 74 LDL -- a small improvement over pre-paleo.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 05, 2011
at 05:10 AM

Are we talking large amounts every single day like I was eating?

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on May 05, 2011
at 04:37 AM

should be roughly similar as butter is made from cream, right?

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 05, 2011
at 04:34 AM

The proportions appear to be very similar. A lot of palmitic and about half that of myristic: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/51/2

Medium avatar

(5136)

on May 05, 2011
at 04:30 AM

I've always eaten lots of butter (all my life). I enjoy a spoonful straight while cooking as a "chef's treat" and such. Last year, after getting a bit more consistent with removing grains and eating even MORE fat than i already did, my LDL was 70-something (76 i think) and HDL was 101. So not sure about that. I do drink a lot of wine though, so maybe that affects it somehow.

  • Size75 avatar

    asked by

    (39821)
  • Views
    9.9K
  • Last Activity
    1408D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

16 Answers

7
3c997ffae3db9464325b96979346d9e9

on May 05, 2011
at 03:04 PM

I don't think isolating butter as a cholesterol culprit is appropriate. Butter is one of the healthiest fat to consume. A low triglyceride and high HDL profile points to an LDL that is virtually all the light, fluffy benign (or possibly beneficial) form of LDL. There are labs that will break down your LDL into how much small particle, dense LDL (the bad stuff) and how much is the benign form. Aerobic exercise will raise HDL.

5
A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

on December 20, 2011
at 06:50 PM

I go through butter like other people go through milk, I'd say about 2lbs a week.

Total: 154 HDL: 71 LDL: 54 Trigs: 50

Pretty much perfect! I do supp with k2, mg, clo and selenium though.

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

(6719)

on January 16, 2012
at 05:13 PM

whats your activity level like?

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on February 29, 2012
at 09:40 PM

Lucky you. When I see labs like this, I can only sigh and remark that genes really do make a big difference.

A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

(4183)

on January 16, 2012
at 06:43 PM

Pretty sedentary, I do a bit of walking.

5
3864f9a2af09b1b447c7963058650a34

(3703)

on May 06, 2011
at 03:16 AM

Travis,

Love your paleo insights!! We love lamb too... (the cuter the better, j/k)

I'd concur with your ambivalences toward the LDL. Having a tremendously high LDL seems troubling to the medical establishment but it is not a big deal at all (in fact protective) if there is no inflammation (e.g.paleo + optimal hormones + avoidance of toxins (PCBs, heavy metals lead mercury etc, plastics, xenoestrogens, drugs, pesticides, etc))...

Apo E4 is known as the 'ancestral' allele (or 'thrifty' or what I liken to 'SUPERHUMANLY EFFICIENT' haa). http://nephropal.blogspot.com/2010/05/overview-of-transporters-every-vital.html

Apo E4 does less 'housecleaning' in the brain and other nervous tissues therefore strict avoidance of toxins and trying to maintain good detox (antioxidants, decent blood sugars, exercise exercise exercise, occasional detones, etc) is more vital than E2 or E3.

-G

4
Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

on December 20, 2011
at 06:14 PM

Hi Travis I am curious to know after several months how your labs are going now and also whether you continue being sceptic on dairy fat. I mostly agree with you but I have been rather undecided lately so knowing about your experience with dairy and ldl would be very helpful!

4
76f3ead3aa977d876bcf3331d35a36e9

(4620)

on May 05, 2011
at 01:51 PM

Travis, didn't you add regular liver consumption to your diet since your last blood work? Perhaps this change in cholesterol was due to a correction of mineral imbalances leading to repair of low-grade vascular injury (as Paul Jaminet believes)?

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 05, 2011
at 03:34 PM

Yeah, I've been consuming 1/4-3/4 of a pound of liver since then, but many people chimed in on Jaminet's post with TC of 400-something and regular liver consumption for 6 months+, so I dunno if his theory holds water. It's still a crucially important thing either way.

3
C257d1ebc2351cacfc120fb814a0e22d

on January 31, 2012
at 03:57 AM

I sometimes eat a half a pound or more of butter per day, plus copious amounts of heavy whipping cream, and my total cholesterol has never been higher than 150. LDL around 80. Go figure.

2
6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on January 21, 2012
at 04:52 AM

Pasture butter is a good source of vitamin K2.

2
76fd821658bfeefcdd91a25eb67ec683

(65)

on January 16, 2012
at 04:14 PM

This study seems to show that high intakes of saturated fat only increase LDL if intake of linoleic acid is very low, below 4.5% of energy :

http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/APJCN/Volume11/vol11sup5/S401.pdf

76fd821658bfeefcdd91a25eb67ec683

(65)

on January 18, 2012
at 05:36 AM

Do you think it only works for palmitic? I'd guess it works for the other 2 but I don't know. But it doesn't matter if you think that's too much linoleic.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on January 16, 2012
at 05:33 PM

Thanks for the link, but it's not the palmitic as much as myristic and lauric acids in the butter that increase it's hypercholesterolemic effect above that encountered in, say, suet. Having to consume evolutionarily inconsistent amounts of linoleic acid (10g per day on a 2000 kcal diet) seems unwise as well.

2
64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on May 05, 2011
at 03:56 PM

Thanks for sharing this Travis, I'm curious what your fasting glucose and A1c levels are and if they've changed much? Also, one other variable to think about, and that is 'raw' grass-fed butter compared to the organic valley kind. I do buy the organic valley pastured butter and use it for cooking (alternating with coconut oil) and I'll also put it in my sweet potatoes. I eat about a pound of raw grass-fed butter a week in smoothies and while Ive seen a slight increase in LDL it's not off the charts. Also, my HDL is around 90 and triglycerides 45.

Here is something interesting about trans-palmitoleic acid, not sure if you've seen it

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21173413

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 05, 2011
at 05:13 PM

I forgot to ask for glucose this time around, but the first time it was 101 or so. I didn't run HbA1c either time.

2
50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on May 05, 2011
at 06:33 AM

A similar result with me - HDL went down, LDL went up. I eat lot of butter, heavy cream, and coconut butter fairly regularly (generally as a dessert most nights, in an attempt to up my calories). My running lab results are listed here.

link text

Got more labs done Monday, getting results tomorrow. I will update the above list when I can.

Of note, on May 1 began a no dairy stint. So in a couple months I will re-test and see where I'm at. Luckily my Dr is supportive of my "crazy ideas" and lets me test almost at will. I feel very fortunate for that.

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on May 11, 2011
at 05:06 AM

Travis, I just updated the link above.

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on May 05, 2011
at 06:05 PM

I'm not gonna lie... I'm kind of a big deal.

4a7929c2aa05bf11349d9e55cb542d47

(646)

on May 05, 2011
at 05:04 PM

Your insurance pays for all the testing? How frequent and under what purpose?

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on May 05, 2011
at 06:34 AM

Of note: the butter and cream I consume are both raw, grass-fed (Organic Pastures)

1
Cf4576cbcc44fc7f2294135609bce9e5

on January 21, 2012
at 05:53 AM

your total cholesterol is high. its not butter, you could stop all butter and it wouldn't change a thing.

76f3ead3aa977d876bcf3331d35a36e9

(4620)

on January 31, 2012
at 03:47 PM

I think Travis did stop all butter and his total cholesterol dropped to a normal range. So it definitely changed something.

1
637042e24e38a81dfc089ef55bed9d46

(826)

on May 05, 2011
at 12:59 PM

I wonder what your results would look like if you switched to ghee and eliminated the milk proteins. Perhaps you have a sensitivity that is causing low level inflammation.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 05, 2011
at 11:31 PM

Most of the butter I ate during that time was clarified, so I don't think it makes a difference.

0
244dca88091fa349a77379b1629d0b25

(255)

on February 04, 2014
at 05:11 PM

I've decided to do a test and cut out all butter consumption 3 months before my annual NMR test. Here are results:

Total Cholesterol 297 -> 193

HDL-C 51 -> 39

Trig 77 -> 105

LDL-C 231 -> 133

LDL-P 2565 -> 1942

0
73b0562fe80ea3c1343202377af1e929

on January 21, 2012
at 07:44 AM

serum lipid profiles have about squat to do with anything, stop wasting time trying to make ancel keys happy

0
742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on May 05, 2011
at 02:41 PM

This is irrelevant but 3 weeks ago I increased my butter intake by a lot in an attempt to gain weight, and I have been feeling a very tiny jabbing pain near my heart area. I use to also feel this before when I consumed tons of butter. Do you have information on the fatty acid composition of tallow? Is tallow favorable to butter.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 05, 2011
at 11:30 PM

Tallow has about the same amount (25% or so) of palmitic acid, but way less myristic acid (3%). About 20% is stearic acid and around 40% is monounsaturated oleic acid. It raises cholesterol, but not nearly to the same extent. Personally, I would always choose tallow over butter.

8a8129d053df7365c6529b0c2ac95efb

(284)

on May 06, 2011
at 04:12 AM

I think one should not eat so much butter and fat in general...keep to the paleo principals of lean grass fed meat, wild fish, tons of veggies and fruit, and you will be fine! :)

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on May 06, 2011
at 04:33 AM

Again Verena, these are Cordains "paleo principals", not all people share this belief. Different strokes for different folks.

0
9d741bcbe702044635f2ce3078043054

(1435)

on May 05, 2011
at 04:22 AM

Travis, my first lipid panel after being Paleo for about 8 months had lower HDL and higher LDL than I was expecting. I don't eat a ton of butter, but I do consume a lot of heavy cream. Do you know if the same fatty acid ratios (or similar at any rate) are in butter and cream?

1fc9c11cf23b2f62ac78979de933ad83

(2435)

on May 05, 2011
at 06:47 AM

Butter is churned cream with a little less whey. Leave your whipping cream in the kitchen aid too long and you'll make butter. Done it. Wish I had the whipped cream.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on May 05, 2011
at 04:37 AM

should be roughly similar as butter is made from cream, right?

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 05, 2011
at 04:34 AM

The proportions appear to be very similar. A lot of palmitic and about half that of myristic: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/51/2

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!