6

votes

Why is it that "modern paleos" often have very high total cholesterol unlike hunter gatherers?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 23, 2011 at 6:25 PM

Since Boyd Eaton et al, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0002934388901131 following by Cordain it is well known that hunter gatherers typically have or had total cholesterol in the range of 120 to 160. Current paleo followers presumably follow a diet that is intended to be as close to the one of h-g as possible, for people who lives in the Western World. Nevertheless many modern paleo eaters usually have t.c from two to three times as large as the one of h-g. I am not arguing whether high cholesterol is good, bad, or irrelevant. My question is why would it be that the numbers are so much different?

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on August 24, 2011
at 01:36 PM

I didn't assert causation anywhere! And though I know it doesn't answer the question directly, I just thought it was relevant to the subject.

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on August 24, 2011
at 01:04 PM

I have always had low total, LDL and trigs and high HDL, eating great gobs of greasy saturated fat hasn't changed that. It runs in my family.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2011
at 10:32 AM

All this will make for higher HDL, but I haven't personally seen that it drives LDL down. I'd lean towards type and amount of fat consumed as being more causal of high total cholesterol in modern paleos.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2011
at 10:25 AM

No it doesn't answer the question, but it's a great way to convey mind-numbing data. I see Japan and France are on the bottom for CV risk. Maybe it's a manifestation of the cigarette paradox....

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on August 24, 2011
at 03:28 AM

Your answer is well off the mark. First of all I did not question whether cholesterol is good or bad, just why is it that many modern paleos hav high tc as opposed to h-g. On the other the chart you show is useless from a scientific perspective: if for instance tc is lower in poorer countries where infectious disease are more prevalent because people do not have access to modern medicine you CAN NOT conclude that lower tc causes more infectious diseases. You have the typical problem of causation versus correlation here

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on August 24, 2011
at 03:25 AM

Your answer is well off the mark. First of all I did not question whether cholesterol is good or bad, just why is it that many modern paleos hav high tc as opposed to h-g. On the other the chart you show is useless from a scientific perspective: if tc is lower i poorer countries where infectious disease are more prevalent because people do not have access to modern medicine yoou CAN NOT conclude that lower tc causes more infectious diseases. You have the typical problem of causation here.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on August 24, 2011
at 12:50 AM

Jay's cholesterol is within the perceived mythical "good" range :)

Bad3a78e228c67a7513c28f17c36b3cf

(1387)

on August 24, 2011
at 12:29 AM

I agree with sherpamelissa. My suspicion is that it is a small subset whose ldl skyrockets--for reasons that are as yet unclear. There was an interesting comment on the PHD blog the other day about someone who significantly lowered his ldl using T3 hormone.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 23, 2011
at 11:42 PM

I love this chart. And it makes me wish I had higher TC, lol.

69a2a5deb24d5b8d3aae3d9652fac564

(1020)

on August 23, 2011
at 11:12 PM

Japsican has a great cholesterol profile. I have no idea why I referred to myself in the 3rd person.

A64ed062eb5e2c3407122fcf16c5de6b

(715)

on August 23, 2011
at 10:17 PM

Do you have more info on those specific fatty acids raising cholesterol? What is the mechanism?

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on August 23, 2011
at 08:50 PM

I'll link to Travis's main post on this so he doesn't have to: http://paleohacks.com/questions/36855/i-think-i-may-have-figured-out-why-some-of-us-have-really-high-ldl

A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

(4183)

on August 23, 2011
at 08:22 PM

My cholesterol is awesome. 155.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on August 23, 2011
at 07:18 PM

I am pretty damaged metabolically, but my cholesterol looks great!

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on August 23, 2011
at 07:17 PM

Katie I think that is one possibility. Perhaps the h-g diet was often not that high in fats as a low carb diet, more omnivorous I mean...

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on August 23, 2011
at 07:10 PM

I will take a look, thanks. Also Stafan Lindeberg in "Food and Western Disease" shows (chapter 4.8) a large body of evidence pointing to the very low levels of tc prevalent among h-g

07154e6d8e42065f230d06249700fe5b

(2057)

on August 23, 2011
at 07:02 PM

I don't have high cholesterol either. Perhaps the difference is based on the fact that many people coming to paleo are more significantly damaged by their previous diets/lifestyles?

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on August 23, 2011
at 06:56 PM

Agreed. 'We aren't infested by parasites' may be an answer.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 23, 2011
at 06:52 PM

Nope; the Roses too.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on August 23, 2011
at 06:51 PM

Maybe it's just the Melissa's?

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 23, 2011
at 06:47 PM

I don't have high cholesterol.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on August 23, 2011
at 06:28 PM

I think we mostly hear about the people with higher cholesterol on Paleo. My cholesterol numbers are in the range you specified, but I don't really ever have any reason to talk about them.

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4 Answers

10
Medium avatar

on August 23, 2011
at 06:38 PM

You might want to take a look at Paul Jaminet's series about that very question: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=3919

Really though, it's not "fat" that raises cholesterol out of normal ranges, it's specific fatty acids (myristic, palmitic and lauric acids in that order). If you don't eat any dairy fat, your cholesterol will likely be significantly lower than someone who eats a lot of butter. It also depends on how much vitamin D/steroid hormones you may be manufacturing etc. 200 to 240mg/dL seems to be the sweet spot.

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on August 23, 2011
at 07:10 PM

I will take a look, thanks. Also Stafan Lindeberg in "Food and Western Disease" shows (chapter 4.8) a large body of evidence pointing to the very low levels of tc prevalent among h-g

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on August 23, 2011
at 06:56 PM

Agreed. 'We aren't infested by parasites' may be an answer.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on August 23, 2011
at 08:50 PM

I'll link to Travis's main post on this so he doesn't have to: http://paleohacks.com/questions/36855/i-think-i-may-have-figured-out-why-some-of-us-have-really-high-ldl

A64ed062eb5e2c3407122fcf16c5de6b

(715)

on August 23, 2011
at 10:17 PM

Do you have more info on those specific fatty acids raising cholesterol? What is the mechanism?

3
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on August 23, 2011
at 10:32 PM

My total cholesterol last measured at 246, which is slightly above the low part of this graph, which I found on Ned Kock's site. Because my ratios are excellent --

  • trig 38 (35-135)
  • HDL 94 (40-80) high

ratios

  • chol/HDL risk 0.4 (0.2-1.0)
  • LDL/HDL risk 0.5 (0.2-1.0)
  • chol/HDL 2.62 (1.00-4.44)
  • LDL/HDL 1.54 (1.00-3.22)

I'm not too worried about it.

why-is-it-that-

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 23, 2011
at 11:42 PM

I love this chart. And it makes me wish I had higher TC, lol.

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on August 24, 2011
at 03:25 AM

Your answer is well off the mark. First of all I did not question whether cholesterol is good or bad, just why is it that many modern paleos hav high tc as opposed to h-g. On the other the chart you show is useless from a scientific perspective: if tc is lower i poorer countries where infectious disease are more prevalent because people do not have access to modern medicine yoou CAN NOT conclude that lower tc causes more infectious diseases. You have the typical problem of causation here.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2011
at 10:25 AM

No it doesn't answer the question, but it's a great way to convey mind-numbing data. I see Japan and France are on the bottom for CV risk. Maybe it's a manifestation of the cigarette paradox....

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on August 24, 2011
at 01:36 PM

I didn't assert causation anywhere! And though I know it doesn't answer the question directly, I just thought it was relevant to the subject.

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on August 24, 2011
at 03:28 AM

Your answer is well off the mark. First of all I did not question whether cholesterol is good or bad, just why is it that many modern paleos hav high tc as opposed to h-g. On the other the chart you show is useless from a scientific perspective: if for instance tc is lower in poorer countries where infectious disease are more prevalent because people do not have access to modern medicine you CAN NOT conclude that lower tc causes more infectious diseases. You have the typical problem of causation versus correlation here

1
0e4e5882872d6a7c472ea51aec457e66

(1994)

on August 24, 2011
at 07:48 AM

High cholesterol numbers may well be a sign of a recovering fatty liver - and transitional.

("Leben ohne Brot" by Dr. Wolfgang Lutz)

1
695b82d856d4bd9314b865864ff6df5e

on August 24, 2011
at 12:23 AM

We don't walk everwhere all the time as the only form of travel, we don't climb (high frequency), sprint after prey, fast for starving periods of time (days), we have control of when and where we eat, even though oils are considered Paleo andcestors just ate raw or fire charred meat on a stick. Could be some possible causes to lower cholesterol.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 24, 2011
at 10:32 AM

All this will make for higher HDL, but I haven't personally seen that it drives LDL down. I'd lean towards type and amount of fat consumed as being more causal of high total cholesterol in modern paleos.

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