High Cholesterol Vegan? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 09-30-2015, 08:57 AM
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High Cholesterol Vegan?

Good God, I just did a wellness exam at work before going vegan my bp and total cholesterol were kind of high. I went to the doctor 40+ days into the lifestyle change and all those numbers had dropped significantly. BP was 126/80 Total Cholesterol was 169, HDL was 68 I eat mainly tofu, beans, rice, green leafys, lots of veg in general and breakfast is always plain oatmeal with a banana. Once or twice a week I will have gardien products. And I love cookies I ate one almost daily. Those are going to be gone.

So I took this exam and my bp is finally normal 120/72 my HDL improved to 75, but my total cholesterol skyrocketed to 191! Thats higher that when I was eating carnitas religiously. I already emailed my doctor but I am so confused as to how everything can be going in the right direction EXCEPT for total cholesterol.

Anyone have any similar experiences?
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#2 Old 09-30-2015, 09:44 AM
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Hi Gwar,

Even though I've been a vegan for 24 years, my LDL cholesterol is still about 106 (total cholesterol is 170). My levels are still considered healthy, but I would ideally like to have total cholesterol around 150.


Tofu is very high in fat (over 50% of calories from fat), and somewhat high in saturated fat: http://www.calorieking.com/foods/cal...kPTY5ODU3.html

Advice: Consult with a Registered Dietitian. They will have you keep a food diary for 3 or 4 days. Analyzing this, they should be able to identify any food choices that are contributing to your elevated cholesterol. A food diary can reveal surprising things about your diet.

In the United States, you can find a local Registered Dietitian through this website: http://www.eatright.org . Just click on the "Find an Expert" button, located in the upper-right-hand portion of the webpage.

In the U.K., you can find a local Registered Dietitian on the Freelance Dietitians website: http://www.freelancedietitians.org/

In New Zealand, you can find a local Registered Dietitian through the Dietitians New Zealand website: http://dietitians.org.nz/find-a-dietitian/

In Canada, you can find a local Registered Dietitian at the Dietitians of Canada website: http://www.dietitians.ca/Find-a-Dietitian.aspx .

_________

Specific recommendations for a healthy diet include: eating more fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains; cutting down on salt, sugar and fats. It is also advisable to choose unsaturated fats, instead of saturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids."
- United Nations' World Health Organization
http://www.who.int/topics/diet/en/

Last edited by David3; 09-30-2015 at 09:49 AM.
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#3 Old 09-30-2015, 11:35 AM
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Several things can skew the results somewhat.
The test requires that the person fast overnight, even a multivitamin, prescription drug pill, or any drink but water can skew the cholesterol result. Fasting longer than the advised period can as well, people getting tested in the afternoon score higher than people tested in the morning. Those affect cholesterol on the short term.
Coffee not filtered through a paper filter will raise cholesterol on the long term, as coffee oil contains steroids that tell our body to make more cholesterol. Weight loss will also raise cholesterol because cholesterol is in our fat but it is not burned for energy.
The body only really has one way to get rid of cholesterol and thats to make it into bile [a mixture of bile acids and cholesterol] and squirt it into the intestines. If the bile doesnt get stuck to fiber the body reabsorbs it and tries again [enterohepatic circulation]. So when trying to lower cholesterol or loose weight increasing fiber consumption is important.
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#4 Old 09-30-2015, 11:53 AM
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Thanks all, this was a no fast required wellness exam so I may be slightly overreacting. Largely due to my lack of education, how can blood pressure improve, HDL improve, and cholesterol go up? Le sigh. I will check the fiber intake as well with more beans.
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#5 Old 09-30-2015, 12:41 PM
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Here is a cardiovascular disease risk calculator, from the American College of Cardiology:

http://tools.acc.org/ASCVD-Risk-Estimator/

I tried putting in your numbers (I assumed your age and ethnicity), and the calculator showed a low short-term risk of cardiovascular disease, but a relatively high lifetime risk of CVD. When I then plugged in a total cholesterol of 170 (but kept other numbers the same), this risk plummeted to 5%. According to this calculator, it looks like you only have to improve your total cholesterol a little bit.

I think that your physician, and a Registered Dietitian, would be better qualified to answer your detailed questions.

_________

Specific recommendations for a healthy diet include: eating more fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains; cutting down on salt, sugar and fats. It is also advisable to choose unsaturated fats, instead of saturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids."
- United Nations' World Health Organization
http://www.who.int/topics/diet/en/

Last edited by David3; 09-30-2015 at 12:46 PM.
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#6 Old 09-30-2015, 08:49 PM
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I have very high cholesterol and as a result I'm on statins and have been for some time. For some people cholesterol problems are genetic. I suspect for myself that is the case. There was a study recently published that showed that people from a certain area of quebec have a genetic risk of developing heart attacks and strokes at an early age. Some have had bypass surgery at 35 years old! My doctor had brought it to my attention last summer. Coincidentally you want to guess where my grandmother came from? I sharing this to tell you that diet is only part of the puzzle and we have no control of our genetic history.
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#7 Old 10-01-2015, 02:29 AM
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Gwar,

A fasting cholesterol panel will give you more accurate results and a better picture of what is going on. It is the LDL you would want to monitor to see where that is going. And your triglycerides. A higher HDL lowers your risk of heart disease and is a very good thing! I wonder if that higher number bumped your total cholesterol number a bit? Maybe your LDL stayed the same.

My cholesterol levels were healthy as an omnivore but improved even more as a vegan, though my HDL went down slightly (from 62 as an omni in 2010 to 57 as a vegan after 1.5 years in 2012 ). My husband used to have a really high LDL level and low HDL and he was warned to cut back on dairy etc. His parents both have very high cholesterol. None of them are overweight and they rarely eat out but they eat a TON of eggs, meat, and dairy. After several years of religiously avoiding fast food and eating my vegan meals with just a little dairy/eggs here and there for him, his LDL dropped dramatically from something like 190 to 62, and his total cholesterol was 116, less than my 125. However, his HDL is still very low (can't remember offhand if it was 42 or 39). I keep pushing him to eat more stuff like walnuts, flaxmeal, leafy greens. Sighs.

There are other conditions that can affect cholesterol too. I have hypothyroidism and am in surgical menopause, both of which can raise cholesterol if not carefully monitored. Things like diabetes, obesity, alcoholism, kidney and liver disease etc can affect cholesterol. Regular exercise can also help with lowering cholesterol. I'm sure you are probably aware of all that.

Your numbers still aren't all that bad compared to a lot of people. I am a medical coder and code labs a lot. I have seen many many lipid profiles and many of them are shockingly bad! I am talking LDL in the 200 range and total in the 200-400 range and triglycerides ridiculously high. I saw someone's once who were in the 500s. Mine tested at 27 lol. I think the standard is to keep total cholesterol under 200, though under 150 is considered optimal.

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#8 Old 10-01-2015, 02:12 PM
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I think I found d the culprit or big contributor. It occurred to me to ask today what the spicy base in my veggie pho was made out of. The owner said he uses a but if shrimp paste. I had been eating that quite often as much as 2 times a week. I'm kinda upset. I just have to get it plain now.
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#9 Old 10-03-2015, 07:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwar View Post
Thanks all, this was a no fast required wellness exam so I may be slightly overreacting. Largely due to my lack of education, how can blood pressure improve, HDL improve, and cholesterol go up? Le sigh. I will check the fiber intake as well with more beans.
no fasting? I wouldn't trust the numbers at all.

The general principles of lowering your total cholesterol are:
avoid saturated fat
reduce total fat
increase fiber
increase exercise
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#10 Old 10-03-2015, 04:19 PM
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Fasting will not affect the HDL cholesterol or total cholesterol, but will likely affect triglycerides as well as LDL -- the triglycerides value is used to calculate LDL in most labs. (more reading here: http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-...should_you_get)

You should talk to your doctor about your risk for heart disease. From what I can tell, a total cholesterol under 200 is actually within the normal/desirable range: https://labtestsonline.org/understan.../tab/test#what

I wouldn't worry too much about this increase. Aside from the diet factors you mentioned, too much alcohol can negatively affect your cholesterol (particularly triglycerides), and physical activity can improve your cholesterol. Here are some general guidelines for a heart-healthy lifestyle (but remember there are genetic factors as well, and a lot we don't understand): http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Gettin...55_Article.jsp
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