Doctor's Note

This is why a site like NutritionFacts.org can be so useful, because even when a paper is published in the peer-reviewed medical literature, it can misrepresent the science. But who has time to check the primary sources? I do! If you’d like to support this work, please consider making a tax-deductible donation.

Here are some other videos in which I contrast the available science with what the egg industry asserts:

Only the meat industry may be as bold:

BOLD Indeed: Beef Lowers Cholesterol?

For more on the role of cholesterol, see:

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  • Veganrunner

    I had no idea the “fluffy LDL” message was promoted by the egg industry and picked up by the Paleo proponents . I learn so much here.

    • Thea

      Veganrunner: It sure is an interesting world we live in.

      FYI: Plant Positive has addressed this issue in at least one of his videos. But Plant Positive’s videos are long-ish and not always for the lay person, in my opinion. So, I was thrilled to see Dr. Greger cover this issue. And the data Dr. Greger presented is something I don’t remember seeing in Plant Positive’s videos too. (It may be there and I just don’t remember.) This video is just so clear and right-on. I agree that it is great to learn so much here.

  • Toxins

    Another excellent video which further erases silly paleo myths about cholesterol.

    • Jocelyn

      Unfortunately, the foundation of the paleo diet is a myth, and I’m not sure they are very interested in facts, so much as hearing good news about bad habits.
      Thanks Dr. G for another great video!

    • I see that blood sugar expert Dr. Mark Hyman also says that cholesterol particle size is important. What do you make of that?
      http://drhyman.com/blog/2011/01/28/seven-tips-to-fix-your-cholesterol-without-medication/

      • Toxins

        The video you are commenting on should answer that question should it not?

        • I’m trying to understand how two well respected experts have come to different conclusions. Would you mind telling us which of those many sources that Dr. G cites supports his statement that small LDL raises cholesterol 63% and large, 44%. Would you mind directing us to the source? Thanks for all the work you do, Toxins.

        • Ralph Boas

          I couldn’t possibly have time to watch all these videos, can’t you make available transcripts I can read much faster?

          • Rami Najjar – NF Moderator

            There is a transcript available, if you click “view transcript” next to the video you can read it as well. Did you have a question about something in the video?

          • Jesse Reinhardt

            In one of the articles that you linked
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2663974/
            the data shows that having a larger LDL size is associated with lower risk. It is also better to have a moderate amount of large LDL particles rather than too little. This is all in table 3.

            It actually pays to check references than to just take what Dr. Gregor says at face value because he has his own agenda to promote.

          • Rami Najjar – NF Moderator

            That is in line with the statements made in the video, there is no discrepancy.

            Women
            Large LDL raises heart disease risk 44%
            Small LDL raises heart attack risk 63%
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2663974/

            Men
            Large LDL raises heart attack risk 31%
            Small LDL raises heart attack risk 44%
            http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/113/12/1556.full

          • Jesse Reinhardt

            I think that last figure in the women’s study is just an assessment of cardiovascular risk and the results are being misinterpreted here… Look at the very bottom where it says Total / HDL cholesterol and a hazard ratio of 2.82 – this statement is meaningless if you try to say that having total cholesterol / HDL gives you an HR of 2.82. All I get from this figure is that Total / HDL cholesterol is the best predictor of CVD and this is even stated in the paper! “Thus, our data support the use of standard lipids, in particular the total/HDL cholesterol ratio, which are highly effective and readily available, for routine CVD risk assessment.”

            Upon doing further reading into the paper… “LDLNMR and HDLNMR particle size were inversely associated, and VLDLNMR particle size directly associated, with CVD. After adjusting for LDLNMR particle concentration, there was no additional contribution of LDLNMR size to CVD risk (P for trend=0.25), while HDLNMR and VLDLNMR particle size remained significantly associated with CVD after adjustment for the respective concentrations.” …This means that when LDL or HDL particles get larger or VLDL particles get smaller there is reduced CVD risk – as shown in table 3. However in the second sentence, they say that when LDL particle number (aka – Apolipoprotein B100) is held constant the LDL size has no effect, so particle number is more important than size. BUT, if you have a given constant LDL-C and larger LDL particles, your LDL number (Apo B100) will likely be lower and your CVD risk lower as well.

          • Vege-tater

            Like he said, lower relative to what? Getting stabbed vs getting shot?

  • BB

    It seems the doctor who was interpreting these studies for the egg Board was bending over backward to find data supporting egg consumption. Common sense tells us that eggs are high in cholesterol and it doesn’t matter how you characterize the cholesterol (fluffy), we have known for a long time that it contributes to heart disease. Maybe this doctor truly believes the message or maybe it is the paycheck that motivates the message.

    • One of the authors is Volek. He is an outspoken proponent of the ketogenic diet for athletes. He has major conflicts of interest, including his association with the board.

    • Yet, the ingestion of cholesterol doesn’t raise lipid cholesterol numbers in any meaningful way. So your premise is false.

      • Wilma Laura Wiggins

        Could you offer a source? I have read that before but have not seen any studies.

        • Thea

          Wilma: The studies that appear to back up Kevin’s claim are studies perpetrated on people who already have high cholesterol numbers. Why does the baseline cholesterol matter? Our bodies have a cholesterol saturation limit. So, consuming cholesterol above the point where the body is already saturated does little to change serum cholesterol. I was recently reviewing one of PlantPositive.com ‘s videos and saw some amusing comparisons to the type of bogus study that feeds cholesterol to high-cholesterol people:

          “He’ll also add a plug for that sausage and egg sandwich in his study. At the bottom right, you see that sausage and egg sandwiches don’t harm endothelial function according to him. Awesome! This is science, people! Those overweight folks with high cholesterol in this study were not hurt by sausage! Now that I see what sort of logic he likes, I have a suggestion for another trial he should try. He should take some hard drinkers from a local bar and put them in a study and show us how just a little extra splash of whiskey never hurt anybody. Or he could show us how long time cokeheads can handle just a quick hit no problem.” from: http://plantpositive.com/23-cholesterol-confusion-6-die

          However, studies done on healthy individuals (meaning in this case, people with human-normal cholesterol levels) show clearly that dietary cholesterol raises serum cholesterol.

          • Wilma Laura Wiggins

            Could you please state your source? “studies done on healthy individuals” – I would really like to read it.

          • Thea

            Wilma: I’ve seen studies mentioned in at least two of PlantPositive’s videos. And I believe this specific topic has been covered in NutritionFacts as well, but I don’t have an easy link for here at NutritionFacts.

            If you look at the Plant Positive video I linked to above (repeated here for your convenience: http://plantpositive.com/23-cholesterol-confusion-6-die), you will see at least one specific study. This topic is covered well in the last third of the video. PlantPositive doesn’t list the references as links the way that Dr. Greger does, but PlantPositive usually shows enough of the study details in the video that you can pause and find the study if you are interested. (I think there is an even better PlantPositive video on this specific
            topic, but it would take me a while to find it. Instead, I would invite
            you to explore PlantPositive’s videos.)

            I would also encourage you to watch these NutritionFacts.org videos as I think they would help you. The first link even includes a study showing that dietary cholesterol increases serum cholesterol:
            http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-the-egg-board-designs-misleading-studies/
            http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-saturated-fat-studies-set-up-to-fail/

          • Thea

            Wilma: I’ve seen studies mentioned in at least two of PlantPositive’s videos. And I believe this specific topic has been covered in NutritionFacts as well, but I don’t have an easy link for here at NutritionFacts.

            If you look at the Plant Positive video I linked to above (repeated here for your convenience: http://plantpositive.com/23-cholesterol-confusion-6-die), you will see at least one specific study. This topic is covered well in the last third of the video. PlantPositive doesn’t list the references as links the way that Dr. Greger does, but PlantPositive usually shows enough of the study details in the video that you can pause and find the study if you are interested. (I think there is an even better PlantPositive video on this specific
            topic, but it would take me a while to find it. Instead, I would invite
            you to explore PlantPositive’s videos.)

            I would also encourage you to watch these NutritionFacts.org videos as I think they would help you. The first link even includes a study showing that dietary cholesterol increases serum cholesterol:
            http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-the-egg-board-designs-misleading-studies/
            http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-saturated-fat-studies-set-up-to-fail/

  • Merio

    We can see an example of the problem of the century: corporations that can influence an entire nation policy.

    And the corporations had to think to their interests, so:

    1) MAXIMIZE profits.

    2) MINIMIZE losses.

    And the people’s health ?

    Well, that not fit in the equation.

  • Joe Caner

    Ah, the incredible, inedible egg. I have been hearing a lot of hoo-ha from friends and family regarding the virtues of light fluffy LDL’s as opposed to its evil brethren, the small LDL’s and that one needn’t worry much about either because only oxidized LDL’s was harmful anyway. I often point out that if one were not consuming foods that would raise LDL’s in the first place, there would not be excess of LDL’s to oxidize. Now I come to find from the 2009 study sited in today’s video, that fluffy LDL’s raise hear disease risk by 44% as apposed the small LDL’s which raise it by 63%. What beliefs some people won’t cling to in order to justify their bad, familiar diets…

  • Michael Foote

    Great video. The large vs small has been championed on medical “information” shows for a couple years now. Great to finally be able to discuss these claims intelligently! Thanks for showing us the numbers. I think this in another video I’ll add to my Elementary Stats class as an example of the misuse of statistics, and how by carefully wording your sentences you could actually be telling a partial truth. Reminds me of Darrell Huff’s book on “How to Lie With Statistics” written 60 years ago!

  • slider1

    This is the kind of information I’d like to see presented on the Dr. Oz show. It would certainly start a conversation. And for anyone who claims Dr. Fuhrman and Dr. McDougall are 99% in agreement, well, I guess maybe this is why McDougall says “NO meat or dairy”. Still Fuhrman accepts meat three times every week. I hope he doesn’t claim that is a vegan diet.

    • slider1

      As an added thought, one table I viewed showed one egg has between 70 and 80 mg of cholesterol while one large chicken breast has 165 mg. Meat eaters think they are avoiding fat by eating chicken. They are in disbelief when they lean how much cholesterol is in chicken.

      • b00mer

        Hi slider1, yes I agree it’s unfortunate the tendency for people to think of chicken or fish as healthier. Sometimes we have comments on here with the sentiment that people are just being willfully ignorant if they’re eating unhealthily, but with all the misinformation in the lay media pointing to chicken, fish, dairy, eggs as being healthy “lean” proteins, coupled with a universal love for “healthy” fats like olive oil, and now coconut oil, I really sympathize with people who might really think they’re eating well but remain unhealthy and overweight. Especially since often those people really are putting in a lot of effort into counting, tracking, and restricting portion sizes. Whenever I talk to people about diet, it is always a huge revelation to think that including certain foods as a “protein”, or fat in the form of refined oils are *not necessary*.

        And not sure if you’re familiar with cronometer.com? It gets referred to a lot on here. It’s a food diary website, and links to USDA data. I find it easier to quickly look up nutritional stats then actually navigating the USDA databases themselves. It makes it very easy to manipulate serving sizes and see how the numbers change. And often they do use colloquial serving sizes e.g. 1 chicken breast, but will list the weight in g or oz along with it so you can see how they’re defining it. Could be helpful to put all these different references you’re encountering into perspective.

    • Daniel Wagle

      One thing about is that Ornish actually recommends fish oil on his diet AND egg whites, but no one criticizes him for that. See this, http://ornishspectrum.com/proven-program/nutrition/ that egg whites and fish oils are in the MOST recommended food group. Fuhrman does not recommend any animal foods on his diet, including fish oil or egg whites. He may *permit* them, but he also *permits* junk food as long as all junk food and animal products are below 10% of calories- he recently changed this to 5%. Fuhrman acknowledges that animal proteins can raise IGF 1, which can cause cancer. Even T. Colin Campbell who found this truth about IGF 1 allows animal products as long as they are below 10% of calories. You might also criticize Fuhrman’s supplements, but he doesn’t sell fish oil, but rather an algal DHA supplement, and the D3 supplement is completely Vegan and not based on animal sources. I agree with not eating any meat at all, and it is great that McDougall says no meat or dairy. I try to go further than McDougall and not even eat it on Thanksgiving as you wouldn’t if you were following the Barnard diet. If you are truly following the recommendations of the Fuhrman diet, you won’t be eating animal products, but you would if you followed Dean Ornish’s recommendations.

      • Daniel Wagle

        Here, Fuhrman links eggs with many diseases, such as colon cancer and diabetes. https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/eggs_cancer.aspx Another aspect to this issue is that Fuhrman wants to recommend what the science actually suggests on the subject. Does the science actually suggest that we cannot eat any animal products at all? He doesn’t for one moment claim with the Paleo crowd that animal products such as eggs are completely benign. I don’t eat animal products because there is just too much cruelty involved in it. Like I stated, even T. Colin Campbell didn’t claim that people cannot eat any meat at all if they want to be healthy. Of course, one cannot eat very much and be healthy. It has to be very limited, as Fuhrman stated about eggs. Of course, I try not to eat any at all, but this doesn’t depend on the science, but on my own value system.

    • Dr. Fuhrman is a proponent of a “nutritarian diet” which heavily stresses greens, beans, fruits, veggies (esp leafy greens), seeds and nuts. He does not apply the word begin to his diet, although one may practice a vegan nutritarian diet. Like Dr. Greger, Dr. Fuhrman admits that there are many vegans and vegetarians eating lots of junk which is not healthy.

    • Laurie

      NOT TRUE!!! I have his latest book right here–THE END OF DIETING (2014), in which he says animal protein of ANY kind should be 5% OR LESS, preferably none, of our calories. That’s NOT 3 times a week, unless you have just 1 bite!!

      • Veganrunner

        You are right Laurie. I have never heard Dr Fuhrman say he was vegan but if I had to guess he probably is.

        • Daniel Wagle

          I didn’t know where to place this insight, but I will put it here. I just realized what sets Fuhrman apart from the others is NOT that he advocates animal products any more than the rest, such as Nathan Pritikin and Dean Ornish did or do, but rather he is not in the very low fat tradition. This low fat tradition started with Walter Kempner and went through Nathan Pritikin, Dean Ornish, Esselstyn, McDougall and Barnard. All of these recommend a very low fat diet, but Fuhrman doesn’t. Fuhrman advocates eating nuts and seeds more than the others. He doesn’t recommend getting fat or anything from animals, or even vegetable oils for that matter, but rather from nuts and seeds. He is not in the high fat, low carb tradition, but just not in the very low fat, less than 10% of calories from fat tradition. He is plant based and does not advocate any animal products, but remember, some plants do contain fat.

          • Veganrunner

            Oh yes. Good point. Actually I remember at one point while training more miles I reviewed Dr Fuhrman’s recommendation of what to do when you can’t keep the weight on while training and eating WFPB and he says eat more nuts. McDouggall would say eat more starch. Both recommendations will solve the problem. What do you think Daniel?

            Off for a run!

          • Daniel Wagle

            I guess I would say both. However, that is not quite my problem just yet, since I am trying to maintain an enormous weight loss, But it does seem that beans and nuts both help hold the weight on. I need to get on my bike now, I have been putting it off. I am off today. When I work, I don’t put it off, since I ride to work and then ride back. I need to get going, but thanks.

        • slider1

          He must know!

      • slider1

        Dr. Fuhrman isn’t consistent. What you read in his book is different from what he says in the video and what I’ve read in his other articles. Still, how much damage can 5% meat do? McDonald’s hamburgers are “only” 1.6 ounces. One Fuhrman article says eat as much as three servings of meat each week. What is a ‘serving” The US Government says a small serving is 3 ounces. Sounds like Fuhrman is OK with five or six McDonalds hamburgers each and every week. Are we suppose to eat extra broccoli to combat the cancer cell growth? I think Dr. Fuhrman is still evolving and sometimes either forgets what he previously said or recognizes yet another standard he wants to advocate. Maybe he’ll tell us someday.

    • Unfortunately, Dr Oz is part of the problem. He has given a platform to advocates of low carb high fat diets, including proponents of ketogenic diets. They all have asserted on his show the large buoyant fluffy LDL is supposedly benign. And Dr. Oz has played along without objection. In fact he has used his gimmicky contraptions to demonstrate the alleged “safety” of large LDL.

  • mbglife

    Sounds like the egg board is taking a page from the climate denier playbook and just trying to get incorrect info out there that might sound logical to a layperson. This way, people can believe what they want to believe, or as so many omnivores I know say, “well, there’s so much conflicting info out the that I seems best just to eat a balanced diet”. Of course a balanced diet to them is some small amount of veggies with a meal, like a little squash or lettuce on a meat sandwich. It’s a sad tactic but usually works.

  • charles grashow

    http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/119/7/931.long

    Lipoprotein Particle Profiles by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Compared With Standard Lipids and Apolipoproteins in Predicting Incident Cardiovascular Disease in Women

    “In summary, CVD risk prediction associated with NMR lipoprotein profiles in the present large prospective cohort of women was comparable but not superior to standard lipids or immunoassay-measured apolipoproteins. Thus, the present data support the use of standard lipids, in particular the total/HDL cholesterol ratio, which are highly effective and readily available, for routine CVD risk assessment.”

  • Really

    Please explain the high TG on her raw vegan diet… .http://youtu.be/iMr7bP5IUeE?t=6m

    • Eric

      I don’t think your red herring adds much to the discussion. Also, this individual’s extremely restrictive raw food diet that includes primarily fruit is not even close to the recommendations of Dr. Greger. Equating her diet to the guidelines of Dr. Greger or Fuhrer would be like equating the Standard American Diet to Paleo.

      Anyways, her personal explanation is as follows: “For those who are asking, my triglycerides are OK. They show high but that’s because eating any carbs (especially fruits after you have gone some hours without eating) makes triglycerides go up. Given my perfect cholesterol levels it is nothing to worry about. Any food that had carbs will mobilize fat. Vegans often will test high in TG but have far less risk of heart disease.”

      • Really

        Red herring? You buy her explanation? TG of 210 is not OK. HDL of 43 is not OK. She claims her cholesterol levels are PERFECT. High triglycerides coupled with low HDL increases risk for heart disease.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7KeRwdIH04

        • Eric

          Yes, it is a red herring. You seem like you are trying to associate her diet with Dr. Greger. You are also off-topic and distracting from the evidence in this video as you don’t even discuss the above evidence at all. Google “red herring fallacy” and you will see what I mean.

          Did you even watch the video you linked or the above video? I would ask you to note particularly where Dr. Greger discusses HDL cholesterol.

          I never said I buy her explanation nor do I endorse a raw food diet.

          • Veganrunner

            Hi Eric,
            I re-watched Dr Greger above. Does he mention triglyceride levels? Did I miss that? Really linked the video but I couldn’t find him talking about triglycerides.

        • Charles Grashow and I discussed this question with her doctor on Twitter. The TG number of 210 was postprandial, not fasting TG. (The doctor’s tests were actually more focused on potential nutritional deficiencies, and the lipids were tested incidentally.) Postprandially that is quite normal. That same number would be of concern if it were fasting TGs.

          The low HDL-C is not worrisome either under her circumstances. If her TGs were over 400 fasting, that would render the LDL-C calculation unreliable.

          As Dr. Ornish points out, the surest way to boost your HDL is to eat a stick of butter. Not the healthy way to go (see Seth Roberts).

          • Really

            How much does TG rise postprandial? Assuming she did fast, would it fall to normal levels from 210? My point is the doctor was disingenuous is leaving that glaring point out of the discussion and claiming she had PERFECT levels when clearly the results said otherwise.

          • How much do your TGs go up after a meal? Considering triglycerides of 150 fasting is considered a normal level, why wouldn’t 210 be normal after a meal? And if 210 is an unremarkable number, why would the doctor have to address it? Yes, he could have thought ahead to head off any potential confusion and debate, but he didn’t.

          • Really

            A 40% TG increase from a raw vegan? Let’s assume her fasting TG is under 100, how much of an increase would that be? 100%?! Eating bacon and eggs wouldn’t shoot TG that high postprandial.

          • charles grashow

            My fasting TGs are 50 – so can we make any assumption as to what my PP TGs would be?

          • charles grashow

            As MacSmiley and I pointed out on Twitter as well – her VLDL was 42 which is not good at all. Dr. Davis said they will be be checking fasted LDL-P so will see if they post those results as well.

    • Veganrunner

      Hi Really,
      Fully Raw Christina looks so Dog-gone healthy I can barely stand it! ( She runs 6 miles per day). Her B12 is off the chart. And if I understand correctly from your Youtube link, she took the supplement “a couple of times” in the last year. I have watched her videos in the past and she has said she doesn’t take B12. How the heck did the B12 get so high. What I noticed was her ferritin level. It is 7 ng/ml. That is low. (granted within “normal’ but just barely). But when mine is that level my legs feel heavy when running. And my endocrinologist says she would like to see it closer to 70 ng/ml. (so i take a plant based liquid iron)

      And as far as cholesterol and triglycerides it should be fasting since that is what the “ideal” levels are based on. I am surprised the doctor ran them. It will be interesting to see the fasting numbers. I do like the explanation from the doctor regarding HDL and how Christina doesn’t have dietary cholesterol in her diet so HDL lower is OK. I have never heard that before.

      So Really are you WFPB? Do you eat animal? I am just curious because Eric said Red Herring and I am wondering if you were just concerned and wanted answers or just saying “see vegans aren’t healthy”.

      So if any of my doctor friends read this should I not be concerned about Christina’s low ferritin (really mine)? Am I just imagining my heavy legs when my ferritin is that low?

      And i really enjoyed re-watching Dr Greger below. I can’t get enough of that brain.

      Also Christina has some great recipes for those that are interested. I am not raw but I enjoy her all the same. Her energy is off the charts. She reminds me of Dr. Greger.

      • Veganrunner
      • Thea

        Veganrunner:

        Interesting topic. I need to check my numbers, but I think I remember my doctor saying the thought my ferritin numbers were low. I have other issues to deal with and he wasn’t really that concerned or clear on the issue, so didn’t really address it. If you don’t mind sharing, what brand/which liquid plant based iron do you use?

        Thanks,
        – JJ

        • Veganrunner

          Hi Thea,
          Gaia Plant Force. It works. Dr Greger has done videos on this before and I have talked with our resident doctors on this site. And they would probably tell me not to worry about it but I swear I can tell a difference when by ferritin is around 10. I have never gotten it above 45 regardless of what I do. Supplement. Eat C foods with meals. Concentrate on high iron foods. I just don’t absorb it well. But what is so curious to me is that Raw Christina must feel OK when she runs. Or at least I am assuming she does.
          You are welcome!
          Gale

          • Thea

            Thanks a bunch!!!

          • Veganrunner

            Thea a bit expensive but no gut issues for me with that particular brand.

          • Thea

            That’s really good to know. I’m willing to spend money on my health. :-)

    • Veganrunner

      You made me concerned Really. I had to pull out my blood work. Triglycerides 79-Whewwwww!

  • Normand

    Is it okay then to eat only egg whites?

    • b00mer

      Hi Normand, please see reply to paulgiomi’s comment with the same question. :)

  • paulgiomi

    Egg whites have no cholesterol and are all protein, are they ok to eat?

    • b00mer

      The following excellent comment courtesy of NF Team Member Toxins – I copied and pasted from another comment thread, hope this is ok with you Toxins. Btw this is one of those responses of yours I had in mind when I suggested an FAQ page a while back :)
      ________________________________________________________________________________________

      1. Egg whites are high in the amino Acid Methionine. Rice has 14 times less of this amino acid and beans 7 time less. When one consumes Methionine in a large quantity (like that found in egg whites), it is broken down into sulfuric compounds. these sulfuric compounds are buffered by the calcium of the bones. the result, over time, is osteoporosis and kidney stones.
      http://www.vivalis.si/literatu

      2.Cancer cell metabolism is dependent upon methionine being present in the diet; whereas normal cells can grow on a methionine-free diet feeding off other sulfur-containing amino acids.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu

      3. Insulin like growth factor is raised significantly by Methionine. Raised levels of IGF-1 = accelerated aging/tumor promotion.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu
      http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org

      4. Sulfur from Methionine is known to be toxic to the tissues of the
      intestine, and to have harmful effects on the human colon, even at low
      levels, possibly causing ulcerative colitis.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu
      http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org

      (information courtesy of Dr. McDougall)

      • Knight

        Wow! I learn so much from this website. Not just the outstanding videos but the comment section as well. Dr. Greger hit the nail on the head when he said “who has time to research this” . That’s why this site is an invaluable resource.

      • Really

        How is methionine in nuts different than in eggs?

        • b00mer

          The methionine in nuts is the same as the methionine in eggs. Methionine is an essential amino acid, and so is present in all whole animal and plant foods. The difference is in the amount: by calorie, egg whites have about 16 times more than nuts (at least the ones I checked – walnuts, cashews, and almonds).

          • Thea

            b00mer: Thanks for answering this. I was going to answer something similar, but you did a better job.

            Just to help supplement what you wrote, I’ll contribute a link I got from Darryl on the topic. He found a list of “Foods Highest In Methionine” from “Self Nutrition Data”. I don’t know how far down you have to go on the list to get to nuts, but it looks pretty far…

            http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000084000000000000000.html?categories=1,18,9,0,13,14,5,4,42,16,17,15,6,3,2,11,7,19,21,12,10,8,22

          • KWD

            Per the nutritiondata link:

            1oz of raw english walnuts = 66.1 mg of methionine
            1oz of whole, dried sesame seeds = 164 mg methionine
            1oz of sunflower seed kernels, dried = 138 mg methionine

            1 egg, whole, cooked, hard-boiled = 533 mg methionine

  • Marcia

    I LOVE this man! Thank goodness he shares so much good information with us all. Thank you, once again, Dr. Greger!

  • dogulas

    This is great! Responses to the most public statements on nutrition are so very needed. Has Dr. Greger made a response to the recent cover article in Time magazine on saturated fat being good for us? “Eat Butter”. Man. How they get away with that sort of thing is beyond me.

    • Daniel Wagle

      Plant positive wrote a good response to this in Plantpositive.com.

      • Thea

        Daniel: Thanks for mentioning that article. I looked it up and thought it was a great piece.

        For anyone interested, here is the actual page that I think Daniel is referring to:

        http://plantpositive.com/blog/2014/6/28/how-time-magazine-sacrificed-its-standards-to-promote-satura.html

      • Unfortunately Plantpositive is not picked up by main stream media. Wouldn’t it be great if Dr Greger was on the front cover of Time magazine exposing all the nutritional myths.

        • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

          Yes! We want dr Greger on the front cover of Time Magazine!

          • Veganrunner

            Hi.
            We are not hearing from you enough. I miss your funny and informative posts.

          • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

            Veganrunner,
            I like your posts!

        • Arjan den Hollander.

          I can take a hit and a insult to boot and keep on reading if it gets me better information. And I am no sweatheart myself even a quite difficult man to make a point come across, but Mr. Plantpositive has me beat by miles in abrasiveness and after about 60 video’s I just had to take a long break from his attitude. Still not feeling particularly jumping at resuming the torture after a 2 months break.

          There is a very good reason he is not being picked up by mainstream media, I suspect its a kind of a OCD/autism thing going on there, I don’t want to go full douche here on the guy, but damn he really is hard to swallow. Completely belittleling attitude towards just about everybody and towards thoughts readers/listeners might have while going through his work. He should get some proof reading support before he does his vids, to make it more palatable.

          There was however so much of what he put up also on Gregers site, that could conclude there is some coöperation going on between the two. In that case Greger being the face was certainly the right call.

          • Toxins

            I think plant positive uses such an attitude in some situations when the offender is extremely dishonest or is hurting people’s health. Especially when they are renowned by the low carb community yet completely foolish. I think its more of a passionate tone, as his site and Dr. Greger’s are very different. Plant positive exists to debunk paleo myths exclusively, Dr. Greger is here to spread the latest in clinical nutrition. For the most part plant positive seems to restrain himself, especially in response to anthony colpo.

          • Arjan den Hollander.

            Stuff like:
            I would be a fool to take fish(oil) for my fatty acids.
            People who prefer going to the gym instead of using their brain are %$@&^% (can’t remember)
            He is a primeval ape because he spends his time lifting weights, if that is how you want to spend your time you deserve ……
            No thank you very much, with the slight implication that everybody who at any time did take the other option was a easily gullible moron.

            You can make a list half a book long if you would have the patience of really going through all his video’s.
            And certainly only partially directed to promoters of bad science, he actually snuffs at people for just enjoying leasure time.
            In the end every single living person on accord of his or her past decisions gets ridiculed for some of their life choices.
            You can not sell something by slapping people in the face, it really is as simple as that
            The youtube numbers speak for themselves, 2 year old movies with less than 3000 views average.

            The guy should really find help, a few people who can help him filter out the condescending ego orgasms, edit his work a bit.
            And make his message palatable to more than just the most extreme hardcore nutrition facts junkies.
            I really think its a shame that he just completely destroys his own effords.
            Maybe there is a Amy Farrah Fowler out there for him, to just take bucked loads of shit and walk with it?

          • Toxins

            Much of that is taken out of context, nor is all of that negative. It has never bothered me. I feel that the information he shares is worth hearing if I have to hear a few witty remarks.

    • Daniel Wagle

      Plant positive wrote a good response to this in Plantpositive.com.

    • How did they get away with that?

      Poor journalism and ad-driven hitmongering sensationalism. More specifically? By not factchecking the references in the highly inaccurate book upon which that article (and dozens like it) was based.

  • Julie

    Wow, this is one of my favorite videos so far! I love how Dr. Greger integrates the effect of eggs on LDL cholesterol, “fluffy LDL” & oxidized LDL with all the false claims out there that eggs are a healthy food. Well done!

  • Arjan den Hollander.

    Ehwww, stabbed and shot? Must be better analogues than that particular one. Its kinda tacky.

  • It’s all over the InterWebs, repeated by Dr. Oz, countless low-carbers rationalizing their atrocious lipids, and this pseudo-factoid has unfortunately even been repeated by Dr. Esselstyn in one of the videos on his website, as well as in “The Last Heart Attack” news special that was on a couple of years ago.

    Thomas Dayspring was correctly pithy when he said that fluffy is an idiotic adjective for large LDL.

    https://twitter.com/drlipid/status/481980713626267648

  • guest

    Has Dr. Greger addressed the author Nina Teicholz and her book, The Big Fat Surprise? I heard her on NPR and now I am confused.

  • AA

    Dr. Greger, Thank you very much for providing this information. In the previous egg video, I asked these very questions. This video is the direct answer to my questions. I have always had two eggs a day. Now you have given me something to really think about.

  • Tom Lang

    Like almost everything in life, you can line up experts on both sides of almost any argument or hypothesis. Even credible experts on both sides – which the author of this study clearly is not since she has a glaring conflict of interest, having received funding from the Egg Marketing Board and then claims she has “no conflict of interest”. Puh-lease!.

    So for just a minute let’s put aside our prejudices against omnivores (or vegans) and look at some facts with a truly open mind.

    I like to listen to both sides of an argument, look at the facts (not theories) from both sides and especially look at our evolutionary history to see what kinds of foods people all over the world have eaten for thousands, and hundreds of thousands, of years that sustain optimal health. That says more to me than anything any expert can say.

    So here is a fact to chew on that will likely cause some indigestion for many:

    1. Despite low cholesterol intake vegans and vegetarians do not live any longer or healthier lives than omnivores and carnivores.

    (As Dr. Gregor correctly points out it’s better to look at meta analysis (of many studies on one topic) rather than single studies which may be biased. That’s exactly the kind of meta analysis done in 1999 and again in 2009. They had identical conclusions:

    The 1999 meta analysis concluded “Comparing overall death rates between 27,808 vegetarians and 48,364 meat eaters there were no significant differences between vegetarians and non-vegetarians in mortality from cerebrovascular disease, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer or all other causes combined.”

    The more recent 2009 analysis (The EPIC-Oxford Study), reviewed the largest sample of vegetarians (33,883) ever examined and came up with identical conclusions, i.e. “Within the study, mortality from circulatory diseases and all causes is not significantly different between vegetarians and meat eaters.”

    So if eating eggs, meat and other animal foods is so dangerous to health, then non-vegans should be dropping like flies at much earlier ages. Despite what we might like to philosophically or morally believe, the facts prove this simply is not the case.

    The traditional Okinawan people have the longest lifespans in the world – plus generally excellent health until they finally die – and they eat fish and seafood 3 times a week.

    In southern Italy there is a blue zone where men live typically to 90 and 100 and they eat a fair amount of meat.

    Same in a blue zone in Greece with more emphasis on seafood and squid.

    That does not mean people should eat unlimited amounts of animal foods and animal food products. The Blue Zones proved that diverse people in 5 totally different regions of the world that on average lived longest (typically to ages 90-100) in excellent health ate different diets, largely based on whole plant foods, but NONE of these groups were vegans. Even in the only American group in the Blue Zones, the 7th Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California, only 4% of them were vegans.

    So in my humble opinion their are valid moral, ethical and religious reasons to be vegan but claiming “it’s better for your health” is simply not true as the facts show.

    To paraphrase Mr. Spock:

    “Eat a wide variety of foods, mainly whole plant foods, as well as organic wild and wild-type animal foods, then you can Live Long and prosper.”

    Here are the links to the two meta analyses I referred to above:

    Key TJ, Fraser GE, Thorogood M, Appleby PN, Beral V, Reeves G, Burr ML, Chang-Claude J, Frentzel-Beyme R, Kuzma JW, Mann J, McPherson K. Mortality in vegetarians and nonvegetarians: detailed findings from a collaborative analysis of 5 prospective studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Sep;70(3 Suppl):516S-524S.

    Key TJ, Appleby PN, Spencer EA, Travis RC, Roddam AW, Allen NE. Mortality in British vegetarians: results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Oxford). Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1613S-1619S

    • Fair points, but no comment on the main focus of this video, the harm that can be done by what some, including yourself, call ” the essential harmless ‘big fluffy’ particles of LDL versus the high density small particle LDL”?

    • AA

      Tom Lang, you raise a good point about all of these pieces of theory that don’t fit with what really happens in various Blue Zones. As I mentioned previously the Kitavians are free of CHD with saturated fat and fish intake. But one thing that is interesting here is that I believe the Greeks, Okinawans, Kitavians, etc. all have a diet rich in plant foods. Their meat/fish consumption was very low relative to most American/European diets. Some researchers have postulated that there is a J curve for health and longevity for meat/fish consumption. A small about of meat/fish can be helpful, but if you eat too much it could be very bad. Others have suggested that meat/fish and eating tribes in Africa and the groups from frozen north that have very little plant foods are free of problems. But, I have heard conflicting information on how healthy these groups are.
      I would like to hear someone answer you and fit these pieces of the puzzle together. Is there one theory that really fits reality? I am not sure anyone knows what it is because of all of the complexities here.

    • JH

      Hi Tom,

      Same here… from 2014:

      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016752731401290X

      “Data from observational studies indicates that there is modest cardiovascular benefit, but no clear reduction in overall mortality associated with a vegetarian diet. This evidence of benefit is driven mainly by studies in SDA, whereas the effect of vegetarian diet in other cohorts remains unproven.”

      What is going on here?

      JH

      • JH

        However… this is a nice article. Eating fruits and vegtables does decrease risc….
        http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g4490.short
        About 5 servings a day is enough according to this systematic review, more does not provide more benefits. It also mentiones the strange result that vegetarians have no lower mortality risc.

      • Thule

        The fact that vegetarian doesn’t mean vegan. Those people eat plenty of animal products daily, all but meat.

      • Jean

        The SDA’s I know really do not have that healthy of a vegetarian diet. A few do but the majority eat rich foods, cheese covers everything, use plenty of oil, and they chow down on the desserts. Vegan or vegetarian does not equal a healthy diet.

    • JH

      Maybe it’s because of “Subnormal vitamin B-12 status is prevalent (50%–70%) in vegetarians or vegans in Austria Germany, Italy, Australia, India and China ”

      http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/6/8/3259/htm

    • Jen Drost, Physician Assi

      Hi Tom,

      I like your logical and scientific approach–Spock would be proud! :)) Not sure if you’ve had the chance to already see it, but here is a thoughtful piece Dr. G. made about the EPIC studies: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/epic-study/

    • Thea

      re: “Despite low cholesterol intake vegans and vegetarians do not live any longer or healthier lives than omnivores and carnivores.”

      Here is a study showing vegetarians/vegans living significantly longer: (From PCRM Breaking News e-mail):

      “Vegetarians Live Longer

      Vegetarian diets can extend life expectancy, according to early findings from the Adventist Health Study-2. Vegetarian men live to an average of 83.3 years, compared with nonvegetarian men who live to an average of 73.8 years. And vegetarian women live to an average of 85.7 years, which is 6.1 years longer than nonvegetarian women. This study is ongoing and includes more than 96,000 participants. The results further indicate vegan diets to be healthful and associated with a lower body weight (on average 30 lbs. lower than that of meat eaters), and lower risk of diabetes, compared with diets that include animal products.

      Fraser G, Haddad E. Hot Topic: Vegetarianism, Mortality and Metabolic Risk: The New Adventist Health Study. Report presented at: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic (Food and Nutrition Conference) Annual Meeting; October 7, 2012: Philadelphia, PA.”

      I know that some older studies show differently, but I believe the tide is turning as people learn how to eat healthy, not just vegan. Dr. Greger is working on a book about living longer. I’m very excited to see what he says in that book as it will be based on the latest information. For me, I think it is just basic common sense that if you are in a group that is getting less cancer, heart disease, etc, then your group is going to live longer.

      • Tom Lang

        Hi Thea,

        Just a quick reply.

        I agree that slowly the tide is turning that some people are beginning to learn that they can heal themselves by eating healthier and being more active.

        For me one of the “gold standards” in living a healthy and very, very long life are the examples set by the many 90 and 100 year olds in the 5 Blue Zones. Although none of them are vegans, they do eat a mainly whole plant foods diet.

        Their longevity is also do to other factors aside from their diet. They do a huge amount of physical labor/activity their entire lives, have a tight knit supportive social community, have a strong spiritual base, abundant clean air, low stress, very strong family support and several other factors that all contribute toward a long and healthy life. It’s more than just the food they eat or don’t eat but that certainly plays a role.

        I look forward to Dr G’s forthcoming book.

        Tom

      • AA

        Tom & Thea, here is the link to the more recent info on AHS2: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23836264

        It actually shows that Pesco-vegitarians may be more healthy than Vegans.

        Here is another Paper “Does low meat consumption increase life expectancy in humans?1,2,3

        http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/526S.long
        Both of these ideas are somewhat more supportive of the diet in these Blue Zones vs being a Vegan.

        • Toxins

          I think it is important to note that a quality of a vegan diet can range significantly. A processed food vegan cannot be accurately compared with a whole foods plant based low fat vegan.These are 2 different animals.

      • Really

        How many centenarians are or were vegans/vegetarians?

    • Thule

      Just a quick note, I saw that all the studies you mention were about vegetarians, but you comment about it as if the studies were done on vegans, like:

      “So if eating eggs, meat and other animal foods is so dangerous to
      health, then non-vegans should be dropping like flies at much earlier
      ages. Despite what we might like to philosophically or morally believe,
      the facts prove this simply is not the case.”

      Vegetarian in those studies are ovolacto vegetarians — and you can bet a few among them who also ate fish and still called themselves “vegetarians”, simply because they didn’t eat meat, but eat ALL other animal products.

      Vegans were such a tiny number that didn’t have any studies done until later.

  • Katerina P.

    I read about the blue zones and the fact that they are consuming fish and they live longer at a comment below. That is partially true. This is not (the only reason) why people from Ikaria for example, live so long. First of all, they consume vegetables, and legumes mostly, and not so much read meat. They use olive oil to cook and not margarines and stuff like that. They drink red wine, they move, and then we have Vitamine D (we have loads of sunny days :)). We do not like the McDonalds. I know the post might be irrelevant to the subject of the video but I just wanted to answer to that comment. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/magazine/the-island-where-people-forget-to-die.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

  • claudio santana

    hey Dr Greger, what do you think of carbonated drinks?

    like caffeine free sodas, non alcoholic sweet malts, gassy water.
    trying to use them to get more carbs in.

    • largelytrue

      Are you saying that you would be calorie deficient without drinking these things? Why do you think it’s a good idea to consume empty calories?

      • claudio santana

        not deficient but would like to eat more, I know I know have natural juice,
        malt seems like a plant based low fat, kinda wholefood. I was thinking about some alternatives to plain water or fuit juice or coffee.
        im curious because maybe the carbonation makes the drink too acid, so that offsets the benefits of the drink.

  • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

    No matter how hard the egg administration tries to twist science, no matter how much they argue, no matter how loud the yell, no matter how hard they try to ignore dr. Greger (and Toxins!) – the fact remains: Eggs are a very unhealthy food…..the only positive thing you can say about eggs is that it promotes discussion….but at the same promotes atherosclerosis…..

    • Really

      It’s not the egg, bacon, or butter that raises cholesterol, but rather the vegan muffin, pancake, waffle, hash brown, syrup, sugar in the coffee, and fruit juices in the morning.

  • Dan Jackson

    does this mean my egg beaters are not so good for me???

    • Thea

      Dan Jackson, Short answer: Stay away from anything containing any real egg, including egg beaters. There are two problems with eggs, the yolk and the white. (To paraphrase Dr. Barnard.)

      Long answer: According to Wikipedia, here is what is in egg beaters:
      “”Egg Beaters is primarily egg whites with added flavorings, vitamins, and thickeners xanthan gum and guar gum. It contains no egg yolks.”

      Since egg beaters do not have egg yolks, the cholesterol issue is not in play. But egg whites are just as bad for you. Dr. Barnard talks about the problems that animal protein presents for kidney health. Other experts talk about the (strong in my opinion) link between animal protein and cancer. The question scientists then want to answer is: Is there a causal link? If so, what is the mechanism by which animal protein might cause cancer?

      If memory serves, Dr Campbell in The China Study mentions several ways in which we think that animal protein causes and promotes cancer. Here on NutritionFacts, you can get a great education on how animal protein is linked to the body’s over-production of a growth hormone called IGF-1. IGF-1 helps cancer to grow. To watch the series about IGF-1, click on the link below and then keep clicking the “next video” link on the button to the right until you get through the bodybuilding video. Then you will have seen the entire series.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/igf-1-as-one-stop-cancer-shop/

      And Darryl recently reminded me about the methionine issue. Egg whites have *the* highest concentration of methionine of any food:
      http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000084000000000000000.html?categories=1,18,9,0,13,14,5,4,42,16,17,15,6,3,2,11,7,19,21,12,10,8,22
      Dr. Greger did a nice video showing the link between methionine and cancer. So, now you know two clear pathways linking animal proteins, especially egg whites, to cancer.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/starving-cancer-with-methionine-restriction/

      Darryl also pointed out that, “…high methionine diets increase coronary risk in humans. In its associations with cardiovascular disease and other disorders, homocysteine may be functioning partly as a marker for the major culprit, excess methionine.”
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0939475305001092

      And while I can’t find it right now, I believe that Toxins has pointed out some other health issues with egg whites.

      With all of the information we have about the harmful effects of animal protein in general and egg white in particular, I think it’s best to stay away from egg white. Why not get your protein from safe sources? Sources which are known to have lots of positive health effects and will naturally give you a balanced amount of protein? (ie: whole plant foods) Make sense?

      • Dan Jackson

        Thank you so much for such a detailed answer….very appreciated…dan

      • Thanks very much. I’m keeping a copy of these concise answers to forward to those who (as I used to) figure they’ve found a loophole to continue eating animal products without the risk. In my view the info presented by this NFteam is literally adding many healthy years to readers lives. Tell me where you live and I’ll come mow your lawn … soon.

        • Thea

          Coacervate: I don’t deserve any credit here. I’m basically just repeating what others have put together, especially Toxins and Darryl. But when I have the time, I do try to answer this particular question, because it comes up *all* the time. And understandably so. People deserve an answer.

          I’m so happy I helped more than one person with this answer!

          • I’m basically just repeating what others have put together,” … Thats what we all do. except the lab boffins. Some are honest and some are just making it up as they go along. Those are the most dangerous of all!

          • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

            Agree. Thea is too humble. Thea adds value to this site.

  • Robert Monie

    I agree that following a low-fat, plant-based diet is no guarantee that you will have a low or acceptable triglyceride level. But triglyceride levels can be controlled by selection of certain plant foods and rejection of others. Reject refined foods such as flours and white rice, empty calorie sugars, fruit juices. and smoothies. Some people may also have to restrict whole fruit consumption. Select foods that tend to keep triglyceride levels low, such as beans, lentils, and greens. Some people may benefit from getting most of their calorie intake from these three foods plus other vegetables, and a starch-resistant whole grain such as dark teff. Avoid less starch-resistant grains like regular corn and wheat. It would also be interesting to explore the practice of taking an amla tablet with each meal, along with a few nuts such as walnuts, and some potato starch. Potato starch, though it looks like a taboo, white, refined food, isn’t anything like potato flour; it has one of the highest starch resistant compositions of any food, and might be useful in regulating both blood sugar and triglycerides. Esselystn tells everyone to eat more legumes and greens, and he is absolutely right. The whole field of starch-resistant plant foods needs more investigation.

  • judas_priest

    In the website run by Dr. Ben Kim, a Canadian Chiropractor (who, while not a Vegan, advocates a diet based primarily on plant products – http://drbenkim.com/) I encountered a comment he made saying that the problem with cholesterol in eggs is eliminated (or at least reduced) by eating (infrequently) organic eggs cooked without their being subjected to high heat. Specifically he says that it is subjecting the cholesterol to high heat in the cooking process that produces the adverse effects. He recommends a Korean dish made by steaming eggs. This is would also appear to apply as well to the “65 degree” egg – that’s Celsius -, cooked for a long time at 65 degrees (150 Fahrenheit). This produces solid white and liquid yolk. They are delicious, but I now longer eat animal products. I wonder if somebody can comment on the underlying claims.

    • largelytrue

      Well, did he provide some sort of citation for this claim? If not I might presume that he’s just blowing steam in the way of keeping his customer base broad.

    • Toxins

      Hello Judas Priest,

      I think what Dr. Kim is trying to get at is that oxidized cholesterol does not cause problems, although I have not seen any direct research showing the effects of low heat cooking on cholesterol oxidation. Regardless, oxidized cholesterol is not required for plaques to form, nor is inflammation. Inflammation certainly accelerates the process, but it is not the only thing that matters in the development of plaques. It has been shown that non oxidized LDL also constitutes plaque.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2877120/

      And also nonoxidized LDL typically precedes oxidized LDL in plaque formation.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1850639/

      I think its also interesting to note that saturated fat alone may produce inflammatory byproducts by your gut bacteria, thus influencing the level of oxidized cholesterol in the blood.

      “In a comprehensive literature review, we show that the body preferentially upregulates inflammation in response to saturated FA that promote harmful microbes. In contrast, the host often reduces inflammation in response to the many unsaturated FA with antimicrobial properties.”

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22970557

      Consuming unoxidized cholesterol will still increase serum cholesterol if your baseline is not already high.

      “Serum cholesterol concentration is clearly increased by added dietary cholesterol but the magnitude of predicted change is modulated by baseline dietary cholesterol. The greatest response is expected when baseline dietary cholesterol is near zero, while little, if any, measurable change would be expected once baseline dietary cholesterol was >400-500 mg/d. People desiring maximal reduction of serum cholesterol by dietary means may have to reduce their dietary cholesterol to minimal level”

      http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/55/6/1060.full.pdf

      For these reasons, I don’t think it is supported by the evidence that eggs cooked on low heat are any healthier then eggs cooked normally.

  • I know of one man who understood on an intellectual level that he was not making the lifestyle changes required to be healthy, but kept putting it off or backsliding. How could this one plate of eggs bacon sausage and spam hurt? Then he had the attack, the bypass, the recurring nightmare of angina. Then his understanding became more …. heart-felt. He’s doing so much better now that he got that click in his head. He that said the pleasure trap just ain’t worth it. I see him every morning when I brush my teeth.

    It is not easy for some to break their addiction. I had to adjust. The chopping up of the first steamed kale and potato casserole was a little difficult. After that it was just like spittin … now the angina is gone, the IBS(!), the weird mood swings, the joint/muscle pain. Just try it for a month and find out for yourself who is talking sense. WHOLE PLANT FOODS.

    • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

      You are living proof !!
      Hope you brush your teeth in the evening too :-)
      There is a link between poor dental health and heart disease (probably inflammation)

      • Thanks PSDoc…message received and understood.

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    Fernandez “chickened out” !!

  • Adrian

    Can you please restore the transcript function which no longer works since the introduction of your new format.
    You managed to do so once, but now it does not work at all. I have mentioned this 3 times now & have been ignored.
    Not everyone has the speeds or likes the video format. Please attend to this. Thanks.

  • ifdmike

    So are egg whites “only” just as bad or is the yolk the culprit?

    • Egg whites are about 95% protein and very little fat. They shouldn’t be a problem from a cholesterol stand point but intake of protein especially animal protein is a problem over the long run. There are over 60 video’s relating to protein… you might start with http://nutritionfacts.org/video/caloric-restriction-vs-animal-protein-restriction/.

    • Thea

      ifdmike: There are two problems with eggs, the yolk and the white. (To paraphrase Dr. Barnard.)

      Since egg whites do not have egg yolks, the cholesterol issue is not in play. But egg whites are just as bad for you. Dr. Barnard talks about the problems that animal protein presents for kidney health. Other experts talk about the (strong in my opinion) link between animal protein and cancer. The question scientists then want to answer is: Is there a causal link? If so, what is the mechanism by which animal protein might cause cancer?

      If memory serves, Dr Campbell in The China Study mentions several ways in which we think that animal protein causes and promotes cancer. Here on NutritionFacts, you can get a great education on how animal protein is linked to the body’s over-production of a growth hormone called IGF-1. IGF-1 helps cancer to grow. To watch the series about IGF-1, click on the link below and then keep clicking the “next video” link on the button to the right until you get through the bodybuilding video. Then you will have seen the entire series.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/igf-1-as-one-stop-cancer-shop/

      And Darryl recently reminded me about the methionine issue. Egg whites have *the* highest concentration of methionine of any food:
      http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000084000000000000000.html?categories=1,18,9,0,13,14,5,4,42,16,17,15,6,3,2,11,7,19,21,12,10,8,22
      Dr. Greger did a nice video showing the link between methionine and cancer. So, there are two clear pathways linking animal proteins, especially egg whites, to cancer.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/starving-cancer-with-methionine-restriction/

      Darryl also pointed out that, “…high methionine diets increase coronary risk in humans. In its associations with cardiovascular disease and other disorders, homocysteine may be functioning partly as a marker for the major culprit, excess methionine.”
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0939475305001092

      And while I can’t find it right now, I believe that Toxins has pointed out two other health issues with egg whites.

      With all of the information we have about the harmful effects of animal protein in general and egg white in particular, I think it’s best to stay away from egg white. Why not get your protein from safe sources? Sources which are known to have lots of positive health effects and will naturally give you a balanced amount of protein? (ie: whole plant foods) Make sense?

  • Cappy228

    What about eliminating egg yokes from diet but retaining egg whites?

    • Thea

      Cappy228: There are two problems with eggs, the yolk and the white. (To paraphrase Dr. Barnard.)

      Since egg whites do not have egg yolks, the cholesterol issue is not in play. But egg whites are just as bad for you. Dr. Barnard talks about the problems that animal protein presents for kidney health. Other experts talk about the (strong in my opinion) link between animal protein and cancer. The question scientists then want to answer is: Is there a causal link? If so, what is the mechanism by which animal protein might cause cancer?

      If memory serves, Dr Campbell in The China Study mentions several ways in which we think that animal protein causes and promotes cancer. Here on NutritionFacts, you can get a great education on how animal protein is linked to the body’s over-production of a growth hormone called IGF-1. IGF-1 helps cancer to grow. To watch the series about IGF-1, click on the link below and then keep clicking the “next video” link on the button to the right until you get through the bodybuilding video. Then you will have seen the entire series.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/igf-1-as-one-stop-cancer-shop/

      And Darryl recently reminded me about the methionine issue. Egg whites have *the* highest concentration of methionine of any food:
      http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000084000000000000000.html?categories=1,18,9,0,13,14,5,4,42,16,17,15,6,3,2,11,7,19,21,12,10,8,22
      Dr. Greger did a nice video showing the link between methionine and cancer. So, there are two clear pathways linking animal proteins, especially egg whites, to cancer.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/starving-cancer-with-methionine-restriction/

      Darryl also pointed out that, “…high methionine diets increase coronary risk in humans. In its associations with cardiovascular disease and other disorders, homocysteine may be functioning partly as a marker for the major culprit, excess methionine.”
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0939475305001092

      And while I can’t find it right now, I believe that Toxins has pointed out two other health issues with egg whites.

      With all of the information we have about the harmful effects of animal protein in general and egg white in particular, I think it’s best to stay away from egg white. Why not get your protein from safe sources? Sources which are known to have lots of positive health effects and will naturally give you a balanced amount of protein? (ie: whole plant foods) Make sense?

      • Cappy228

        Thanks for the reply. I understand. I like to bake. I use minimum egg white in my recipe. But I wondered what harm I was doing. Thanks again.

        • Thea

          Cappy228: Glad I could help.

          re: Baking. Have you experimented with “Flax eggs”? For recipes that call for 1 or 2 eggs, “flax eggs” work very, very well as a substitution. Then, not only would you be avoiding the problems with egg whites, but you would be gaining the great benefits of eating flax.

          A flax egg is typically described something like this: mix 1 tablespoon well-ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. I think I’ve seen recommendations about using warm water. But other times, I have seen recommendations about putting the mixture in the fridge for those say 10 minutes. And other times nothing is mentioned about temperature.

          I think it is worth playing around with.

          • Harriet Sugar Miller

            Thea, is there a problem with all those sensitive omega 3s in flax oxidizing when exposed to heat?

          • Thea

            Harriet: I believe that Dr. Greger has a video which addresses heat and flax, but I couldn’t find it. I’m not sure that video 100% answers your question anyway. I was able to find a post from someone else named “Jean” some time ago. She wrote:

            “Fortunately, the omega-3 in ground flaxseeds have been shown to remain unaffected when exposed to temperatures of up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, as part of a muffin mix, for two hours.
            http://www.livestrong.com/article/394798-can-we-cook-ground-flaxseed/
            Found several web sites that say this same information but none of them sited who researched this.”

            So, I don’t know if this is true or not. If you find the actual study which says this, let me know. :-)

  • VeganMatrix

    Please help me with this problem. I went vegan Sept. 1, 2014, following the McDougall and Eselstyn eating plan. I had blood drawn 9-16-14 and my total cholesterol was 166. I was excited to try and get it to ‘heart attack proof’ of 150 or lower. I received my new blood report yesterday, 11-18-14 and my new Total Cholesterol number is now 191!!! WHat?!! I am SOOO discouraged and confused. I have been cooking totally differently without oils, eating more beans, greens and grains than ever. How can it go up? I can’t find ANY info on a vegan diet making the cholesterol rise. My naturopath told me it’s fine and not to worry about it. That it’s just my body balancing to its natural number. I can’t trust this after all the lectures I’ve watched over a lower cholesterol number and I am perplexed. Thank you for any help given.

    • Thea

      VeganMatrix: Well dang. Most of the time people experience only healthy outcomes of switching to the diets recommended by McDougall and Esselstyn (WFPB = whole food plant based). And as you describe, it sure sounds like you are sticking to that diet. So, your results are not just confusing, but sure to be frustrating.

      I’m not a doctor, but I have three thoughts for you. 1) incorrect results – it is possible that one or both of the tests you took gave you wrong numbers. What if your initial test was wrong and now you are lower than you were? Or what if this latest test is just wrong? Did you do a fasting test each time so that the results are comparable? Did they use the same lab for both tests? I raise this as a suggestion because, like you, I don’t remember ever hearing of a WFPB diet making someone’s cholesterol worse. So, maybe your are special (yeah? ;-) ) or maybe the tests are wrong.

      2) Are you losing weight? I may be incorrect on this, but I have the idea in my head that when you are in the process of losing weight, it can mess with your numbers.

      3) Is two and a half months enough time to really evaluate? I don’t think your naturopath’s idea of your body finding it’s natural number makes sense if your cholesterol really did go up. But on the other hand, maybe it is natural (just a wild guess here!) to have some fluctuations during a transition (which you are still in in my opinion) and after some time (don’t know how much!) you will get closer to that 150 mark. ???

      I really don’t know. Those are just some ideas. On the proactive side, I highly recommend taking a look at the following link. You should be able to use the foods listed at the bottom to tweak your current WFPB diet in order to maximize cholesterol lowering.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/cholesterol/

      Hope that helps.

  • VeganMatrix

    sorry for the wrong spelling- Esselstyn!

  • VeganMatrix

    Thea: Thank you very much for you response since this has me completely perplexed and discouraged. I spent the month of August vacationing overseas and it was a time of indulgence. I went from 123 lbs to 127 lbs ( 41 yr old, female, 5’3 inches) I decided upon arriving home to start a plant based diet. Spending hours watching NF videos, Esselstyn/Caldwell Lectures, and watching plant-based chefs. I stir-fry in water, eat lots of rice/veggies, vegan chili/stews, grains and started consuming lots of potatoes/root vegetables. During this time, I upped my coffee/espresso intake (4-6 a day) since my circumstance provides all the free coffee bar drinks I want. Could that be the culprit alone? The new foods I transitioned with are Gardein products (2-3x per week), soy milk daily, tofu 1-2x per week. I cut out the use of eggs, dairy, butter – but use rationed amounts of vegenaise, earth balance 1-2x per week. I have no idea…

    1. I have lost the weight gained over my vacation month and am down to 122 lbs. I run 3x per week usually on a treadmill making sure I complete 3.2 miles each time.

    2. The first test was a preventative to see my baselines from my ob-gyn. The second testing was from a different office (naturopath). Maybe one did it wrong? I am so concerned and discouraged it might be worth paying to have it drawn again but I don’t want to waste money having it done too soon. Should I wait two months, keep eating WFPB but risk another jump in numbers?

    3. I have read online (Harvard website) that some people turn carbohydrates in glucose quickly and it raises their triglycerides too much? Should I go back to more condensed forms of protein (animal products and lower the complex carbs) Although the idea of eating animal products is traumatizing to me, now that I’ve taken in so much information. I am truly at a loss on how to proceed. The thought of my cholesterol jumping 25 points in 2 months is terrifying to me. Especially since my husband ( who’s family is rampant with heart disease) and my 4-year old eat the same way. Am I harming my health and my family’s health in a misguided attempt to be healthier?

    Once again, thank you for listening and responding. It feels better to atleast type this frustration out!

    • Thea

      VeganMatrix: That coffee question is interesting. I had never heard of a link between coffee and cholesterol before, but your post prompted me to do a quick search. It turns out, there is some evidence of a link. I don’t generally follow Dr. Weil, because I think a lot of his information isn’t that good, but this page seems pretty helpful:
      http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA401225/Does-Coffee-Raise-Cholesterol.html

      So, it depends on the type of coffee. And also note this sentence which I think is key: “They found no relationship between the amount of coffee the study subjects consumed and an increased risk of death from any cause, including cancer or cardiovascular disease.”

      Note that our NutritionFacts.org site generally has positive things to say about coffee. (But far more positive things to say about green tea. So, if you can make the switch, that’s even healthier.)

      Your diet is not perfect, but it sure is a million times better than most people’s diet. So, my lay person’s gut feeling is that your current diet would not contribute to cholesterol raising above what your previous diet was.

      I do think it is key that you likely had the two tests done at different labs. And also I think it is key to try to remember what time of day the two tests were done. It’s my understanding that cholesterol levels can change over the course of a day – especially after eating. While we may live most of our lives in a post-prandial (after meal) state, I would think that one would have to do fasting cholesterol tests in order to be able to compare results from two different test. I may be wrong about that, but if I’m right and if your second test was not done say in the morning before breakfast, it could be really hard to compare results of the two test – if they are even right.

      Since you are so stressed about this, I would suggest doing something to ease your mind now rather than waiting. But if you at all can, I would go back to the ob-gyn because that is where you got your baseline.

      I would also want to make sure that when you were given both numbers, they were talking about the same thing. Were both numbers from the tests about total cholesterol? Can you double-check?

      Triglycerides is different than cholesterol. It is a different type of fat. If your cholesterol levels went up, that doesn’t tell you what happened to your triglycerides. Also, I would think that there is no way that adding cholesterol back into your diet would help lower cholesterol. So, there is no reason to traumatize yourself with adding unhealthy food back into your diet.

      I think you should be proud of what you have accomplished so far. See if you can get another test with the same lab as the first one. If waiting won’t be too big of a burden, it might help to wait so that you have some real time to see differences. If the third test shows you are right in line or just below the second test, then you would have some pretty good evidence that your current diet is not causing your cholesterol to continue to spiral through the roof. And it may show that the first test was just a freak, wrong test. Or it may be that the third test is right in line with the first, indicating that the second test was wrong… I think you just need more data before making decisions.

      That’s my 2 cents. I hope you will report back and let us know how it went.

      • VeganMatrix

        Thea, once again THANK YOU for having compassion for my question and giving me a better perspective! I took a deep breath and decided that it is too little information to make any adjustments back toward cholesterol-laden foods. The coffee connection is interesting. All coffee I drink comes from a french press, so I will start cutting back now. Thanks for the link. I am going to keep trying to learn the WFPB recipes and tweak our diets away from the vegan transitional foods. I think I left some really healthy habits (although I was consuming animal products) I think I have used more ‘vegan junk foods’ than is advised. (vegenaise, earth balance) I am going to cut back on all of that. I feel so much less inflammation in my body and no longer need pain relievers on a regular basis. Also my digestion has been working better than ever. My skin looks great and the lymph nodes in my neck are not swollen for the first time that I can remember! With those benefits I can’t see going backwards just b/c of some cholesterol tests. Neither one of the tests showed the differentials just TOTAL Cholesterol number. (both were fasting tests, but different times of day, with different amounts of time- 15 hours of fasting on 1st, 11 hours of fasting on 2nd) I am going to give it a few more months and test again with the 1st lab. Thanks again for all your time and thoughtfulness in your responses. Happy Vegan Thanksgiving to you and yours! ;)

  • Stewart789

    Can you believe this video from the Discovery channel?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhFbsvb2jbQ

    They even used a study from Maria Fernandez in the video (1:29).

    DNews usually does a great job on their research. What a disappointment…

  • schki

    I have heard many people say that eggs and especially egg whites are good for us. You clearly show why whole eggs are bad but how do I answer the egg white issue?

    • Thea

      schki: Here is what I share with people when they ask about egg whites:

      There are two problems with eggs, the yolk and the white. (To paraphrase Dr. Barnard.)

      With egg whites, the cholesterol issue is not in play. But egg whites are just as bad for you. Dr. Barnard talks about the problems that animal protein presents for kidney health. Other experts talk about the (strong in my opinion) link between animal protein and cancer. The question scientists then want to answer is: Is there a causal link? If so, what is the mechanism by which animal protein might cause cancer?

      If memory serves, Dr Campbell in The China Study mentions several ways in which we think that animal protein causes and promotes cancer. Here on NutritionFacts, you can get a great education on how animal protein is linked to the body’s over-production of a growth hormone called IGF-1. IGF-1 helps cancer to grow. To watch the series about IGF-1, click on the link below and then keep clicking the “next video” link on the button to the right until you get through the bodybuilding video. Then you will have seen the entire series.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/igf-1-as-one-stop-cancer-shop/

      And Darryl recently reminded me about the methionine issue. Egg whites have *the* highest concentration of methionine of any food:
      http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000084000000000000000.html?categories=1,18,9,0,13,14,5,4,42,16,17,15,6,3,2,11,7,19,21,12,10,8,22
      Dr. Greger did a nice video showing the link between methionine and cancer. So, there are two clear pathways linking animal proteins, especially egg whites, to cancer.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/starving-cancer-with-methionine-restriction/

      Darryl also pointed out that, “…high methionine diets increase coronary risk in humans. In its associations with cardiovascular disease and other disorders, homocysteine may be functioning partly as a marker for the major culprit, excess methionine.”
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0939475305001092

      And while I can’t find it right now, I believe that Toxins has pointed out two other health issues with egg whites.

      With all of the information we have about the harmful effects of animal protein in general and egg white in particular, I think it’s best to stay away from egg white. Why not get your protein from safe sources? Sources which are known to have lots of positive health effects and will naturally give you a balanced amount of protein? (ie: whole plant foods) Make sense?

      • schki

        THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS! I really appreciate the time you took to answer it and all the amazing information that you all put out! I will share this with others and again THANK YOU!

  • Josh S.

    Dr. Greger,

    The liver regulates cholesterol and provides the amount that we need, so how can cholesterol have this detrimental of an effect if the liver regulates it? I am confused as to the physiology behind this. As an aside, I am a vegeterian and eat 3 eggs a day, so I don’t want to believe this is true, but am willing to change my ways.

    Thanks,

    Josh S.

  • JR

    Is there a health argument against egg “whites”? As a vegan, I get asked this question a lot. Thanks!

    • Thea

      JR: Egg whites are just as bad for you. Dr. Barnard talks about the problems that animal protein presents for kidney health. Other experts talk about the (strong in my opinion) link between animal protein and cancer. The question scientists then want to answer is: Is there a causal link? If so, what is the mechanism by which animal protein might cause cancer?

      If memory serves, Dr Campbell in The China Study mentions several ways in which we think that animal protein causes and promotes cancer. Here on NutritionFacts, you can get a great education on how animal protein is linked to the body’s over-production of a growth hormone called IGF-1. IGF-1 helps cancer to grow. To watch the series about IGF-1, click on the link below and then keep clicking the “next video” link on the button to the right until you get through the bodybuilding video. Then you will have seen the entire series.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/igf-1-as-one-stop-cancer-shop/

      And Darryl recently reminded me about the methionine issue. Egg whites have *the* highest concentration of methionine of any food:
      http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000084000000000000000.html?categories=1,18,9,0,13,14,5,4,42,16,17,15,6,3,2,11,7,19,21,12,10,8,22
      Dr. Greger did a nice video showing the link between methionine and cancer. So, there are two clear pathways linking animal proteins, especially egg whites, to cancer.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/starving-cancer-with-methionine-restriction/

      Darryl also pointed out that, “…high methionine diets increase coronary risk in humans. In its associations with cardiovascular disease and other disorders, homocysteine may be functioning partly as a marker for the major culprit, excess methionine.”
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0939475305001092

      And while I can’t find it right now, I believe that Toxins has pointed out two other health issues with egg whites.

      With all of the information we have about the harmful effects of animal protein in general and egg white in particular, I think it’s best to stay away from egg white. Why not get your protein from safe sources?

      I also think that Dr. Greger recently posted a video on how animal protein can raise insulin levels (or was it glucose?). I’m not sure if that applies to egg whites or not. And the search feature in NutritionFacts is not working right now. But hopefully you can find it yourself if you are interested.

      Hope that helps!

  • Peggy Young

    Did you see in the most recent addition of the “AARP Bulletin” April 2015 Vol. 56 page 15 under the title Health Shots They say that eating eggs and shellfish is OK for healthy people to eat?

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Hi Peggy. No I did not see that. Feel free to post a link or any references if you’d like and I can investigate more. Some info on shellfish can be found here and here. And eggs if interested. Thanks for your post, Peggy.

  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21262005
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24233487

    You hate research that doesn’t confirm your bias, don’t you?

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Thanks for sharing these, Kevin. No, I think the opposite is true. We do not “hate” any research and we are glad when people post studies on our website.

    • guest

      Maybe you should scrap those bony “bias” fingers at yourself and the rest of the low-carb community who ignore data that doesn’t fit their profit model. Hows the reboot sales going? Maybe switch your clients to a WFPB diet and actually help people for real.

  • Susan Louise Ginkel Oroviceanu

    Had my blood test done and a bit disappointed with my cholesterol levels. My triglyceride was 89.4 (I think that is good). My LDL is 105.7(I think that is good) Total Cholesterol is 151.2 (also ok I think) BUT my HDL was only 40.5 (I think that is bad/way to low). I’ve been all plant based for 2 years with lots of greens and raw fruit and veggies, nut and seeds. I walk over 90 minutes every day and I’m not at all over weight (5 foot 6 and 120 pounds). Before going all plant based I was vegetarian. I really thought my HDL would be great

  • Technus

    Ha, no conflict of interest, what a joke!

  • So my doctor at work did my cholesterol today it was at 114 total cholesterol, 77LDL, and 22.5HDL. They said my HDL needs to go up. I told them I was vegan and no animal products. They kept trying to push eggs to raise my HDL because I am at high risk. I eat pretty well whole grain cereal with 1-2 tbs of ground flax seeds, lots of fruit veggies, greens, beans, nuts and alvocado, with other whole grains, refraining from oils and added salt. I moderately exercise. Should I be concerned? Am I doing something wrong?

    • Thea

      Lacuna_soul: I’m not an expert, but your diet sure sounds healthy to me. Should you be concerned? I don’t think you need to worry about getting a higher HDL, but you might want to think about lowering the LDL a little bit? I get that advice from NutritionFacts and the book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell Esselstyn. These sources and others suggest that safe levels of cholesterol tend to be a total under about 150 and LDL under about 70. With a whole plant food based diet like your and the < 150/70 cholesterol numbers, my understanding is that you don't need to worry about the HDL numbers. That raising HDL under those conditions would do nothing to lower your heart attack risk. I could probably find some posts from others that get at debunking the concern of cholesterol levels being too low if you are interested.

      I'm thinking (again not as an expert) that you aren't terribly in jeopardy from a heart attack anyway given what you have described. But if you want to work on lowering your LDL, here is some advice from Dr. Greger presented through Joseph:

      "try focusing on the saturated fat sources (coconut oil; cocoa butter, and yes even nuts and seeds). I would also make sure you're doing the Jenkins portfolio diet, including foods like (beans, okra, flax, etc.) and get thyroid function tested. Dr. Jenkins developed a portfolio diet for lowering cholesterol, and it actually includes some nuts. Weight loss is important if there is too much abdominal fat (abdominal circumference exceeds half height). So check with your doctor about these measurements. And if your diet is top-notch and LDL is still too high then try Dr. Esselstyn's 6 servings of greens a day to keep nitric oxide flowing. More on Dr. Esselstyn can be found here and here."

      Some of the links from the above paragraph are:
      http://ncfamilydoctor.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Portfolio-Diet.pdf
      http://www.jeffnovick.com/RD/Q_%26_As/Entries/2013/8/29_Clarifying_the_Confusion__Dr_Esselstyn_Responds.html
      http://www.pcrm.org/kickstartHome/celebrity/esselstyn
      http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/health/sc-hlth-0128-diet-for-heart-20150123-story.html

      Does that help?

  • Joe

    With this info does Mark Hyman still tout it?

  • Joe

    What about the big recent meta analysis study saying saturated fat isn’t bad?

    • guest

      Paleo propaganda and lies. I wouldn’t listen to the “cholesterol apologists”. They are not telling the the truth and ignoring the mountain of data that saturated fat is indeed bad and promotes heart disease.

  • Wilma Laura Wiggins

    O.K. Many of you might not believe me but it is true. I have been following The Starch Solution (Dr. McDougall) which is very low fat, high carb (starch). I have been on it for 2 years. I lost 60 pounds and reversed diabetes and more. My most recent cholesterol tests came back: total 243, triglycerides 66, LDL 134, HDL 96. Everyone agrees that is high (and presumably not healthy). My question is why, and please don’t say it is because I cheated or did it wrong. If I weren’t doing it right, how did I lose the weight and the diabetes? Insights, anyone?

    • Thea

      Wilma: I fully believe you! I’m not an expert, but I have three theories.

      One theory is that you may have a genetic makeup where your cholesterol is unusually high. There is a percentage of the population where this is the case, just like there is a percentage of the population where their cholesterol is unusually low. I believe you can be be tested for this condition? If this is the case for you, you are doing what you can to be healthy. You might be able to do a bit more if you focused on certain food. And you might be able to do more artificially with drugs. But of course, drugs comes with some potentially giant downsides. So, you would want to weigh that decision carefully.

      Another theory (and this just my personal made-up theory–not anything that I got from anywhere) is that sometimes/some people who have had artificially high cholesterol levels for decades due to a lifetime of unhealthy eating may have a body that holds onto that level. Similar to the concept of a ‘set point’ that is sometimes discussed in terms of body weight. We know that our bodies can moderate the amount of serum cholesterol we have. What if your body is making more cholesterol now or not giving as much up because it thinks it needs that much because that’s what you had for years and years? So, something would need to be done to get the body to re-set to normal. That maybe waiting more time. That may be needing the help of some drugs for a limited time? Maybe a fasting program like is done at True North center? Or maybe focusing on some of the foods mentioned here at NutritionFacts.org that have specifically been shown to lower cholesterol? In other words, I believe you that you are following the Starch Solution very closely. But what if it would help to tweak that diet to add all the healthy plant foods shown specifically to lower cholesterol? At least until your body resets?

      My final theory (based somewhat on anecdotal experience) is that you still just need to give it more time. For example, I have a friend who took over 3 years before her levels finally got low enough that the doctor stopped pushing statins on her. Her cholesterol levels dropped slowly every year, but it took time. And she didn’t need to loose as much weight as you (good for you!) did. My point is: I understand that the cholesterol levels in the body can continue to go down very slowly over time. Two years may simply not be enough time.

      I hope these ideas give you helpful food for thought. I think it is so awesome that you have lost so much weight and fixed the diabetes. And I think it is great that you are working on the cholesterol issue. I hope you work it out.

    • payoung

      Hi Wilma, In my opinion your HDL is 96 so that one reason your total cholesterol is 243. The LDL of 134 is high when you look at the number alone but if you has a lipoprotein analysis done you may find that you have mostly large fluffy LDL particles which don’t increase your risk of a cardiac event very much at all. So that number of 134 doesn’t give the full picture as far as risk is concerned. With numbers like yours I would certainly want to see a full lipoprotein analysis in order to make an adequate risk assessment.
      Finally, I know many would disagree but I find Dr McDougall’s program a little to starch heavy. I know when i tried to stick to his diet it was very hard for me to lose weight beyond an initial 20 or so pounds. That’s not to say that that’s the reason for your cholesterol numbers but perhaps trying a little less starch and replacing it with more less starchy vegetables might be a good experiment for you to try.

      • Wilma Laura Wiggins

        Hi Payoung. I guess that is something to look into. So did you find something that worked better than McDougall for the rest of your weight loss? Would you be kind enough to answer a couple of questions – how long were you on the Starch Solution and then what diet did you change to and how much weight did you lose on it and the time it took? Have you kept it off?

        • payoung

          Sure Wilma, I found that when I decreased the amount of cooked food and added more raw veggies and fruit I did better. So where McDougall’s program calls for grains and/or potatoes at pretty much every meal only had grains or potatoes at one meal or occasionally two. I usually had freshly extracted green juice or a green smoothie at breakfast. Sometimes some raw nuts or nut butter along with the juice or smoothie. Lunch is usually a large raw salad. Sometime with a few beans or tofu sprinkled in occasionally a few cubes of leftover sweet potato from the night before. At dinner I would have a meal that was more starch heavy. My snacks are usually fruit or nuts. I realize that my diet is probably higher in fat than he recommends because I eat a fair amount of nuts and things like avocados and flax seeds but it’s worked better for me. My total cholesterol went from 216 to 156 and my LDL went from 126 to 76. My triglycerides went from 55 to 12! And my HDL went from 66 to 56. I did his diet strict for about 6 months and was able to lose 20 lbs. After I made adjustments I lost another 50 lbs in the following 6 months. With the heavier starches I found my self with more cravings and I just I ate more food in general. I’m addicted to processed sugar and things like potatoes tend to trigger my sugar cravings. I know others who have done well on his diet so I’m not knocking it but I found I had to decrease the starch content. I believe everyone is an individual and what works for one doesn’t always work for another. Hope that helps.

          • Wilma Laura Wiggins

            Thank you for your detailed response. Your cholesterol numbers are flat amazing. So could I ask a couple more questions about your diet? Why did you decide to change the diet after the first 6 months – was it because the loss was too slow? You said you had sugar cravings but did you give in to them? Do you think eating more food hampered your loss? How long has it been since you lost the 50 pounds, have you lost all the weight you want and if so, are you continuing to eat that way as a maintenance?

          • payoung

            Oddly enough Wilma I’ve done it twice in my life. I did what I previously described 15 years ago and maintained for almost 5 years. I went off the diet during a two year period of high stress when both my parents were ill and ultimately died a year apart. I gained the weight back and my health decline significantly. I finally pulled myself back together and went back on the vegan diet I described and again lost about 60lbs and have maintained that for the past 18 months or so. I will say the second time around was harder although I did exactly the same thing. I was 10 years older and my body wasn’t the same. The first time I was in my early 40’s the second time in my early 50’s and peri-menopausal, big difference. Still achievable but slower and just not as easy.

      • Thea

        payyoung: You wrote, “…you may find that you have mostly large fluffy LDL particles which don’t increase your risk of a cardiac event very much at all.” NutritionFacts has a video on this topic which says that the size and fluffiness of LDL particles is pretty irrelevant: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/does-cholesterol-size-matter/

        I’m wondering if you are familiar with that data and reject it? If so, can you explain why? Just curious and also trying to be helpful in case you hadn’t seen the data.

        • payoung

          Hi Thea, I am familiar with that data. First of all the topic of that video had more to do with the silly argument that eggs don’t raise cholesterol and the author of the article tried to make the argument that eggs produce large fluffy LDL therefore it’s not dangerous. I think we both agree that argument doesn’t hold water but that’s a discussion for another post. I was probably a little loose with language in saying that large fluffy LDL doesn’t increase your risk much at all. However, It’s not exactly true that the size and fluffiness of LDL particles is “pretty irrelevant”. Larger lighter particles definitely increase risk less however the key here is that when you are determining risk you are not just looking at one factor. You have to take into consideration not just particle size and number but other factors like levels of specific particles (like Lpa for instance which is a particularly dangerous small LDL particle). Also things like levels of inflammation which ultimately causes LDL particles to oxidize and increase risk. Then the protective HDL’s also have differences which make some less protective than others. So I guess my point is that just looking at the LDL number is not very helpful when trying to assess overall risk of a cardiac event. I would agree that high LDL or even high total cholesterol numbers should set off alarm bells and in general a diet and lifestyle that does not increase dietary cholesterol is always best. But in order to get an accurate picture of risk you need to assess all of the factors in relation to each other and that would start with a thorough lipoprotein analysis as well as a look at inflammatory and metabolic markers. This would especially be the case in someone who is eating a WFPB diet (so presumably doesn’t have high dietary cholesterol intake) and still has relatively high numbers. The next step would be to consider all the factors.

          • Thea

            payoung: Thanks for your reply! Much appreciated.
            .
            For what it’s worth, I understand and appreciate your point about considering all the factors. I agree in general that other factors than just an LDL number could be important to helping someone. Our community includes people who struggle to lose cholesterol even on a WFPB diet and want to know what their risk is. So, the gist of your latest reply makes sense to me, especially if there is good evidence to back up those other factors you listed as truly being risk factors.
            .
            For example, I’m familiar with oxidation being a risk factor, but from what I’ve seen, HDL levels or types really aren’t that relevant. (See the following study if interested: Bartlett J, Predazzi IM, Williams SM, et al. Is isolated low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol a cardiovascular disease risk factor? New insights from the Framingham Offspring Study. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. Published online May 10, 2016.)
            .
            But I still can’t agree with you that the size or fluffiness of the LDL particles are relevant. Not if the difference in risk is truly reflected in this quote from the video:
            .
            “…this concept that large fluffy LDL are not as bad as small dense LDL. And indeed large LDL only raises heart disease risk 44%, instead of 63% for the small LDL. Light large buoyant LDL still significantly increases our risk of dying from our #1 killer. This was for women, the same was found for men. Large LDL only increases risk of heart attack or death 31% instead of 44%. Bottomline, as the latest review on the subject concluded, LDL cholesterol has been clearly established as a causal agent in atherosclerosis, regardless of size. ”
            .
            I haven’t looked at the actual study, but isn’t that risk report about LDL particle sizes and firmness, not about eggs per say? And then compare those risk numbers to a risk of basically “none” when someone strictly follows a diet like Dr. Esselstyn’s. That’s why I said the size of the LDL particle is pretty irrelevant. Someone who still has 44% risk or 31% risk still has an awful lot of risk in my opinion. I wonder if I’m just not understanding what you are thinking/saying.
            .
            One of the reasons this topic matters to me is that paleo/atkins/etc type people often try to use their LDL size and fluffiness to say that their diets are healthy and they are at no or little risk for heart attack. I don’t want to see that myth (as I understand things from the NutritionFacts’ video, it is a myth) perpetuated. That’s why I responded originally and again now to clarify what I’m saying.
            .
            But I respect that you see things differently. Thank you again for your reply.

  • Levon

    Can anyone elaborate on this study? http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2016/02/10/ajcn.115.122317.abstract
    I couldn’t find any counterstatement from our well known plant based doctors. Is this study meaningful.
    Would love to here an explanation from Dr. Greger or his team.
    Thanks

    • payoung

      Hi Levon, I wasn’t able to read the study in it’s entirety because it is behind a pay wall that i don’t have access to. From the abstract I could see that they did have a fairly large sample size however we would need to know the particulars like how much cholesterol was eaten by the study participants and what were the other aspects of their diet and lifestyle. A diet rich in plants can be somewhat protective even in the face of excess cholesterol in the diet so it would be important to know what else the people were eating. Sorry I’m not able to lend more insight here.

    • Tom Goff

      It is probably like the studies that show that saturated fat consumption is not associated with heart disease. In other words, studies that do not control for other factors may produce confusing results. In the saturated fat studies, they did not examine what people ate in place of saturated fat. In Western countries, this would probably be refined carbohydrates like white bread, chips (fries in American), biscuits, pasta, etc etc. These are just as unhealthy as saturated fats, hence it was no surprise that in such studies no association is found between saturated fat consumption and heart disease/mortality.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-saturated-fat-studies-set-up-to-fail/

      In the Finnish egg study, we also do not know what people were eating in place of eggs/cholesterol. Saturated fat and trans fats raise blood cholesterol for example. If the alternative foods they ate contained saturated fat and/or trans fats, it is not surprising that no effect was seen from egg consumption. We also know that once people consume a baseline amount of cholesterol, additional dietary cholesterol does not affect blood cholesterol.
      https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc/causes
      http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/55/6/1060.long

  • Anonymous

    Can you guys make a vid about how cholesterol is connected to sugar intake? Should I be worried about my cholesterol if I eat a diet based on carbohydrates? I read somewhere that sugars are used to make cholesterol.

  • Robert Haile

    Too bad that food corporation paid shills enter sites like this pretending to be the average person and try to mislead readers with fact less diatribe. Dr Greger does review the literature and does provide the facts that back up his statements.

  • Robert Bhatia

    I have been vegan for 314 days and just got my first blood test results from my M.D–>(Triglyceride[60 mg/dL]…Cholesterol[124 mg/dL]…HDL[33 mg/dL]…LDL Cholesterol[79 mg/dL]…Chol/HDL Ratio[3.8]…Non-HDL-Chol (LDL+VLDL)[91 mg/dL]…should I be worried that My HDL is low at 33mg/dL?Thank you!

    • Thea

      Robert: In at least one of these videos, Dr. Greger has pointed to research which shows that to be heart-attack proof, you want a total cholesterol below 150 and LDL below 70. There is no recommendation for HDL level, though. I know that you will hear a lot about HDL in other places, but “low HDL” is not a concern recognized here (as far as I remember).

      I’m not an expert, but I don’t think your HDL levels are anything to worry about. Dr. McDougall has addressed your situation in one of his older newsletter articles: https://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2003nl/sep/030900pugoodcholesterolworsens.htm I recommend reading that article if you are concerned about HDL levels. If you want an overview, here are some quotes from the article: “Worldwide (comparing people who eat different diets) those who have the lowest HDL levels (like people in rural Japan, China, and Africa) have the lowest rate of heart disease…”
      and
      “HDL cholesterol is a risk factor – not a disease. No one dies of low HDL – they die of rotten arteries.”
      and
      “When you adopt the McDougall Program, you will watch your total cholesterol fall dramatically. As it does, both LDL and HDL levels will drop, as well. And as they do, so too will your risk of heart disease. And your health will improve dramatically. Unfortunately, because HDL doesn’t go up with a healthy diet some unenlightened physicians – acting like puppets for the pharmaceutical industry – give their patients a totally undeserved hard time.”

      Which brings us around to the question of whether your LDL is at a safe level. There are some doctors in the healthy eating community who will say that the cholesterol levels do not matter as long as you are eating just a whole plant food diet. (Ie, not just vegan. Whole plant foods.) In the case of a whole plant food diet, some doctors say that your cholesterol is unlikely to oxidize and thus you won’t get a heart attack. I don’t know if we have hard scientific evidence to back up this claim or not.

      If you don’t want to chance it and you want to work to get your LDL into the known safe range, let me know if you would like some tips. I can refer you to some resources on where to go from here.

  • Carson Mcquarrie

    What is more important, total cholesterol number or HDL/LDL ratio?

    • Thea

      Carson Mcquarrie: As near as I can tell, the HDL/LDL ratio is irrelevant as long as the following important numbers are reached: total cholesterol 150 or below *and* LDL 70 or below. Dr. Greger has explained the importance of these numbers in at least a couple of videos. http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/cholesterol/ When you “meet” these numbers (150 and 7), you are pretty much heart-attack proof. That means to me that at that point, an HDL number or and HDL to LDL ratio is irrelevant. (If you are safe from heart attack, who cares what your ratio is?) FYI: These are the same cholesterol goals that Dr. Esselstyn promotes. Dr. Esselstyn has helped people reverse the worst cases of heart disease (people at death’s door I would say). https://www.amazon.com/Prevent-Reverse-Heart-Disease-Nutrition-Based/dp/1583333002/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466996705&sr=8-1&keywords=prevent+and+reverse+heart+disease
      .
      Note: There is some debate among the experts whether higher cholesterol numbers are dangerous or not for someone who is eating a diet only of whole plant foods. I do not think this matter has enough scientific evidence to be considered settled.
      .
      Does that help?

  • John Axsom

    I was on Dr. Pritikin’s website and he has a page dedicated to Non-HDL cholesterol. This would include all of the sub types of LDL cholesterols. Anyhow, you can figure out yoru Non-HDL choleserol by subtracting your HDL from your Total cholesterol. The Pritikin people say that the optimum number for Non-HDL is 80. Mine is presently 83, so I am going to have to work a little bit harder. By the way, after watching this video on egg research, I have come to the conclusion that America has the best science that money can buy.