Should All Children Have their Cholesterol Checked?

Should All Children Have their Cholesterol Checked?
5 (100%) 7 votes

The current generation of American kids may be one of the first generations to be less healthy and have shorter lifespans than their parents.

Discuss
Republish

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

This is not a slice of pizza, but could, perhaps, be thought of as the result of too many slices of pizza. This is what the inside of our major arteries looks like in an advanced stage of atherosclerosis—lined with fat and cholesterol. We know that coronary artery disease doesn’t just “magically appear,” though. “The disease [begins] during early childhood…progressing unrecognized for several decades to its often final and unexpected endpoint of chest pain, disability, or [simply] death.”

“[W]e need to remind ourselves that atherosclerosis begins in childhood as fatty streaks” in the arteries, which are “the precursors of the advanced lesions that ultimately” kill us. By our 20s, 20% of the inner surface of the artery coming off the heart is covered in fatty streaks. So, fifty years ago, pathologists started raising the question of whether heart disease is best handled by cardiologists, or by pediatricians.

Because “[b]y their 30s, many young adults already have advanced coronary atherosclerosis,” an  intervention from our thirties on is actually what’s called “secondary prevention,” just trying to mediate the ravages of the disease rather than prevent the disease itself, “because advanced atherosclerosis [is] likely already present.”

And, we’re exporting the problem around the world. Young, thin, apparently healthy individuals, yet 97% of their collected arteries looked like this. So, even in developing countries, where they’ve acquired our eating habits, we’re seeing an epidemic of heart disease and sudden death—that is, if you’re not shot first.

“Moreover, the risk factors that correlate with the extent of such early lesions are the same risk factors that correlate with [heart attacks] later in life.” In other words, it’s the same disease, just in the early stages. So, pathologists, the ones doing the autopsies on all these young people, and seeing all this coronary artery disease, “began urging many years ago that preventive measures should be instituted earlier in life.”

We’ve known for over a century that fatty streaks exist in young children. But it wasn’t until 1994 that a task force convened by the government came up with a radical idea: “The strategic key, and the greatest opportunity in preventing [cardiovascular disease], is to prevent the development of risk in the first place.”

In my video, Heart Disease Starts in Childhood, I noted that fatty streaks, the first stage of atherosclerosis, were found in the arteries of nearly 100% of kids by age 10, raised on the Standard American Diet. In recognition of this fact, the latest Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation is that all kids get their cholesterol tested starting between the ages of 9 and 11.

Of course, this has drug companies salivating at the thought of slipping statins into Happy Meals, but “long-term drug intervention is costly and may be associated with adverse effects.” They’re talking about “lifestyle modification.”

In my video, How Many Meet the Simple Seven?, I revealed the  breathtaking statistic that only about one in 2,000 U.S. adults met the seven American Heart Association criteria for a heart-healthy lifestyle. What about American teenagers? Of the 4,673 adolescents aged 12 through 19 that were studied, zero made the cut. What was the main sticking point?  Well, you know, most teen boys and girls don’t smoke. The white bars show the percentage meeting the criteria. Most aren’t overweight, but almost no one ate a healthy diet. Less than one percent of young men and women met a minimum of healthy diet criteria.

This sorry state of affairs is what’s behind this controversial paper suggesting that “the current generation of US children and adolescents”—our children—”may be one of the first generations to be less healthy, and have a shorter [lifespan] than their parents.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Kristina DeMuth (cover image) and Nicole Qualtier. Images have been modified. 

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

This is not a slice of pizza, but could, perhaps, be thought of as the result of too many slices of pizza. This is what the inside of our major arteries looks like in an advanced stage of atherosclerosis—lined with fat and cholesterol. We know that coronary artery disease doesn’t just “magically appear,” though. “The disease [begins] during early childhood…progressing unrecognized for several decades to its often final and unexpected endpoint of chest pain, disability, or [simply] death.”

“[W]e need to remind ourselves that atherosclerosis begins in childhood as fatty streaks” in the arteries, which are “the precursors of the advanced lesions that ultimately” kill us. By our 20s, 20% of the inner surface of the artery coming off the heart is covered in fatty streaks. So, fifty years ago, pathologists started raising the question of whether heart disease is best handled by cardiologists, or by pediatricians.

Because “[b]y their 30s, many young adults already have advanced coronary atherosclerosis,” an  intervention from our thirties on is actually what’s called “secondary prevention,” just trying to mediate the ravages of the disease rather than prevent the disease itself, “because advanced atherosclerosis [is] likely already present.”

And, we’re exporting the problem around the world. Young, thin, apparently healthy individuals, yet 97% of their collected arteries looked like this. So, even in developing countries, where they’ve acquired our eating habits, we’re seeing an epidemic of heart disease and sudden death—that is, if you’re not shot first.

“Moreover, the risk factors that correlate with the extent of such early lesions are the same risk factors that correlate with [heart attacks] later in life.” In other words, it’s the same disease, just in the early stages. So, pathologists, the ones doing the autopsies on all these young people, and seeing all this coronary artery disease, “began urging many years ago that preventive measures should be instituted earlier in life.”

We’ve known for over a century that fatty streaks exist in young children. But it wasn’t until 1994 that a task force convened by the government came up with a radical idea: “The strategic key, and the greatest opportunity in preventing [cardiovascular disease], is to prevent the development of risk in the first place.”

In my video, Heart Disease Starts in Childhood, I noted that fatty streaks, the first stage of atherosclerosis, were found in the arteries of nearly 100% of kids by age 10, raised on the Standard American Diet. In recognition of this fact, the latest Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation is that all kids get their cholesterol tested starting between the ages of 9 and 11.

Of course, this has drug companies salivating at the thought of slipping statins into Happy Meals, but “long-term drug intervention is costly and may be associated with adverse effects.” They’re talking about “lifestyle modification.”

In my video, How Many Meet the Simple Seven?, I revealed the  breathtaking statistic that only about one in 2,000 U.S. adults met the seven American Heart Association criteria for a heart-healthy lifestyle. What about American teenagers? Of the 4,673 adolescents aged 12 through 19 that were studied, zero made the cut. What was the main sticking point?  Well, you know, most teen boys and girls don’t smoke. The white bars show the percentage meeting the criteria. Most aren’t overweight, but almost no one ate a healthy diet. Less than one percent of young men and women met a minimum of healthy diet criteria.

This sorry state of affairs is what’s behind this controversial paper suggesting that “the current generation of US children and adolescents”—our children—”may be one of the first generations to be less healthy, and have a shorter [lifespan] than their parents.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Kristina DeMuth (cover image) and Nicole Qualtier. Images have been modified. 

Doctor's Note

Here are the links to the videos I referred to:

And if you think atherosclerosis by age ten is bad, check out Heart Disease May Start in the Womb.

What adverse effects are they talking about with the cholesterol-lowering drugs? See Statin Muscle Toxicity. I don’t think most people (doctors and patients alike!) realize how relatively ineffective these drugs are. Watch, for example, The Actual Benefit of Diet vs. Drugs.

Cholesterol can do more than just build up and block off our arteries; see Cholesterol Crystals May Tear through Our Artery Lining.

So, what’s the Optimal Cholesterol Level? See the video!

Does Cholesterol Size Matter? Video on that too!

Let’s take a step back, though. What about all the flat earther “cholesterol skeptics”? How do We Know that Cholesterol Causes Heart Disease? That’s the subject of my next video!

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

121 responses to “Should All Children Have their Cholesterol Checked?

Comment Etiquette

On NutritionFacts.org, you'll find a vibrant community of nutrition enthusiasts, health professionals, and many knowledgeable users seeking to discover the healthiest diet to eat for themselves and their families. As always, our goal is to foster conversations that are insightful, engaging, and most of all, helpful – from the nutrition beginners to the experts in our community.

To do this we need your help, so here are some basic guidelines to get you started.

The Short List

To help maintain and foster a welcoming atmosphere in our comments, please refrain from rude comments, name-calling, and responding to posts that break the rules (see our full Community Guidelines for more details). We will remove any posts in violation of our rules when we see it, which will, unfortunately, include any nicer comments that may have been made in response.

Be respectful and help out our staff and volunteer health supporters by actively not replying to comments that are breaking the rules. Instead, please flag or report them by submitting a ticket to our help desk. NutritionFacts.org is made up of an incredible staff and many dedicated volunteers that work hard to ensure that the comments section runs smoothly and we spend a great deal of time reading comments from our community members.

Have a correction or suggestion for video or blog? Please contact us to let us know. Submitting a correction this way will result in a quicker fix than commenting on a thread with a suggestion or correction.

View the Full Community Guidelines

  1. This is an incredibly powerful video and as a parent of 3 children under 7 I am happy with my decision to raise all three on a (vegan) whole food plant based diet (with the occasional blip I’m personally unable to control).

    Most definitely sharing this video.

    Thank you Dr G

  2. This is an excellent video to pass along to my kids, who now have young children. I’ve convinced one of them to go more WFPB but they are looking for a way to transition slowly. Can anyone recommend a good book describing how to make the transition from SAD to WFPB? Preferably a book with some recipes, especially for meat substitutes, etc.

        1. I like it because he explains how plants have highest nutritional value and importance of that. He then gets readers thinking that way.

    1. Whoever posted this, please log out and try logging back in to repost your comment. For some reason you are showing up as an account associated with my name, that should have been removed by Disqus many months ago.

    1. HaltheVegan: It’s not your fault. It is a disqus bug that is particularly nasty. Sadly it is intermittent, which can make it hard to problem solve.

      1. No problem. Just didn’t want anyone to think I was hacking the system ;-)
        I’ll see if I can repost my comment under my normal name.

  3. I like the picture used for today’s video. It’s a very appetizing assemblage. I suggest we toss it in a large bowl with some walnuts and pumpkin seeds, and have it for breakfast.

      1. I suppose that the atherosclerotic artery that looks like a pizza is the setup and the lovely and appealing fruits and vegetables arranged in a rainbow array of colors is the resolution. If you don’t want your arteries to look like the one shown in the former picture, you’d best eat the foods depicted in the latter.

        I’ve been experimenting with a 1 : 1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 diet. I’ve been front loading my day with an assorted fruit, flax and chia soaked in almond or soy milk salad for breakfast so I make sure that my omega 3s intake matches the RDA for omega 6 of 6.4 g. I’ve been eating a lot more fruit and greens salads for dinner with ground flax seed so I can true myself up to a 1 to 1 ratio if I eat more omega 6. I find myself wanting to eat less calories on this eating plan, and I feel like I have more energy.

        1. Joe – Did you know your ratio before starting this study? What actual impact on your ratio it will have over time would be interesting. It did not depress my ratio very much. So I have resorted to a vegan DHA EPA supplement but won’t be doing bloods for sometime yet. The mfg of the supplement has an 18 month shelf life on them which is too long in my experience. Even if refrigerated I’d expect an oil to oxidize quite quickly, not to mention these isolates.

          1. D.R., I also take a vegan DHA EPA supplement based upon Dr. Greger’s recommendation, and I keep the capsules refrigerated. I just looked back at my CRON-O-METER diary, and it looks like I’ve been ranging between a ratio of 8:1 – 5:1 w6:w3.

            Those of use who strive to eat a WFPB diet are doing ourselves a favor with all of the fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants that we consume, and I have always made sure to have an adequate w3 intake, but there are always areas for improvement.

            The reason that I’m giving this eating plan a go is that it is believed that we evolved eating a 1:1 ratio of w6 to w3, and that as essential fatty acid ratio increases, there is evidence to suggest that it tends to be inflammatory and angiogenic which in turn is obesogenic and carcinogenic.

            I found Dr. William Li’s TED talk “Can we eat to starve cancer? | William Li” compelling. BTW, several of Dr. Greger’s videos are based upon Dr. Li’s studies. I figured that I would give it a go…

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9bDZ5-zPtY

            1. Thanks for posting Dr Li’s talk ! that’s fascinating for sure.. I do recognizes pieces of info that Dr Greger has kept us all up to date on -we’re well taken care of at NF!
              All the best to you on your plan!

              1. Thank you Susan. It’s been pretty tasty. I just polished off my day with 120 g of frozen banana, 60 g of frozen blueberries and 22 grams of ground flaxseed to balance the omega 6s that I got from eating a raw vegan brownie made with walnuts earlier in the day. It was like eating a bowl of the most amazing earthy, nutty, blueberry ice-cream after I mixed all together, and it clocked in at only 254 Calories.

  4. Yes, but what went wrong in Western culture for things to go this way? I mean how is it possible that NO teenagers eat healthy diets?! And we’re not even talking the ideal WFPB diet but just some basic goals… Some people should be ashamed of themselves: I’m talking politicians, doctors, religious leaders, journalists, food industry people etc. It’s simply disgraceful.

      1. The only culture that we’re apparently allowed to have is the one that makes $ for the corporations. In Europe, Mexico, East Africa, the Middle East, Japan, China, they have a traditional cuisine (that is not always followed). When I was a kid, people would talk badly about someone’s mom if they didn’t serve vegetables for dinner. It’s not only moms cooking now of course, but maybe we need to change the expectations.
        John S

        1. Mexico has a very high obesity rate now…probably due to NAFTA allowing US corps access. They wanted our jobs and higher standard of living…now they have our diseases?

          All the trade agreements simply spread the disease diets around the world….

      1. I’m with you vege-tater. I’m hoping they’ll remember that vegetables and fruit are the norm and come back to that. It’s hard to watch them eat processed food.
        John S

    1. Simple, the perceived benefits do not outweigh the perceived costs, to those intelligent people. And I am not being sarcastic when I say “intelligent”. Being slightly more knowledgeable about food and eating a slightly healthier diet, will – on average – probably let you live into your 80s or 90s regardless if you eat animal products or not, if you are of an above average socioeconomic status.

  5. Excellent video to pass along to my kids who have young children of their own now. I have convinced one of them to eat more WFPB but they need a good book on how to make the transition. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated, especially a book with recipes. (Thanks to WFPBRunner for already responding earlier with a good recommendation.)

      1. Thanks Susan. I’ll check those out in more detail. The first one looks like one they may actually read and use. I gave them “How Not to Die” a year ago and it still sits on the shelf unread :-(

        1. HaltheVegan, I received the first book susan linked, “Plant Powered Families”, for Christmas. Great book! It is very easy to understand and loaded with easy to prepare delicious WFPB recipies. Not much on nutrition (in fact I think the nutrition section in the back isn’t very good) but has some great tips on raising children on a WFPB diet by a mom of three ‘weegans’.

    1. HaltheVegan – I received this excellent book for Christmas – Forks over Knives Family. Great information including chapters on nutrition and pregnancy, baby’s first year and on how to make the transition. Lots of family friendly recipes too. Only tried a few of the recipes – so far they have been great.

    2. HaltheVegan: I can see that you already got some excellent ideas. Like others, I have the Plant Powered Families cookbook and really like it. I also like the Let Them Eat Vegan cookbook which is also very kid-friendly.
      .
      Stepping back a bit: Getting a good cookbook or two can be an excellent start to making the transition. But I think there is more to a transition than just getting a cookbook. If someone is really brand new to this type of food, they might be overwhelmed on how to put together meals. One system I really like for transitioning is from PCRM (Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine). This is a three step process that I think could work for a lot of people: http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vsk/vegetarian-starter-kit-three-step . Maybe that type of approach, perhaps modified, would help the family you are talking about.
      .
      My other idea is to steer them toward the free, on-line PCRM 21 Day Kickstart program. I mention that because there is a lot of example meal plans and hand-holding that they might like for starting out??? The program will “hold your hand” for 21 days, including meal plans, recipes, videos, inspirational messages, and a forum (moderated by a very respected RD) where you can ask questions.
      http://www.pcrm.org/kickstartHome/
      (Click the green “Register Now” button.)
      At the end of the program, you will have a very good practical knowledge about how to eat with healthy and “low” (normal for most people) calorie density.
      .
      Those are my ideas. Good luck!

      1. Thanks Thea. I’ll check out all those good references. The way you describe it, I think the family I’m trying to help will like the PCRM 21 Day Kickstart program, They need both the knowledge and encouragement. Thanks again for your help. And thank you for being such a good moderator on NutritionFacts … it helps to make this such a great website!

  6. There is a citation missing. At 3:03 into the video, you discuss “Expert Panel on Integrated Guidelines for Cardiovascular Health and Risk Reduction in Children and Adolescents”. This paper is not listed in the sources lists. Please add it!

  7. Soooo…. I’m 44 yr old male 6’4″ 235-245
    range..who grew up on eggs meat and dairy. My Irish immigrant father fed my sis and I eggs every morning and I’ve consistently throughout my years have eaten probably 3 to 10 eggs a week along with animal protein. Fast forward to around 25 maybe 27 years old diagnosed with high cholesterol doctor says we need to keep an eye on it…every year after Cholesterol crept up more and more, doctors kept saying we need to keep an eye on it. Was having chest pain’s at around 36 years old (stressful job). Cardiac unit put me through a stress echo cardiogram a nuclear stress echocardiogram could not find anything wrong kept having chest pain’s they asked do you want to do a heartcath to which I said yes, I wanted to know what was wrong…everything came back absolutely perfect, not any signs of arteriosclerosis visible at 36 years old with a diet of meat eggs animal protein my whole life. So what gives?

    1. I think you should do a Intima-media thickness (IMT) test and see what comes up. It actually sees how clogged your arteries are through ultrasound.

      1. My good family friend is a cardio surgeon and he told me 50% of his heart patients have stellar cholesterol numbers. He told me to get CRP and Homocysteine levels checked which they are finding more and more the real “root” to heart/cancer and all other diseases. again mine is ultra low.

        1. Chris: Sounds like you have some rare and lucky biology. Lucky you! I’m sure you have heard of people who smoke their whole lives and never get lung cancer. Maybe you won the biological lottery too.
          .
          re: “My good family friend is a cardio surgeon and he told me 50% of his heart patients have stellar cholesterol numbers.” Unlikely. More likely your friend is like most doctors and is confused on the topic. We live in a sick society where the number one killer is heart disease. What is “normal” cholesterol numbers for people in our society is actually high for human-human normal. The number of your friend’s patients who have total cholesterol under 150 and LDL under 70 (or even better 55), is likely to be extremely small if there even is anyone.
          .
          Another factor that complicates the situation is that a cardio surgeon is unlikely (I’m guessing) to see a patient until long after there have been some kind of health event. Trauma is known to lower cholesterol levels–including a heart attack! We know from pages on this site that a significant percentage of people had no warning signs about their heart disease before their first heart attack. They were just surprised one day. There are studies that measure people’s cholesterol levels–AFTER they check in after their first heart attack. At that point, the levels will be lower. One has to wonder if your family friend is checking cholesterol levels before any incidents (including before getting cancer or any other serious diseases) or after.

          1. I have a question. . . .I am 63 years old female. About 7-8 years ago now my blood work numbers started going in the wrong direction. Most of my adult life my cholesterol was 180 or below and LDL hovered around 85. However, just before I went WFPB a la Esselstyne, my cholesterol number shot up to 200 and my LDL rose to 99. It has stayed at those levels despite my making the switch to a WFPB diet and lifestyle. I don’t smoke but I drink a glass or two of wine in the evening – my only real vice. But my cholesterol and LDL numbers are not coming down at all. I was able to lose 25lbs and reverse my prediabetes of 125 fasting blood sugar number. I also reversed my beginning gout with rising uric acid. I do not intend to go back to the SAD diet as I believe WFPB, no oil, low sugar/salt is better for me and I enjoy it very much. But I’m curious why my cholesterol and LDL numbers don’t budge. I would have anticipated they would have at least gone down back to the 180 and LDL-85 range. Anyone have any thoughts? Thank!

              1. I wish could do more. like, even walk a half mile but become too tired. Nothing my doctors could do ,but i’m trying to by using food as medicine. Just hard at almost 83.

              2. I read your link. Thank you. That was very interesting.
                Perhaps I need to look at increasing exercise although I do not have a sedentary job. The weight I lost took me from a bmi of 24 to 21.1 so I was on the heavier side of a normal weight range at the beginning. Exercise is difficult due to a hip problem, but that may be the culprit. Thanks again

            1. Sort of surprising , but I just watched Anne and Kristine grocery Bag which is a show on OWN . They tested The Engine Two diet by Rip Esselstyne with three volunteers for 28 days and they all lost weight but all ended up with much higher cholesterol .

              1. Thank you for sharing that. Very interesting.
                Exercise is difficult for me due to a hip issue although I still do what I can (no excuses!). I’ve begun experimenting with intermittent fasting. The idea, at this time, is to make sure that I get in a 12-hour window of fasting every day. The hypothesis being that this daily fast period gives the body time to burn off extra calories. We’ll see what happens. Thanks again for your input.

            2. GE, It is hard to do a full diagnosis on this platform. There are quite a few questions that arise regarding your body composition, exercise regime, the breakdown of your Whole food diet, bowel movement frequency, meal frequency & timing, which get quite detailed and personal. You seem to have moved from prediabetic state and lost significant weight which is great news. While you are obviously consuming large amounts of fibre the amount and type will be important in reducing the Cholesterol levels. If I were advising you, you would be dropping the alcohol, at least for a significant study period. Best of luck with your efforts!

            3. GEBrand: You replied to one of my posts, but you ended with “Anyone have any thoughts?” I’m glad you specifically invited others to provide ideas, because this is a real head scratcher for me, and I’m not an expert. I waited to let others reply first, but I also wanted to reply to the best of my ability since you replied to me.
              .
              One reason I find your situation perplexing is that you lost weight. My understanding is that cholesterol tends to go down for people when they lose weight, regardless of their diet. One of the factors that I think might be a clue to your situation is that you had steady cholesterol your whole life until one day without changing diet, your cholesterol shot up. Why did the cholesterol shoot up? It seems to me that if you can find out why that happened, you might be able to do something about it. I’ve heard of cholesterol going down for several reasons, including some kind of trauma like a heart attack or a disease like cholesterol or a person losing weight. I have no idea why cholesterol might shoot up all of a sudden if someone did not change their diet. If the underlying reason that your cholesterol shot up in the first place is still present, then it might make sense that even a change to a healthy diet would not affect your levels. Anyone have ideas about this?
              .
              That said, I thought I would offer a tip not already mentioned. I don’t know if this will help, but previous moderator Joshua did a wonderful Ask The Doctor page titled: What can I do to lower my cholesterol? It seems I’ve tried everything! http://nutritionfacts.org/questions/what-can-i-do-to-lower-my-cholesterol-it-seems-ive-tried-everything/. Maybe there will be some ideas in there that you could try to see what happens?
              .
              I think you are wise with your outlook on your situation. The WFPB diet may not have fixed everything, but it did fix some things and as you know, it is the best all around healthy diet. Hopefully with a little problem solving, a little more exercise (as others already mentioned), and perhaps some further diet tweaks as suggested in the link I provided you will make some progress. Best of luck to you!!

            4. Dear GEBrand, As a NF moderator, I would just add one comment to to good advice you’ve already been given. While weight loss was mentioned, it wasn’t specifically pointed out that EXERCISE would be a healthy way to lose that weight (which is what you’ve been doing, I hope). The exercise itself in crucial for helping to regulate the cholesterol and duration of the cardiac exercise you do is important Aim for 45 minutes most days. Perhaps you’re already there (?) but if not try to increase the time you put in. Again, numbers do’t tell the whole story, but perhaps the added exercise will bring them down. Joan-NurseEducator

          2. Thea – as we are on pediatrics – I am going to digress a bit. I heard from a participant at the last PBNHC of a study which showed that kids under the age of five when provided with a diverse range of whole food plant based foods, ad libitum, self regulated their consumption, naturally and intuitatively picking what they liked and ate enough – WITHOUT ADULT INTERVENTION. Only after parental intervention kicked in, did their natural instincts get contaminated for the worse. I am wondering if you have come across this study in your work.

            1. D.R.: re: “I am wondering if you have come across this study in your work.” Actually, I’m just a lay person volunteer for NutritionFacts. I work in a field that has nothing to do with medicine or nutrition. One of the phrases I include in many of my posts is “I’m not an expert…” in the hopes that I am making it clear that I am not speaking as an authority. I have been studying this information for some years, but even with that, I’m nowhere near as knowledgeable about the raw data/studies as some of our other (wonderful) participants.
              .
              Note: NutritionFacts has a big group what we call ‘medical moderators’ who are in the nutrition/medical field in some way. The problem is that disqus, the application we used for these comments, does not allow different buttons near our names. So all our names have the same label/button of “moderator” whether we are from the medical or lay side of things. Most of the other moderators you see here are experts of one kind or another, and you will usually see that in their reply. (Ex: I am a doctor. I am a registered dietician. Etc.)
              .
              All that said: What an uplifting study to hear about! I really appreciate you
              sharing. Such results makes perfect sense to me, but having a study like that to
              back up “sense” is very helpful. I am forwarding your post onto our medical moderators in the hope they can dig up a link/reference to that study for you.

            2. Hi DR, I am one of the moderators. I could not find this particular study but I can tell you it is not new. I remember hearing about it when I was in medical school over 20 years ago. I believe they were toddlers and given access to ‘real food’, not sugary stuff or junk, but there were definitely eggs etc in there. But it was said that the kids were allowed to choose their own food–sometimes they ate a lot of one thing, sometimes they ate a lot of another, but overall they consumed an appropriate amount of macronutrients and micronutrients. Of course any ‘animal’ should instinctively eat according to its needs, if it is to survive. I was and continue to be impressed by the fact that they did not eat exactly the same thing every day. Although not proven, I suspect there is wisdom in that, as in nature different things would be available at different times…It also makes me somewhat suspicious of the modern assumption that we have to eat the exactly the same amount of everything every day. Personally I doubt it is necessary and trying to do so may just make us crazy! I hope that is helpful….

    2. Extremely unhelpful and incorrect to say “high cholesterol”. A lot more quantifiers are needed. LDL has many functions, most of which are good. Not to mention, the cholesterol screen your doctor uses, are assays of cholesterol concentration developed in the 1950s and 1960s, not testing the particle diameter or number. Not to mention, the textbooks I read in medical school were also based on outdated 60 year old thoughts. It is also incorrect to say “LDL is bad” — that is a GROSS oversimplification and will insult the intelligence of any lipidologist or cardiologist worth their salary. Just letting you know, when you say “they told me I had high cholesterol” this isn’t even 5% of the story, and doesn’t tell anyone anything :)

      1. Andrey…I agree on all points. But to give you more “depth” on my numbers in the past my, at age 33.
        Total cholesterol 214 100-199
        Triglycerides 82 0-149
        HDL 44 40-59
        VLDL 16 5-40
        LDL 154 0-99

    3. Speaking further to this point, a large portion of hospitalized patients with so called “”normal cholesterol” as defined by these 60-70 year old tests, develop heart attacks with that “normal” numbers.

    4. “…everything came back absolutely perfect…So what gives?” Well here’s a mouthful for you as you asked….
      You are not the first on here with a similar tale. As others here have mentioned you may be blessed with certain genetics but with your heritage it is more common to have a genetic advantge of a naturally lower cholesterol despite the Irish menu. I am not sure what genetic advantage you have, if any. It is important to note that while this video looks at the cholesterol atherosclerosis connection, high total cholesterol has an all cause mortality connection. In other words it may manifest as heart disease in one and cancer or other disease of affluence in another. If you have not read T.Colin Campbell’s China Study yet it would be a good place to start.
      It is very well established that your diet leads to reduced life span, there are of course exceptions, but very few. The WHO estimates we should, given medical and sanitation advances, live to 92 years of age and those who die younger are assessed in their stats as having a particular YLL (years of lost life). So if one were to die at 82 one would have a YLL of 10 years. Of course what that stat does not reflect is the Quality of life up to 82. If you have high blood pressure and cannot perform daily activities without duress for twelve years before that – ultimately that is going to matter more to you.

      On the positive side something as gotten your attention and you are looking in to it, which has you on here. On the other side, and here I am taking the liberty to read between the lines from what you have reported and I would draw the following analogy. You are like the guy who is throwing a monkey wrench in the works to see what part of the works gets broken; will it block up one of the pipes, will it break the gear box, will it blow a fuse or just come out the end and is not so bad after all. Your medical team are just taking a limited inspection snap-shot at one point in time that really has no ability to check 100%. There is no check they would have done that would have enabled them to to cover the entire area to see where the monkey wrench was. (I could cite numerous examples of patients who present like you, are discharged after a “clean bill of health” and have a stroke a week later. – No doubt you have heard of them too. So to answer your specific question – that’s what gives – medical testing and inspection have significant limitations). “Absolutely perfect” doesn’t exist – sounds like docwaffle.

      No matter what your occupation – service or manufacturing industry, or farming, the management of a process involves controlling the quality of inputs that are processed into a quality output. If it is well established that the human “process” of metabolism leads to an “output” of any one or more of the following: coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, cancer, diverticulitis, peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimers, kidney stones, chronic kidney failure, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, when you feed it with the “inputs” you are feeding it, why would you expect a different outcome?

      As our old friend Einstein said (apparently), if you keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect the outcome to be different, that’s just stupid.

      You have high cholesterol (high enough for a Western doc to flag, so must be HIGH), are carrying excess weight, and only you can answer where you stand on resting heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, BM per day and physical activity (as cardio-respiratory fitness and muscular strength) So until you can check off these with confidence, perfect does not register – as for a lot of us – we all have our challenges. Good luck.

  8. Because by their 30s, many young adults already have advanced coronary atherosclerosis,

    I saw this first hand when I viewed my first autopsy in the mid ’70’s… The pathologist was very excited to show me (yes medical people are weird) his left main coronary artery.. The kid was 24 and already had signs of coronary artery disease.. Little white flecks of plaque!! Where did it come from I asked? He said McDonalds!!!! He told me the evidence slowly increased with autopsy from deceased military personnel. Korean war. no plaque.. Vietnam?? plaque….

    1. HI Mitch, I believe that the American GI casualties in the Korean war did have plaque. In both the Korean and Vietnam wars, the Korean and Vietnamese casualties did not have plaque, compared with the Americans who had been eating whatever version of the SAD was prevalent at that time. Even before fast food, bacon and eggs, sausages, milk, butter, etc were prominent in the American diet, as was meat. Much less so in the Asian diets of Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, etc.

  9. So if a kid has a total cholesterol reading of over 150 does it mean they have atherosclerosis? Or what is the test to determine whether they have atherosclerosis?

    1. It means that they are at greater risk for atherosclerosis. A CT coronary arteries with calcium score would be a reasonable test, but I would not order that on a child. An advanced coronary study at that age would not change management, as the risk of an actual cardiac event is so incredibly low. The main reason to know a child’s cholesterol is to facilitate early intervention, starting with lifestyle modification. The goal is for lifestyle modification to work and for medications to not be required. Occasionally medications are necessary, even for children.
      I am a pediatric cardiologist, and I consider this my responsibility. Parents and families are usually quite motivated to make changes for their children.

  10. In your video you mention that only one in 2000 meet the 7 American Heart Healthy criteria lifestyle recommendations . Looking at the site I believe anyone taking your recommendations would not meet those 7 American Heart recommendations either. Nor would Dr Furhman or Dr. Mcdougall,s recommendations make the cut either.

    1. I don’t understand your conclusion that Drs Greger, Furhman and McDougall wouldn’t meet the 7.
      From the video: “How Many Meet the Simple Seven?”
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-many-meet-the-simple-seven/
      “… the American Heart Association came up with the “Simple 7″, seven simple health behaviors or factors. Not smoking, not being overweight, being “very active”–defined as walking at least 22 minutes a day–a few fruits and veggies, below average cholesterol, normal blood pressure and normal blood sugars.”

      1. Did you read the simple 7?
        # 3 strongly urge you to include fish, chicken , lean meats and milk in your healthy diet.
        Why would this site promote or suggest that the American Heart Assc. knows what is a healthy diet.
        In the last 4 years I have had 7 friends , co-workers or family die from heart attack or stroke , all of them were given information phamplets from their doctor , which was mostly from a similiar source (Canadian Heart Assc), They were aged 33 to 65 , a little to soon to succumb to heart disease in my opinion.

        1. Yes, I did read it. The AHA page I visited had no mention of meat or dairy nor did their Simple 7 questionnaire to rate your lifestyle. But it doesn’t surprise me that the CHA or the AMA recommends a diet less restrictive (and less healthy) than what is suggested at NF.org. Same goes for the Am Diabetes Assoc.

  11. In addition to lifestyle I think we need to look at vaccines and vaccine schedules. We are killing our children with too much too soon. Compare Amish with general population.

  12. Slightly off topic: I have just finished watching a video on YouTube, a discussion between Dr Rhonda Patrick and Dr Jed Fahey on the benefits of Sulforaphine. Dr Fahey has done a great deal of research on it and found that broccoli seeds have much more glucoraphanine than the mature plants. However, he says that the seeds are very bitter to taste and sprouts are way more palatable.
    Not to be deterred I ground some up and they were nowhere near as bad as Amla powder. I put them in some hummus and no one even noticed. Not sure about dosage though, but every bit helps. Yay broccoli!

    1. Have you tried radish sprouts? I’ve heard that they, too, have a lot of sulforaphine. I found them at a Wegman’s grocery store here on the East coast. They are very pungent but I mix them in a blender for a soup base and that way they are hardly noticeable.

      1. Thanks for the info, Dr Fahey did mention that radishes also have glucoraphanine in them too, and that the pungent part of the flavour is the production of sulforaphine.

    2. Why not sprout them? It’s very easy and you can get cheap sprouted jars or even make one yourself from an old jam jar and muslin. I constantly have broccoli sprouts growing. Lovely.

      1. I too love sprouts and have some in my window right now, but it had never occurred to me that I could grind the seeds and use them as well. According to Dr Fahey, ground seeds give more sulforaphine but are quite bitter to taste. I don’t find them bitter at all, just very brocollish.

        1. On page 308 in Dr Greger’s book he writes about broccoli sprouts, “… new science suggests sulforaphane content peaks at 48 hours after the seeds are initially drained”.

          Admittedly it doesn’t say if broccoli sprouts at that stage have more sulforaphane than mature broccoli. I always thought they did.

          Do you have a study showing otherwise as I’m intrigued both as a lover of broccoli and broccoli sprouts :)

          1. According to Dr. Fahey – the researcher that started the whole broccoli sprout thing – the seeds contain more of the precursor plus enzyme needed to generate sufurophanes than either the sprouts or the mature heads. Grind them up in water (or add water) and wait a few minutes and you’ll get lots of sulfurophanes.

            Here’s a link to the video interview that Gumbootsgoddess referenced where the topic is discussed in detail; definitely worth watching since there’s additional interesting stuff in there:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0lBVCpq8jc

    3. I started to add a half a teaspoon of the seeds to my kale smoothie (and a little less kale) and letting the smoothie stand a few minutes after watching that video (more convenient and cost effective that way). I find I can taste the bitter, but that’s okay, I just add more hot sauce. I do wonder if the lime I add in affects the pH and the reaction rate, though. I started adding that in after the standing time, just in case.

      1. Thanks for replying, I had never thought to put hot sauce in my smoothie. I’m hoping to find out what cultivars Dr Fahey grew and then grow them myself for the seed. I’ll give everyone a heads up if I manage to track them down.

  13. Off topic (but spurred by the pic above and a thought I had yesterday). And I think that more folks here than my other usual haunts may understand and appreciate the notions I’m about to present.

    I’ve been thinking on/off the topic for dozens of years, but WHY MUST we have so much artificial coloring in our foods?

    Many colorants have been found to be harmful (and banned in civilized countries) but we (the Americans) consume pounds/gallons? of artificial colorings in our foods every year. Coloring agents cost money. So I know that MegaFoodandGov’t Inc. (MFGI we’ll call it) has analyzed the costs and found that colored-up foods sell better and increase their profits. And also that their exposure to risks and liabilities are small enough that they continue to pump all the foods with fake colors.

    Even the “healthy” processed foods tend to have colors added. “Natural” colors, which can be anything from the juice of a berry to the fluids from a mashed beetle. (red-there’s a vid here somewhere).

    BUT I ALWAYS WONDERED, WHY?!

    Why must they color their food products with artificial and other products?

    Yesterday it hit me. Now I know why. Remember all those years we spent evolving? All the food was fully naturally colored then. AND our brains (the brains of those who didn’t get Darwined out of existence) became tuned to the great vibrant colors of flavorful foods. Fruits and berries and seeds and tubers, et cetera. Those who ate the widest variety of colors experienced the best nutrition and were the ones most likely to survive and pass on their DNA sequences.

    Now here we are. Genetically craving great natural colors and flavors, and getting fake ones.

    Now that’s where it gets dirty. The real colors represent nutrition. The fake ones bring us nothing generally. That’s an automatic deficit. Your brains saw that pretty color of the fake food, and you ate it, and now your body is left with no reward. Our brains are smart enough to know which colors we need (at some level) and we go eat some faked-up version of that. We don’t get what we need-what our brain thought it had bargained for.

    Stated more clearly (maybe), our system wants beta carotene and we choose something orange (subconsciously). In the olde world, the orange thing would usually provide us with the beta carotene needed, desired by our system. BUT we had Fanta Orange Pop instead.

    We are still going to have a system-level desire/need for beta carotene. So in general the American public walks around eating colorful junk BECAUSE we evolved to eat colorful natural plant foods.

    So, it must follow that every single time MFGI does a study on colorants in food, they find that folks always prefer brightly-colored products over anything less than brightly colored. To hell with nutrition, they got a buck to make and it’s legal. And society suffers more malnutrition.

    Okay, just had to get that out of my head, make room for something else 8P. Cheers and multi-natural-colors to you!

    –also if you yet consume a “mixed bag” of goods as I do, note that nearly ANYthing “white” (like salad dressings) will have BLUE colorants added. Look at the pickles section of the grocery–oozing Yellow #whatever, it glows from a distance. The white/blue thing just isn’t that obvious so I like to point it out to help folks have all the information. And of course that “caramel coloring” always sounded so harmless and we now know better.

    1. Cravings are generally thought of as “bad” and to be resisted. I learned from a shipwreck survivor that cravings can steer one to the most essential foods available for survival. Since we are hard-wired for colors, methinks I’ll now give more thought as to the colors of what I’m craving. Naturally-colored foods should most accurate fulfill these sorts of cravings whilst filling any truer need coming from deficits in our systems.

    2. Good points, Wade Patton. Also processed food naturally has really disgusting colors so they HAVE to color it otherwise nobody would eat it! Jet black Coke or grey crackers anyone?

    3. I’ll never understand modern art. That veggie picture is a perfect ROYGBIV rainbow, except the blueberries should go where the radishes are.

  14. In Missouri, they start checking Cholesterol on Kids that are on State aide (Medicaid) at Age 2, right along with a Lead level…..

  15. Children (and their parents and teachers and government regulations) should be taught to eat properly, not test more or give them pills. Dr. Adonis

  16. How come a super high fat – ketogenic – diet (70-85% of calories from pure fat) is protective against atherosclerosis? Such as a child or adult with epilepsy on this diet? Atherosclerosis is a disease of inflammation. I suspect the reason may have something to do with how the diet is a super low/no inflammatory, of course this is just a hypothesis. Seems like any diet is better than a diet consisting of processed foods and sugar. What do you guys think?

    1. A super high fat diet is protective against atherosclerosis? Are there any interventional trials measuring hard end points that prove this? To my knowledge there has never been a ketogenic diet trial that either reversed atherosclerosis or prevented cardiac events.

  17. I love the way paleo/keto/meat/dairy industry trolls descend on Dr. Greger’s videos in a few hours, even minutes, of him posting. They really don’t like NutritionFacts.org and come to spew their nonsense all over the place.

  18. Question on a different subject: Dr.Greger, If I am not consuming any animal products , and I am eating a lot of greens and cruciferous vegetables, is it really necessary to sacrifice peanut butter, healthy baked goods and roasted tofu and seitan, or, if I am eating all those veggies, will the anti-aging effects cancel out the pro-aging effects, or your body is able to handle those amounts? And the same question goes for leucine, I would like to gain muscle which requires me to eat leucine and open the mTor pathway, but if I am eating alot of fruits and vegetables, and beans and grains, maybe the anti-aging effects cancel out the pro-aging effects?

  19. Your site has changed my life. I went vegan 2.5 years ago. However, I have an issue with cholesterol. Last year, my overall cholesterol was 203. This year it is 259. Can you offer anything to explain how this could be happening? I know you need more details about what I actually eat but I try to eat unprocessed fresh and cooked vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lots of legumes.
    (HDL-56; TRG-140; LDL-175; non-HDL-204)
    Thanks!
    Sieglinde Prior

    1. My final breakthrough (total cholesterol from 190 to 121; TRG 21; HDL 38) came after going to NO oil (ref. Dr. Esselstyn). Vegan restaurants have problems with this, and sautéing with water requires care.

  20. Is there a convenient test one could take at the doctor to see inside arteries? I think that would be a real eye opener if you actually had a picture of your own arteries to look at.

      1. I have a feeling my doctor would rolls his eyes at me, and either refuse to do these tests… or, even if he were to do them, would simply say “everything looks normal!”, and I’d be on my way. He likes to pull the “you’re young and fit! you’re fine.” I’m 34, and I play soccer. Ok great. I can still be unhealthy!

        I understand there is no perfect diagnostic.

        What test would Dr. Gregor recommend/institute that every red-blooded human get, how often, and the desirable results?

        Perhaps theres a “NF approved bloodwork spreadsheet”.

  21. I would love some input or anecdotal evidence on how a whole food plant based diet impacts those with familial hypercholesterolemia (genetic high cholesterol). I’m in my mid-20s, have eaten on and off vegan and vegetarian for about the past 10 years. I have been plant based vegan for about one month and got my cholesterol checked and it was high (total 204; LDL somewhere around 150; HDL somewhere around 40). I’ve had high cholesterol my whole life and was always told it was genetic, although I did eat the SAD growing up. I have been told by doctors that I’ll eventually end up on statins no matter what. I would love to know if anyone with genetic high cholesterol has been able to lower and maintain a cholesterol level under 150.

  22. Azm3i,

    You might find these studies of interest. The reduction in cholesterol levels was modest however without knowing the change in which cholesterol fractions were affected it could still be significant.
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/78/2/338 and http://www.ajconline.org/article/0002-9149(93)90010-A/abstract.

    I would encourage you to make consistent changes to the diet and then check the levels. I have also found clinically, that coupling with different medications has been necessary along with the diet with the majority of my patients.

    Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger

  23. Does anyone know and good videos or reference information that has a summary of the effects of eating meat dairy, etc on teenagers? When I talk to some of my high school students about heart disease or other facts I think they find it hard to relate. These health dangers seem so distant and therefore less relevant. I guess I am looking for a, ‘why teenagers should go vegan’ resource.
    Thanks!

    1. Sonia: Precisely because it is so hard to get teens to relate to health issues, I tend to stress the ethical and environmental aspects of eating for that age group. I’d guess, though, that hitting ethical issues are not an option for your situation. So, I have a few alternative ideas for you:

      The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) is a well respected, well researched/evidence-based group. Their website has a section for teens. I haven’t looked at the details, so I don’t know if it has what you are interested in or not. Just in case: http://www.vrg.org/family/kidsindex.htm Note that there is a section on ‘education materials and lesson plans’. VRG is a really great group. If they don’t already have what you want, they might be able to create something for you if you ask for it. Don’t be shy about asking.

      You might try to put together your own primer with whatever key research you can find. For example, I know of one study specifically addressing teens and dairy. There was one study showing that dairy did nothing to protect teens from fractures. I don’t have that study handy, but I could look for it if you want. Maybe you could find other similar studies?

      I had another angle, perhaps show them studies/information for younger children. I’m aware of more resources regarding younger children. Maybe your teens could relate to that better than to research that seems to apply to ‘old’ people. For those resources, check out the VRG site I linked to above. Specifically check out the following article that discusses nutrition from infants through teens: http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.php Also check out:
      http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/vegetarian-diets-for-children-right-from-the-start
      http://www.pcrm.org/pdfs/health/info_children.pdf
      http://www.pcrm.org/pdfs/health/info_advchild.pdf

      I hope you are able to find something that helps.

        1. Sonia: Cool.

          I just had one more idea. Weight seems to be an issue for our children now-a-days. If doing a segment on the healthiest way to lose or maintain weight would be of interest to you, I have some great, free resources that I think might work well in a classroom. These are some free talks and articles on the concept of calorie density (including the science behind that concept). You could then point students to a website (www.skipthepie.com) that is essentially a way to search a government database on nutrients of various foods. Kids could look up the calorie density of various foods. Also, they could look up various interesting nutrients.

          You wouldn’t want to make overweight kids feel bad or do a segment that would not apply to kids that don’t have a weight problem??? So, maybe this is a bad idea. However, if you think it would be helpful, let me know.

    2. Sonia, thanks for writing! My guess is that your teens find it hard to relate to because their parents don’t take this info seriously, nor does the society they live in. So why should they? The effects on teens of a meat dairy-based diet is to hike up levels of hormones that cause acne, as well as increase skeletal muscle and bone growth – and most are ALREADY overly-grown. Teens should go vegan because if they don’t learn good eating habits early in life, they can have an extremely hard time acquiring these later in life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This