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Extremely High Cholesterol :(

Hey guys, I’m hoping for some advice, since I’m extremly dissapointed and scared. I donated blood last week for the first time, this week I got to find out my blood type and cholesterol level. It turns out it is 234! I’ve been a vegan for almost a year and have been 50-80% raw for some months now. It’s just really scary to know that I’m eating healthier than I have my whole life and my cholesterol level reflects that of an overweight SAD diet american.

I guess my question is, what could be causing this and how can I lower my cholesterol to a safer range?



  • Did your results happen to show what your LDL and HDL levels were? I’ve been vegetarian/mostly vegan for the past 2 years and have gradually been transitioning to raw, so I was also surprised when I recently had my blood tested and my cholesteral was around 230. BUT, the reason it was so high was because my HDL level (good cholesterol) was off the charts at 120. My LDLs (bad cholesterol) were right where they needed to be, so it ended up not being a big deal. The total cholesterol level is not as important as the individual HDL and LDL levels, as well as the ratio of good to bad cholesterol.

    The other thing to consider is whether it might be genetic. Do any of your family members have a history of high cholesterol?

  • ZoeZoe Raw Newbie

    I have a few questions for you to see if I can help you…

    Is it the first time you have had it checked? (It could have been coming down from 324.Which was what my husband’s was when he was SAD it is now 97, 5 years on.)

    Have you detoxed – i.e. been 100% raw for 2 months or more? It takes time for all the cholestrol that has accumulated in your body to dissolve and disappear.) For what is raw and what is not check out:http://purelyraw.com/deadfoodlist.htm go truly 100% for 2 -3 months to detox fully then get cholestrol checked again.

    Do you eat as part of your 20-50% vegan strictly vegan foods all the time? do you read labels? some dairy etc can be hidden in processed foods you might think of as vegan.

    Tests can sometimes be unreliable, maybe have it rechecked.

    Don’t give up the raw! Raw food is the only answer to lowering cholestrol. My brother is a heart surgeon, when my husband Chris told him what his cholestrol score was, my brother was totally amazed, he said not even his patients on the most aggresive cholestrol lowering drugs have a score as low as him. Without hearing your answers to my questions I think you just need to give it time and keep making yourself more and more raw.

    You do feel better than ever before since going more raw don’t you? The best is yet to come.

  • Morning_theftMorning_theft Raw Newbie

    Everything Tripoli just said, plus- do you monitor your fat levels? If you’re eating too much fat, even good fat, it would raise both kinds of cholesterol (though HDL moreso with raw unsaturated fat) even if it’s genetic, there’s still hope, so worry not!

  • Morning_theftMorning_theft Raw Newbie

    Zoe’s smart :c)

  • ZoeZoe Raw Newbie

    I don’t understand how it can be genetic, isn’t cholestrol only about what you eat?

  • Thanks for the responses.

    Tripoli, no the results didn’t break down into ldl and hdl, even so, if my good cholesterol were off the charts (and not so much my ldl) then there’d be something wrong with my liver right?? And yes, there is a history of high cholesterol in my family. My mom had thyroid disease and last year she was told she had high cholesterol. (I just found out after emailing her) However, the doctor was not able to explain to her why it was so high, she is a vegetarian.

    Does anyone know of a link between hypothyroidism and high cholesterol?

    Zoe – no I have not been able to detox. Eating 100% raw food makes me feel sick, and it doesn’t feel right. I am trying to work my way to 100%. No, I didn’t have a blood test prior to this one, so I have nothing to compare it to. I am definitely not going to give up on raw food, if anything it will give me another reason to eat more raw food!! Do you think a low-fat approach would work?

    I have trouble eating low fat for some reason. It’s hard to explain how I feel, definitely less than optimal, I feel like I’m hurting my body and not so much cleansing it.

    Morning_theft – the above should answer you question, no I don’t really monitor my fat levels. I was under the impression that monounsaturated fats (such as that in avocado) would bind with the bad cholesterol and flush it out of the body. Is this not true?

    PS. I think I will get full blood work done and go see an endocrinologist just in case it is my thyroid acting up. This bring me to another question, if in fact is is genetic, how do I go about getting it under control naturally?

  • jenny2052jenny2052 Raw Newbie

    I think, like many things, even though diet plays a huge role, there are still genetic factors that determine how individual bodies handle the fuel they are given. We are not all the same! My family has a history of very high cholesterol, and my dad spent six months at 50%-75% raw and vegan (and he has always eaten a regular omni diet, so it was a big change for him) to help lower his cholesterol – instead, it actually went UP a few points. I don’t even know how that is possible, but he was very disappointed.

    But odalys, my dad did have excellent results using Niacin. His doctors were pressuring him very hard to take medication, and he refused. After six months on Niacin, they didn’t believe him when he said that he hadn’t done anything else (and by this point he had given up on the diet changes, too). I don’t remember how much he lowered it exactly, but I know it was at least 50 points, and I think it was actually closer to 75. So you might look into Niacin. I don’t know much about the link between hypothyroid and low cholesterol, but I do know that my dad is hypothyroid, too.

  • Odalys, as far as I know, high HDL doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong with your liver. (At least, it didn’t mean that for me and mine were at 120.) Like Jenny said, we are not all the same and there are all sorts of factors that can contribute to our individual circumstances. (For instance, stress is another factor that can cause high cholesterol.)

    I think your best bet is to have your blood work done and talk to a doctor. Once you figure out what’s specifically causing your high cholesterol, then hopefully you’ll be able to find a natural way to bring it down.

  • I also have extremely high cholesterol. It is the reason I went raw in the first place. Mine is entirely genetic however. My body just produces the stuff on its own is massive quantities. In the past is has made no difference what I eat. Full of meat and dairy, totally vegan, same numbers. I am hoping raw is the key. I had cholesterol levels topping 300 as a prepubescent child with a healthy diet. My father died of a stroke at 47. It is one of those things that just follows you. I have been 90% raw for 7 months now, but have not been tested to see if there has been any change. I am currently without health insurance, but will get tested soon when it kicks in. Some other things you can do to try to naturally lower your cholesterol are to eat large quantities of the Cholesterol super foods. I eat a ton of oats, walnuts, and very high fiber foods like eggplant and okra. They also recommend eating soy products (not raw though), and taking plant sterols. This is an interesting article about a doctor who lowered his patients cholesterol as much as those nasty statin drugs, just using diet alone. http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/290/4… It is my plan B if raw doesn’t help me at all. Good luck.

  • chriscarltonchriscarlton Raw Newbie

    There is no Cholesterol in Plant Foods. None at all. Cholesterol is produced by our bodies, not by plants and therefore only found in animals and animal foods.

    Studies have shown a link between Saturated Fat and raised cholesterol. This of course could just be a statistical coincidence. Those eating a lot of Saturated Fats are probably doing many other Cholesterol raising activities also.

    There are some low levels of Saturated Fat in Plant foods. Mainly nuts, however the percentages increase as soon as you process them into Oils or Butters with Coconut Oil actually being listed as being fairly high in Saturated Fat. These increases of percentage is probably an effect of the heat or cooking during the processing. Changing something with heat just as a scientist would in the lab with a Bunson Burner. I am sure making almond butter at home in my food processor without heating it would not increase the Saturated Fat which is about 10% of the total fat in Raw Almonds.

    Please remember that science and medicine up ‘till now are based on cooked foodist and lab rats. 100% Raw Vegans just haven’t been studied. It very well could be that Unheated Saturated Fats from Plant Foods have no Cholesterol raising effect. I am sure we will all know soon.

    If anyone has any more/new information on Saturated fats, Cholesterol, and Plant Foods, I would love to hear about it. You can contact me through the contact page on our website http://www.purelyraw.com .

  • Morning_theftMorning_theft Raw Newbie

    Your cholesterol isn’t raised from eating cholesterol. It doesn’t matter if you actually eat cholesterol or not. And from what I gathered, excess fat of any kind will eventually raise your overall cholesterol. I’m not saying eat as little fat as possible, or eat as little saturated fat as possible (some is very good, like in coconut) I am saying try not to go overboard with it, I guess try to consume it in a more natural way if possible (meaning, as a whole food like avocado or nuts, not oils, and not too far with nuts as in nature you wouldn’t be able to have a lot of them at once) Especially if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s a good idea to just be mindful about it. Don’t count calories or fat grams!

  • juleskess – WOW a cholesterol level of 300? That is dangerously high, it would be interesting to see if the raw diet has lowered your cholesterol level in these 7 months. I know that fruits and veggies help lower cholesterol, as well as oats and whole grains (although whole grains are cooked).

    Ok, I have to admit, I consume a good amount of coconut oil, and that’s got plenty of saturated fat… could this be keeping my cholesterol high? Other than that the only fats I consume are olive oil in my dressings and avocados (1 a week). The oils are cold pressed and organic.

    I found this article linking high cholesterol to high blood pressure to a “gene defect” http://www.hhmi.org/news/lifton5.html

    Juleskess how’s your blood pressure? Maybe this article is helpful for you.

    My blood pressure is actually normal (100/60) so I’m still looking around to what has caused it.

  • Hi WOW I am suprised to hear this is happening. I have heard cholesterol can be elevated due to stress too. I have heard niacin b3 is good for lowering it. You could take supplements or just eat more foods high in this vitamin. Here is some info from the internet on it.

    Niacin (nicotinic acid, vitamin B3) is a part of the normal diet that is essential to various chemical reactions in the body. It is used medically to treat individuals with deficiency of niacin. Advanced deficiency of niacin can lead to a condition called pellagra in which individuals develop diarrhea, dermatitis and dementia. Niacin also is used to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. Specifically it reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases good cholesterol (HDL). It is not clear how niacin causes its effects on cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but it may be by reducing the production of proteins that transport cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.

    Here is a link for more info: http://www.riversidecardiology.com/archive/0715…

    crimini mushrooms, asparagus, green peas, and green beans are high in it. Also spelt.

  • Morning_theftMorning_theft Raw Newbie

    Whoa your blood pressure is low. Is it actually normal? I’m not too sure… And if you consume a “good amount” of oils (which for all I know isn’t much at all), it may be a culprit. You might want to take it down a notch, just to be on the safe side.

  • deborahanndeborahann Raw Newbie

    Hi, just my 2 cents on the subject – I don’t have hi colesterol but it was at high normal—just over 200. I can get mine checked through community sponsored multiphasics so I don’t have to go to the Dr. I have been trying to eat healthier over the past decade and have just recently completely given up meat because I was having trouble digesting it. I have also been adding as much raw food into my diet as I can. When I would eat a lot of sugar/ refined grains which had a high glycemic index, my LDL would sharply rise. When I stayed off sugars completely and ate only whole grains, the LDL dropped and the HDL went up. I have read that higher insulin levels in the blood promotes higher chol.I have to watch my blood sugar now – I am not diabetic but I was certainly seeing higher numbers than I wanted to and I could feel the brain fog/fatigue when I would eat too much carbohydrate (even whole grain). Incidentally, I ate lots of fat in the form of butter, egg yolks and bacon, but I strictly avoided trans fats. Even eating a lot of fat, my chol went down as long as my carb/sugar intake was low. The other thing to note is that 50% of people who have heart attacks don’t have high cholesterol. I also monitor my homocysteine and c-reactive protein. Homocys can be brought down naturally and B vitamins are involved. C-RP is a reflection of inflammation in your vascular system which can cause cardiovascular disease. The bottom line is that you can get to the same problem through different pathways. How much sugar are you eating in the form of dried fruits,honey, etc.?

  • Odalys – My blood pressure is normal, always has been. I know my cholesterol is high, but it has been that high my whole life. As to what you said about grains, I eat sprouted oat groats with fruit and nut milk every morning so I feel good about getting my oats in and keeping them raw at the same time.

  • writeeternity – I knew stress raised blood pressure but didn’t know about raising cholesterol. I’m not a very stressed person, but thanks for the tip on the niacin. I definitely don’t eat enough mushrooms and green peas. I don’t think I’ve ever had spelt… I’ll be looking into these things and making sure I get enough of it.

    morning_theft – is it low? I didn’t think it was, the nurse didn’t say anything, I’m sure she would of mentioned something if it should be a concern. But yes, I will be watching how much oils I consume, cutting everything by half or avoiding it all together.

    deborahann – that’s interesting, glycemic index highering cholesterol? I don’t eat that much sugar, since I don’t like dried fruits. I do eat agave nectar but I’ve had the same small bottle for 2 months now; and bananas! I eat LOTS of bananas. I know they have a lot of sugar, maybe I’ll tone it down. Have a question for you, how do you monitor all of this? your C-RP, etc?

    Juleskess – you’ve made me hungry! Where do you get your oat groats? I’ve been craving some oats.

  • Morning_theftMorning_theft Raw Newbie

    Watch out what you tone down there, heh, if you cut back on fats AND sugars, you’ll be left very hungry… First thing first, remember what Zoe said? You don’t know what you cholesterol used to be, so you don’t know if it went up or down! You just need to get tested again and monitor it closely, and then start making changes, tone down your fats and see what happens, tone down your sugars (that of course depends on how you handle sugars, I do recall you saying somewhere you’re hypoglycemic?) You’ll see what works for you, you got so much advice here, must be very confusing :c)

  • deborahanndeborahann Raw Newbie

    We have community sponsored multiphasics a few times per year.You start with a complete blood count and differential (a break down of the cell types) and chemistry screen which addresses renal function, liver enzymes, electrolytes, and blood fats. You also have the option to purchase other tests like TSH for thyroid, c-rp, homocysteine etc. They send a copy to you and one to your Dr. I generally do this once per year. I’ll check again in 6 mo. if the cholesterol is back up. I have a Dr. friend who goes more by the ratio of HDL to LDL when interpreting chol. He doesn’t get concerned about being over 200 if the ratio is good. It doesn’t look like you eat a lot of high glycemic foods.Agave nectar is a very low glycemic product. Bananas are higher- 1increases your blood sugar as much as 2 lg. pears or a quart of berries. My maternal side of the family has a strong history of diabetes so I try to watch what I eat carefully. Problem is that I really LOVE sweet things and once I start eating something it’s hard to stop! This is why I end up having to screen blood fairly regular.

  • Morning_theftMorning_theft Raw Newbie

    You can always counterbalance something very high glycemic with something like greens or fat to slow down the absorption of sugar, if it’s a problem. I used to choose mostly fat but it’s a poor combination, I prefer to use greens. Bananas are really great and very well tolerated if you mix them with some spinach in a smoothie, for example.

  • Hi odalys,

    Your news here is not surprising. As I have mentioned in other threads over and over again, the high fat raw food diet is not healthy for people. Fat in it’s raw state is still fat and will still turn into cholesterol in the body. Do yourself a big favor and read Doug Graham’s 80/10/10 Diet book. I don’t ask you to follow his diet but do read the book and you will understand the basics behind health, nutrition and exercise. As for getting alarmed about the high cholesterol level, you really need to speak to a good doctor or even better a natural and raw health specialist to determine what if anything should be done. Many here have given you their opinion but these people are not experts in health by a long shot, so do go see an expert. That will give you the best answers and then do report back here to tell us what they said.

    Best to you.

  • morning_theft – you’re so right! I’m trying to soak up all these tips at once, seems like if I cut down on sugars and fats I’ll be left eating too little calories.

    SocaL – you say that fats turn into cholesterol in your body, how is this possible? LDL comes from animal products (which, I don’t eat, and I assume most raw foodists are vegan) HDL is made in the liver. Does the liver turn fats into cholesterol? I’m curious to know if this is explained in Graham’s book.

    On tuesday I will be stopping by the clinic at my university and getting some blood work done. See where my ldl and hdl are and hopefully get referred to a specialist. I also believe the university offers nutritional counseling, so I might try that as well. I’ll update you guys on how it goes. Thanks for all the help!

  • Morning_theftMorning_theft Raw Newbie

    I think there’s a bit of a misconception about the whole “good cholesterol bad cholesterol”, from what I gather. What I learned in biology in school was: HDL and LDL aren’t actual fatty acids but actually enzymes (I believe that’s what they are) and are a catalyst in processing the cholesterol produced by your cells. Cholesterol is necessary at some quantity! You just don’t need to consume it. But that’s obvious. Anyway, HDL is an enzyme that binds the cholesterol in your blood and takes it to the liver (I can’t remember, I think) to leave your body, while LDL takes it from your liver and transports it to your bloodstream, and lets it sink there. Now the common belief about saturated fats and unsaturated fats’ affect on those enzymes is- saturated fats raise LDL levels, monounsaturated fats raise HDL and polyunsaturated fats raise HDL and lower LDL. The big hype about trans fats (which really shouldn’t be an issue for us as it’s the opposite of raw) is that it not only raises your LDL, but also lowers your HDL. I don’t know if all that is really true, that’s just the common perception of it. I don’t know, SocaL, does this sound right?

  • blujett8blujett8 Raw Newbie

    at the risk of adding on more info….ligonberries help lower cholesterol….they’re good on sprouted oats, and while not a magic bullet “solution” ...a yummy consideration : )

  • Actually HDL and LDL is lipoproteins not enzymes(high density lipoprotein/low density lipoprotein). They transport fat in our bloodflow. The reason low density is bad is because it get stuck easyere than high density. Its pretty small and can get stuck in the small vessels, causing a clot or arteriosclerosis.Cholesterol is very important in our body.Its a part of cell membranes and gall salts.Our body produses its own cholesterol and reabsorbs it in the intestines. Whether or not the 80/10/10 can help lowering cholesterol I cant tell, but I have very low cholesterol and I eat plenty of nuts and such

  • There is no Cholesterol in Plant Foods. None at all. Cholesterol is produced by our bodies, not by plants and therefore only found in animals and animal foods.

    This was posted by Chris. He is correct, we can only get Cholesterol from animal products but since we are animal products ourselves (believe it or not!) we also produce cholesterol. We can’t survive without it but that being said we do not need very much of it at all. The mainstream will say we need a lot of ‘good’ cholesterol but that is not true for raw low fat vegans as we do not consume the heavy duty animal fats and do not need to flush out the bad cholesterol. A healthy person’s body will not allow their cholesterol levels to get too low even if they never eat a fatty food one time in their life. The thing to worry about is too much fat and never too little. Doug’s book is now available at many online book sellers and probably also in brick and mortar bookstores. It’s a worthwhile investment to read the nutrient requirements of our body. I listened to his interview last night and it was very interesting. You can hear it here:

    Episode 2007-Jul-09 (audio clip): http://www.globaltalkradio.com/shows/wakeupamer…

    The main thing to get out of the fat issue is that if you are eating fats that are exclusive of other nutrients (such as oils, coconut butters, seeds and nuts and seed and nut butters) then you will be getting too many fat calories at the detriment of getting other nutrient calories. If you eat enough calories to maintain weight and too many are from nutrient poor fats and fatty foods then you will be overall lacking in certain nutrients because there will not be enough nutrients in the rest of your calories to make up for the nutrient poor fatty foods. Any way you look at it, fats and fatty foods are a poor selection for a healthy person.

  • Hi SocaL, I went to the web site but couldn’t find the show you were talking about. What’s the name of the show?

  • Scroll down and click on the Episode: 2007-Jul-09

  • Morning_theftMorning_theft Raw Newbie

    Thank you lushpapaya, my knowledge was very basic and I wasn’t sure! I think I thought enzymes because they’re also a protein… Or maybe that’s what we were taught, to simplify… I did however hear that the role of LDL is to move the cholesterol in your liver to the cells and that’s why it gets stuck in your blood stream, I mean recently, but I don’t know if that is credible at all.

  • HOLY SHIT! This forum inspired me to go out and buy one of those home cholesterol tests. As a reminder, I have genetically high cholesterol (300 at my last reading). My father died young of it, I have had to take those nasty statin drugs in the past, all my brothers take them. My cholesterol has been high since I was a child and no dietary or lifestyle changes ever made a difference. 7 months ago I decided to go raw to try and lower it naturally. I have been following a 90% raw diet since then (with a fair amount of nuts and avocados and fats). Today I took not one, but two home tests and my total cholesterol level is 160!!! I don’t have health insurance so I couldn’t go get a reading of my LDLs and HDLs. I didn’t believe the first test to I took the second one in the box and it said the same thing. WOW. Supposedly these tests are very accurate though they don’t give you a break down. I am speechless and so grateful. I expected raw foods to give me a 50-80 point drop, not a 140 point drop. Wow.

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