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cokids 10-18-2004 10:38 AM

Fighting Cholesterol w/out Statins...Personal Update
I had high cholesterol a year ago and was put on statin drugs. They worked two weeks my cholesterol was within acceptable ranges...all types! But, within three months I was having aches and pains all over my body (legs, back, neck, etc). When it moved into my lower back (where kidneys 'live'), I stopped taking them and my cholesterol was back to dangerous levels within a couple of weeks! Yikes! What to do?

Well, I needed to lose weight and happened on the low carb info at about this time. I started on the South Beach Diet in early August. This diet is a HEALTHY diet that cuts simple carbs and adds in whole grain carbs while recommending lower fat consumption....GOOD fats like olive oil and canola oil are ok. I have lost over 15 lbs. and today got my new cholesterol report.

Here are my #'s...

Total Chol. 249
Triglyc 167
HDL 44
LDL 172

Total Chol. 208
Trigly 105
HDL 45
LDL 142

Ok, these numbers aren't ideal, but they are MUCH better! I understand that continuing on my diet is important, but not likely to improve my numbers much more. I've gotten all the benefit I can expect to get from diet.

So, I have agreed to try Zetia. Anyone else on Zetia? Zetia I know is given with statins sometimes, but is anyone taking Zetia alone? What side effects have you experienced? I have done some reading and it looks like Zetia has minimal side effects. Is that what you believe too?

Any info anyone can share on Zetia will be MUCH appreciated! And, if I'm wrong about diet and how long it may take to show full effects from changing it, let me know that too! I need all the info I can get!

cloverberry 10-18-2004 11:19 AM

Re: Fighting Cholesterol w/out Statins...Personal Update
I took the Zetia tabs for 3 day until my back (Kidney area) started hurting and I was in pain for a month after that. I'll never take them again. I can't tell you about the low carb diet because I hate them.

ty123 10-18-2004 12:11 PM

Re: Fighting Cholesterol w/out Statins...Personal Update
I'm not familiar with South Beach, but it sounds like you're on the right track.

Canola oil is better than Olive oil because it has the lowest saturated fat content. However remember that adding oil isn't the point. No oil is particularly good for you, Canola is just the least bad.

Hopefully zetia won't give you problems as it did clove. Most people find it very easy to take, and although it has milder cholesterol lowering characteristics it does apparently help. I take it with no problems at all, and remember it does use a different mechanism from statins.

Make sure there are no trans fats in your diet and lower your saturated fat intake, and that will take you further to the extent you're not doing so now.

I'd also consider looking at functional foods also called nutriceuticals that can lower cholesterol. Benecol margarine is one, Metamucil psyllium is another.

Niacin is also a good statin alternative, although I recommend doing that with a doctors assistance.

hunter44 10-18-2004 12:19 PM

Re: Fighting Cholesterol w/out Statins...Personal Update
cokids - looks like it's working.
Couple of questions.
After losing 15 lbs, do you need to lose more? If so your numbers will improve even more.
What is your daily carb intake?
Some people told me that following the SB diet is difficult to follow but it allows more carbs to make it attractive to people who like their carbs. Marketing come-on. I haven't read the book, does it offer scientific reasons for the diet?
All LC diets are based on the same principle but to jump on the success bandwagon some doctors put their own individual changes to make theirs unique.
Good luck your recieving to payoff for eating healthy.

Music4All 10-18-2004 12:43 PM

Re: Fighting Cholesterol w/out Statins...Personal Update

Canola oil is better than Olive oil because it has the lowest saturated fat content. However remember that adding oil isn't the point. No oil is particularly good for you, Canola is just the least bad.[/QUOTE]
There are many studies that demosntrate that monounsaturated fats can help lower the blood level of LDL cholesterol. Olive, as well as nuts oils like walnuts and almonds, are relatively much higher in monounsaturated fats than an oil like canola. Not advocating someone go out and consume large quantities of any oil. However, the studies are there and well documented. Also, these monounsaturated fats do not seem to lower the protective HDL cholesterol level, only ldl.

A lot out there. I recommend a look see.

ty123 10-18-2004 01:17 PM

Re: Fighting Cholesterol w/out Statins...Personal Update
"There are many studies that demosntrate that monounsaturated fats can help lower the blood level of LDL cholesterol."

I'd be interested if you could point me to one of those studies. My understanding is that monosaturated fats only lower LDL to the extent that they replace saturated fats in the diet.

hunter44 10-18-2004 01:49 PM

Re: Fighting Cholesterol w/out Statins...Personal Update
Cold Pressed Extra Virgin of course....
Olive Oil Part 1...

Several studies have shown that 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil daily (as the main source of fat in the diet and consumed with plant food) can have beneficial effects on blood fats (less atherogenic chylomicron remnants, triglycerides, oxidised LDL cholesterol), blood glucose, clotting factors and blood levels of antioxidants. It also appears to influence body fat distribution (less belly fat) and may even aid weight loss.

Less LDL cholesterol and more HDL cholesterol

Diets with olive oil as the dominant fat source may help reduce visceral fat, blood glucose, blood clotting, triglycerides and oxidation of LDL cholesterol and ultimately heart disease deaths. Despite high intakes of salt, the relatively low rates of strokes in Cretan men in the 1960's may have been due to the protective effect of the high intake of olive oil. In contrast, the Japanese men in the study had very low fat intakes (10% energy intake), high intakes of salt and much higher rates of stroke. However, the evidence that low fat diets may increase the risk of stroke is equivocal (Gillman et al. JAMA 1997; 278: 2145-50).

A 1985 report by Mattson and Grundy (J Lipid Res 1985; 26: 194-202) which showed monounsaturated fats could lower plasma cholesterol as much as polyunsaturated fat stimulated a reconsideration of the potential role of monounsaturated fats. Other studies since have resulted in the general consensus that both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats reduce blood LDL cholesterol when they replace saturated fats in the diet, but the polyunsaturated fats have a larger impact (Gardner & Kraemer Arterioscler Throm Vasc Biol 1995; 15: 1917-27). The effects on HDL cholesterol were similar, although some studies have shown that omega-6 fat can lower and monounsaturated fats tend to raise HDL cholesterol (Mensink et al. Arterioscler Thromb 1992; 12: 911-9).

Less oxidised LDL cholesterol

Olive oil may have played an important role in the healthiness of the Mediterranean diet in the 1960's and its value may be due to components other than its monounsaturated fats. Extra virgin olive oils contain 30-40 different antioxidant phytochemicals. The common practice of pouring olive oil over food just before it is eaten means the antioxidants are well preserved. When olive oil is used for cooking, the wide variety of antioxidants also act synergistically to prevent the formation of carcinogenic hydroperoxidation products which can arise in some heated fats higher in polyunsaturated fats (e.g. canola, sunflower).

There is growing evidence suggesting oxidation of LDL plays an important part in atherosclerosis (Steinberg Circulation 1991; 84: 1420-25). The process of LDL oxidation may be enhanced by polyunsaturated fats from plants and fish.

Omega-9 fat in plasma (e.g. in LDL) and cell membranes are less susceptible to oxidation in animal and human models. The reverse was found for omega 6 fats. In bench top studies, plasma LDL and cell membranes enriched in monounsaturated fat clearly resist oxidation compared to polyunsaturated fat (Abbey et al. AJCN 1993; 57: 391-8; Reaven AJCN 1991; 54: 701-6; J Clin Invest 1993; 91: 668-76). If the oxidation theory of atherosclerosis is correct, this should lead to less atherosclerosis on a monounsaturated fat enriched diet. However, animal studies do not support this hypothesis and unfortunately oleic acid levels in lipoproteins are not related to dietary intake of oleic acid. In the 7 countries study, monounsaturated fat intake was inversely related to mortality from CHD, but it is difficult to conclude that monounsaturated fat itself is protective.

Although evidence is still lacking that a reduction in the oxidisability of LDL will translate into a reduction in coronary events, there is suggestion of benefit. For example, a higher intake of the antioxidant vitamin E that is carried in LDL, is associated with less deaths from CHD (Rimm et al. NEJM 1993; 328: 1450-56).

A study by Ramirez-Tortosa et al (J Nutr 1999; 2177-83) placed men with peripheral vascular disease on 2 tablespoons per day of either extra virgin olive oil (<1% acidity) or fine virgin olive oil (1-2% acidity) or pure olive oil (2-3% acidity) for 3 months. The extra virgin olive oil was found to be significantly better in preventing oxidation of LDL cholesterol and lowering triglyceride levels. Unfortunately there was no comparison between olive oils and other types of vegetable oils. Other recent work suggests that peanut and canola oils may have a similar positive effect to olive oil, but a comparison with the extra-virgin type is not clear. If olive oil is to be used in a healthy diet, the earliest and least chemically contaminated stage of processing (i.e. the first pressing - extra virgin) is likely to be the most beneficial.

Less post-meal chylomicron remnants and triglycerides

The link between blood fats and atherosclerosis has been chiefly attributed to elevated plasma LDL and low HDL concentrations. Fasting levels of these lipoproteins do not, however, sufficiently discriminate between patients with and without CHD. Moreover, conventional management of lipid disorders does not account for humans existing mostly in the postprandial (i.e. non-fasting) state.

The notion that post meal blood fats are atherogenic was encapsulated 20 years ago in the ‘Atherogenic Remnant Hypothesis’ in which Zilversmit (Circulation 1979; 60: 473-85) stated that the accumulation of chylomicrons and chylomicron remnants that occur after fatty meals are causally related to the development of atherosclerosis. This hypothesis is well supported by experimental, genetic and clinical studies which should be viewed not as alternative, but as supplementary to the proven LDL Hypothesis (Watts et al. Aust NZ J Med 1998; 28: 816-23).

It is now recognised that post meal triglyceride concentrations are an important factor in the development of CHD. The magnitude of the postprandial lipidemic response has been causally related to the presence and progression of CHD (Stampfer et al. JAMA 1996; 276: 882-8).

Post-meal fats last in the blood from 6-12 hours before being cleared by the liver where they are converted to VLDL, LDL and HDL. Chylomicron remnants are just as atherogenic as LDL cholesterol and can have a prothrombotic effect – they can therefore do considerable damage to blood vessels during the 6-12 hour period. Postprandial triglycerides are indirectly atherogenic by stimulating the formation of the highly atherogenic small, dense LDL's and by activating the clotting factor VII (Roche & Gibney, BrJNutr 1997; 77:1-13).

There is emerging evidence that certain dietary fats may be cleared faster from the blood stream after a fatty meal, thereby reducing the risk of atheroma formation and blood clots.

Abia et al (J Nutr 1999; 129: 2184-99) have demonstrated that postprandial triglycerides after an olive oil (extra virgin) rich meal are selectively cleared in humans. A study by Roche, Zampelas and Kafatos (AJCN 1998; 68: 552-60) compared postprandial triacylglycerol concentrations and clotting factor VII activity in 23 northern European men. These men were consuming either a Mediterranean diet high monounsaturated (from olive oil), and low in saturated fats (20% and 12% energy respectively) or a high saturated, low monounsaturated fat diet (17% and 12% energy respectively). Both diets were consumed for 8 weeks and provided 40% energy as fat and 7% energy as polyunsaturated fat (20g omega 6 and 1g omega 3 fatty acids).

Postprandial clotting factor activity was lower on the monounsaturated fat diet compared with the saturated fat diet. Postprandial triglycerides returned to near-fasting concentration much earlier on the monounsaturated diet compared with the saturated fat diet.

This study presents new insights into the biochemical basis of the beneficial effects associated with long-term dietary monounsaturated olive oil consumption, which may explain the lower rates of coronary mortality in the Mediterranean, especially in the 1960s.

Chylomicron remnants after eating fish omega-3 fats may also be selectively cleared (Bergeron & Havel, Curr Opin Lipidol 1997; 8: 43-52). Saturated fats and alcohol consumed with a high fat meal delays the clearance of post meal fats in the blood.

Less blood clots and reduced risk of heart attack

A study from the University of Copenhagen (Larson et al. AJCN 1999; 70: 976-82) has demonstrated in a intervention study that a high olive oil intake lowers blood coagulation more (by 18%) than sunflower and rapeseed oils. The researchers suggest that a diet high in olive oil may indeed prevent the acute pro-coagulant effects of fatty meals and thus prevent sudden heart disease. Their findings offer clear support for other work now available also supporting the benefits of olive oil.

A new study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in April 2002
( looked at the use of olive oil in Spain and risk of a first heart attack. This was a case-control study involving 171 patients who had suffered a heart attack and an equal number of control subjects without evidence of heart disease. Those consuming the highest amount of olive oil had a reduction in risk of heart attack of 82 percent. This group consumed an average of 52 grams (about 3-4 tablespoons) per day.The statistical analysis controlled for smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol since those with heart attacks were more likely to have these conditions. So, even when these factors were taken into account, olive oil was still found to be protective.

hunter44 10-18-2004 01:55 PM

Re: Fighting Cholesterol w/out Statins...Personal Update
Part 2...
Less Visceral Fat

Some investigators believed that the olive oil rich Mediterranean diet (also known as a modified fat diet) may tempt people to overeat and they would put on weight.

In a study on free-living diabetic women consuming either a modified fat Mediterranean diet (4 tablespoons of olive oil/day) or a low fat high carbohydrate diet (O'dea & Walker AJCN 1996; 63: 254-60; Aust J Nutr Diet 1998 (55):32-36) the subjects did not gain weight and indeed many lost weight. Both diets were restricted in energy, providing 1500calories per day.

The low fat diet resulted in the loss of mostly lower body fat that is not a desirable feature, especially in people who are centrally obese. In contrast, on the modified fat diet, they lost fat from the upper and lower body, which was a more beneficial pattern of fat loss. Furthermore, the olive oil rich diet was found to improve glycaemic control in the diabetes sufferers and appeared to result in subjects becoming more active. It may be the extra activity that leads to the improvement in their condition, and this is yet to be determined. In the meantime there are grounds for adding some olive oil to the diet of diabetic patients.

There is emerging evidence that monounsaturated and omega-3 fats tend not to put on as much weight as saturated fats despite the fact that gram per gram they have the same energy content.

May delay Diabetes Complications?

Over 1600 people in the 3rd National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in the US who answered questions on fruit and vegetable intake had their blood examined to test glucose tolerance (AmJ Epi 1999; 149:168-9). Carotenoids (especially lycopene, b-carotene) were found to be associated with a low risk for diabetes. For people with established diabetes, they may delay the onset of complications.

These carotenoids are better absorbed from vegetables when consumed with oil.

Preliminary findings from a study conducted on Anglo-Australian diabetics has found that the Mediterranean diet high in extra virgin olive oil (>4 tablespoons per day) may result in significantly higher blood carotenoid levels and that the olive oil may facilitate the absorption of these compounds from plant foods. Over 10,000 Greek-born Australians in the Health2000 study conducted by the Anti-Cancer Council have been found to have a higher prevalence of diabetes than Anglo-Australians. Interestingly, the former had significantly higher blood levels of carotenoids (due to their high intakes of vegetables and olive oil) and much lower death rates than the latter, despite their higher prevalence of diabetes and obesity. More studies are required to determine if Greek-born Australian diabetics also have a lower prevalence of diabetes complications due to their diet (Itsiopoulos & O'Dea, unpublished data).

Less Breast Cancer

There is a large body of literature that shows that omega-6 polyunsaturated fats enhance the number of metastases and the growth of chemically induced breast cancer in animals. A large prospective trial from Sweden examined the relationship between diet and the risk of developing breast cancer in 61,471 women aged 40 to 76. During the 4 year follow-up period 674 cases of invasive breast cancer occurred. Women in the highest quartile of polyunsaturated fat intake had a significantly 20% higher risk of breast cancer than those in the lowest quartile (relative risk 1.2). The opposite was true for monounsaturated fat. The amount of saturated fat in the diet did not influence risk (Modern Medicine 1998). Other studies that have suggested a protective effect of monounsaturated fat against breast cancer have come from Mediterranean countries where olive oil is the main source of monounsaturated fat. It was not clear whether other components of olive oil (such as phytoestrogens) were responsible for the effect. Because the Swedish diet is very low in olive oil, this study suggests that monounsaturated fat itself is protective. The Swedish study also raises questions about the safe upper limit of n-6 polyunsaturated fat in the diet.

ty123 10-18-2004 02:43 PM

Re: Fighting Cholesterol w/out Statins...Personal Update

Did you collect all of this on your summer vacation, or just in the last 5 minutes? Its an amazing amount of information.

I'm curious, was all of this collected for you somewhere, and if so where?

This quote from the Mattson Grundy study sticks out:

"[COLOR=Red]Other studies since have resulted in the general consensus that both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats reduce blood LDL cholesterol [U]when they replace saturated fats in the diet[/COLOR][/U]"

This would tend to support what I was saying, which is that mono/poly is better for you to the extent it doesn't contain much saturated fat. I'm still digesting the vast bulk of your post to see which data supports mono/poly oils as have a reducing effect on cholesterol levels apart from replacing primarily saturated fat.

ty123 10-18-2004 02:56 PM

Re: Fighting Cholesterol w/out Statins...Personal Update
The oxidation issue with respect to Olive oil is interesting, although non oil antioxidents would seem more prudent. On the other hand the protective effects with respect to cancer are interesting.

ty123 10-18-2004 03:02 PM

Re: Fighting Cholesterol w/out Statins...Personal Update
Its very frustrating. I was looking at the link you provided on the Spanish study on Olive oil consumption, but no details of how the study was performed are given. Did they replace higher saturated fat oil with olive oil or simply add olive oil to their diets?

It says it reduced first incidence of MI...that's great, but how long was the study period?

heart44 10-18-2004 08:43 PM

Re: Fighting Cholesterol w/out Statins...Personal Update
[QUOTE=ty123]Its very frustrating. I was looking at the link you provided on the Spanish study on Olive oil consumption, but no details of how the study was performed are given. Did they replace higher saturated fat oil with olive oil or simply add olive oil to their diets?

It says it reduced first incidence of MI...that's great, but how long was the study period?[/QUOTE]

Hi Mark,
Did you look at the FULL version of the article?
There are several graphs you can display that show the criteria used.



The average daily intake of olive oil was 22.8 g (SD: 19.9) in women and 25.3 g (SD: 18.0) in men. The total energy-adjusted mean was 24.9 for both genders. Thus, the slightly higher absolute intake among men was explained by their higher energy intake.


Cases were defined as male or female subjects, aged under 80, survivors of a first AMI (ICD code 410) admitted to one of the three tertiary hospitals of Pamplona (Spain) within the periods:
October 1999–June 2000
October 2000–February 2001


hunter44 10-18-2004 08:53 PM

Re: Fighting Cholesterol w/out Statins...Personal Update
All studies have to be looked at on an individual basis. Many refer to just LDL but do not indicate what type. Not all refer to a substitution for saturated fat. And, further and newer studies clarify conclusions. That's why one has to keep reading the research and not listen to what the generalists preach. They may compare mono, poly and saturated fats and there contributions to health but each one, in itself, has many benefits that must be considered.

cokids 10-19-2004 04:39 AM

Re: Fighting Cholesterol w/out Statins...Personal Update
Whew! What a lot of information! I apologize for getting off topic....sort of, but I've come across more info that is instructive for me. I looked at LDL/HDL ratio info and it looks to me like my ratio is VERY good! Mine is a ratio of 3.1 which puts me at low risk. This is correct, isn't it? Do I really need the Zetia? I haven't started taking it yet, but should soon, if I'm going to.

Any thoughts?

The SBD recommended the use of canola and olive oils (as well as others, but these were the top two). I found a research site a few months ago that documented that a diet with ample fat (the right kind) was better for cholesterol levels than a low fat one! I'll see if I can locate the link and share it. The site is full of LOTS of really good research!

The SBD was developed by a cardiologist who lowered his own cholesterol via diet, then tried it on patients successfully, so wrote it up and sold it. Check the South Beach Diet website for more info. It's wonderful! For a fee of $5.00 a month, you get diet info, menues, recipes, weight tracking, Q&A w/ Dr., nutritionist support, etc. It has helped me amazingly!

Let me see if I can find the research link...

cokids 10-19-2004 04:51 AM

Here's the link
Here's the link...

It's a low carb research site that includes research on related topics like cancer, diabetes, heart health, obesity and weight loss, etc.

Here is the abstract from one of the studies in the cardiology section, "From the University of California at Berkeley and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2003: In this study, researchers measured the triglyceride levels in two groups of study participants. One group was placed on a high carbohydrate, low fat diet while the second group was placed on a low carbohydrate, high fat diet. The researchers found that the people on the low carbohydrate, high fat diet had much lower triglyceride levels than did the people in the low fat, high carbohydrate group. In fact, they found that the high carbohydrate group had triglyceride levels that were 5 to 6 fold higher than the low carbohydrate group!"

This site was put together by an R.N. who used a low carb diet to lose weight she had been unsuccessful at losing. The research seems to be from reputable schools and organizations!

This info is amazing and frightening! When you go into any grocery store and try to shop for low carb foods, one is frustrated to find so many simple carbs! The amount of food being bought and consumed each day that is nothing but empty carbs is amazing! We are poisoning ourselves!

This finding is reproduced in study after study! I was amazed when I first read it! I'm thinking after reviewing this stuff that I should be eating MORE olive oil...not LESS! It flies in the face of everything we've been taught and so, is VERY hard to 'swallow,' but it surely seems true. Even our Dr's. are not aware of it!

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