Oxidized LDL is a much better predictor of ‘cardiovascular events’ than anything on your regular cholesterol panel. Tests for oxidized LDL are not easily available, but there are some things you can do to shift the odds in your favor.
Factors that affect LDL oxidation
1. The type of fats found in your LDL cell membranes
As we discussed in the last blog, the types of fat you eat determine how delicate your LDL cell membranes are. If you eat a lot of easily-oxidized Omega-3s and Omega-6s, you will have more LDL oxidation.*
Percentage of ‘delicate’ Polyunsaturated Fats in Common Cooking Fats and Oils
Eat fish a few times a week or take fish oil supplements when you can’t eat seafood. The key point that I want you to notice in the chart above is that the oils you were told are ‘healthy’ (because they lower cholesterol) are the ones most likely to oxidize your LDL.
Duck fat and avocado oil are my unofficial cut off points. I avoid everything above it. This is the #1 reason why I avoid eating out. If I must, I order a salad with olive oil on the side.
Sit down and clutch your pearls, Agnes!
I cook generously with beef tallow, butter and coconut oil. I mail order beef tallow rendered from grass-fed cattle, my absolute favorite.
I do not fear saturated fats but you are welcome to. That they are harmful is, uh, a ‘faith-based initiative‘ and has been proven false over and over. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. None of these references are light-weight blogs like this – they are published studies.
Your body is built to thrive on normal levels of both Omega-3 and Omega-6. Your body is built to function despite some levels of oxidation. Not the 20-fold increase in oxidation burden we are subjecting our bodies to…and that dramatic increase in oxidation comes almost exclusively from Omega-6, linoleic acid, in the form of vegetable cooking oils.
Toxins (think cigarettes, alcohol, BPA in plastics, most things in the cleaning and cosmetics aisles), free radicals etc. will consume the built-in antioxidants in the LDL – CoQ10 and Vitamin E. Once the antioxidants are exhausted, the LDL is exposed and vulnerable to oxidation.
Your liver bundles LDL with CoQ10 and Vitamin E. Statin drugs for cholesterol reduction wipe out CoQ10 along with the cholesterol. And 90% of us don’t get enough Vitamin E from foods. Together, this also increases vulnerability to LDL oxidation.
4. Duration of circulation
5. Leaky gut
Stress, medications, gut dysbiosis, gluten, infections, and toxins can all make intestinal epithelial cells porous, hence the term ‘leaky’ gut. But gluten from wheat is the champ.
With a leaky gut, partially digested food and bacteria from food waste enter your blood stream. Bacterial cell wall components also oxidize LDL and are taken up by white blood cells and turn into foam cells which turns into plaque in your arteries.*
6. Nutrient deficiencies
Not enough Zinc and copper will make it hard for your body to make enzymes that remove oxidizing substances from your body. When that happens, again, LDL gets oxidized. (Eat liver, nuts, shellfish, sesame seeds, oysters and beef.)*
How much sugar, carbs and grains (yes, even ‘healthy’ whole grains) you eat affects LDL oxidation. Sugar binds to LDL and speeds up oxidation.
Low thyroid levels reduce LDL receptor activity, which causes LDL to remain in circulation and allows greater exposure to oxidants. Low thyroid due to diet-induced autoimmune hypothyroidism (see #5, Hashimoto‘s), iodine deficiency, goitrogen activity from excessive soy, millet, raw cruciferous vegetables, pollution etc.*
Notice that most of the factors listed above are diet-related. Pills can’t help you here.
Not surprisingly, Big Pharma and medical establishment react with a yawn and continue to pump us full of statins.
But, oh, never mind that…
- Most people who take statins don’t live longer or have significantly fewer heart attacks.
- Or that people with the lowest LDL are at 350% greater risk of Parkinson’s.
- Or that people in this study with the highest cholesterol levels had a 48% reduction in death.
- Or that eating saturated fat is not associated with poor heart health or stroke.
- Or that the old data used to scare people about animal fats shows nothing scary when reanalyzed in 2013.
- Or that only 25% of people who get heart attacks have high cholesterol.
Turns out eggs and butter were only deadly during the Reagan and Clinton eras.
I could go on…this statin horse is far from dead.
There are no Rx drugs to reduce oxLDL
When diet is the best prevention tool for any illness, you won’t hear much about it. Because apparently you don’t want to. Can’t blame big pharma for everything. Sometimes you gotta look in the mirror.
Still, your great-grandmother probably didn’t have a terrible oxLDL problem. But you do. See graph above.
Our bodies are meant to operate quite nicely on fats found in olive oil, butter and yes, even lard and tallow. Human breast milk is rich in cholesterol and saturated fat – almost two third of the calories of breast milk comes from saturated fats.
Lard vs Olive Oil
Would you believe me if I told you that do-no-wrong olive oil is very similar to kill-you-dead lard? They both are mostly oleic acid. Yup – the #1 fatty acid in both lard and olive oil are the same. Years of brain-washing from the media might make you avoid lard, tallow or butter, but they all contain fats that don’t oxidize easily. Go ahead, ask a teenager if he/she even knows what tallow is.
In my house, people get in trouble for throwing away bacon fat. Kids eat fruits, eggs and bacon for breakfast. And daddy gets to make scrambled eggs in bacon fat. Yum.
Either way, you won’t see a bottle of Canola within a mile of my kitchen.
What now? More lard and less Lipitor?
Them’re fightin’ words to many of you out there. I’m just pointing out evidence that made me scratch my head (and alter my diet.)
But what you do is up to you and your doctor. Don’t wing it! I see three different integrative/functional MDs.
Based on what causes increased oxLDL production, it seems to me (and my doctors) that reducing Omega-6-rich vegetable oils and replacing them with low-Omega-6 fats makes sense. Along with making sure you’re not taking anything to nuke your CoQ10 levels.
Cutting out wheat and sugar seems prudent regardless.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.