[Transcript] – The Shocking Truth About Cholesterol & Why You Probably Don’t Even Need To Test For It.

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Podcast from:  https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/nutrition-podcasts/cholesterol-clarity/

[00:00] Introduction/Abouy Jimmy Moore

[2:30] How Jimmy Started His Weight Loss Journey

[6:06] Why Cholesterol Numbers Aren’t That Important

[17:10] What Your Doctor Should Test When They Do a Lipid Panel

[31:46] Diet Tips For Keeping Your Cholesterol in Line

[35:00] Why Doctors are Starting to Believe That Cholesterol Numbers are Irrelevant

[43:25] End of Podcast

Ben:  Hey, folks!  It’s Ben Greenfield and it is a little weird for me right now because I have a guy on the podcast who is usually the fella who’s doing the interviewing.  The guy who you may be familiar with as a very prolific podcaster and also a voice in the health community.  Prolific and very respected health blogger, podcaster, and actually was a speaker at the Become Superhuman event last year or earlier this year as well.  I have none other than the world famous Jimmy Moore on the call with me right now.  That’s right.  Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Man himself, Jimmy Moore.  How you doing, Jimmy?

Jimmy:  That’s funny.  “World famous.”  My wife is back in the background laughing at you, Ben.

Ben:  Well, you are.  You like, did a full on tour of Australia, right?

Jimmy:  Yeah, that was pretty fortunate last year.  They said “mate, you wanna come to Australia and you do speaking tours, right?”  And I said “uhh, sure.”  I had never done a speaking anything in my life except for my podcast and it turned out okay.  They liked it.  They even already invited us back.  So yeah, I guess it is world famous.

Ben:  You’re like, sure all the time.

Jimmy:  Why not?

Ben:  Put another shrimp on the barbie!

Jimmy:  For sure!

Ben:  So, the reason that you’re on the call today is because you have written a book and you actually have a pretty cool story yourself on amazing amount of weight that you lost by really kind of unlocking this pathway to losing weight by ignoring, frankly, a lot of conventional medical advice and kind of taking your own path that steeped a little bit more in a natural and ancestral approach to nutrition.

Jimmy:  Yeah.

Ben:  So, before we even jump into your book, tell me a little bit about, kind of, where you started several years ago with your path to get into all of this in the first place?

Jimmy:  You know, it’s funny.  I’m going to start with my testimony that I gave before the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Committee.  I went to Washington DC to kind of… you know, they always put out every five years these dietary guidelines for all Americans as if we’re all a bunch of robots, Ben, and respond the same way to the same dietary changes.  And, I remember looking them in the eyes on the panel and saying, you know what, I was successful because I did the exact opposite of all the things that you’ve been telling us to do for all these decades.  And I tried doing those things the low-fat diet, the high healthy whole grain diet, all of these, avoiding meat, none of that works for everybody.  Perhaps there’s some people, I know you’ve have Rich Roll on your podcast before and he does very well not eating meat, but I think he does vegan the right way, by the way.

Ben:  Yeah, exactly.

Jimmy:   So, for me, it was finding the way that was right for me.  And so January 1st, 2004, I decided to start on the Atkins diet.  My mother-in-law had bought me the book for Christmas and I read it and it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me from my conventional wisdom thinking, but the more I dug deeper into this, I’m like, okay, I can see this possibly being a sustainable way, not just for weight loss but for health.  And so, I started on it, lost 30 pounds the first month I did it.  I was 410 pounds when I started, so 30 pounds really wasn’t a whole, whole lot, but by the end of the second month, I lost another 40 pounds.  By the end of 100 days, it was 100 pounds gone.  And, you know, that really, Ben, kind of clued me in.  Something good is happening.

Ben:  Right.

Jimmy:  When you can drop that much weight that fast, something that was happening before with making the pounds pack on has now been taken away and now it’s falling off.  Something is happening that’s right for my body and even though I went through a little bit of a stall in that summer, I had already lost 100 pounds.  I wasn’t complaining.  I did end up losing a total of 180 pounds back in 2004.  So, almost 10 years ago, it’s hard to believe it’s been that long, but totally changed my life and, you know, people [04:46] ______ physically change your life, it did more than that.  It emotionally changed my life.  My career took a total change.  10 years ago, if you said you would be one of the leading voices in the health community I would just laugh.  It wouldn’t have even computed in my brain, but here we are.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah.  And, you know, taking this whole low-carb approach, I mean, you’ve done literally hundreds of podcasts on a lot of the nitty gritty science behind it, but today we’re going to kind of hone in one of the real aspects that I think confuses a lot of people when it comes to doing something like you did, like, eliminating carbohydrates and instead, kind of, eating more healthy fats for weight loss.  And what some of the concerns are about that.  So, your book is called “Cholesterol Clarity” and I know that in that book you get into LDL and HDL and, “good cholesterol and bad cholesterol,” but what I’d like to start by asking you is, somebody wanders into their doctor’s office and they get their lipid panel and their cholesterol numbers back, why is it that that really isn’t as important as what most people kind of think it is?

Jimmy:   I think we’ve kind of put the focus on cholesterol because it’s easy to measure and it’s easy to see changes happen.  And, for some reason, I don’t know if it’s just human psychology, we like seeing numbers going up and down.  Think about all the women and men out there that step on a scale every day and they expect that little machine to validate how they’re doing with their fat loss program.  That drives me crazy.  I know it does you too.  And the same goes with cholesterol.  We get these cholesterol numbers.  “Oh my total cholesterol is 201.”  “Oh, I’m at great risk for heart disease, but if it’s 199 I’m not.”  You know, we kind of have a strange look at things when it comes to health and we think that that number is the be-all-end-all and unfortunately, through researching this book and the different experts I had in the book, that number does not tell the whole story.  There are much more important things to be looking at than necessarily looking at total cholesterol and LDL which is the, unfortunately, what your doctor is going to say is the be-all-end-all.  After I lost that 180 pounds in 2004, Ben, I went for a check up to my doctor and I got all my lipids and everything ran and my HDL came back in the 70s, my triglycerides were in the 40s, but my LDL and total cholesterol were elevated.  I want to say my LDL was something like 175, or something like that, and total cholesterol was 285.  So, he was concerned and he said, “Statin, Statin, Statin.”

Ben:  Right.

Jimmy:  And I said, but what about HDL being in the 70s?  Isn’t that good?  Doesn’t that mean that heart health is great?  “Oh yeah, it’s good. Take a Statin.”

Ben:  Wow.

Jimmy:  And I said, “what about the triglycerides? Isn’t 43 unbelievably amazing for triglycerides?” “Oh yeah, that’s great.  Take a Statin.”

So, it was like all predicated on two numbers, LDL-C and total cholesterol and nothing else really mattered which kind of lead me to start thinking about wanting to write this book that I wrote is okay, if that’s all that matters, why are we measuring anything but LDL and total cholesterol?

Ben:  Right, right.  So, when we step back and we look at LDL and total cholesterol, Jimmy, I mean, what is that?  What is that that’s being measured exactly when we look at it from a scientific what’s-floating-around-in-your-bloodstream standpoint?

Jimmy:  Sure.  Yeah, so, total cholesterol is basically all of the HDL, LDL, and VLDL.  Now, we tried really hard in this book, Ben, to make it extremely accessible, easy to understand.  We explain, we have a glossary at the back of the book that all these terms we kind of lay it all out.  So, the newbie that might be learning some of this stuff for the very first time, don’t worry about this book overwhelming you.  I’m a lay person just like most people that would be reading the book so I tried to come at it from that perspective so that people wouldn’t get overwhelmed.  But basically, that’s your total cholesterol.  It’s just this total number of particles that are floating around in the blood.  And so, you said, what is it?  LDL?

Ben:  Yeah, when we’re looking at LDL, so you get this print out right, when you leave the doctor.  And, you’ve got all your total cholesterol, your LDL, and your HDL and whatever else.  So, these are basically particles that are circulating around in your bloodstream transporting fats from one location to another essentially?

Jimmy:  That’s right, that’s right.  And the HDL tends to serve a better purpose because it helps to move the LDL, through the bloodstream end where it needs to be.  The LDL number that’s on your standard cholesterol test, a lot of people don’t realize this, Ben, but it’s calculated.  It’s not an exact number which is kind of funny because the goals that they have for LDLC and the C is “calculated” is basically all predicated on a calculated number being less than 100.  It really doesn’t make a lot of sense to me that we would be treating people with a drug based on a number that’s not precisely measured.

Ben:  Yeah, that’s nuts.  So, when you’re looking at your LDL and your total cholesterol number, like with you, eating a low carb, high fat diet, like, it makes sense that those numbers would be elevated, right?

Jimmy:   Well, I noticed that, and in the preparation for this book I, obviously, know a lot of the heavy-hitters in the low carb community, and so there did seem to be among the practitioners that I had as experts, they said that they do see a trend.  Not necessarily across the board of people that eat low carb, high fat, but a lot of low-carbers and paleo people are hyper-responders to fat.  And so, the fat’s going to raise the LDL and raise the total cholesterol and yet, like I mentioned with my numbers earlier, their HDL is beautiful.  Their triglycerides are also in a great place.  Their A1C levels are just unbelievably good.  They have inflammation levels, CRP number is awesome.  And yet, it’s these little outlier numbers that have been given all of the attention for so long that all of these good things have been negated by the simplicity of looking at it from the prism of total cholesterol, LDL that’s all that matters and if there are certain levels you need to take the Statin drug and eat a low-fat diet.

Ben:  Yeah, it’s kind of weird because I look at the biomarkers myself of a lot of athletes specifically and I see that same thing over and over again, you know.  Cholesterol kind of through the roof, like, total cholesterol through the roof.

Jimmy:   Yup.

Ben:  I also see some other concerning things that I think you and I are going to dig into that maybe isn’t all that great if it goes hand-in-hand with high cholesterol.

Jimmy:  Yeah.

Ben:  But, before we even get into some of those nitty-gritties of some of the stuff that maybe you should be looking at if you do have high cholesterol or beyond your high cholesterol.  We talked a little bit about LDL, we talked a little bit of total cholesterol, but where do HDL and triglycerides fit into this scenario because those are typically always something that you’ll see in a lipid panel as well.

Jimmy:  Right.  Yeah, chapter 10 of my book, I call it Forgotten and Ignored: Triglycerides and HDL and I do think these two numbers, I know Jeff Voleck, one of the researchers from the Yukon has done a lot of great research into this ratio between the triglycerides and the HDL really is a better indicator of heart health risk than looking at your total cholesterol or your LDL cholesterol.  Ideally, you want that triglyceride to HDL ratio to be 1:1 really optimally, but basically anything under than three or two is a good number.  And what that indicates is you’ve got great blood sugar control.  You’ve got your carbohydrate tolerance under control and a lot of people don’t realize, but your carbs that you consume are tied directly to that triglyceride.  So, if your triglycerides are in excess of 100, not 150 like the conventional wisdom tells you, but 100, you’re probably eating way too many carbs for your metabolism.

Ben:  Okay, so I want to interrupt you.  We’re talking about a lipid panel here.

Jimmy:  Hello?

Ben:  Can you hear me okay?  Jimmy?

Jimmy:  Yes.

Ben:  We’re talking about…

Jimmy:  I hear you good.

Ben:  We might have a little bit of a delay.  It’s all good though.  We’re talking about a lipid panel here and you said that triglycerides would be elevated if you were eating more carbohydrates.  Like, you said that was one of the ways you could get triglycerides down.  How does that work?  How could eating fewer carbohydrates actually lower something that’s measured on a fat panel?

Jimmy:  Yeah, it’s interesting because people have long been told fat is what raises your cholesterol.  Well, that’s true.  Saturated fat can raise LDL, although what it does, and we’re going to get a little geeky on you here, but it does raise the large fluffy what they call “pattern A” type of LDL particles.

Ben:  Okay.

Jimmy:  So, that’s a good thing.  But carbohydrates, what they do is they flip that.  They make the LDL particles smaller and denser.  So, when you eat more carbohydrate, you’re having the bad kind of LDL as well as this bad fat, known as triglycerides, that floats through your body.  So, you kind of get a double whammy.  That’s not a good thing and it’s all tied to your carbohydrate consumption.  And I’m going to qualify it: you have to cut all carbs out of your diet, but certainly find your carbohydrate tolerance level.  And one of the best ways you can find that is look at that triglyceride number.  If it’s over 100, you’re probably eating too many carbs.  If you drop the carbs down, it could get that number, that triglycerides number below 100 then you’re in the ideal range for what your carb tolerance should be.

Ben:  Yeah, it’s so nuts that doing something like eating less whatever whole wheat bread, will actually lower triglycerides.

Jimmy:  Yeah.

Ben:  It’s like that…  It doesn’t seem like logical thinking, but I think so many people don’t take that into account.  You also mentioned the large fluffy cholesterol particles.

Jimmy:  Yup.

Ben:  And like, how eating a lot of good fat, you have those.  Something that kind of blew my mind and I don’t remember if you were sitting there at the Become Superhuman Event, when Nora Gedgaudas said this, she was like, the higher numbers of those large, nice, fluffy LDL particles are actually associated with higher IQ and better brain performance.  And people who have that LDL that’s below 200, they’re actually, for lack of a better word, like, dumber.

Jimmy:  Yeah, and it’s true and a lot of that has to do with what happens when you raise fat in your diet and you reduce carbohydrate in your diet.  You have those ketones that are fueling your brain and I remember Nora also said something in that same talk that… yeah, you have 30% smarter.  That was the quote that she gave and I was like, okay that’s ketone power.

Ben:  Yeah.  Yeah, it’s nuts.  It’s crazy.  That’s actually…  I know you and I are going to talk about this at the Ancestral Health Symposium a little.

Jimmy:  Oh yeah!

Ben:  That’s been like one of the downstream side effects of me kind of doing my whole experiment with ketosis is I just, like… I wake up in the morning and it’s just like go, go, go.  I’m so focused.

Jimmy:  Yeah.  It’s amazing.

Ben:  So, let’s take a deep dive man because we talked about LDL and total cholesterol and HDL and triglycerides and the stuff that people see on a normal lipid panel when they walk to their doctor’s office and they get that piece of paper mailed to them or, in the digital era, they’re PDF emailed to them of their results.

Jimmy:  Right.

Ben:  But, what should your doctor be testing for when he’s doing a lipid panel… when he or she is doing a lipid panel?

Jimmy:  It’s funny.  I interviewed quite a few people- 29, in fact, total experts for this book and then my co-author, Dr. Eric Westman, is a practitioner and researcher and a lot of them just said just stop.  Just stop measuring your cholesterol.

Ben:  Really?

Jimmy:  Because it really isn’t as important as say, what’s your fasting blood glucose level?  What’s your inflammation like?  You know, it seems like the more we test cholesterol, really all the testing of cholesterol is doing is perpetuating that cholesterol matters.  And yes, cholesterol may be an indicator that there’s something going on and we say that quite often throughout the book that cholesterol itself is not a disease.  It’s not the be-all-end-all of what’s going on with your health.  But, it can be an indicator that there’s other things going on with your health.  So, a lot of them are saying if you’re going to focus on cholesterol, okay great, let’s do that.  Let’s look at triglycerides and HDL and look at that ratio.  Let’s look at your inflammatory markers, the CRP.  Let’s look at blood sugar levels, I know Cate Shanahan, she’s a practitioner out in California and she said if your blood sugar starts to rise, your fasting blood glucose levels in the morning over 92 that’s something to be concerned about.  So, there’s so many more facets of health that are being overlooked because we’re so obsessed about LDL and total cholesterol for so long because there’s a lot of money involved with prescribing prescription drugs, that all these other things have been ignored.

Ben:  Wow, so it goes way beyond just like digging in and looking at…  Because I, honestly what I thought you were going to say when I asked you that was maybe you’d talk about cholesterol particle size or something.

Jimmy:  Yeah.

Ben:  Like, you get a lot of these doctors they’re saying, like, test blood glucose and test hormones and stuff like that, huh?

Jimmy:  Yeah and certainly the particle testing, if you’re going to test your cholesterol, get an NMR Lipoprofile Test or some other test that’s going to give you, that breakdown of what your LDL is because your LDL and your total cholesterol, I put this analogy in the book, it’s like knowing your total cholesterol or the end of a baseball game is 25.

Ben:  Yeah.

Jimmy:   And so, you don’t know if it was a nail biter 13 to 12 or if it was a blowout of 24 to 1.  You don’t know what that make up of that LDL is.  And so, what the particle size testing does, and we give you all the information on particle size in the book, but what it does is it kind of breaks down are you having more of the large fluffy kind, which are the good kind that you would like to have if you’re going to have LDL particles, or do you have a lot of those very small, dense that can penetrate the arterial wall LDL particles?  And, there’s even questions, and we address this in the book as well, whether it’s the total amount of particles or it’s the size.  There’s kind of debate on both sides and because it’s not settled science, we present both sides and let you decide for yourself.

Ben:  Yeah.  Yeah and that’s really interesting, the NMR Lipoprofile Test that you just mentioned because I think a lot of people aren’t even aware of what that is.

Jimmy:  Lot of doctors aren’t.

Ben:  That’s exactly what I was going to ask you, if somebody’s listening right now and they give their doc a call on the phone or the next time they’re in with their doc, they ask about that, are they even going to be able to get one?  I mean, how can somebody actually do something like that?

Jimmy:  Any doctor in America and, it’s only in America that you can get the NMR because it’s out of a lab in North Carolina.  Internationally, unfortunately, they can’t ship it internationally.  The blood wouldn’t survive ‘til it got to Raleigh, North Carolina is where the Liposcience is.  But yeah, you should be able to have it run labcore, basically pulls the blood and we also include in the book several websites, and this is becoming the wave of the future, Ben, as people…  I can’t get health insurance because my cholesterol’s too high, isn’t that ironic.  And so, I have to do my own testing online.  So, we provide a few of the different online places where you can order your own tests and the NMR Lipoprofile is one of those tests that you can have run.  I think it costs about $125, obviously no insurance.  So, that’s pretty good.

Ben:  Yeah.  Yeah.  Do you do a lot of these tests on yourself?  Like, do you ever tests online?

Jimmy:  Oh, yeah.  Oh yeah.

Ben:  Do you, just kind of a total segue here, but do you use a flexible savings account or something like that or…?

Jimmy:  You know, I looked into that at the end of the day, I write them off in my taxes, I just pay it straight out of pocket and have money set aside for those kinds of things.  Thankfully my low carb lifestyle has kept me pretty healthy so I haven’t had anything, knock on wood, major happen to my health.

Ben:  Right.

Jimmy:  So, I’m able to pay most things out of pocket.  I would love to have some sort of catastrophic health insurance, but again, my total cholesterol, they say, puts me at great risk and they’re not going to insure me.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah.  It’s crazy what insurance will and won’t cover.  I’m going through this right now, just because I’m going in for this big, fancy heart scan to kind of see how much damage I’ve done to my heart being in Ironman.

Jimmy:  Yup, I did the heart scan too, man, and it came back zero!

Ben:  Well, that’s good.

Jimmy:  It came back absolutely zero.

Ben:  That’s awesome.  I’m nervous that mine is not going to be such good news.

Jimmy:  You will be fine.  You’ll be fine.

Ben:  So, let’s say that your cholesterol is up.  So, let’s say that, maybe somebody doesn’t heed the advice that you just gave and they’re like, well, darn it I’m going to test my cholesterol anyways.  They find out that cholesterol is high and they’re pumping their fists because, whatever, now they know they’ve got a high IQ and everything that they need, but are there some other red flags?  Like, if your cholesterol is high, could there be other things going on in your body that makes cholesterol actually dangerous?

Jimmy:  Cholesterol dangerous?  I wouldn’t say necessarily having high cholesterol in and of itself makes it dangerous.  We do address in the chapter, chapter 14 of my book, nine reasons why cholesterol levels can go up because there are some basic things.  I mean, did you know if you’re losing weight, you can have elevated cholesterol.  It’s a temporary thing that, as your body is releasing fat stores, that fat has to go somewhere, Ben.  So, it can float around in the form of cholesterol throughout your body.  So, try to become weight stable for a few months, retest again and your cholesterol levels should come back down.  As you know, I’ve been doing nutritional ketosis over this past year and in December I had my cholesterol run, right in the middle of while I was still just burning fat like crazy, my total cholesterol came back as 419.

Ben:  Wow.

Jimmy:  I had it tested again.  I’ve been pretty weight stable the past three or four months.  I had it tested again about a month ago and it was 306.  That’s how quickly it can shift.  So, if I had shown my doctor… that I would not dare show my doctor what my cholesterol is now, but if I had shown him that in December, he would’ve, like, pushed for, “oh you need hundred milligrams of Statin drug right away.”

Ben:  Yeah.

Jimmy:  And yet, what would that have done for me?  It would have been a band aid on a temporary situation.  So, that’s one example.

Ben:  Okay.

Jimmy:  But there’s many things, low thyroid function, you know.  One other thing, personally that I’ve been dealing with, is a bacterial infection in my teeth.  You know, people don’t think about if you’ve got…

Ben:  Seriously.

Jimmy:  Yeah, tooth pain.  And I had mercury amalgam.  So, I had all of that stuff removed.  Got the infections out of my mouth and, in fact, one of the experts in my book is a holistic dentist out of Australia, Dr. Ron Ehrlich, and he was telling me yeah bacterial infections… and it makes sense, Ben.  Whenever you have an infection in your body, what is the cholesterol doing?  It’s going to try to heal where the infection is happening.

Ben:  Yeah.

Jimmy:  So, you’re going to show elevated levels in the blood and yet it’s a good thing.  People think cholesterol is the bad guy, but if you stop and think about it, cholesterol is like the fire fighters going to put out the fire.  Are we blaming the fire fighters for the fire?  No!

Ben:  Hopefully not.

Jimmy:  They’re there to save you.  Yeah.  They’re there to save you from the fire.  So, having a higher cholesterol level, I don’t see is necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, but it may indicate there’s other things going on.

Ben:  Wow, and what about if you have high cholesterol levels and you have inflammation going on? Like, this is something that I’ve always wondered with a lot of the athletes that I work with.

Jimmy:  Yeah.

Ben:  Who may be, because I do the high fat thing, and I know that a lot of people that I coach and who listen to what I say, they do it too, but then they go out and then just, like, destroy themselves in training or they’ve got a ton of inflammation.  Can that be an issue?

Jimmy:  Absolutely.  In fact, we hit that one right between the eyeballs in chapter 2, that you really should forget about cholesterol because that’s not what the issue is.  It really is all about the inflammation.  You cannot get, after a sclerosis, without inflammation.  And, there’s a major marker, we talk about this in the book as well, there’s many ways to measure inflammation, but there’s a major one called the HSCRP, High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein Test.  You can pretty much get that measured anywhere: those online places I was talking about earlier as well, you can have it measured there as well.  But, it will give you the number that will show you your inflammation and, for example, my HSCRP number is .55 which is unbelievably good.

Ben:  That’s really low.

Jimmy:  Anything under 1.0 is optimal.  Once you start going over two or three is when you need to start being concerned.

Ben:  Mine was a six last time I tested.

Jimmy:  Oh!  Oh yeah!

Ben:  But that was one day after a half Ironman which would explain it.  So…

Jimmy:  Oh, there you go.  And, you’ve been doing keto for several months now.  So, once you get into ketosis, I bet you, the next time you measure, Ben, it’s going to be remarkably good.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah.  I’ve actually been measuring every week with Talking20.

Jimmy:  Good.

Ben:  But, I haven’t gotten any of the results back yet because they’re still running them and everything, but…  Okay, so, cool.  High cholesterol by itself not necessarily a good thing, like, you’ve got to take into account some other things.

Jimmy:  Not a disease.

Ben:  Okay.  So, you mention you dropped the term “Statin drugs” earlier and it sounded like you didn’t want to get on them.  I think, probably, a lot of people listening in kind of might know that Statin drugs might not be the best thing since sliced bread.

Jimmy:  Yup.

Ben:   But, what are some of the shockers that you’ve found writing your book when it comes to Statins?

Jimmy:  Well, I personally did take Statin drugs when I was the 410-pound man before I started Atkins.

Ben:  Really?

Jimmy:  I was on both Questor and Lipitor.  It was so funny, Ben, because I took Lipitor first and I start having this massive joint pain, my muscle aches, all of these things.  And, I was having trouble forming thoughts.  It was just really horrible and I didn’t know what was going on.  I though, okay what’s going on with my body and I realized it was the drugs.  It didn’t dawn on me until I was playing a pickup game of basketball at my church and I went up for a rebound and my right hand thumb just went straight backwards.  That freaked me out.  I’ve never seen anything like that happen.  I drove myself to the emergency room and they said “do you take Statin drugs” and I said yeah.  “Your joins might be a little bit weak.”  I went whoa! that was the first time I had ever been exposed and keep in mind, this was long before I was into health and all this.  So, I didn’t…  I was totally oblivious.  I was just following doctor’s orders.

And so, I go to my doctor and I’m like, I’ve got to get off these Lipitor because it’s killing my joints, my muscles.  I got to get on something better and he said, “oh we’ll give you a better one.  Let’s put you on Crestor.”  Never mind it’s the same class of drug, Statin, and I had the same issues, Ben.  And it was within nine months of being on Atkins that I said, you know what, this sucks being on all these drugs that I came off of them.  And, now that I’ve done research for this book, I learned that I actually got off pretty easy only having joint and muscle pain.  There’s a gentleman named Dr. Duane Graveline who’s probably the world’s renowned guy that’s kind of exposing all the side effects of Statin drugs, but he himself had this very rare condition.  Like, global transient amnesia is what they call it.  And, where he would just kind of go into this other land and he’d wake up as a 13-year-old again or…  It was just really weird and brought on all these neurodegenerative diseases that… this is a drug that’s supposed to be making us healthier?

Ben:  Yeah.

Jimmy:  And yet it’s doing that.  And Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, another one of my experts, said it induces cancer!  So, would you rather have a heart attack or would you rather have cancer?  It’s one of those things that there’s not unintended consequences without a reason.  I mean, these things are doing bad damage to our bodies and yet people are taking them like TicTacs thinking they’re a safety net against heart disease.

Ben:  Yeah.  You know, I think it’s Tim Ferriss, I believe is the guy who says there’s no such thing as the biological free pass.

Jimmy:  Right.

Ben:  I think he says that when it comes to smart drugs, like, all these people that are, like, popping smart drugs nowadays and he’s like haaa.

Jimmy:  Yup.

Ben:  We might find out in a few years that that’s not the best plan on the face of the planet, but yeah, that’s crazy with the Statins and your thumb at the basketball.  I don’t know if I’ve heard that story before.  That’s nuts.

So, now, when we step back and we look at diet and the kind of diet that’s going to put you in the best boat when it comes to your cholesterol levels.  Like, we want low levels of these small LDL particles and we want a lot of these big fluffy ones and we want healthy, you know, triglycerides, we want good HDL and low triglycerides and all of this stuff.  What kind of diet do you find or did you find writing the book, kind of, seems to work really well when it comes to getting your cholesterol in line?

Jimmy:  Yeah, it’s pretty amazing because we’ve long been told “cut your fat, eat more healthy whole grains, exercise ‘til you drop” all of these things that kind of… have become the typical, conventional wisdom when it comes to what we call heart healthy.  And yet all of those things ironically make the numbers worse.  And so, when you eat more healthy whole grains and all of these things, guess what happens?  Triglycerides go through the roof.  When you cut your fat, guess what happens?  HDL drops and that’s not a good thing by the way.  And, when you eat these vegetable oils, and we haven’t really gotten into the vegetable oil part of it, but when you consume vegetable oils, yes, your LDL and total cholesterol will indeed drop.  But, that doesn’t come without consequences.  When the LDL drops because you drank… and I say drank because people take a lot of vegetable oils, when you do that, it makes the LDL what they call oxidize, kind of rusty, and you’re more prone to heart disease with that oxidized LDL than you ever would be if you ate real food-based butter, coconut oil, real food, full-fat meats and cheeses from the best quality sources, you know.  Those are the kinds of things that are going to improve all of these numbers: your HDL will go above 70, that’s the optimal level; your triglycerides will drop below 70, that’s the optimal level; your small dense LDL particles will virtually go away, I know Dr. William Davis of Wheat Belly fame was one of my experts for the book as well and he says, in his practice, he’s had people hit zero on the small dense LDL particles simply by having them eat lower carb to their tolerance level, higher quality fats.  And, it’s amazing, Ben.  It works!

Ben:  Wow, what about when you get some of these particles, I’ve never heard of that before, like, your small particles being zero.  Were these people taking a butt-load of supplements or anything like that?  Are there kind of some things flying under the radar here or…?

Jimmy:  Yeah, he didn’t elaborate on any supplementation that was helping make that happen, I think it happened pretty much nutritionally.  And, I know that the lowest I’ve seen my small LDL go to was right around 200, and that’s good by the way.  Anything really under 500 is pretty darn good for small LDL.  But the key is, let’s get it as low as we possibly can and as a percentage of your total LDL particles, if you get it under 20% of your total LDL particles, you’re probably in good shape.

Ben:  Mhm.  Got it.  Okay.  Cool.  And I know you got into all of this stuff in a lot more detail in your book.

Jimmy:  Yup.

Ben:  Which of course we’ll link to in the show notes.  But, I’ve got another question for you.

Jimmy:  Sure.

Ben:  So, there are a lot of people that are starting to read about on blogs, or at least I’m starting to read about, I don’t know if there’s a lot of other geeks listening in who go and read this stuff like I do, but like, you and me do Jimmy.

Jimmy:  Right.

Ben:  We see, physicians and researchers and nutritionists who are starting to think that treating cholesterol numbers is pretty much irrelevant.

Jimmy:  Right.

Ben:  You hinted at this a little when you said that a lot of folks think that testing it is kind of, maybe, not all that important or as important as we thought it was.  But, why do you think it is that so many people now are thing it’s just kind of like irrelevant?

Jimmy:  I think it’s the failure of seeing any measurable differences.  There was a study I site in the book that says 3 out of 4 people who were admitted to a hospital for a heart attack had cholesterol levels of 200 or below.  So, whether that was a Statin-induced drop or if they just naturally had lower cholesterol, they still had a heart attack.  So, these people that tried to force these numbers to these arbitrary levels of below 200 for total cholesterol, how is that working for you, as Dr. Phil would say, to prevent a heart attack from happening?

Ben:  Right.

Jimmy:  It did not prevent.  And so, I think a lot of these doctors are now opening their eyes and saying dang, if this is happening and they’re probably seeing it in their patients, in fact my grandmother-in-law just had a heart attack back in January, what was it Christine, a couple of heart attacks within a week’s time.  Three days, she says.  And, three heart attacks in a week’s time, that’s what it was.  And, she was on Lipitor for 15 years, Ben!

Ben:  Wow.

Jimmy:  And so, here she is taking this thinking it’s a safety net against having a heart attack and yet it didn’t prevent a heart attack.  Now, she’s in her upper 80s, so it’s not like she’s a young pup, but still.  The point is, these doctors are becoming frustrated and I think that growing swell of doctors is going to continue to grow and hopefully this book will help open a lot of the eyes of these doctors that unfortunately have been clueless because their education on cholesterol has been mostly from the pharmaceutical reps who come in dressed nicely and good-looking people and “ooh this is the latest wonder drug for lowering cholesterol!”  And so, they put those messages to doctors and then they go on television and they have “ask your doctor about going lower with this cholesterol-lowering drug.”  And so, it’s a very salacious propaganda campaign that goes on.  You ask your doctor about it because you see a TV commercial.  Your doctor obediently gives you the drug that you asked for.  The drug company sits there and shrug and say “well, y’all are taking to each other, we’re not really involved.”  And yet, they’re heavily involved.

Ben:  Right.  Yeah.  It’s nuts.  So, when does your book come out, by the way?

Jimmy:  August 27.

Ben:  August 27.  Okay.  So, if I play this podcast for folks before then they would be able to go and listen to the replay, right?

Jimmy:  Oh yeah.

Ben:  I mean, not listen to the replay…

Jimmy:  I know what you meant.

Ben:  They would be able to do that, but they would be able to preorder?

Jimmy:  Yeah, it’s on Amazon.com right now.  The Kindle version will be available the day it releases.  So, it’ll be out on Kindle and Nook and iPad and all those other versions the day that it releases.

Ben:  Okay.  Okay, cool.  Sorry, one other question for you.

Jimmy:  Sure.

Ben:  You’re not a doctor and you know what I’m saying…  You’re not a doctor, you wrote this book about health, how did you get around that fact that you’re actually not a doctor?

Jimmy:  And I take great pride in not being a doctor, by the way, Ben.  I’ve told people…  ‘Cause they’re like “why don’t you go get your… get an RD or become a PhD in nutrition or get an MD in…”  I say no, I relish in being the everyman.  I relish in being that person that’s an educated lay person because once I have a PhD, an MD, and RD or whatever-D after my name, then I think I might lose a little bit of that relatability in people’s eyes.  Right now I’m just Jimmy Moore, educated lay person and I think that relates so much more, especially with my story, with weight loss and health change.  That relates so much more to people than trying to have credentials after my name.  But the cool thing, Ben, because I’m able to be behind the microphone 5 days a week on my own podcast, I’ve interviewed literally all the real experts out there.

So, I don’t pretend to be the expert, but I know the people behind the scenes: the health researchers, the medical doctors, the dieticians, all the people that are making the decisions for real patients.  So, I’ve talked to them.  I’ve had the greatest education in the world!  I tell people I have, like, six or seven, honorary doctorates, kind of, waiting in the wings there because I’ve learned so much from all these people.  So, I went and found 29 of the best of the best around the world experts on this subject of cholesterol, we did a little moment of clarity quotes from them, I wrote most of the book in very easy to understand everyday language, because that’s who, quite frankly, I’m trying to reach.  But then, these experts go a little bit deeper, provide a little more of the complicated information so that my goal, Ben, is hopefully people that have never heard this stuff before could read what I’ve written then kind of go and educate themselves a little more.  Come back to the book, read it again, but then read the moment of clarity quotes and understand what all these doctors, and researchers, and dieticians are saying.  And so, that’s kind of how we formatted the book to make it both accessible to the entry-level person and then to people like you and me who are just geeky about this stuff.

Ben:  Right.  And you had a doc onboard when you wrote the book too, right?

Jimmy:  Oh, absolutely!  Dr. Eric Westman is a medical doctor in Durham, North Carolina.  A lot of people may know him as a popular low-carb researcher.  He was one of the co-authors on the New Atkins for A New You.  So, he’s a heavy hitter and he sees patients on a daily basis as well.  So, when I asked him to come onboard, I’m writing a book about cholesterol, he’s like man oh man, yeah!  So, he contributed throughout the book, obviously read everything that I was writing and it was funny, Ben, because I sent him the first copy, the manuscript, you know.  Send me some notes, kind of, rip this to shreds.  And he said, dude, this is good.

Ben:  That’s awesome.

Jimmy:  So, it was really an honor to have him come on board.  And so, throughout the book, in addition to the moment of clarity quotes from all my experts, I also had Dr. Westman do doctor’s notes.  So, as he’s reading through the book, he added in some little commentary here and there as well.  And, you’ll see those as Doctor’s Note commentaries throughout the book.

Ben:   Awesome, awesome.  Okay, cool.  And, it’s a good tagline too, what’s that called… “What the HDL is wrong with my numbers”?

Jimmy:  Yeah, yeah.  That was fun.  That was fun.  The guy at my church came up with that.  So, I have to give him kudos on that one.

Ben:  Nice.  Alright.  Cool.  So, we’ll put a link in the show notes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com.  You can grab this thing off Amazon.  It’s pretty much the last book you’ll ever need on figuring out the whole cholesterol issue and kind of wrapping your head around it.  So, I highly recommend that you check it out.  Jimmy’s a great guy.  He’s also got a podcast.  So, of course when you grab the book, go look at his LivinLaVidaLowCarb.com website too.  He’s got some good stuff over there.  So Jimmy, thanks for coming on the call, man.

Jimmy:  Thank you, man.  It’s been a lot of fun and keep up the great work.  I really admire the great work you’re doing and, let’s not deal in ______[42:30] of number one on health podcasts, man.  We’ve all been trying.  We’re like, all around hers.  So, she’s surrounded by paleo peeps.

Ben:  Right.  That’s right.  Alright.  Cool.  Well, folks, this is Ben Greenfield and Jimmy Moore signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com.



Are you confused by what your cholesterol levels really say about your health?

Do you wonder if all the exercise and healthy eating you're doing even affects your cholesterol numbers?

Don't you wish someone could just spell it out in simple English and tell you what, if anything, you need to do to improve your heart and overall health?

You get all the answers from Jimmy Moore and I in today's podcast. Jimmy is a prolific and highly respected health blogger and podcaster, and in his new book “Cholesterol Clarity“, he interviews 28 of the world's top health experts from various fields to give you the complete lowdown on cholesterol.

You're going to be shocked at what you learn, and it goes way above and beyond Jimmy's freak thumb dislocation that revealed his entire musculoskeletal system was in a downward tailspin (don't worry, you'll hear how that relates to cholesterol when you listen in).

During our interview, I ask Jimmy:

-Why are your LDL-C and total cholesterol number not as important in determining your health as your doctor may think?

-So what *should* your doctor should be testing for?

-Where do HDL and triglycerides fit in?

-So when does cholesterol actually become “dangerous”?

-Why don't cholesterol-lowering statin drugs necessarily solve heart health concerns?

-Why is consuming saturated fat good and why are carbohydrates detrimental to attaining the best cholesterol numbers?

-Why there is a growing number of physicians, researchers and nutritionists who believe treating cholesterol numbers is virtually irrelevant?



Ask Ben a Podcast Question

One thought on “[Transcript] – The Shocking Truth About Cholesterol & Why You Probably Don’t Even Need To Test For It.

  1. Eduardo says:

    I just got tested:

    Total Cholesterol: 237
    HDL: 59
    LDL: 168
    VLDL: 10
    Triglicerids: 50
    Total/HDL: 4
    LDL/HDL: 2.84

    Is there a recommendation for competent Drs that can take a look at my test? My Dr is telling me I need to lower my Colesterol but after reading this post it seems that might not be the case.

    Can using vitargo + whey for training influence my Cholesterol?

    Any help is appreciated!! Great show!

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