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Paleo with High Cholesterol – Why?

written by familyadhd

The second I was told my “bad” cholesterol (LDL) was high my heart dropped. I’ve been Paleo for some time now–about a year–and I work out 5 times a week for 45-60 min. How could this be?

After my initial shock, I instantly went to Google and began searching for others like me with high “bad” cholesterol while leading a Paleo lifestyle. Sure enough, I wasn’t alone.

While I haven’t found anyone that knows exactly why this happens to us, it seem there are some of us who have this experience while Paleo. This post by Paleo Non Paleo resonated with me because I felt we had some things in common–both women with kids, both paleo, both shocked to see our LDL up high. I also liked this post by Paleo Leap. I’ve always had hormonal issues (I didn’t ovulate when I was younger and had ovarian cysts in my teens), but I have no idea if that’s a part of all this.

What I know right now is the following:

  • My LDL is 161 
  • My HDL is 62
  • My triglycerides are fine (the lovely nurse I had to practically pull my numbers from didn’t give me my exact numbers)
  • My total cholesterol number is 236 and needs to be < 200
  • My blood pressure was chronically low until I got pregnant with our older guy and then (baffling the doctors) it never went down and I now have to take meds daily
  • My paternal grandfather also had high cholesterol (he lived to be in his mid-90s
  • I take fiber (course psyllium husk) daily
  • I take Omega 3 Fish Oil liquid gels daily
After giving me my results, my doctor’s suggestions were to try to stay away from wheat and eat less pasta (clearly she didn’t listen to me any of the times I told her I don’t eat grains) and exercise daily (again, we have discussed that I work out 5x per week every visit). Essentially, no help at all.
I’ve read a bunch, thought a bunch, cried a little and come to the conclusion that for the immediately future I’m doing the following:
  • Abstaining from red meat for a trial period (I was actually a vegetarian for a few years when I was younger and then rarely ate red meat until I got pregnant with our oldest so I know I can do it)
  • Eat more fish 
  • Take Apple Cider Vinegar daily (2 Tbsp)
  • Eat fewer egg yolks (I’m allergic to eggs and they make me nauseous, but I still eat them sometimes because it’s a quick source of protein if I’m desperate. I also cook with them while Paleo)
  • Stop eating Ghee, grass-fed butter and coconut oil – switch to olive oil
  • Continue working out and taking all of my normal fiber/Omega 3 supplements
I’m not going to start eating grains and I am going to continue to lead a modified Paleo lifestyle for now.
I’ve read a lot over the years due to other issues about the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar. There are quite a few people who see a number of wonderful effects, including the lowering of their cholesterol levels–fall down the Google rabbit hole if this interests you by searching. I hate the stuff. I literally gagged it down to help with my blood pressure (on top of meds) while I was pregnant with both boys because my blood pressure was so dangerously high. It did seem to have an affect. I’ll do it for my family because I would like to be around for as long as possible for them.
I don’t know if these new changes will be enough, but I’m really hopeful this is a start. Since my cholesterol isn’t so sky high that they’re trying to put me on meds yet, I’m hopeful I can bring it down to a level that’s acceptable (shooting for a 31 point decrease in my LDL). 
My kids are NOT Paleo. They eat less grains than the average kid and more almond and coconut flour, but we never switched them over because I have an allergy to wheat and I was concerned if I intentionally restricted their diets completely it might make life more miserable for them later. We’ll see if they later on end up allergic to wheat, but for now they just lead a “less-gluten” lifestyle.
We’ll see how this goes!
Has anyone else who happens to be Paleo seen their cholesterol levels jump? How did you approach it?

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