Q:A recent blood test has shown my blood cholesterol level to be 6.8, above the current acceptable level. I have always been fairly careful to follow a healthy diet, and certainly do not consider that I eat fats in excess. I neither smoke nor drink. Can you comment on the significance of this level of cholesterol, and the role of any factors other than diet that increase cholesterol levels. A.Y., Tyne and Wear.
A:We consulted with John Mansfield and also Nutritional Medicine, by Drs Stephen Davies and Alan Stewart.Although medicine has harped on about reducing fats and serum cholesterol, the latest wisdom is that high cholesterol levels may have nothing to do with the consumption of cholesterol containing foods (ie, eggs and fats) and everything to do with a high consumption of sugar. In Dr Mansfield's view (a view borne out by the research of John Yudkin in his book Pure, White and Deadly, about refined sugar), don't worry about restricting your consumption of foods high in cholesterol so much as severely restricting your intake of sugar, which contributes nothing to good health, anyway.
Besides not smoking and drinking, make sure that you are eating lots of green, leafy vegetables, fruits like apples and oranges, garlic and onions (see news this month), and fibre containing foods like legumes and oats.
The Pill, hormone replacement therapy, thiazide diuretics and beta blockers can all raise cholesterol levels.
You should talk to your doctor about stopping these drugs if you are taking them.
Finally, Drs. Davies and Stewart recommend that the following supplementation schedule may be helpful if you follow the above regime for several months and your levels are still high:
Vitamin C, 300 mg-1g per day; vitamin E, 400-800 IUs; chromium, as trivalent chromic chloride solution, 200 mcg; nicotinic acid, 3-6 g daily; and up to eight capsules a day of MaxEPA (omega 3 fish oils).