The Plant Rx

Your resource for a plant-based diet

Posts Tagged ‘Low-density lipoprotein’

Plant-based Health Study: Vanessa’s Rockin’ Results!

Posted by Jenn on April 13, 2011


The Plant-based health study concluded on March 15th.  Since then we have been testing our participants and gathering the final results and we are just about ready to present them all to you.  In the meantime, we will have some special posts on the individual participant’s results and their thoughts on participating in the study now that it is over.

 

Today I am very excited to present to you  Vanessa’s study results!

 

Vanessa's Plant-based Health Study Results

Vanessa entered our study as a 30 year old Dental student (who btw, is now a licensed Dentist! Congrats, Vanessa!) who consumed a Standard American Diet (SAD).  She was thin with a very good BMI.  Her pre-study lab work showed that she had hyperlipidemia with a total blood cholesterol of 255 (anything over 200 is considered “high”) and an LDL cholesterol of 130 (anything above 130 is considered “high”).  Her HDL values were phenomenal, among the best I’ve ever seen, and her triglycerides were also very good as was her A1C value.

After 30 days on a plant-based diet, Vanessa’s total cholesterol dropped from 255 to 206.  A 49 point drop! Her LDL cholesterol dropped from 130 to 86.  A 44 point drop!  These reductions almost brought her into acceptable blood cholesterol ranges.  Her LDL was now considered well within normal ranges and her Total Cholesterol was now only 6 points above what is considered to be the “normal” range.  All other values remained fairly constant including her weight and BMI.

After another 30 days (at the 60 day conclusion of our study), the results were even MORE impressive! Vanessa’s Total Cholesterol dropped another 28 points to 178! Further, her LDL cholesterol dropped an additional 28 points to 58! Talk about impressive!  In 60 days, Vanessa’s Total Cholesterol went from 255 to 178, a 77 point decrease! Her LDL Cholesterol went from 130 to 58, a 72 point decrease!  Thus, not only does Vanessa NO LONGER HAVE HYPERLIPIDEMIA, but she cut her LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) more than in half!

As if that weren’t enough, her LDL values are now below what even Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn would consider safe and cardio-protective from the likes of heart disease and its co-morbidities!  Great job, Vanessa!

To read about Vanessa’s journey visit Vanessa’s Page under the Plant-based Health Study tab. Her final labs will also be posted on the main Plant-based Health Study page by weeks end in the interest of transparency.  Additionally, her final post and thoughts on her experience after getting her final results have been pasted below for you to read.

Please join me in thanking Vanessa for participating in our study as well as congratulating her on her amazing results!

Vanessa’s Final Post

(March 29, 2010)

The plant-based diet study has been over now for a few weeks.  I wish I could say that I have been keeping a strict plant-based diet since then, but that is not the case.  However, I am still keeping a diet which is predominantly plant-based.   I would say that over the course of two days, I might have one meal that includes some form of dairy.  Meat is a different story – I’ve never been a big meat-eater, so I don’t have as strong of a desire to include it back into my diet.

However, today may have been a game changer!

I just received the results from my final blood work and I am SHOCKED at the results.  I was pretty happy at the midpoint blood work when my LDL went down so significantly.  However, I had blood work done back in September that produced similar results.  I was happy that my cholesterol improved, but I honestly thought that things would probably plateau around these levels. Totally wrong! My LDL levels continued to plummet during the last 30 days.   My LDL levels went from 130 at the beginning of the study to 58! So now I feel like I need to rethink things…  I had originally decided that I didn’t want to completely eliminate all traces of dairy from my diet – a minimal amount would certainly make keeping this lifestyle a little easier without having a large impact on my physical health.  I think I still believe this, but I will definitely give pause before I opt to eat foods outside of a plant-based diet. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Plant-based Health Study, Success Stories, Tips, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

William Castelli, MD: Heart Disease Risk, Cholesterol and Lipids in 2011: What Do We Really Know?

Posted by Jenn on March 31, 2011


Cholesterol

Image via Wikipedia

2011-02-18 William Castelli MD Heart Disease Risk, Cholesterol and Lipids in 2011: What Do We Really Know? | Interview Transcripts.


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Top 5 things our plant-based health study taught this M.D.

Posted by Jenn on March 7, 2011


One truly amazing thing about life is that we have the opportunity to continuously learn new things. Learning new things rocks!  And, while we were pretty sure what the outcomes would be, this was no exception.

We are still 9 days away from the official end of the plant-based health study and approximately 12-14 days from having the final results available to us and published.  That being said, while contemplating the parameters for our next study and reviewing reader submitted ideas on things they would like to see us measure in the future, I got to thinking about all the amazing things that I’ve learned so far in this one.

Here are the top 5!


1. Psoriasis

There are a lot of  anecdotal stories out there on how a plant-based diet can be beneficial in the treatment of medical conditions and disease other than heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and certain cancers.  There is also some scientific research to back up those ascertations but much more needs to be done before it can be said with a great degree of certainty that this is indeed the case.

That being said, I have never seen it first hand.  Until now! Amber, one of the study participants, has struggled with psoriasis for quite some time – experiencing a number of patches on both her arms and legs.  She has tried a number of different things to keep this chronic autoimmune condition at bay, but while some treatments have helped, none have been close to a cure.

After 30 days on a diet completely free of meat and dairy products, Amber has experienced almost 100% resolution of her patches! I’ve seen it first hand and I couldn’t be more happy for her.  It’s one thing to read or hear about these types of things but it’s quite another to see it first-hand.

2. Probiotics

It’s important not to make blanket statements about medicines/treatments especially when there isn’t any substantial clinical evidence or experience to back it up.  When it comes to probiotics there is data out there but none directly pertaining to any benefits they may or may not have when someone is transitioning to  plant-based diet.

As in the situation above, I have heard anecdotal accounts of probiotics being helpful but not much otherwise.  During the course of our study several of the participants had some gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort as a result of moving to a plant-based diet.

Note:  This is common and it is apart of the natural detoxification process.

The participants who experienced the GI upset took probiotics to help with these symptoms.  Everyone who used them said they helped.  The degree to which they helped varied from substantial to adequate.  Thus, I would say I now know that probiotics can be a useful consideration in those experiencing GI issues as the result of a switch from a Standard American Diet (SAD) to a plant-based one.

3. Oil, oil, oil…

While everyone in the plant-based community agrees on the exclusion of meat and dairy products from our diet for prevention and reversal of disease, not everyone agrees on whether or not oils and highly saturated fat laden foods (i.e. nuts & avocados) should be omitted as well.

In fact, two of the foremost thought leaders seem to diverge on this as well: Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. Dean Ornish. Esselstyn’s mantra  is “moderation kills” and he advocates a plant-based diet that excludes oils, nuts, etc even if they are technically “plant-based”.

Ornish, on the other hand, is much less strict on this issue and allows for their inclusion, although he still emphasizes a diet as low in saturated fat as possible (less than 10% of daily caloric intake).  That doesn’t exactly allow for much oil anyway being that olive oil for example has approximately 120 calories per tablespoon with 2 grams (or 14%) coming from saturated fat, 78% from monounsaturated fat and 8% for polyunsaturated fat. No matter how you looks at it, olive oil is 120 calories of pure fat per tablespoon.

Without delving into the argument of good fats vs. bad fats, etc. and the reason behind why Esselstyn has adopted this stringent mantra and Ornish has not, I wasn’t 100% sure of where I stood on the whole debate other than the obvious observation that less fat is better.

I now can say that this study (in addition to a few other poignant reasons I’ll discuss in an upcoming post) has resulted in me landing on Esselstyn’s side of the fence. The reason is due to the increased triglyceride levels in some of the participants despite the reductions in their total and LDL cholesterol.  I think it is likely that these triglyceride increases seen in some of the participants are the result of increased consumption of oils, nuts and other highly saturated fat laden foods.

Additionally, when first adjusting to the switch to a plant-based diet many opt for pre-packaged processed vegan foods such as vegan cheese, veganaise, and prepared vegan meals which are extremely high in saturated fat.  Further, when eating out at mainstream restaurants the vegetarian and vegan options (which tend to be few) are often cooked in lots of oil to enhance taste. This is done to ensure that these menu items are just as tasty as there SAD counterparts.

It is my expectation that once acclimated more fully to plant-based nutrition people will end up cooking more at home and becoming more astute regarding their choices and their triglyceride levels will eventually decrease as well.

How about this for a visual: Animal fat is a solid at room temperature whereas plant is liquid.  Imagine how well that solid stuff fares in your GI tract.

4. Sugar, sugar, sugar.  Pre-diabetes, and Hemoglobin A1Cs

I love sweet things!  Who doesn’t?  We all know we should do our best to limit our consumption of these items and some of us do better than others.  If you are vegan, most likely you already limit if not exclude the consumption of sugar because the majority of it is processed with animal bone char (charcoal made from animal bones). – –actually the explanation is much more convoluted than this, but this works for our purpose here.

The participants in our study were not restricted with regard to sugar consumption.  The aim of this study was to look at the benefits of a plant-based diet on a macro level and not get lost in the details.  Please note I am not discounting the importance of these details, we simply chose not to focus on these for the sake of study compliance.

The reason this is important is because of the increasing prevalence of  “pre-diabetes” here in the U.S. and the obvious role that large amounts of sugar found in the SAD contribute to this trend. Prior to our study beginning, 4 of the 7 participants had Hemoglobin A1C values that would classify them as pre-diabetic (>5.7).  After only 30 days all 4 of the participants lowered this value by .4!

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cholesterol, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Plant-based Health Study | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

More study results & updated results grid!

Posted by Jenn on February 22, 2011


Today Jax and Megan’s labs came in and they are keeping the streak going with some more incredible results!  

In the first 30 days of switching from a SAD to a plant-based diet Jax  has:

  • lost 9lbs
  • decreased her total cholesterol 16 points
  • increased her HDL 14 points
  • decreased her LDL from 152 to 128!  A whopping 24 points!

This 24 point decrease brings Jax’s LDL cholesterol within the normal range!

Megan, who was a pescatarian prior to our study, decreased her total cholesterol from 167 to 159, an 8 point decrease.  The rest of her values remained fairly constant.  These results were expected being that Megan was already a pescatarian.

*Remember, Megan was one of only two of our participants whose values were all within normal ranges from the study’s start.  The second, Amber,  was also mostly vegetarian (we will have Amber’s results back later this week) before the study’s start.

** Lab results will be posted on the Plant-based Study page under the participant.

Below is an updated results chart.  We still are awaiting results from 2 of our 7 participants and will fill that in as soon as we have them (Vanessa’s are expected tomorrow).  Yellow shading represents values that are considered high and outside of the ranges that are considered normal.

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More Results… better lipid profiles and weight loss galore!

Posted by Jenn on February 18, 2011


We have more great results in with more coming on Monday too! We received Nikki’s lab work back. Her total cholesterol dropped 16 points from 225 to 209 and her LDL (bad cholesterol) dropped 15 points from 148 to 133.  She is now within 3 pts of having her LDL in the “normal” cholesterol range!  Great job Nikki!

Jax came in the office today to get all of her labs done.  We won’t have the results until Monday but she has dropped  9 lbs since the study started!  Great job Jax!

Together John and Jax (husband and wife) have lost 26 lbs in 30 days!

I have posted John, Stephanie and NIkki’s labs under the Plant-based Health Study” page.  They are located under the names of each participant after their baseline labs (pre-study).   Be sure to check back Monday to see Jax and Megan’s results!

Click here for Nikki’s page; Click here for Jax & John’s page; Click here for Stephanie’s page

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Wow! Some results are in… and they are nothing short of amazing!

Posted by Jenn on February 16, 2011


We reached our study’s midpoint on Tuesday and today John and Stephanie’s 30 day lab results came in! I will have them posted by tomorrow afternoon for you to view on their pages as well as the main study page.  In the meantime, here is a preview!

John:

Total Cholesterol before study started: 264 ; Total Cholesterol after 30 days eating a plant-based diet: 205

LDL Cholesterol before study started: 175; LDL Cholesterol after 30 days eating a plant-based diet: 115

Hemoglobin A1Cs before the study started: 6.2; Hemoglobin A1Cs after 30 days eating a plant-based diet: 5.8

John dropped his total cholesterol 59 points in 30 days.  He dropped his LDL cholesterol 60 points in 30 days.  John, prior to this study, was considered hyperlipidemic.  Now, he is only 5 points shy of having his total cholesterol within in normal ranges and his LDL cholesterol is now within the normal range.  Further, prior to the study John was considered what we would call “pre-diabetic”. He is no longer and is in back within normal ranges.  It is important to point out that had John seen a “traditional” physician rather than choosing to participate in this study, it is almost certain he would have walked out of his doctor’s office with a prescription that he would have been expected to take for the rest of his life.

Also, John has lost 17lbs in the last 30 days and his BMI has gone from 30.7 to 28.7.  In speaking with John, he tells me that he has not once strayed from the plant-based diet and hasn’t exercised any either.  Thus, all the numbers above were independent of exercise.

Visit John & Jax’s page to read about their journey so far!

Stephanie:

Total Cholesterol before study started: 213 ; Total Cholesterol after 30 days eating a plant-based diet: 181

LDL Cholesterol before study started: 143; LDL Cholesterol after 30 days eating a plant-based diet: 109

Hemoglobin A1Cs before the study started: 6.0; Hemoglobin A1Cs after 30 days eating a plant-based diet: 5.6

Stephanie dropped her total cholesterol 32 points in 30 days.  She dropped her LDL cholesterol 34 points in 30 days.  She no longer has elevated cholesterol and is now within normal ranges.  Her LDL is also within normal ranges now and no longer elevated. Further, she was borderline for being considered pre-diabetic and is now within normal ranges.  Stephanie has also lost 3lbs. Read the rest of this entry »

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Should a Low-Fat Diet Be Plant-Based?

Posted by Jenn on December 20, 2010


(Source: Published in Journal Watch Cardiology; Journalwatch.org)

Is a low-fat diet that emphasizes plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes) better at lowering cholesterol than a typical low-fat diet is? Researchers randomly assigned 120 generally healthy adults (age 30–65; 50% men; LDL levels, 130–190 mg/dL; BMI, 19–31) to eat one of these types of diets for 4 weeks.

The two diets were designed to be identical in total fat, saturated fat, protein, carbohydrate, and cholesterol content; to be consistent with AHA Step I guidelines; and to allow for calorie-intake adjustments to keep body weight constant. Meals either were eaten at the study center or were distributed in coolers to be eaten off site. Fasting blood samples were taken on 4 separate days: 2 at baseline and 2 at study completion.

As expected, body-weight changes were negligible in both groups during the 4-week study. However, compared with the typical low-fat diet, the plant-based low-fat diet yielded significantly greater declines in mean levels of total cholesterol (–17.6 mg/dL vs. –9.2 mg/dL) and of LDL cholesterol (–13.8 mg/dL vs. –7.0 mg/dL). Changes in levels of HDL cholesterol and triglycerides did not differ significantly between the two groups. LDL changes varied widely among individuals.

Comment: In the short term, a low-fat diet that emphasized plant-based foods had a greater total- and LDL-cholesterol–lowering effect than a typical low-fat diet did, even though both diets were consistent with AHA guidelines. A diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol that also includes lots of plant-based foods might increase the lipid-lowering potential of the diet.

— Joel M. Gore, MD

Published in Journal Watch Cardiology June 3, 2005

CITATION(S):

1.  Gardner CD et al. The effect of a plant-based diet on plasma lipids in hypercholesterolemic adults: A randomized trial. Ann Intern Med 2005 May 3; 142:725-33.

2.   Jenkins DJA et al. Diet and cholesterol reduction. Ann Intern Med2005 May 3; 142:793-5.

Original URL: http://cardiology.jwatch.org/cgi/content/full/2005/603/1

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The Effect of a Plant-Based Diet on Plasma Lipids

Posted by Jenn on December 20, 2010


For several decades recommendations for lowering blood cholesterol from national guidelines and agencies such as the American Heart Association (AHA) have focused on avoiding saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. However, this strategy has shown to be only modestly successful, leading several researchers and physicians to the conclusion that dietary modification alone is not an effective therapy. More recent studies have suggested that including foods or factors known to lower blood cholesterol may be a more successful approach than merely avoiding saturated fat and cholesterol. Soy protein, soluble fiber, plant sterols, and nuts are examples of foods and dietary factors that have shown potential benefits in improving lipids. In 2000, the AHA substantially revised its previous dietary guidelines to emphasize overall dietary patterns including more vegetables and whole grains (in general, a plant-based diet), while maintaining the recommendation to follow a low-saturated fat, low-cholesterol diet.

We conducted a study designed to determine whether a plant-based diet consistent with the 2000 AHA dietary guidelines would be more effective in lowering blood cholesterol than the previously recommended low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. We randomly assigned 125 participants with moderately elevated cholesterol to eat either a plant-based diet, low in saturated fat and cholesterol but also rich in fiber, nutrients and phytochemicals, or a convenience foods-based diet with the same level of total and saturated fat and cholesterol.

After 4 weeks, the participants eating the plant-based diet, rich in nutrients and phytochemicals, reduced their total and LDL cholesterol significantly more than the participants consuming a standard low-fat diet. To learn more about the details of the study, read the Abstract published in the Journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

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