In my last post on optimizing our food expenses, I shared with everyone how slaying the hunger monster can be very beneficial to your health and your wallet.
In the article, I shared about the change in my 7 day meal prep to incorporate 3 hard boil eggs instead of the vegetables. The advantages of doing that is firstly it is easy to prepare, secondly, eggs are a good source of nutrients and protein and lastly, they make you full and keep you satiated. They have some properties that just make you “feel you had enough”
Naturally, there are readers who felt that eating 3-4 eggs a day would definitely have an adverse impact on my cholesterol. And the idea is that if your cholesterol goes up, it will lead to heart disease.
Last week, I enrolled in my company’s annual health screening (which we have to pay).
It is a good time to review the result of eating 3-4 eggs a day.
The lifestyle changes that I made
It would be helpful if we can have an idea how much we change in our lifestyle for the past year. This is so as we can try and relate to the result.
- I put in less effort in running
- I experiment with eating more junk food that I previously eliminate. This is to see if they really have adverse effects on the body. This includes the occasional gluten, flour based food, simple carbs during gatherings and events
- I changed the afternoon meal prep to simplify it such that the amount I eat is less, and have 2-3 eggs in the afternoon
- Near the last 2-3 months, I have not taken lunch during Saturday and Sunday. This is to ease in a lifestyle of eating less
- I drink some Chia Seeds water in the morning on mother’s instruction. This is suppose to lower total, LDL, and triglyceride cholesterol, and raise good HDL cholesterol.
- I eat more lard which contains saturated fats which should increase my triglycerides
The Cholesterol Result
The health screening company was not bad. We can get our result in 1 day.
They also help keep track of past results, so that we can measure how we did. Thus, what you see below is the result of the past 3 years.
Total Cholesterol: This measures the aggregate of LDL, HDL. My result is progressive higher from 147 to 153 to 185. There is a dramatic jump and it seems coming close to the reference range of 200.
HDL Cholesterol: HDL or high density lipoprotein is higher from 58 to 58 to 62. This is above the reference range. The more the better.
LDL Cholesterol: LDL or low density lipoprotein is higher from 77 to 87 to 116. This is below the reference range.
Triglycerides: Triglycerides is lower from 59 to 42 to 36. All three figure is well below the reference range.
Most people would deem this is a poor set of result judging by total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. I wonder if that is really the case.
Why I interpret this Result Differently based on how I see Cholesterol and Triglycerides
We are primarily afraid of high cholesterol because they tell us high cholesterol leads to heart disease.
Well, recent studies question whether there is a link between cholesterol and heart disease (link here). In fact, it seems lower cholesterol levels seem to be correlated to higher mortality risk.
The Benefits of Cholesterol
There are some stuff about Cholesterol that not many are aware of:
- Cholesterol is critical for health. Our body does not leave cholesterol to chance that is why the body makes its own cholesterol. If it is not necessary, then the body will not make cholesterol at all
- You live longer. Low cholesterol is associated with higher deaths while high cholesterol was not a risk factor of death (link)
- It improves your memory function. High LDL and High Total Cholesterol associated with higher memory scores (link)
- LDL and HDL is not Cholesterol. We often label them as bad cholesterol and good cholesterol respectively, but that is wrong. Cholesterol and Fats is not soluble in water. So in order for them to be transported around they need to hail a taxi. This taxi is LDL or low density lipoprotein and HDL or high density lipoprotein. LDL brings the cholesterol all over the body to be used. HDL brings the excess cholesterol to the liver so that they can be destroyed. If we explained it this way, why do we fear the amount of LDL or HDL?
- Absorption of Vitamin D. If your cholesterol is too low, it will affect your vitamin D absorption.
- 25% of your body’s cholesterol is found in your brain. (link)
- Low Cholesterol is linked to higher incidence of suicide. (link)
Cholesterol and the lipoprotein does not look to be the enemy here.
Excess Cholesterol in Blood Stream is Not Good
What I do know is that if cholesterol stays in the blood stream for too long, its not a good thing.
The longer cholesterol stays in your blood stream, there is an increase likelihood that cholesterol will be oxidized by free radicals.
That oxidation is more and more linked to heart disease.
So what contributes to this oxidation:
- Eating processed foods (common ones margarine, fast foods, fried foods,commercially baked goods)
- Eating polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are found in vegetable oils
HDL – Removing Excess Cholesterol
HDL or high density lipoprotein’s job is to remove excess cholesterol found in the blood stream away from it, and back to the liver.
Therefore, it is like the garbage collection taxi.
If you have less of HDL, you have more excess cholesterol more problem.
If you have more of HDL, and your cholesterol increase proportionately, things are ok.
The Real Enemy to Watch for – Triglycerides
Rather, triglycerides, which accompany many cholesterol test seem to be seldom mentioned.
Triglycerides is the specific fats that is found in the blood stream. Like cholesterol, they are not water soluble so they require lipoprotein to transport them.
Triglycerides are form when you consume excess carbohydrates or sugars that you do not need. These excess carbs are converted to fats with the help of insulin.
As more and more excess carbs are consumed, and it stays in the blood stream longer.
Triglycerides levels are linked to more and more to heart disease.
Here is how to reduce your triglyceride level:
- lose weight
- limit your sugar intake. Extra sugar turns to triglycerides
- follow a low carb diet
- eat more fiber
- exercise more
- avoid trans fat. This is found in processed foods
- increase your intake of unsaturated fats
- limit alcohol intake
A Better Ratio for Health Monitoring
The result uses total cholesterol divided by HDL. If you keep this ratio low, you are all good.
I find that if cholesterol is beneficial to overall body health, since it is something the body creates on its own, then this might not be the best indicator.
There seem to be more logical reasons why this is better. Higher HDL level is linked to lower triglycerides. HDL is beneficial, triglycerides is a problem. And we remove tracking cholesterol which more and more is linked to better health.
If we compute the result for the three years it is:
- 2015: 1.01
- 2016: 0.72
- 2017: 0.58
All three results are ok, but this year have been particularly good.
What affected the result this year
This year the result points to:
- higher cholesterol
- higher HDL
- lower triglycerides
It is always hard to point to what caused the change since there could be other factors that affect the result.
Eating Eggs, Chia Seeds, and adequate exercise do improve the HDL, but I have been exercising more intensely for the past 2 years in 2015 and 2016, and HDL wasn’t raised.
So it is likely Eggs and Chia Seeds might help a lot.
What raised the overall cholesterol? Eating eggs do not always raise people’s cholesterol, but it does affect 30% of the population. Perhaps it affected me.
It could also be that I am more relax with eating foods hat I normally do not take and this increases the cholesterol level.
What I would be Doing Differently Next Year
While eating eggs seem to yield better results, it does coincide with some increase inflammation of my psoriasis.
Not sure if its due to this or some other hormonal change, but eggs and dairy are some irritants that if you have allergy like problems, you can eliminate and see if they help.
So for the next year I will eliminate it for a few months to see how that goes.
I have also simplified my lunch with only half chicken breast and some nuts.
This helped manage the blood sugar spike much better.
Likely I will attempt to do a few one meal per day.