As previously mentioned, I just got the results of some blood work I had done. For the most part I was completely healthy; no blood born diseases or abnormal vitamin/mineral levels. The one area of slight concern was that of my cholesterol. I eat a relatively healthy diet, most particularly one that contains no meat or poultry and a very low level of refined grains and sugars. However I did eat, as of last October, a fairly high level of dairy and seafood products, both known for being high in cholesterol.
My bloodwork seemed to reflect this diet. My HDL cholesterol level (that’s the good stuff) was up over 60 mg/L. My triglycerides were down under 60 mg/L. Both of those are considered heart-positive conditions (triglycerides block arteries and HDL cholesterol cleans them, so having the first low and the second high means no plaque building up). My overall cholesterol was under 200, which is considered the danger level. “The China Study” mentions that people should really be under 150 to be truly healthy and given the history of heart issues in my family, I agree with that. So that worried me a little. The only red flag that came up was the fact that my LDL cholesterol was over 120, which was marked as being HIGH.
However the ratio of HDL to LDL and the ratio of HDL to overall cholesterol were both in the healthy range. I did some more research online and came to the conclusion that I am somewhat unique. Most people who have high cholesterol have high levels of LDL cholesterol, usually over 150, but also have lower levels of HDL. The large amounts of soy and fish in my diet, combined with the lack of meat keep my LDL fairly low and boost my HDL.
After I read “The China Study”, I set out to change my diet, cutting back to eating seafood twice a week and dairy once, at most. These are not set in stone–I appreciate the flexibility to occasionally exceed those limits, especially when eating out in groups or when traveling and dining options are restricted–but act as strong guidelines. The biggest change has been that I no longer eat seafood or dairy at home and that I avoid it whenever possible when eating out.
I will be getting another round of bloodwork done this fall (assuming I’m actually in one place long enough to go to the doctor). It will be interested to see how the results change based upon my dietary changes. I predict that the biggest change will be a decrease in my LDL levels. As I substantially decrease my intake of dairy products, that should remove the largest source of LDL from my diet. I should also see a slight decrease in my levels of HDL, considering I am now eating less fish. I am still getting essential omega fatty acids from the large amounts of soy I eat, which I think contributes to HDL levels. My triglycerides should fall even farther. If I get the results I predict, it will be fairly convincing to me that the correlation between heart problems and the consumption of animal products described in “The China Study” is real and that my dietary changes are working towards avoiding the problems that my father and grandfathers experienced.