It appears you have not yet Signed Up with our community. To Sign Up for free, please click here....

High Cholesterol Message Board

High Cholesterol Board Index

Following Dr. Ornish's reversal diet as I do can be challenging. For those not familiar with it, it is a vegetarian diet consisting of 10%fat and the balance in protein and complex carbohydrates.

Originally the diet allowed no oils whatsoever, since oil is 100% fat. Over time Ornish has modified that slightly to include 3 grams of fish oil per day, or alternatively a mix of fish oil and flax for women.

Dr. Ornish also has comprehensive lifestyle recommendations that include exercise and meditation to reduce stress and improve cardio. All sound stuff, and his studies in actually reversing atherosclerosis are well documented.

However, Dr. Ornish does not specifically address those of us with FH, that is genetically high lipid levels. He does indicate in his studies that several people in his studies achieved reversal without lowering their cholesterol below 200, but he's never made a study of FH, nor has he even attempted to explain why those individuals unable to reduce their cholesterol to acceptable progam levels (TC below 150) were successful.

Also, except for fish oil, Ornish doesn't address nutriceuticals. There are a number of them, but I'm specifically referring to those that have been scientifically studied and shown to reduce lipid levels. Soluble fiber, and Plant Stanols/Sterols, and Alchohol which is not LDL lowering, but HDL raising, or at least Apo(a) raising. I also recommend that you search online for fish oil with significantly higher concentrations of EPA/DHA. I've found one with more than double the concentration of the one I had been using.

Ornish's inferred advice to FH people is to eat like he does and hope for the best, but that doesn't give me the warm sort of feeling I'm looking for.

[B]Therefore, I've some advice for FH people:[/B]

Take advantage of the fact that Ornish's "10%" program actually offers a margin of up to 2% additional fat.

For example, My metabolism requires about 2200 calories a day to maintain weight, but I'm allowed up to 30 grams of fat (10 from sat. fat), that comes to 270 calories of fat. That's about 12.25% fat. I actually TRY and keep my fat level between 10-12% and use what I have left above 10% to enhance my lipid levels with nutraceuticals. I'll take an extra fish oil capsule, or an extra half dose of Benecol/Take Control for example.

This way, I can stay within guidelines and augment lipid lowering.

The Ornish approach lowers both LDL and HDL levels. That's okay in normal people because the lower HDL level is a response to the level required to remove a lower level of LDL. However, that situation appears less certain in FH sufferers where HDL levels don't just fall, they plummet. It is possible that Metabolic Syndrome as discussed below is the culprit. Therefore, while saturated fat levels should be taken to levels recommended by Ornish, it may be inadvisable to go any lower. Don't overacheive.

[B]Sugar, Alcohol, and Metabolic Syndrome:[/B]

Dr. Ornish only comments that sugar is not significantly linked to heart disease, but that since they're empty calories they should be avoided. For FH'ers that situation appears to be very different. Most FH'ers have metabolic syndrome and the insulin resistance that goes along with it. Insulin resistance has been associated with a depressant effect on HDL.

This means that the sharp insulin spikes created by sugar and simple carbs enhance the process engendering insulin resistance. Therefore it seems prudent to significantly reduce sugar intake, and to particularly minimize simple carbs in your diet.

Alcohol has been shown to increase sensitivity to insulin. Red wine is the commonest recommendation, but apparently 1 drink a day of most any alcoholic beverage appears to help. I'd recommend staying away from mixed drinks that use a lot of sugar in them.

Dr. Kenneth Cooper points out that more than 1 drink a day will put you in a category for illnesses resulting from too much alcohol, so while more than one drink appears to be beneficial from a lipid perspective, more probably isn't a good idea. It also isn't a good idea to save up your drinks for that weekend bender.

When I removed most of the sugar from my diet (and eliminated remaining simple carbs) an amazing thing happened: my appetite dropped off significantly! Do I miss candy? God yes, but the benefit of abstaining is real.


Dr. Ornish only recommends statins in severe cases. That recomendation is 10 years old , and I think it is not supported by current studies. Aggressive statin therapy has now shown results nearly as beneficial as his reversal diet. Ornish is right when he says that diet is the first line of defence, but if lipids don't respond appropriately (and in FH cases they usually don't), you should consider [U]the addition [/U] of drug therapy to put you into a low risk category.

Theoretically an Ornish diet combined with statin therapy should give the average person, let alone someone with FH the best chance to halt or reverse atherosclerosis. No studies combining the approach has ever been done.

Halting and even reversing atherosclerosis is a demonstrated fact by both diet and medication. What is FAR from being demonstrated is whether study results can be effectively translated to John Q. Public. Still, on a personal level people should be aware of what they can do to take their best shot at getting and staying healthy.

Low cholesterol levels don't appear to be the only safe levels. People with cholesterol above 200 seem to be well protected if their HDL levels are also high. However, raising HDL levels is problematic, and studies still indicate that a total cholesterol level of less than 150 is most beneficial. It may even prove out that at levels significantly below 150 that LDL/HDL ratios become much less important.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 11:28 PM.

© 2022 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved.
Do not copy or redistribute in any form!