Firstly, the medical industry needs to start producing blood panels that report both LDL particle number and size. Currently WellnesFX offers a blood testing service with all the right biomarkers, but it’s only available in the US. I have yet to find a lab in the UK that can test for LDL-P for a member of the public.
That said when looking at traditional blood lipid results, calculate the ratio of triglycerides to HDL. This is one of the best markers for heart disease. You want this to be less than 2, but the lower the better.
While we wait for better tests to become widely available on this side of the Atlantic, what can we do to reduce the risk of heart disease?
Reduce or remove the following things from your diet:
- Refined/simple carbs That means bread, pasta, pancakes, pastries, table sugar, breakfast cereals, any kind of syrup, soft drinks etc;
- Excessive fruit Fruit is a great source of micronutrients, but many fruits are high in carbohydrate (fructose), particularly dried fruits;
- Excessive cholesterol Cholesterol is essential, but consuming excessive amounts will unnecessarily increase the number of LDL particles and with it, our risk of heart disease; and
- Vegetable oils Cornflower, sesame, safflower etc. Replace with butter, ghee, or coconut oil and cook at lower temperatures.
And what can we add to our diets that will also help?
- Antioxidants Antioxidants (nuts, green veg, berries, tea) reduce the likelihood that LDL particles will become oxidised; and
- Wild fish In particular the Omega 3 within the fish, will reduce inflammation.
Needless to say, cigarettes and alcohol don’t help, and anything containing trans fats (partially hydrogenated oil) or high fructose corn syrup should be completely avoided for several reasons. Exercise can lower triglycerides because the body requires more energy during physical activity, which it gets from glucose. More sleep is always better. Finally, metabolic syndrome and diabetes also increase oxidation, so it’s better not to get them in the first place.