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In Response to High Cholesterol When Going Vegan

This is a response to the thread below.  I tried to reply to it but I keep getting a word verification request with no picture to type.  Grrrr!  So I am going to try to answer this way.


I have not had this problem at all, in fact, I have been vegan for two and a half years and my cholesterol went from 155 to 125 after the first year vegan (I had a free screening through work) and triglycerides were 27 after one year vegan.  My HDL did decrease slightly (62 in 2010 and 57 in 2012) but LDL was 67 in 2012 (not measured before).  I am a 41 year old surgically menopausal hypothyroid woman but I am also somewhat underweight (and have been for many years) partly due to being very active and partly from a long term eating disorder.

I did want to mention, as someone who has had little body fat at certain times of my eating disorder, that low body fat can play a part in increased cholesterol.  Although the following link below is addressed to anorexia and bulimia and the role those play in cholesterol, it could well apply to anyone who has lost a lot of weight or who has a very low body fat percentage:

It's just another angle to explore while trying to figure this out.  It isn't always about diet alone (I have thyroid issues that could affect my cholesterol so I have it monitored for this reason too).  From the looks of it, your cholesterol was somewhat high even before becoming vegan so there could be other disease processes going unchecked.  I would consult a physician if I were in your shoes (if you haven't already).  Your diet sounds quite healthy.  I do want to mention that I too avoid most processed oils and high fats, but I do consume walnuts, almonds, seeds, avocado, coconut etc in whole form (and do use coconut oil for light baking or cooking sometimes).  From the start I have been supplementing with DHA/EPA (vegan DEVA brand) although I am not sure if it is really necessary, but just to be on the safe side.  I also eat a LOT of leafy greens and vegetables and keep my grains whole (the whole seed such as oat groats, buckwheat groats, bulgur wheat, wild rice etc in bulk section) and little flour or pasta, though I do eat those on occasion for a treat.  I avoid them more because I have an issue with bulimia and those foods trigger binges for me.

Although I am underweight and have struggled with an eating disorder, my weight did not change much from omnivore to vegan.  I lost six lbs quickly while adjusting to a vegan diet but gained it back over a year by making myself eat more and stabalizing and learning to prepare vegan food and what to eat.  It seems a lot of people who go vegan drop dramatic amounts of weight because they don't eat enough for what they do and that could contribute to things like high cholesterol.  I would imagine being as athletic as you are you would really need to be careful in fueling your body enough and if you are eating somewhat low fat that could be a challenge.  I have a book called "Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life " by Brendan Brazier who is also an ironman triathlete and he seems to include a relatively high fat (but whole form) percentage in his diet and mostly raw and he has been very successful.  I even find that I need a bit more fat in my diet than a lot of vegans advocate to fuel my activity (my exercise is limited to 1.5 hours per day but I also work, intern, go to school etc).  Just another idea.  This link below also helps explain cholesterol and triglycerides etc.  I hope this helps!  I am by no means an expert or medical specialist.  Just thought I would share what I have learned in the process of battling my own issues.

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