Diet for Lowering Cholesterol, Triglycerides, and Blood Pressure

I'm not a doctor, or for that matter any kind of health care professional. I'm a computer programmer. I created this diet for myself. I read various web sites and publications to come up with this diet. This diet, along with an exercise program, has, to some degree, worked for me. I have trouble staying on this diet, and exercising. When I keep to this diet, and exercise, it helps with all my blood chemistry numbers.

NOTE: The recipes on other pages on this web site have nothing to do with this diet or even being remotely healthy, they just taste good.

From all I've read, the best thing you can do to correct your cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood pressure problems, is to lose weight. This diet may help you bring down cholesterol etc., and it may help you lose weight, but probably not. To truly be effective in correcting cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood pressure problems, you need to exercise.

The general dietary philosophy is that to lower cholesterol you stay away from foods containing saturated or hydrogenated fats and cholesterol, and eat foods with soluble fiber, and mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

To lower triglycerides, you stay away from sugars, starches, refined or processed grains, alcohol, and simple carbohydrates.

To lower blood pressure, you stay away from foods that contain salt or sodium.

Good Foods:



Here is an interesting note

(emphasis mine):

Different diets, different effects

The volunteers were assigned one of four diets. Two contained just enough calories so that the volunteers did not lose or gain any weight. In one of them, 35% of total calories came from fat. That is considered high (although it is the typical American intake). The second provided the same number of calories but derived only 15% of them from fat.

The third and fourth diets were reduced in calories and designed so that the men would lose about 1.5 lbs. per week. The fat level was altered in each of these diets, too. Again, one was high fat (35% of calories) and the other was low-fat (15% of calories). The men consumed each of the four diets for a month and at the end of every diet period, their cholesterol levels were recorded.

Both low-fat diets, regardless of caloric level, lowered LDL cholesterol significantly. The higher-fat, low-calorie diet, also decreased LDL cholesterol, but the reduction was not as great as that seen on the low-fat diets. HDL ("good") cholesterol levels improved on all diets except the full-calorie, high-fat diet. Of note, though, is that the improvement in HDL cholesterol was greatest after consuming the high-fat, reduced-calorie diet. That was the only eating pattern that also lowered triglycerides.

These scientists suggest that the high-fat, low-calorie diet was the most advantageous of those tested. Even though it did not lower LDL cholesterol as much as the low-fat diets, the unique ability of the higher-fat, low-calorie diet to lower triglycerides and to positively influence HDL cholesterol seemed to offer the greatest benefit.


Another view on cholesterol:

I'll sum up this site ( ) by saying that it says that cholesterol isn't what is bad for you, but is simply an indicator of other conditions that are bad for you, like being fat or overweight, smoking, sedentary, or having high blood pressure, so instead of taking cholesterol lowering drugs, fix those other conditions.

The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics:

An article on the Atkins Diet and Cholesterol:

Atkins diet good for cholesterol

Here's a chart that lets you evaluate your risk of cardiovascular disease:

Cholesterol Risk Chart

The formula that ties all the numbers together:

Total Cholesterol = LDL + HDL + (TRI/5)
LDL, low-density lipoprotein, is "bad" cholesterol, in general, people want to reduce this.
HDL, high-density lipoprotein is "good" cholesterol, in general, people want to increase this.
TRI, triglycerides, a form of fat which is carried in the blood to the tissues, people usually want to decrease this.

The recommendations keep changing, but here are some recommended levels:

HDL > or = 40
LDL < 130
TRI < 150
and Total Cholesterol < 200

The 2004 recommendations have differing numbers depending on your level of risk for heart attack. National Institutes of Health Update on Cholesterol Guidelines gives the details.

Niacin and Cholesterol:

The low-down is that you can use large doses of Niacin (nicotinic acid, or inositol hexanicotinate, not  Nicotinamide) to bring down LDL levels, raise HDL, and lower triglycerides at about one tenth the cost of the statin drugs.  The side effects/drawbacks are the same as the statin drugs, needing to keep an eye on liver function.

WalMart has inositol hexanicotinate (no flush niacin) for about $6.00 for a container of 60 500mg capsules.

Natural Medicine for High Cholesterol
What is cholesterol-lowering niacin or nicotinic acid?

My numbers:

Spring 2003

My initial blood test, the results of which my Dr. didn't like, was in the Spring of 2003. My numbers at that time:

HDL   45
LDL   156
TRI   353
and Total Cholesterol   272

Fall 2003

After doing an Atkins-esque diet for a couple months, then eating the above diet for about a month, and exercising regularly (3 times a week) my weight was about 12 pounds down from it's highest. I had my next blood test taken and the numbers were improved:

HDL   49
LDL   135
TRI   321
and Total Cholesterol   248

January 2004

After getting these numbers, I neglected any kind of diet, pretty much quit exercising, and my weight went back up to it's high point. So I did the Atkins thing again, and my weight dropped those 12 or so pounds again. I also started taking one 500mg capsule of niacin (inositol hexanicotinate) a day -- didn't tell my doctor. I had my next blood test and Doctor appointment. The doctor told me that he would like me to lose another 15 pounds (not likely), and my numbers were back to where they started. My triglyceride number improved, but the doctor failed to mention, possibly notice, this:

HDL   49
LDL   171
TRI   267
and Total Cholesterol   273

May 2004

So after that doctor appointment, I didn't watch my diet at all, and continued staying away from the gym, and my weight went right back up those 12 pounds and more. I started taking Niacin (inositol hexanicotinate) 500 mg three times a day instead of one. This effectively got me 1200mg of Niacin a day. I also didn't mention that there is a liver enzyme, ALT (alanine aminotransferase), on which I have a high reading. Note that cholesterol and triglyceride levels and liver function are closely related. If you don't consume any dietary cholesterol, then your liver will produce cholesterol and triglycerides, which your various tissues need to function. My doctor has diagnosed this as a "fatty liver", and I had an ultra-sound (or sonogram) done which didn't find any other irregularities. Anyway, My doctor has asked me to visit a liver specialist just to make sure that I don't have any other liver problems, and to confirm the diagnosis of a fatty liver.

Anyway, my numbers were bad for this checkup, in May 2004:

HDL   40
LDL   Not calculated because triglyceride levels were too high...
TRI   523
and Total Cholesterol   282

September 2004

So I started taking Niacin (inositol hexanicotinate) 500 mg four times a day instead of three. Effectively 1600mg of Niacin a day. I went to the gym again, lifting weights, and getting some aerobic exercise. I tried to watch my diet again.

I did visit the liver specialist, and I eventually went and had a blood test to determine if I had some rare liver disease that the specialist said that I probably didn't have, and the tests came out negative, I didn't and don't have any rare liver diseases.

So it turns out that this has worked to some degree, my LDL is the lowest that it has been since I've been tracking it, although my triglycerides still need to go lower:

HDL   45
LDL   106
TRI   377
and Total Cholesterol   226

I told the doctor that I was taking the Niacin, and he was happy with this, but told me to increase the dose to about 2000mg a day, so I'll now take five capsules a day (under $20 a month) and see how that goes. I'll try to continue getting exercise, and watching my diet.

September 2005

My next checkup, after September of 2004, my numbers were all high again. I hadn't been good at sticking to the diet, or at exercising. So the doctor prescribed Lipitor (atorvastatin). I started taking 10mg each night before going to bed. This brought my cholesterol down to a good level, but my triglycerides were still a little high, and my blood pressure went back up. So now the doctor is threatening to put me on some blood pressure medication, and I expect him to as I haven't been exercising, and I've been eating anything I want. 

June 2006

Well, as it turns out, I have escaped being put on blood pressure medication so far. In January 2006, my blood work showed that my AST (liver enzyme) had gone abnormally high which indicates a liver problem, so the doctor took me off the Lipitor for a few months. My AST levels went back down to normal, so we're trying the Lipitor again as a trial, and I have to get my blood numbers again to see if my AST is going high. I expect that we'll find that the AST number is fine and I'll stay on the Lipitor. In the mean time I'm trying to lose some weight, not that I'm obese or anything. Picture of me.



MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician before starting a new fitness or nutrition regimen. The information contained in this online site is presented in summary form only and is my personal opinion. The information should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation or advice of your physician or other health care provider. I do not recommend the self-management of health problems. Information here is not exhaustive and does not cover all diseases, ailments, physical conditions or their treatment. Should you have any health care related questions, please call or see your physician or other health care provider promptly. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read here.