The Nation's Health + [Wheat]

Wheat: Cholesterol reduction and wheat

In my previous post, Identical twins and the explosive influence of weight , we witnessed an excellent example of the profound influence of food choices and weight control on lipoproteins. The heavier twin among these 35-year old male twins (Steve) had an LDL particle number over two-fold higher than his more slender counterpart (Alfred).

The heavier twin, Steve, got here through numerous and longstanding dietary excesses: fast foods, saturated fats, sweets, processed foods. The conventional answer to Steve's lipid dilemma would be to modestly reduce his reliance on saturated fat, exercise, and limit snacks.

How far would that get Steve? Not very far at all. With regards to his high LDL particle number of 2256 nmol/l (representing an "effective" LDL cholesterol of around 225 mg/dl), it would be reduced a little, perhaps 10%.

Notice, however, that 72% of all Steve's LDL particles are small (1639/2256). This is the pattern that responds dramatically to a sharp reduction in processed carbohydrates, especially wheat-containing products.

If Steve were to eliminate all wheat products--all breads, breakfast cereals, pretzels, cookies, cakes, pasta, crackers--LDL particle number will drop dramatically, perhaps 50%, often more depending on the magnitude of weight loss. Small LDL will respond most obviously and will be sharply reduced, perhaps disappear. Incidentally, these changes might not be well reflected by the conventional calculated LDL cholesterol, since small LDL particles are well-concealed by standard measures.

Reducing corn products, white and brown rice, and potatoes would also add to the effect. But, in 2007, wheat products represent 90% of the problem for the majority of people. Reducing or eliminating wheat therefore yields the biggest effect by a long shot.

Steve therefore represents an excellent example of how reducing processed carbohydrates, esp. wheat-containing products, can yield an unexpected and paradoxical reduction in LDL cholesterol as evidenced by the highly accurate LDL particle number (or apoprotein B). Reducing saturated fat sources also helps, but it certainly will not yield the kind of results most people need. You've got to be smarter than the simple-minded conventional advice.