My Cholesterol Test for Nightline vs One from 1998

The story on Nightline shows me getting my cholesterol tested.

Here are the actual results:

MY CHOLESTEROL TEST for Nightline, MAY 2014
2014 Cholesterol Tests

 Traditional biomarkers:

Total cholesterol          205 mg/dL

LDL-C                            110 mg/dL

HDL-C                            82 mg/dL

Triglycerides                  67 mg/dL

New (better) biomarkers:

LDL-P (particle number)        1179 umol/L

LDL size                                     21.6 nm (Large–Pattern A)

Small LDL-P                                99 umol/L

HDL-P                                        40.1 umol/L

As I explain in my book, neither total cholesterol nor LDL-C turn out not to be very reliable predictors of heart-attack risk in the great majority of people. More reliable biomarkers are a combination of HDL-C, triglycerides, LDL particle number and LDL size.

All my numbers look great. My diet is probably about 60% fat (plenty of it saturated), 25% protein and 15% carbohydrates, but that’s really just an estimate. On exercise: I haven’t had time for it over the past year since I’ve been working so hard on my book, but I am planning to get back into the habit.

Canyon Ranch test

Total cholesterol      188 mg/dL

LDL-C                         104 mg/dL

HDL-C                          62 mg/dL

Triglycerides               134 mg/dL

This test was done when I was at Canyon Ranch, a health spa that emphasized a very low-fat diet. At that point, I had been eating a near-vegetarian diet for and exercised (running, biking) for about an hour a day.

These results look OK, but my current ones look better. My HDL-C and triglycerides have clearly improved. For women, a high total cholesterol is associated with longer life (despite what you’ve heard…), so my level, around 200 mg/dL, seems just fine.

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About the Author
Nina Teicholz

Nina Teicholz

Nina Teicholz is an investigative journalist and author of the International (and New York Times) bestseller, The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet (Simon & Schuster). Named a *Best Book* of 2014 by the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Forbes, Mother Jones, and Library Journal, The Big Fat Surprise has upended the conventional wisdom on dietary fat and challenged the very core of our nutrition policy.  Before taking a deep dive into researching nutrition science for nearly a decade, Teicholz was a reporter for National Public Radio and also contributed to many publications, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, The New Yorker, and The Economist. She attended Yale and Stanford where she studied biology and majored in American Studies. She has a master’s degree from Oxford University and served as associate director of the Center for Globalization and Sustainable Development at Columbia University. She lives in New York city.

Comments 41

  1. One of the interesting things is the reduction in triglycerides and how this is the virtual hall-mark of the switch to a low-carbohydrate diet. One of the pieces of evidence supporting the view in “The Big Fat Surprise” is the American Heart Association’s position on triglycerides. Long, detailed (and tedious) but when you search the document on “low carbohydrate” or variations, there is only one entry for the specialized condition of xanthomas.

  2. What if the cutoff for Total Cholesterol was 150 and for LDL-p was 700? Those are the only cutoffs that will lead to true protection from CVD.

    HDL going higher proves absolutely zero, as it totally expected (unless your liver is dysfunction) if you switch to a diet higher in cholesterol and saturated fat. HDL going up in these circumstances is simply a response by your body, needing to kick out more HDL to deal with the increase in cholesterol.

    Triglycerides are not the end all be-all. Look at Ornish’s stuff to see more info on these ideas:

    That all said, why don’t you get your endothelial function tested and post that, especially fasting and then after one of your typical daily meals? That would answer more questions than any of these other tests. While you are at it, you could also get an oral glucose and insulin tolerance test done (vs fasting glucose and insulin).

    1. Nina Teicholz Post

      That’s Ornish’s perspective on HDL-C, perhaps bc his diet (like all low-fat diets) looks bad by that marker. But his view is not confirmed by any evidence. I am happy to get those tests you mention, but let’s remember I’m still n=1 and irrelevant insofar as the science is concerned. Also, the tests are expensive, and my insurance will not cover.

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    2. also resurrected an old favorite from our “deep-in-debt” days: Bean and Cheese Tostadas. Five out of six kids did a happy dance over these babies, made with Homemade Pintos. The oddman

  3. It would be most helpful to publish a list of cardiologists and internists who are on board with the ideas on the book. The tide will shift when there is a critical mass of patients who succeeded in improving their health by switching to saturated fats. I know my old cardiologist will not abandon the orthodoxy of the past 60 years. Great book.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly. I was very glad to find Dr. Paul Lynn, MD in San Francisco. Also, I recommend to reach out for the tests to Beverly Rubik, PhD. Emeryville CA. (Say “hello” from me to both (-: ) Best wishes of good health…

  4. The collusion among scientific authorities in the “fat scare” crowd are eerily reminiscent of what is currently going on in global warming controversy. It would not be a surprise to see “capture” of the government and the scientific community by big corporations (so called regulatory capture). Great work.

  5. I admire your effort to expose the bogus research. It effects the health of so many people, so I really think this info should be available to as many people as possible and ASAP. I encourage you to continue reaching out to the media and those icons in our society, who had proven to demonstrate their ethics about challenging issues (I was glad to hear you on Forum, NPR and at SF Commonwealth Club, where recording is available to the public – why don’t you post the links on this site, by the way.)
    I am extremely concerned about the pandemic of dementia in this country, and hope, the researchers begin addressing its link to the non-fat diet, AND the whole scam of STATINS(that are mandatory for all heart patients – despite the cholesterol levels, in many hospitals, by the way…) This profitable campaign of pharma can be only compared to the mass chemical warfare on population – what outrage!

  6. I totally loved this book but now come many questions, but I’ll ask just two for now. 🙂 What do you say about cultures that eat a lot of rice and not much meat who appear to be very healthy? What of all cultures who do eat bread and find it indeed sacred but appear to have been in good health? I’m sure you’ve already seen some of the scathing reviews of your book and wonder what you think? Okay, three questions. Sorry! 🙂

  7. “All my numbers look great. My diet is probably about 60% fat (plenty of it saturated), 25% protein and 15% carbohydrates, but that’s really just an estimate. On exercise: I haven’t had time for it over the past year since I’ve been working so hard on my book, but I am planning to get back into the habit.”

    It soumds like you’re well within the guidelines of the Jaminet “Perfect Health Diet,” at least as far as macro nutrient levels go (not to mention full agreement on the type and quality of fat).

    Have you read their book?

  8. So I absolutely love and greatly appreciate and respect your research and conclusions. Would you please consider aligning you’re findings and research with the excellent medically substantiated finding of Dr. Michael Greger M.D available on, which quotes and cites substantive accredited medical research articles in defense of a healthy Plant Based diet. This alignment would help to compare both food choices and help to illuminate and the important discussion on what constitutes a health diet and lifestyle for all humanity that is devoid of special interest groups.

    Thank you for nine years of dedicated research that can only benefit all of us.

  9. My complements on a great book!! I especially love the submarine analogy you use in your book to describe LDL/HDL particles. It’s easy for me to think of HDL and LDL as “submarines” maneuvering around dropping off and picking up payloads in accordance with their genetic design.

    It’s easy for me to think of Pattern B LDL as little mini-subs that easily rust (oxidize) and because of their mini size are easily pushed deep into the layers of the arterial wall. From there, it’s not a hard stretch of the imagination to visualize a vigilant immune system attacking a rusty little mini-sub lodged deep in the arterial wall because it thinks that the rusty little mini-sub is a foreign invader. It’s not hard to see how later on during the autopsy when they found the rusty little mini-subs payload (cholesterol) lodged in the artery; they thought they’d figured out heart disease.

    I personally think that Big Nutrition and Big Pharma used good instructional techniques such as clogged drain pipes to teach us a bad message. The way back from this mess will require a principled use of good instructional techniques, and your book has plenty of that.

    BTW- Voleck and Phinney’s book “The Art and Science of Low Carb Living” does a pretty good job of explaining how the mini-subs are built in the liver and are a product of carbohydrate consumption.

    You’ve done a nice job of explaining how the mini-subs are prone to getting rusty when the body gets too much vegetable oil.

    Instead of Nightline asking what your cholesterol is, they should be asking what makes a good submarine go bad.

    Lastly, the haters are gonna hate you big time. My wife and I have been ultra-low carb since January 1, 2012 (Ketosis). In this time, I’ve seen a lot of the vegan/vegetarian internet vitriol, and it’s not pretty. For a group of people that love animals, some of them sure hate humans

  10. Hi,

    The fastest way to get our food choices changed would come from the food providers themselves – the companies that sell us everything. Is there a petition started anywhere that we can sign, and then send to various food companies to show them that we want saturated fat in our food products? The fastest way to make a company change is the bottom line. If we can show companies that there is a large and growing market for products with lots of saturated fat, then they will provide the products, and we don’t have to wait for the government to force change – who knows how long that would take?

  11. I want to believe all Iread in your book so I can keep eating my beloved steaks, however your books seems to refute,contradict, and or negate all the studies mentioned by Dr. Greger from Any comments?

      1. eeThanks for this thought provoking topic, I was just now wondering about this very same topic. Wow it’s so nice and fortuitous to find a post which I’ve been looking for without needing to browsing the web all day long!24

    1. Oh I have seen that book pop up over and over again. I have so enjoyed doing my walking DVD…I am at three miles, each mile is 12 minutes…but I am noticing I am truly an emotional eater and the more I feel like things will never change the more I grab the carbs…so I will need to check this out…thanks and have an awesome week!!

    2. Thanks for the post. One of the things I have struggled with for years is getting rid of things. I’m just now really getting to really dealing with it and the only way it can be done is to actually get rid of stuff.I am going to become a real live minimalist All the little tips are helping. Keeping writing about them. Wag!K9 Coach recently posted..

  12. I have read your book and want to believe everything in it so I can continue eating my steaks, however your book seems to refute, contradict, and or negate all the articles I have read by Dr. Greger from Any comments?

  13. I am picking your book up tomorrow and am very excited about reading! Currently overweight, have high triglycerides, low HDL, and I am non-diabetic hypoglycemic. My doctor wanted to put me on meds, but he’s a great doctor and told me I can most likely fix this myself with food and exercise. And, I was surprised, told me that a low-carb way of eating may do the trick. Lose the breads, pastas, all sugar, etc…I am back to the doctor in May for a re-check. Anyway, question. I have looked on your facebook page and website and don’t see any specific sites or plans you endorse. I do have to include carbs in each of my meals because of my hypo, so I just wonder what foods specifially YOU and your family eat. I have two children and would love to have all the right foods for them as well.

  14. I am a health care provider in Framingham, Ma. I know of a few cardiologists that will place obese patients with poor lipid profiles on low carb lifestyle. I have also sat and talked with Dr. William Castelli of the Framingham Heart Study. He is incredibly knowledgeable in this field. His use of niacin suppliment is worth looking into.

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  19. The ‘comment spam’ is a distraction, most blogs have provisions to deal with this…

    Based on what I have read so far, I am ordering your book. No wonder I found it so hard to lose weight, eating the wrong stuff! A father and grandmother both had undiagnosed heart disease as evidenced by the fat ring around their irises. Both lived to 80s and only grandmother had a possible heart attack leading to death. BUT she was always overweight though she walked everywhere, never drove. And long distances too.

    This stuff is complex but your research is helping to sort it out.

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