Dr Peter Attia – The Straight Dope on Cholesterol and Diet

Peter Attia, MD presenting at the Ancestral Health Symposium 2012 (AHS12)

The Straight Dope on Cholesterol

Cholesterol is one of the most misunderstood molecules in the human body. Much like fire, it can be an essential tool for life, if used properly, or a destructive force if allowed to run amok. In this presentation, Peter Attia will explain how the body creates, moves, and utilizes this vital molecule and how what you eat can tip the balance in your favor. By the end of this talk you’ll know more about cholesterol than 99% of the physicians in this country.

Peter Attia is the President and co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI), a California-based 501(c)(3). Peter is also a physician and former McKinsey & Company consultant, where he was a member of both the corporate risk and healthcare practices. Peter earned his M.D. from Stanford University and holds a B.Sc. in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, where he also taught and helped design the calculus curriculum.


27 Replies to “Dr Peter Attia – The Straight Dope on Cholesterol and Diet”

  1. Psi Clops

    I am confused about the idea of lowering triglycerides. What I want to know, and what I come to these sorts of videos to learn, is what is the "sweet spot"? The medical establishment says triglycerides should be between 4-149 mg/dcl. I test consistently right around 100 and figured I was in the sweet spot since I exercise a lot and eat a plant-based diet (but do eat eggs) and my blood work comes back as being really good. So would Dr Attia suggest I need to lower my triglycerides further? Do I have too many boats (my LDLs test at 84 mg/dcl)? I am more confused, not less.

    And then what does Dr Attia have to say to this study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11108325? The study compared high carb and low carb patients and the low carb patients had much worse heart disease at the end and the high carb patients reversed their heart disease and their arteries got clearer.

    I watch a lot of videos on health and nutrition and heart disease and the like. It's become a hobby actually. This lecture flies in the face of some, but not all, of what I have seen. I do agree that LDL-P is a problem, but I'm not sure that this lecture gets to the right conclusions. What I want to hear are the "sweet spots" of blood chemistry, and that is missing from all of these discussions. Again, why lower triglycerides when they are in the middle of the guidelines?

  2. Carroll Hoagland

    Simple … The AMA (the most powerful lobby in Washington) and NIH have failed the patient … Physicians have abandoned the nutritional approach to patient diagnostics and medicine, simply because they are not trained in nutrition. A key part of the Hippocratic Oath … “I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure… “, has been forgotten … Doctors have allowed themselves to be "Trained" by Big Pharma and the Chemical Industry, and this is under the purview of the AMA and NIH. Doctors cannot answer simple nutritional questions … irony. 70 Going On 100.

  3. Mobius Trip

    It's amazing that biologists have Sussed out the science of molecular chemistry and yet the food industrial complex is still dominating the food pyramid and telling us that carbs are great and that eating fat will kill you by heart attack or a stroke. Ironic!!!

  4. Vladimir Putin

    My take is there's a lot of doctors contradicting each other. Then people start arguing over who is right and who is wrong. It's becoming like politics. I have a sister that tells my brother he is over weight because he eats meat every day. That same over weight brother tells my sister that Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) gave himself cancer from eating rice… It's getting ridiculous.

  5. Cill P

    i lost 40pounds/20 kg on a LCHF/keto diet- very happy,…. soon after i had my cholesterol checked, because i have these fatty deposits on my eye lids (xanthoma), and it was very high (7?) although "good" and "bad" were at similar levels- my doctor freaked out. That was a year ago, since i've been eating a bit of bread, mostly HFLC, and cholesterol dropped a little….
    Any tips on getting rid of Xanthoma? Or making them not grow any more? could they be from all my coconut oil and butter?

  6. Bill DeFalco

    Important Information for anyone taking statin medication:

    Taking Statin Drugs should be Completely Avoided – lest you literally lose your mind!

    Statin Drugs and their correlation with the dramatic rise in Alzheimer’s disease
    Twenty years ago – prior to the large scale introduction of Lipitor and the subsequent similar Statin Drugs for treating high cholesterol, the incidences of Alzheimer’s disease were very rare. But now, after the widespread proliferation of Statin Drugs over the past 20 years, a new case of Alzheimer’s is diagnosed every 68 seconds.

    Do Statins Cause Alzheimer’s?
    Source: Health Impact News
    Web Link: http://healthimpactnews.com/2012/the-clue-to-why-low-fat-diet-and-statins-may-cause-alzheimers/

    Section 5 –
    There is a clear reason why statins would promote Alzheimer’s. They cripple the liver’s ability to synthesize cholesterol, and as a consequence the level of LDL in the blood plummets. Cholesterol plays a crucial role in the brain, both in terms of enabling signal transport across the synapse [50] and in terms of encouraging the growth of neurons through healthy development of the myelin sheath [45]. Nonetheless, the statin industry proudly boasts that statins are effective at interfering with cholesterol production in the brain [31][47] as well as in the liver.

    Yeon-Kyun Shin is an expert on the physical mechanism of cholesterol in the synapse to promote transmission of neural messages, and one of the authors of [50] referenced earlier. In an interview by a Science Daily reporter, Shin said: “If you deprive cholesterol from the brain, then you directly affect the machinery that triggers the release of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters affect the data-processing and memory functions. In other words — how smart you are and how well you remember things.”

    I've found a Very Effective Alternative to statin medication and all prescription heart medication – Essential Eternity from SISEL International – the first and still the only Effective Resveratrol formulation –

    Speaking from my own personal experience, and after trying numerous "Resveratrol supplements" for over 4 years without seeing any improvement in my Cholesterol and Triglycerides levels (as measured in the regular periodic blood tests I've been having for the past 25 years) I can positively confirm that SISEL International has developed the Best and the Most Effective Way to Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride levels – without the need (and the associated health risks) of taking Statin Drugs. SISEL's Eternity and their caffeine-free Essential Eternity (my personal preference) are the Only Effective Resveratrol supplements on the market. Both of these breakthrough products incorporate a Patented Resveratrol Delivery System, which maintains the High Potency of the Resveratrol that all but virtually totally lost in all other "Resveratrol supplements" due to oxidation.

    You can listen to the story of my incredible recovery from Heart Disease at: http://globalteampros.com/impact.html
    – Scroll the page about 1/3 of the way down to listen to my amazing story.

    For more information on Essential Eternity visit: https://gfe.mysisel.com/en/US/shopping#/details/4336/essential-eternity-750ml

  7. Ben Nguyen

    Dr. Peter Attia and Chris Masterjohn, Ph.D are my favorite cholesterol experts!

    At the 5m12s mark, he says corn has more phytosterols than all but one other plant.. what's the other plant?

    Not exactly cholesterol related, but what are your thoughts on the the insulin model of obesity popularized by Gary Taubes? i.e. eating carbs, leads to chronic elevated insulin in the blood, which leads fat gain and insulin resistance? I know many researchers say the evidence doesn’t support the model (ex. http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2016/01/testing-insulin-model-response-to-dr.html ) but would love to hear your take!

  8. Andrew Clancy

    Well it certainly is brave to use this information as the basis for eating an 80-90% fat diet.

    Where in nature is it even possible to eat like that? To the HFLC Paleo folks: how could our ancestors have ever done that? I think the answers are that it isn't, and they couldn't. We can eat all or mostly fat these days thanks to technology and economic realities of our modern world, but in evolutionary terms, processed oils, butter, animal domestication etc are not factors. They are modern inventions.

    What seems likely to me is that HFLC is a hack, and only by some fluke of nature will that have purely positive health consequences. I can't discount that we learn some valuable things here, but the healthiest human populations eat whole foods and little or no meat, and the more meat and processed foods people eat the worse they do, and I sure wouldn't want to be the contrarian guinea pig.

  9. rmcdaniel423

    I'm a PA in family practice. First year of practice. My supervising physician gave me a clinical pearl that is not mired in deep statistics. Quick and dirty. She said, in general, it would be good to see if the patient's LDL (on a basic lipid profile) was less than their HDLx2. And to look at that equation with an eye toward the HDL because it is a stronger predictor of healthy lifestyle in general.

    Also, in my brief new career, EVERY time I have see really high triglycerides, it was in the context of fat, sedentary, poorly controlled diabetics. Take that bit of anecdotal evidence for whatever you think it means.

  10. Thomas Baird

    Neither cholesterol nor saturated fat cause heart disease. Credit Suisse sum up this 1950s myth in a recent report:

    "A proper review of the so called “fat paradoxes” (France, Israel and Japan) suggests that saturated fats are actually healthy and omega-6 fats, at current levels of consumption in the developed world, are not.

    The big concern regarding eating cholesterol-rich foods (e.g. eggs) is completely without foundation. There is basically no link between the cholesterol we eat and the level of cholesterol in our blood. This was already known thirty years ago and has been confirmed time and time again. Eating cholesterol rich foods has no negative effect on health in general or on risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), in particular."


    Furthermore, a recent study out of Brazil concluded:

    "Dietary recommendations to avoid full-fat dairy intake are not supported by our findings," the researchers conclude.

    The study of more than 15,000 civil servants in Brazil examined the connection between the types of dairy products people consume and their likelihood to suffer from metabolic syndrome. The syndrome is characterized by high blood pressure, high blood sugar, belly fat, and risky levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.

    What the researchers found is that consumption of full-fat dairy products such as whole milk, as well as butter and yogurt, was associated with lower likelihood of the risk factors that make up metabolic syndrome. Consumption of low-fat dairy products, by contrast, was not associated with this health advantage, the researchers noted. The study was supported by the Brazilian Ministry of Health and the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation."


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