In Episode #216, I sit down with Dr David Jenkins to discuss the relationship between blood cholesterol levels and health.
Cholesterol levels are concerningly high among populations consuming a standard Western diet – as I write in my book The Proof is in the Plants LDL cholesterol levels in both Australia and America are about twice as high as the optimal level where people have healthy arteries. We know that cholesterol is an essential component of the human body — but why is it best to avoid it rising above optimal levels? And what dietary changes can we make to promote optimal cholesterol levels? Dr David Jenkins answers this question and much more in today’s episode.
Dr David Jenkins is a professor at the University of Toronto, a staff physician in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, the Director of the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Center, and a scientist in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute. His focus is the use of diet in the prevention of hyperlipidemia and diabetes, and he has published over 300 publications on this and adjacent topics. As an exceptionally accomplished professor, physician, and researcher, Dr Jenkins is very well positioned to give informed insight to the topic of cholesterol.
In this episode, we dig into cholesterol and the health implications of being exposed to high levels. We discuss the Portfolio Diet and the key findings Dr Jenkins has produced through his varies studies looking at this dietary pattern. Dr Jenkins also shares his specific recommendations on how and what to eat for optimal cholesterol levels, as well as how medication compares to a lifestyle approach.
Specifically, we cover:
- Intro [0:00]
- Researching Cholesterol & Diet [2:35]
- What this means for you [15:00]
- Weight Loss Factor [17:23]
- The Portfolio Diet Explained [20:14]
- Nuts & Seeds [30:37]
- Weight [39:45]
- Raising HDL [44:45]
- Plant Sterols [50:51]
- Should We Eat Fish? [58:52]
- Statins [1:07:49]
- Outro [1:11:22]
Dr Jenkins offers a lifetime of experience and expertise in today’s episode. I hope you found this conversation clarifying and informative.
You can learn more about Dr Jenkins and discover his publications on his University of Toronto profile. To view or purchase his daughter’s book, The Portfolio Diet for Cardiovascular Disease Risk Reduction, you can do so here. To download the Dietary Portfolio PDF that Simon mentions go here.
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More about David Jenkins, MD, PhD, DSc
Dr. David J.A. Jenkins is an University Professor, in the Departments of Nutritional Sciences and Medicine at the University of Toronto, a staff physician in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, the Director of the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Center, and a Scientist in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto. He was educated at Oxford University, obtaining his DM, DPhil and DSc. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London) and of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada. He has served on committees in Canada and the United States that formulated nutritional guidelines for the treatment of diabetes and recommendations for fiber and macronutrient intake under the joint US-Canada DRI system (RDAs) of the National Academy of Sciences. He also served as a member of Agriculture Canada’s Science Advisory Board (2004-2009) on the future direction of Canada’s agriculture and agricultural research. He has spent much time working with the food industry to develop products for the supermarket shelf and, for example, helped to initiate Loblaw’s (Canada’s largest supermarket chain) ‘Too Good To Be True’ and most recently their popular “Blue Menu” line of products (for cardio metabolic health). His research area is the use of diet in the prevention and treatment of hyperlipidemia and diabetes. He has over 300 original publications on these and related topics. His team was the first to define and explore the concept of the glycemic index of foods and demonstrate the breadth of metabolic effects of viscous soluble fiber, including blood glucose and cholesterol lowering. His group developed the cholesterol-lowering concept of the dietary portfolio that has entered guidelines in many jurisdictions (e.g. CCS, Heart UK etc.). He believes in the therapeutic value of plant-based diets and that diets have to be environmentally sustainable.
Effects of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods vs lovastatin on serum lipids and C-reactive protein PMID: 12876093
Effect of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods given at 2 levels of intensity of dietary advice on serum lipids in hyperlipidemia: a randomized controlled trial PMID: 21862744
The Dietary Portfolio PDF that Simon mentions during this conversation can be found here