Lyon Diet Heart Study

The Approach

An American Heart Association Science Advisory summary of the Lyon Diet Heart Study starts with these words, “Diet is a cornerstone of cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention and treatment efforts.”   The Lyon diet that was the focus of this studied emphasized foods that are considered to be part of the Mediteranean Diet.

The Components

The experimental diet was high in fruits, root vegetables, cereal grains and breads, nuts, seeds, and beans.  Low to moderate fish and poultry were consumed instead of pork and red meat.   Olive oil, canola oil, and a special magerine that contained a higher amount of omega 3’s and no hydrogenated oils were used to add oil and fats to foods.

Looking at the Facts

Subjects tested in this study had already had warning signs of or experienced heart problems.  The goal was to see if the Lyons diet could decrease risk of a second cardiovascular episode.

Compared to the control group that ate more of a traditional American diet, the experimental group had a 50-70% decrease in risk for a second cardiovascular event.  These results were remarkable and show once again that diet has an enormous effect on our health and disease prevention.  This can be a ray of hope for people who want to decrease their risk of a second heart attack.

The TLC Diet

Get Some TLC

To help people on the road to lower cholesterol naturally the goverment has created the TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) diet.  This diet is designed to help the typical American drop their cholesterol naturally.  The government suggests that doctors first recommend the TLC diet, for those who do not have heart disease, to help their patients lower their cholesterol before trying medication.  This is a great approach for people who would like to avoid medication.  Success rates are good, especially if the diet is started early.

Get to Know the TLC Diet

Below are some of the components of the TLC diet:

  • Reduced intakes of saturated fats, 7% of total calories
  • cholesterol, 200mg/d
  • Theraputic options -increased viscous(soluble) fiber; plant sterols and stanol
  • Weight Reduction
  • Increased Physical Activity

It Really Works!

Diet has been refered to as the “cornerstone” in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.  It is important to take heart and cardiovascular disease seriously and heed the diet recommendations of our doctors and government agencies.  In this case, implementing a good diet may not only help us avoid medications that can carry side effects, but you are likely to experience positive side effects by eating better and getting more exercise.  It’s a win-win situation.

Diet for Syndrome X (Metabolic Syndrome)

An Unknown Disease

Syndrome X, now known as metabolic syndrome, is a combination of high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol and insulin resistence.  Over 27 million Americans are believed to have metabolic syndrome.  This syndrome can contribute to many diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. 

The best prevention and treatment of Syndrome X seems to be diet and exercise.  The research seems to lean toward a diet high in whole foods to combat metabolic syndrome.  One of the best studied diets is the Mediterranean diet.

A Taste of the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean diet is high in grains, beans, vegetables and fruit.  The main animals foods are fish and poultry.  It is a diet higher in fat than the American diet with olive oil as a main source of fat.  With a concentration on whole food and fish, the diet is higher in many of the nutrients needed for heart health such as: omega 3, beta carotene, vitamin C and E, potassium and maganesium.

Beneficial Foods

Nuts and seeds also show benefits against the metabolic syndrome.  One study showed that nuts combined with the meditteranean diet could be a useful tool in managing metabolic syndrome.  Nuts and seeds can be great snacks and help you avoid nutritionally devoid snacks like chips and high sugar snacks.

What Are Some Good Foods to Eat for Healthy Cholesterol Levels?

Healthy Tips

High fiber vegetable source foods are best for a cholesterol lowering diet.  This includes beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.  In addition to fiber, all of these have natural phytochemicals (plant chemicals) which are beneficial to your heart health and your overall well-being.

Protein Sources

Use beans and whole grain recipes for dinner to substitute the protein you would normally get from animal meat.  This greatly reduces the amount of animal fat and cholesterol you take in, which is an automatic plus for your heart.  On top of that, both beans and whole grains are very fiber-rich.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Cold water fish like salmon and tuna, flax seeds, and walnuts are great sources of heart healthy Omega 3 fatty acids.  These natural fatty acids are proven to help lower cholesterol.  Keeping these foods in your diet are a must, but they should all be eaten with moderation.

Look for “Good” Fats

Utilize olive oil as one of your main sources of fat.  Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, which means it is naturally good for your heart.  Avoid solid fats like butter and lard as often as possible, because they are saturated fats.  Saturated fats are often partially to blame for weight gain and high cholesterol.  Olive oil, however, has been proven to help lower cholesterol.

Avoid Salt

Spice it up with herbs and spices instead of salt and other sodium- or fat-rich seasonings.  Herbs and spices can be just as effective, and often give you a wider range of flavors.  There are countless combinations to pick from to fit any taste!

Be Smart About Dairy

Cut down on the amount of cheese you consume.  This can be a large source of saturated fat consumed in a day.  If you still want to include it, try going for fat-free or skim-milk options.  Normally, the difference between whole cheeses and low-fat options are small.

Be Smart About Processed Flours and Sugar

Eat less white flour and sugar, which can increase insulin secretion thereby increasing cholesterol production.  Whole grains are not only a source beneficial fiber as stated above, but are lower in harmful sugars and have less empty calories.  You get even more benefits for fewer drawbacks.

Learn how to make a healthier butter by mixing Nutrim with your butter.  Watch the video recipe available on our website by following this link .

Great snacks:

  •  carrots and humus
  •  any whole fruit
  •  black bean and corn salsa (loaded with beans and corn)
  •  unsalted trail mix with nuts, seeds, and dried fruits
  •  celery sticks and almond butter
Educate Yourself

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. It is also one of the main causes of death in Canada and is killing more and more people throughout the world.  Learning the ins and outs of this disease now can help you avoid major health problems down the road.

Dietary advice for reducing heart disease risk includes eating a balanced diet with less saturated fat from red meats, more fresh fruits and vegetables, more fish, less sugar, more fiber and for many people, fewer total calories. Then you can make your heart and the rest of your cardiovascular system even healthier by adding more of these foods:


Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids that protect your heart by reducing both inflammation and the risk of blood clots. These fats also work to keep your cholesterol levels healthy along with lowering triglycerides. Eat salmon or other oily ocean fish like tuna, sardines or herring at least two times per week. For a heart-healthy meal, try grilled salmon steaks with a green vegetable and a side salad with a sprinkling of lemon juice instead of high-calorie salad dressing.

Olive Oil

Olive oil reduces your risk of heart disease by lowering your LDL cholesterol levels. Choose olive oil for cooking, or make a nice dip for whole grain bread by pouring a bit of olive oil in a small bowl and add a bit of balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of oregano.


Oats contain a soluble fiber called beta glucan that helps reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Soluble fiber also helps keep your digestive system healthy. Enjoy oatmeal with just a small amount of brown sugar and plenty of strawberries and walnuts for breakfast. Cold cereals made with oats are also great with low-fat milk or soy milk plus slices of fresh fruit.


Apples contain a phytochemical called quercetin which acts as an antiinflammatory and will help prevent blood clots as well. Apples contain vitamins and fiber, come in several delicious varieties and are portable. Eat an apple with a handful of walnuts or almonds as a healthy snack or add apple slices to your healthy salads.  Apples are very versatile, and their fiber content helps to make them filling.


Almonds and other nuts contain healthy oils, vitamin E and other substances that will help keep cholesterol levels in check. Almonds are also a good source of protein and fiber. Almonds make a great snack on their own, or sprinkle slivered almonds on green beans or asparagus with lemon juice as a deliciously healthy side dish.  The possibilities with the beneficial nut are practically endless.

Red Wine

Red wine contains a powerful antioxidant called resveratrol. Resveratrol has been shown to be good for your heart. Be sure to enjoy red wine in moderation.  While studies show that only 4 to 8 ounces of red wine is needed each day, it can be a healthy way to add elegance to a meal.

Whole Grains

Whole grains provide vitamins and fiber that will help to keep your heart healthy. Make a deliciously healthy sandwich with two slices of 100-percent whole-grain bread, three ounces of lean turkey breast, lots of sliced tomatoes and avocado, plus lettuce and a bit of low-fat mustard. Switch from white pasta to whole grain pasta too.  Whole grain pastas are just as versatile and delicious as white pastas, but the benefits are much higher.

Green Leafy Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables contain folate, which helps to keep homocysteine levels down, and vitamin E. Green leafy vegetables have also been associated with better retention of memory as age. Try using fresh spinach leaves or other greens for your favorite salad instead of iceberg lettuce.  Another benefit of these is that many of them are good sources of fiber, which is always good to incorporate in a healthy diet.


Tomatoes are packed with vitamins and lycopene, which has been shown to reduce heart disease risk. Add thick slices of tomatoes to sandwiches and salads or enjoy low-sodium tomato sauce on whole wheat pasta. In fact, cooked tomato sauce and canned tomato sauce that you buy in the store both contain more lycopene than raw tomatoes.  Be sure to try and find low-sodium options, though, because tomato products can often be very high in sodium.


Soy protein has been shown to prevent heart attacks and soy makes an excellent protein substitute for red meat, which will reduce your saturated fat intake. Add tofu to your favorite stir fry or pour soy milk on your morning cereal.  Soy is rich in isoflavones, which are very helpful in regulating cholesterol levels and improving heart health.  Soy is also very versatile, and can be eaten as meat replacement, in beverages, or as a snack in the form of soy nuts.

Why is My Doctor So Set on Using Medications to Lower My Cholesterol?

Addressing the Issue

I will not pretend I know the answer to this question, but I can give some of my opinions on the matter.

Doctors for years have been telling us to eat right and exercise.  For most of those years we have taken a very American stance and asked them kindly to mind their own buisness and give us a pill.  Over time, I think they may have become tired of saying this and have slowed down or even stopped.  It is also possible that they don’t believe people are really going to do the work needed to make a change.  It’s hard to blame them, though, when you look at the lifestyles a lot of Americans enjoy today.

Doctors and Diets

Doctors do not normally receive extensive training in nutrition and diet.  Sometimes just a one day course or a one semester class is all that is required to graduate medical schools.  Registered dietitians are underutilized and the possibilities of lowering cholesterol naturally through diet has become almost impossible without properly trained help.  By working with your doctor, it can be possible to make lifestyle changes rather than take medication.  However, it will require a lot of work and more than a little outside help. 

The Changes You Make

The benefit of knowing our cholesterol numbers is that we can have insight into our cardiovascular health.  Knowing that our numbers are high should motivate us to make dramatic changes in our diet and lifestyle.  We may become motivated for a short time, but in the long run we often become complacent.  It is difficult to break free from the dependence on fast food and highly processed food.  Not only does it take time to prepare food but the processes of learning how to prepare healthy foods at home seems insurmountable.  With all the misinformation today it can be difficult to tell a good food from a bad food.  Taking care of yourself is an ongoing process, and is also a learning process.  If you keep an open mind and have determination, the lifestyle changes are possible.  However, you have to be able to do some homeword and stick with it.

What Do My Cholesterol Numbers Mean?

So you came back from the doctors office with a page full of numbers and you are trying to make some sense of them.  I am going to try to give a simple breakdown of the main components of the number on a cholesterol blood test.  Hopefully, by the end of this post you’re a little closer to understanding what all of those numbers mean.

Total Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a substance that has many beneficial functions in the body.  When too much is consumed or produced by the body and not enough is removed you can end up with excessive amounts.  Cholesterol can build up in the arteries and cut off blood supply to the heart and other areas of the body.  Having healthy cholesterol levels has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. 

LDL Cholesterol

LDL (low density lipoprotein) is a combination of fat (lipid) and protein. LDL is a carrier for fat and cholesterol. It takes fat and cholesterol from the liver and transports it through the bloodstream. It eventually drops of the fat and cholesterol off at the cells to be utilized. High levels of LDL cholesterol are a major risk factor for coronary heart disease.  The LDL cholesterol number is the main therapeutic target for intervention.  All of the other numbers on your blood test determine what approach the doctor will take in lowering LDL cholesterol.

HDL Cholesterol

HDL runs opposite LDL and carries fat and cholesterol from the cells, through the bloodstream, and to the liver to be metabolized or excreted. Low levels of HDL in the blood are an independent risk factor for coronary heart disease.  High levels of HDL protect the heart by carrying away cholesterol that could build up in the walls of the arteries. 


Triglyceride is a term that describes a common way fat is found in the body. Triglycerides are three fat molecules attached to another molecule called glycerol. Generally, when the term triglycerides is used in your doctor’s office it refers to the amount of fat found in the blood. There is an association between high triglyceride levels and coronary heart disease.

How Does Too Much Sugar Affect Heart Disease?

Sugar and Insulin

When we eat sugar it is absorbed into the body and makes its way to the bloodstream. The bloodstream then carries the sugar to the cells of the body. When a large amount of sugar is in the bloodstream, the body releases a large amount of insulin. This insulin drives sugar into the cells to be utilized for energy. After a long time of exposure to sugar the cells may become “resistant” to insulin.

The Effects of Sugar

If the cells do not accept insulin, sugar can build up in the bloodstream. High levels of sugar in the bloodstream are toxic to the body. High blood sugar will make changes in the body that make it more difficult for the arteries to open up and can increase the rate at which blood clots.

Sugar will also begin to combine with other substances in the blood, like protein and LDL cholesterol.
When sugar combines with proteins in the walls of the arteries, it can make the arteries more susceptible to atherosclerosis.

Blood Sugar and Your Cholesterol

If sugar combines with LDL cholesterol, it can cause it to become oxidized more easily. Oxidized LDL is much more dangerous than regular LDL and is more likely to build up in the arteries and cause atherosclerosis. LDL levels in diabetics are not that different from nondiabetics, but this oxidized form of LDL can play a greater role in the progression of heart disease.

Diabetics, those that have chronic high blood sugar, also tend to have low HDL “good” cholesterol and high triglycerides. 

Keeping Healthy

Part of the strategy to control your risk for heart disease should involve a restriction of foods that can spike blood sugar levels. We know candy, pop, and pasteries are not good for blood sugar, but refined flours can also have a negative effect on blood sugar. There are also many sources of hidden sugar in foods so make sure to check your labels.

So, You Just Found Out You Have High LDL Cholesterol

Understand the Importance of LDL Cholesterol

If you know someone who has suffered a heart attack or stroke, then the words “You have high LDL cholesterol” from your doctor may have some meaning to you. For the rest of us, the words “high cholesterol” may not conjure up many thoughts or images. Even if you know what cholesterol does in the body, it may not be self evident why high LDL cholesterol should be concerning. While having high cholesterol may not be a death sentence or a guarantee that we will be on medications for the rest of our lives, it does merit concern.

High cholesterol levels can lead to atherosclerosis, which in turn can lead to heart attack and stroke. Heart disease and stroke are the number 1 and number 3 causes of death in America. Heart attacks and stroke can cause some major problems to survivors, as well.  The aftermath can range from small debilitation, to major impairment, to death.

The Positive Power of Oats

All that being said, it is important to remember that atherosclerosis is a progressive state and needs to be addressed by consistent long term changes. There are many lifestyle and diet changes that are recommended to help stop your cholesterol from continuing to rise.  There are also a number of options that can be beneficial for lowering cholesterol. One of the main dietary changes being proclaimed today is the incorporation of soluble fiber from oats to the diet.

In clinical studies soluble fiber from whole oat products has been shown to lower cholesterol. The National Cholesterol Education Program wrote an authoritative document on cholesterol (ATP III).  It recommends dietary changes such as incorporating soluble fiber from oats, lower saturated fat intake and lower cholesterol intake.  It also covers weight management, medication, and other approaches to lowering cholesterol. This document covers a number of other dietary and lifestyle changes that are important to the high cholesterol issue.

Know the Facts

Becoming informed should be your first step in addressing high LDL cholesterol. Ask your doctor for all the information they have available to them.  Also ask about how you can influence your cholesterol through diet and lifestyle choices. Become familiar with organizations like the American Heart Association and the National Cholesterol Education Program. We will also be diligent researchers and provide you with information that is both practical and accurate to help you on your journey to lower LDL cholesterol levels.  It’s our promise to do our best to keep you informed and to help you continue to live a full life, even after cholesterol test results.

ATP III Cholesterol Goals and Risk Factors

These are the levels that are set by the ATP III. They are based on the risk for heart disease found in various studies. Understanding these gives you a notable upper-hand in the fight against high cholesterol and heart disease.

(In mg/dL)

LDL Cholesterol  HDL Cholesterol     Total Cholesterol Triglycerides
<100 Optimal < 40 Low < 200 Desirable < 150 Normal
100-129 above optimal > 60 High 200-239 Borderline High   150-199 Borderline High
130-159 Borderline High      > 240 High 200-499 High
160-189 High                                       > 500 Very High
> 190 Very High       



As we stated in the previous post the main target for whether or not cholesterol therapy is recommended is based on your LDL cholesterol score.

LDL Target Goals

  • Risk Factors LDL Goal (in mg/dL)
  • CHD or CHD Equivalents < 100
  • Multiple Risk Factors (2 or more) < 130
  • 0-1 Risk Factors < 160

CHD Equivalents – As shown in the chart above these modify your LDL Goal

  • Currently having a disease that involves atherosclerosis in other parts of the body (leg, neck, etc)
  • Diabetes
  • A combination of other risk factors that put you at >20% risk of having CHD in the next 10 years.

Risk Factors – These also Modify your LDL Cholesterol Goals

  • Cigarette Smoking
  • High Blood Pressure (>140/90 mmHG or on High blood pressure medication)
  • Low HDL cholesterol (<40 mg/dL)
  • Family History of Early CHD (Father or brother who had a heart attack before age 55 or a mother or sister who had a heart attack before age 65)
  • Age
    • Male:  > 45
    • Female:  > 55


Introduction to Cholesterol

The Ugly Truth

Many people are aware that heart disease is the number one killer in America.  Unfortunately, many do not realize that according to the World Health Organization at least 80% of premature deaths from cardiovascular heart disease and stroke could be prevented.  A healthy diet, regular physical activity and avoiding the use of tobacco are all steps in the right direction.  If you have found out you have high cholesterol and want to lower it naturally, you’re not alone.

The Natural Choice

Many people are using natural means to lower their cholesterol.  Sometimes we just need some help.  Help along the way to encourage us, answer confusing questions, and meet us where we are at.  The family here at Oathealth has walked alongside many extraordinary people that have had dramatic results in improving their health and lowering their cholesterol.

Know Both Sides of the Story

We agree with the most athoritative document on cholesterol in the US (ATP III).  It recommends dietary and lifestyle changes as a first line approach to high cholesterol.  Unfortunately, we’ve noticed that the money spent in support of a natural approach isn’t level with the amount spent promoting synthetic medication. Cholesterol medication advertisements are all over the media.  You hardly ever see ads encouraging adults to pass on an extra serving of beef or to walk a mile.  The natural approach is usually overlooked.  We want to offer some balance.

We Want You to Succeed!

At we spend a lot of time pouring over research and authoritative documents.  The goal is to stay up-to-date, to make sure you offer you the best service  We want you to share in the insight we get from all the information available.  We want to simplify the information and terms associated with heart disease so it is in a language everyone can understand.  We want to equip you with information for your cholesterol lowering jouney.  The Heart Health Blog has been created to make that easier.  This blog is our newest tool to stay connected to you.  We want you to succeed.  We want you to enjoy your meals without hurting your heart.  We want you to live your life to the fullest.  Hopefully, this blog can be just one more tool that helps bring you closer.