Determining Coronary Heart Disease Risk with Cholesterol Levels and Ratios.

This is my second post on cholesterol. 

I’ll link my previous post about the basics of cholesterol here.

In this post I’ll cover cholesterol in more depth, including the important of ratios, total cholesterol, and more. 

The last post included the more widely recognized cholesterol numbers as they relate to risk factors for atherosclerosis, an indicator for coronary heart disease (CHD). The Editor and Chief of the American College of Cardiology said over a decade ago that he recommends an upper total cholesterol of 150 mg/dl or 60 mg/dl of LDL Cholesterol (average vegan) and that all other factors aren’t as a accurate of predictor of CHD as total cholesterol. 

What’s the importance of HDL Cholesterol as it relates to LDL Cholesterol?

Well High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol is thought to be the “good” cholesterol. This is because while HDL and Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL), “bad” have a relationship, HDL acts as a cleaner by moving through blood vessels and sticking to the LDL and carrying them out of the body.

You may have heard that in the past, but even this has hidden truth. That is, while HDL is better it is not necessarily “good” because even it acts to increase the risk factor of developing atherosclerosis. You see, there are many different sizes of the HDL and LDL Cholesterol. Larger soft LDL is thought to be better because it is more easily transported by HDL, while this may be true, with a more in-depth look at the science, soft LDL increases CHD risk by %44 compared to 63% of the small dense LDL Cholesterol. As for HDL, well even it increases CHD risk by up %54.

Me? I want zero risk personally. 

The Optimal Ratio of HDL to Total Cholesterol

One predictor used to measure CHD risk is the ratio of HDL to total cholesterol. This is thought to be a better predictor of CHD risk factor than HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio. The recommended minimum ratio of HDL total cholesterol is below 5, optimal being below 3.5 according to the American Heart Association who aren’t known for their strict guidelines.

What’s the Best Predictor of CHD? 

There are a couple other suggested tools for predicting your risk factors of CHD. Along with cholesterol as a tool, triglyceride levels are commonly used, and a test to review your C-reactive protein are all useful indicators of your bodies level of overall internal health. C-reactive protein gives you an indicator of the overall inflammation in your body and the triglycerides tells you how much free flowing fat there is in your blood stream. 

The two best tools that require short test from you doctor are you total cholesterol levels and the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol. 

Optimally, a cholesterol level below 150 mg/dl and a total to HDL cholesterol ratio of below 3.5 are our best known guarantee to make you heart attack proof. The reason both should be used together as predictors of CHD risk is because even HDL cholesterol isn’t harmless and as your total cholesterol rises it’s impossible to escape declining heard disease risk, even if your ratios are optimal. 

Cholesterol is Important

Our bodies make all the cholesterol we need. It serves important roles in the body; creating hormones is the commonly known one. When we don’t eat cholesterol we still have some in our bodies and this is the same for when we are born at birth as is for our fellow primates too. Though cholesterol is important it’s good to remember that the worlds #1 killer around is coronary heart disease and the #1 predictor of heart disease is atherosclerosis a cause of cholesterol.

Thank You 

Choose foods without any cholesterol. It so happens that plants don’t contain cholesterol and the only “food” that has cholesterol is animal products.

The top food groups are:

  1. Fruits
  2. Vegetables
  3. Starches – Potatoes, whole, and sprouted grains
  4. Legumes
  5. Nuts & Seeds
  6. No oil
  7. Lots of water

I hope this information finds you well and if it doesn’t consider talking to your doctor to get checked with a simple blood test. 

Please like, share, and subscribe! 

Thank You!

Carson McQuarrie



All Plants Contain Complete Proteins and Harvard & AHA are Wrong.

Let’s dispel the myths, make visible the truth, and correct the wrong.

This will be a longer post and will include many citations, but it was great fun reading researching, and writing. I hope you find this fascinating 🙂 

This is certainly a popular topic when it comes to diet. A common concern of eating healthfully often includes questions about eating enough protein and consuming complete proteins in a meal, especially when your vegan.

A Step Back In History

It has been thought by some (even “experts”) that most plants lack one or more of the essential amino acids and therefore it’s necessary to carefully combine foods to get a complete protein in a single meal and throughout the day. mary-john-mcdougall

In a 2002 publication John McDoougal quoted and referenced fact that the essential 8 amino acid requirements were set by William Rose and colleges as early as 1952 by evaluating their maximum subjects’ needs, then they doubled the value to come up with the publicized “Recommended Amino Acid Requirements”  which were also considered safe.

Another bit of history regarding protein completeness I must include comes from Caldwell Esselstyne son RIP Esselstyn. In RIPs’ book My Beef with Meat he included some history from French Canadian vegan dietitian Francess Moore Lappe who in the 1971 published her book Diet for a Small Planet. She included her recommendation to carefully combine plant foods to meet the your daily requirements of protein, when adopting a vegan diet.

Is was at this point that misinformation spread.

In Francesses’ republication of the same book 10 years later, she retracted her stance on the concern saying;

“In combating the myth that meat is the only way to get high-quality protein, I reinforced another myth. I gave the impression that in order to get enough protein without meat, considerable care was needed in choosing foods. Actually, it is much easier than I thought”.

She went on to say;

“Plant protein can meet protein requirements when a variety of plant foods is consumed and energy needs are met. Research indicates that an assortment of plant foods eaten over the course of a day can provide all essential amino acids and ensure adequate nitrogen retention and use in healthy adults; thus, complimentary proteins do not need to be comsumed at the same meal.”

Basically, it’s impossible to be protein deficient unless your eating a really restricted diet that’s not meeting your calorie requirements.

The definition for protein deficiency is Kwashiorker and it’s definition is tied to insufficient calorie intake.

The American Heart Association has it Wrong

In Circulation, the AHAs scientific journal they published their recommendations for human protein requirements saying most plants are deficient in one or more amino acid and therefore not complete.

John McDougal wrote a letter of correction requesting it be fixed.

After 2 letters Barbara Howard would not budge and responded by citing protein expert Joe Millward PhD, Professor of Human Nutrition, University of Surrey (England). But after being contacted by John and reviewing the letters of dispute Joe responded to John July 10 2003;

“I thought I had made my position quite clear in my published papers. In an article I wrote for Encyclopedia of Nutrition (Millward DJ. 1998  Protein requirements. Encyclopedia of Nutrition. Academic Press pp  1661-1668) I said ‘Contrary to general opinion, the distinction between dietary protein sources in terms of the nutritional superiority of animal over plant proteins is much more difficult to demonstrate and less relevant in human nutrition.’  This is quite distinct from the AHA position which in my view is wrong.”

Barbara Howard was forwarded a copy of emails, but remains silent.

In an different review  (page 259)of the completeness of plant protein in a vegetarian diet Millward said;

However, whatever the inadequacies of such diets, amino acid supply should not be used as the argument to promote increased intake of animal foods.

Harvard has it Wrong

Vegetarians need to be aware of this. People who don’t eat meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or dairy products need to eat a variety of protein-containing foods each day in order to get all the amino acids needed to make new protein.

This is straight from the Harvard School of Public Healths‘ current stance on protein. golubicBanner

I’ll combat this public health statement by quoting Mladen Golubic, MD, PhD who’s the Medical Director for the Center for Lifestyle Medicine. He specializes in lifestyle medicine, cardiovascular disease reversal, and integrative medicine approaches to lifestyle-related cancer management.

On April 4, 2014 Mladen was interviewed on a number of topics regarding a plant based diet. A viewer online asked;

“How much protein is really needed? My nutritionist told me that I should get 64 grams per day (.8 g/kg)—which is about 15 percent of my total calories daily. But T. Colin Campbell, PhD said that 10 percent is adequate and more than that may be undesirable… Others say that 20 percent is best for an active person. Is there any consensus on this?”

Mladen responded;

Several similar questions about the adequacy of protein intake for people eating fully plant-based diet have been posted by others. If you eat a variety of whole foods of plant origin (vegetables, legumes, 100 percent whole grains and fruits) and not refined food-like products, it is very unlikely that you could be deficient in protein intake, even if your needs are higher (after major surgery, for example). In other words, if you get enough calories from whole plant foods, you get enough protein.

The more protein—especially animal protein—one eats, the higher the risk of different chronic diseases.

Not too add to the controversy but it’s basically impossible to be protein deficient!

People who literally die of starvation don’t die of protein deficiency, they die of fat deficiency. Their body literally runs out of fat reserves and thus they have no energy to sustain life.

The WHO and PCRM have it Right

The World Health Organization, a Public Health Agency of the UN established in 1948 more recently published a technical report Protein and Amino Acid Requirements for Human Nutrition.

In the report summary (page 243) they recommended 58 grams/day of protein for 70kg adult men and woman which equates to .8grams/kg. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine also advises .8grams/kg of body weight.

WHO continued to state;

“No safe upper limit has been identified, it is unlikely that intakes of twice the safe level are associated with any risk. However, caution is advised to those contemplating the very high intakes of 3–4 times the safe intake, since such intakes approach the tolerable upper limit and cannot be assumed to be risk-free.”


Well I’ll leave it their but I would like to not a couple things.

People often say “I feel I need protein”. Personally I know it not to be true that people can actually tell if their body needs protein but I do respect peoples’ enjoyment of how protein makes them feel.

Plant proteins are one of the densest source of fiber (one indication we’re not meant to subside heavily on it) which makes people feel fuller longer and people tend to like that.

Don’t mistake this reason with animal protein which is accompanied by lots of fat, particularly saturated fat (unhealthy) which is heavy because it contains 9 grams of fat per calorie. Carbohydrate and protein only has 4 calories per gram.

I hope you enjoyed this read and didn’t find it too dense. Don’t hesitate to read the citations if you want more fascinating information.

I enjoyed writing this.

Please subscribe, like, and share!

Carson McQuarrie




My Journey to a Vegan Diet (& Lifestyle) Part 2


In this part 2 of my story on my journey to a vegan diet and lifestyle I will be going over my actual transition. 

Previously I’ve written about my Pre-Transition Diet. The 3rd and final part of this series I will cover my ideal diet of the future so stay tuned. 

My Transition

I remember meeting a new coworker, Courtney, where I work at Mountain Equipment Co-op. I heard she ran ultra marathons which are races longer than a marathon and can be hundreds of kilometers. This was something I had never heard of, even more out of my consciousness was a vegan diet. 

I literally barely had an inclination of what a vegetarian was! In fact I have one vegetarian friend and had previously never asked why and thought it was weird. 

Note. A vegan diet is one that completely abstains from any animal products for food consumption.

A vegetarian diet is typically one that abstains from meat and poultry but still contains eggs, dairy, and fish. 

Lacto-vegetarian abstains from all animal products for diet except for diary.

Pesco-vegetarian abstains from all animal products except for fish. 

And finally, ovo-vegetarian abstains from all animal products except eggs (chicken periods). 

Even less known is a raw vegan or fruitarian diet which contains simply and only fruits and vegetables. Yes, a raw vegan/fruitarian diet is also inherently vegan. 

I of course wanted to know about theses races Courtney was running and just as naturally as people ask me, I asked what she ate which is when I learned she has been vegan for 6 years all while completing these races. 

This literally blew my mind. I wish she took a polaroid of my face when she said she doesn’t eat any animal products haha

At this same time I was training to complete my first triathlon, just to say I did one. But, I remember about a month leading up to the race my performance during training was getting progressively worse. My energy was plummeting, especially after swimming.  I was determined to complete this race though but I secretly hid the fact that I was feeling borderline lethargic at times. 

I remember on mornings that I had to remember to eat toast and jam instead of peanut butter because if I didn’t have that sugar from jam I was gonna be falling asleep at work. Literally, at lunch time sometimes I’d finish eating my turkey patties, feel full, but ABSOLUTELY no energy and especially had no idea how I was going to go on the work to floor help members. 

If this is what the Atkins, The Zone, or Paleo diet feel like then I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy! 

The problem was that I was restricting carbs and now I feast on carbohydrate rich plant foods and have ran/hiked for 10hrs over Revelstoke Mt. in B.C. Canada for 55km and will cycle 5500km across Canada under 30 days this summer on fruits. 

Moving on, I finished the triathlon knowing that something was wrong with my diet and it needed to change, but how? 1947843_10153923379517646_5528479915708150612_n

After telling Courtney this she challenged em to go two weeks without dairy. I used to drink 3-6 medium/large glasses a day. I didn’t tell her at first but I decided to take it on. I began researching it and could tell that there was something to this diet and lifestyle. Testimonials from youtubers such as Durianrider & Freelee the Banana Girl got me interested, science from got me intellectually reasonable, and animal welfare from the film Earthings got me compassionate.12079471_10154197878302646_3188347098311797273_n

I recognized health benefits and decided that it was worth making the rest of the switch overnight. Which mark the day of a vegan diet July 20th, 2014.

Upon consulting Courtney on what to eat I began eating comfort foods to fill me up. Reading that most people fail on a vegan diet because they don’t eat enough calories I began eating more toast with jam, rice crisps with peanut butter, wedge fries, and more rice with tomatoes sauce or white pasta. Whatever I could get my hands on I would eat but I still didn’t like avocados. These habits lasted for about a month. Why-should-you-eat-a-Full-Ripe-Banana-with-Dark-patches

I continued and began to learn more food options to which I began buying bulk bananas and making banana smoothies. This was a milestone. The rich hydrating carbohydrate has had a big effect on my energy and awareness in a way that  has allowed to me grow in other positive ways. To this day I feel so much better starting the day with a fruit smoothie. 

I was fortunate to do science based research from the start and knew that even though some of the foods I was eating had more fat a predominately carbohydrate rich diet was healthier. I was feeling better too. images20160120_164050.jpg

Today img_20160209_183921.jpg

After being vegan for almost 2 years at this point my diet is predominately fruits, but I also eat a variety of other plant foods such as grains, vegetables, legumes, starches, and juices, milks, and sometimes more processed bread spreads, snacks, and junk foods.  I find these do change in proportion to each other from day to day and a bit season to season. 


Well thank you for reading my story. 

This was a long one but probably the most revealing. I look forward to telling you what my ideal diet of the future would be. 

Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. 

Thank You,

Carson McQuarrie