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To track small LDL, track blood sugar

Posted Dec 23 2009 10:09am
Here's a trick I learned after years of fussing over people's small LDL.

To gain better control over small LDL, follow blood sugars (blood glucose).

When you think about it, all the foods that trigger increases in blood sugar also trigger small LDL. Carbohydrates, in general, are the most potent triggers of small LDL. The most offensive among the carbohydrates: foods made with wheat. After wheat, there's foods made with cornstarch, sucrose (table sugar), and the broad categories of "other" carbohydrates, such as oats, barley, quinoa, sorghum, bulghur, etc.

Assessing small LDL requires a full lipoprotein assessment in which small LDL particles are measured (NMR, VAP, GGE). Not the easiest thing to do in the comfort of your kitchen.

However, you can easily and now cheaply check your blood sugar. Because blood sugar parallels small LDL, checking blood sugar can provide insight into how you respond to various foods and know whether glucose/small LDL have been triggered.

Here's how I suggest patients to do it:

1) Purchase an inexpensive blood glucose monitor at a discounter like Walmart or Walgreen's. You can buy them now for about $10. They're even sometimes free with promotional offers. You will also need to purchase lancets and test strips.

2) With a meal in question, check a blood sugar just prior to the meal, then again 60 minutes after finishing the meal. Say, for example, your pre-meal blood sugar is 102 mg/dl. You eat your meal, check it 60 minutes after finishing. Ideally, the postprandial (after-meal) blood sugar is no more than 120 mg/dl.

Perhaps you're skeptical that oatmeal in skim milk with walnuts and raisins will do any damage. So you perform this routine with your breakfast. Blood sugar beforehand: 100 mg/dl. Blood sugar 1 hour post: 163 mg/dl--Uh oh, not good for you. And small LDL will be triggered.

This approach is not perfect. It will not, for example, identify "stealth" triggers of blood sugar and small LDL like pasta, for the same reasons that pasta has a misleadingly low glycemic index: sugars are released slowly and not fully evident with the one-hour blood sugar.

Nonetheless, for most foods and meals, tracking your one-hour postprandial blood sugar can provide important insight into your individual susceptibility to sugar and small LDL-triggering effects.
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