High cholesterol as a vegan


New member
I've been vegan for seven ish years now. I recently got my labs back and everything came back normal: B12, vit D, blood counts, ... everything except cholesterol. I did eat a cream cheese bagel (vegan) a few hours before my test, so that might be a factor? I rarely eat out, much less fake cheese... What can I change with my diet to help with this?

Specifically, my total was 184mg/dL (should be under 170), and LDL was 113 (should be under 100). Non HDL cholesterol was 126 (should be under 120). Most of my grandparents have had huge issues with heart disease and both my parents have high cholesterol, so keeping it low was a huge reason I initially went vegan (much more traditionally vegan now).
@slowmarathoner I just got my blood work as well. My LDL was 115. My BMI is 22. I follow a WFPB diet. Rarely eat out, rare occasions I have processed foods (cookies, chips), I don’t use oils and I work out 4x week. My diet is clean.

The advice I got was that it’s most likely genetics. Also something to think about that the r/vegan community shared. (If you drink Coffee without a paper filter)

If you want to read some of the comments others left me.
@ruba Yeah I'm assuming it's genetics for me as well. No coffee, BMI of 20.2, waist is like 28inches (which apparently is a better measure than BMI?). 30years old. Sober.... no coffee or alcohol. I know my bad habits: I do eat chips almost daily (definitely too much salt) chew sugarfree gum, and I use 2-3 tablespoons canola oil anytime I mealprep to cook the spices/aromatics.... but otherwise whole foods. Most eaten ingredients: onion, rice, beans, garlic, tomatoes, lemons, spinach, apples, Kale, beans(always soak and cook the hard way myself), shiitake, okra.
@slowmarathoner Canola oil won’t raise ldl and for most people will lower ldl. The chips probably hurt a little, especially if they use palm oil or coconut oil. But if that’s the only unhealthy thing in your diet then you might have bad genetics. If it were me, I’d try eating super clean for 6 months (basically follow Dr Gregors Daily Dozen) and see what your cholesterol looks like. If it’s still above 100, then I’d talk to a doctor about medication
@slowmarathoner If you eat chips on a regular basis you introduce a huge source of saturated fat into your diet which raises your cholesterol levels. You could omit this problem if you cut out the industrially produced chips and try to make your own with a dehydrator. Beet root or zucchini chips can be prepared without any fat and are really tasty as well. I went onto my first fat loss journey after I noticed how eating a bag of chips on a daily basis affected my health. I started to get chest pains at night. Saturated fat can build up plagues in your arteries which can lead to strokes in a long run.
@slowmarathoner I’m almost with you. My LDL was 107 but the rest where in order.

Do you exercise?

I can explain mine because the last 10 or so blood tests my cholesterol has been perfect. Always get compliments from the doctor. This one I haven’t exercised once since my last test. Diet hasn’t really changed. That’s the only thing I can think of.
@zennah I run 30mins 3x a week, and do minimal weights. I get to 170bpm heartrate for at least 15minutes of that. Resting near 60bpm. I have only been actively working out for about three months or so. Might take some time to come down.
@slowmarathoner Well so much for that idea.

Is this the first test you’ve had where it’s high? Meaning other tests were fine and just this was high. Or this is your first blood test period? If the latter you could just be unlucky with genetics and have high cholesterol.
@slowmarathoner For everyone.

High ldl as a Vegan is likely caused by either excessive saturated fat content. The main culprits coconut products or palm oil.

Or hyper cholesterolnemia. A dietary and exercise regime may help if you are young and have only been a year or so into a plant based diet.

But if it persists a low dose statin will be useful.

From my understanding the science doesn't really care about hdl anymore. It focuses on bringing ldl below 100 for long term avoidance of CVD.

120 and under is the range in most countries but in the studies 80 and below seems to be the sweet spot.
@slowmarathoner My understanding on recent studies is that eating cholesterol is not that big of a deal, but eating saturated fats like palm and coconut oil can cause your body to produce cholesterol. I may not have it right 100%, but i've been laying off the fake cheeses and butters and my LDL went from 100 to 70.