Cholesterol, good fats, bad fats, and Hashimoto’s low thyroid
It's time to let go of the belief that fat raises cholesterol. Research is clear it is fat, sugar and refined carbohydrates that cause unhealthy cholesterol and inflammation. Too much sugars and processed carbs lower good cholesterol, raise triglycerides, and create the small, dangerous particles that cause arterial plaque. These factors raise the risk of heart disease and insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes, which are make successful management of Hashimoto’s low thyroid difficult to impossible.
Sugars and processed carbs are dangerous because they cause high blood sugar. This raises insulin levels and systemic inflammation, two factors foundational to heart disease and most chronic health disorders and diseases, including Hashimoto’s low thyroid. Chronic inflammation is caused from excess sugars and carbs, a junk food diet lacking in vegetables, a sedentary lifestyle, chronic stress, food intolerances, chronic viral and bacterial infections, and more.
Cholesterol myths we know to be untrue and that also affect Hashimoto’s low thyroid include:
- Statins: Recent research shows that statin benefits are likely due to their ability to lower inflammation, not cholesterol.
- Heart attack: 75 percent of those who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol levels.
- Age: In older patients, those with higher cholesterol have a lower risk of death than those with lower levels of cholesterol.
- Harvard research has shown that a high level of systemic inflammation ranks higher than high cholesterol for putting subjects at risk for heart disease.
Consume healthy fats as part of your Hashimoto’s low thyroid plan
Conventional medicine has pushed a low-fat diet for decades, but we need more fat than previously thought. However, not all dietary sources of cholesterol are created equal. The kind of fat you eat matters when managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
To manage your Hashimoto's low thyroid, it's important to consume healthy, whole, unprocessed fats and eliminate processed vegetable oils from your diet. Completely avoid trans fats (hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils) as they raise your risk of cardiovascular disease and can damage your brain.
Omega 3 and monounsaturated fats raise healthy cholesterol.
The dietary reference intake (DRI) for fat consumption is 20 percent to 35 percent of total calories. This equals 44 – 77 grams of fat for a 2,000 calorie diet. The ratio changes if you are following a low-carb or ketogenic diet, which replace carb calories with fat calories.
These are the recommended ratios for conventional diets:
- Monounsaturated fat: 15 percent – 20 percent
- Polyunsaturated fat: 5 percent – 10 percent
- Saturated fat: less than 10 percent (unless keto)
- Trans fat: 0 percent
- Cholesterol: less than 300 mg per day
Usually liquid at room temperature. Includes monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.
Healthy versions come from nuts, olives, and avocado. Avoid canola oil!
Healthy plant-based sources include nuts. Avoid processed seed and grain (corn) oils due to how prone they are to rancidity.
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that dampen inflammation. Healthy sources include cold water fish (salmon, tuna, herring, and anchovies), flax and chia seed, and walnuts. These are important for helping manage the inflammation associated with Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
Solid or waxy at room temperature, these come from animals and tropical oils, like coconut and palm. Too much saturated fat is associated with increasing “bad” LDL cholesterol and inflammation. Healthy saturated fats include:
*Low-carb and ketogenic diets:
- Beef, pork, lamb, veal, and skin of poultry
- High fat dairy products
- Butter, lard, and bacon fat
- Palm, palm kernel, and coconut oil
Fat ratio rules change on very carb-restricted due to how carbs affect saturated fat in the bloodstream. People on these diets can safely eat higher ratios of saturated fats. Many people find low-carb or keto diets help them better manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
form when a liquid fat is changed into a solid fat through a process called hydrogenation. This makes these fats more shelf-stable, however trans they raise “bad” LDL cholesterol, decrease “good” HDL cholesterol, raise inflammation, and degenerate the brain.
Avoid trans fats completely! Trans fat include solid margarine, shortening, powdered and liquid creamers, and most convenience and prepackaged foods. If it says hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated avoid it completely.
Ask my office for more advice on how much and what types of fats to eat in your diet in order to better manage your Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
How to learn if you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid
Many patients are not diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s until after several years and going through several doctors. It is a demoralizing journey richly illustrated in my book The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto's Low Thyroid Disease
, through real-life stories from patients in my practice. Managing Hashimoto’s goes far beyond using thyroid medication as you must work to stop the immune system from attacking the thyroid. For more information on identifying and managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid, contact
About Dr. Josh Redd — Utah, Arizona, New Mexico functional medicine
Dr. Joshua J. Redd, DC, MS, DABFM, DAAIM, author of The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto's Low Thyroid Disease
, is a chiropractic physician and the founder of RedRiver Health and Wellness Center
with practices in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. He sees patients from around the world who suffer from challenging thyroid disorders, Hashimoto's disease, and other autoimmune conditions. In addition to his chiropractic degree, Dr. Redd has a BS in Health and Wellness, a BS in Anatomy, and a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. He speaks across the nation, teaching physicians about functional blood chemistry, low thyroid, Hashimoto's, and autoimmunity. You can join his Facebook page here