Heart Poison

Claire has small LDL particles. Small LDL particles are the #1 most common abnormality leading to coronary disease, heart attack, as well as procedures like stents and bypass surgery. (No, it’s NOT high cholesterol!)

At the start of her program, Claire had 870 nmol/L small LDL particles (measured by the NMR lipoprotein method), a moderately high value, representing 60% of total LDL particles. It was certainly not attributable to being overweight (as is often argued), as she was quite slender, only 115 pounds at 5 ft 3 inches. So I counseled Claire on how to eliminate wheat and limit exposure to other carbohydrates, especially other grains, corn, and sugars, to reduce the expression of small LDL. Most people who follow this regimen drop small LDL particles to zero within just a few months–not with cholesterol drugs, but with this shift in food choice.

But Claire failed to hear me say “Never eat gluten-free foods made with the junk carbohydrate ingredients, cornstarch, rice starch, tapioca starch, and potato starch.” Because her daughter was “gluten-free” due to a “gluten-sensitivity,” Claire started purchasing gluten-free pasta made with rice starch, along with occasional gluten-fee multigrain bagels and rolls.

A repeat lipoprotein panel showed 1597 nmol/L small LDL particles—a near-doubling of her starting value.

The most common ingredients used to replace wheat flour in gluten-free products–rice starch, tapioca starch, cornstarch, and potato starch–are chosen because they provide a reasonable facsimile of wheat flour in baked products. But these are among the few foods that have a glycemic index higher than even that of wheat! So, sure, gluten-free multigrain bread or pasta does not cause appetite stimulation like the gliadin protein of wheat, nor do they cause intestinal destruction like the wheat germ agglutinin in wheat, nor do they trigger allergies like the alpha amylase inhibitors in wheat–they “only” cause sky-high blood sugar and, with it, formation of extravagant quantities of small LDL particles.

Those nice people who make gluten-free foods with junk carbohydrate ingredients don’t know that their products cause coronary disease and heart attacks, cataracts, arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, inflammation, and growth of visceral fat. Note that the small LDL particles triggered by gluten-free carbohydrates, as in Claire’s example, persist for 10 days after one indulgence. In other words, if Claire only has a gluten-free slice of bread or a bagel every 10 days, she has small LDL particles and risk for heart disease 7 days a week, 30 days a month, 12 months a year.

So, among the several deleterious effects of gluten-free junk carbohydrates is triggering of small LDL particles, the most common cause for coronary disease and heart attack in North America today. Gluten-free foods made with cornstarch, rice starch, tapioca starch, and potato starch are poisons to your heart.

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86 Responses to Heart Poison

  1. Eric says:

    I’ve been reading a long series of articles by Dr. Peter Attia on cholesterol, and he asserts that it’s LDL particle COUNT that is most important,and while usually concordant to particle size, when it’s discordant it’s the dominant of the two factors.

    • Neicee says:

      Eric, I’ve been following the series about cholesterol by Dr. Peter Attia. A lot of it is way over my head, but having to read and reread something helps to keep the gray matter in check. The whole subject is fascinating – whether from the viewpoint of Dr. Davis or Dr. Attia. The only thing keeping us from making the breakthroughs needed to put this puppy to bed on cholesterol is well funded research.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Yes, I know.

      I respect his thinking but I believe he is flat wrong on this issue. By the way, I have taken care of several thousand people with heart disease, do it every day, and see virtually NO heart attacks nor need for heart procedures.

      That’s okay. He is fighting the same battle we are fighting, just with a difference of opinion on this question.

      In my view, the number one MOST important value for anyone to measure for heart disease risk is NOT total LDL particle number, but the proportion/number of small LDL particles. Get rid of small LDL particles and heart disease/atherosclerotic plaque growth stops in the majority, regardless of total LDL particle number.

      • steve says:

        Dr Davis: While i have great respect for your work, can you provide some science based evidence to support your claims of small LDL-P vs. total number of LDL-P?
        There are no outcome studies, and it would be enlightening to see some if you have them. Those who suffer with Familialhypercholesterolemia have large LDL-P and suffer from extreme heart disease.
        Also, if carbs cause the formation of small LDL-P how do you explain the low level of heart disease in populations that eat large amounts of carbs despite they being natural whole foods, and that would include large rice eating populations.
        There is not one leading lipidologist- Dayspring, Dall, Cromwell, Atvos, etc who seem to agree with you. Again it would be great to be able to see the studies that show these professionals are wrong.
        Please understand i am only looking to get further knowledge on this issue; it may be that you are right, but I cannot find any confirmation of this, and as you know the NMR says right on it that small LDL-P is associated with risk, but not after LDL-P is taken in to account.

        • Geisha says:

          Is it not enough that Dr Davis is having NO heart attacks in his 1000s of patients? Is it absolutely necessary to wear him out having him prove to all of us on this blog who are feeling heaps better because he dedicated the time to heal his patients, write books about it and set up blogs on the topic? So draining and time consuming. I’m getting lots of FREE information here, lots of inspiration, for which I’m extremely grateful to Dr Davis. And it’s not compulsory, personal choice to follow his advice on refraining from wheat, other grains, AND gluten-free products. Almost no doctor believed the Gerson Therapy in 1930 either, except his patients who were cured while on it – just approx 99% were cured. I recommend “Dr Max Gerson: Healing the Hopeless” (I have kindle version, about $10), excellent read. Would’ve been too extreme for me except that I’m “in charge” of my non-addictive food consumption these days, after reading Wheat Belly.

        • Dr. Davis says:

          This is not the place for this discussion, Steve.

          I invite you to join our discussions on the Heart Scan Blog and the Track Your Plaque program.

  2. Amine says:

    Hello Dr Davis, Just wanted to Thank you again. I’m now in the 180 range and abs are getting tighter..:)
    A family member told my wife that they saw me on the success story of the wheat belly blog. Haha, I’m now lean and famous…:)

  3. Neicee says:

    My own experience has been that I absolutely made a commitment to continue this for the rest of my life, much like the paleo/primal people have. This is not for 2 weeks/10 weeks, lose a few pounds, then I go back to eating what I want. When you learn about how our food supply has been messed with, and yes altered, why you’d want to go back to eating it is beyond me? I wandered over to youtube one day and ran across a video with Dr. Donald W. Miller it reaffirmed why I started on this journey. So heads up fellow travelers, this is for life (literally) and not a program to drop those nuisance pounds you’ve gained since college.

  4. Steve Helmer says:

    Hi Doc,
    I know you must be sick and tired of hearing the same old same old from me, and i applogize. But without your book( WB )and the knowledge that you have come to, we would still be on the same path with wheat, eating and being posioned.

    Up date doc, my energy is still bouncing around, all kinds of aches and pains, they come and go, l still think that most of my symptoms will disappear, but time will tell. According to the scare mongers out there we don’t have long on this earth, as the end of the world is about to happen, the banks are going to collaspe, and the story goes on and on. If I have to live my life on the edge of fear, worry about these things, then what quality of life would I have.

    Back to what’s happening with me. Doc, knowing what i do know about wheat and it’s incedious evil, makes me be a better person for not using it. Oh one thing I have noticed Doc, is my recall and clearity of mind has improved dramatically. I wonder if anyone else has had similar results?


  5. Anne says:

    Has Claire cut the other sugars and starches out of her diet? If so, what do her tests show after doing that?

  6. Sarah says:

    I recently found out my son is extremely allergic to tree nuts. The Wheat Belly book relies heavily on almond flour. What do you recommend to replace the almond flour without using the gluten-free baking mixes? I’m specifically interested in muffins, cakes, cookies, and “breading” for chicken. I suppose one could say that we really shouldn’t be eating that stuff to begin with, but that’s not terribly realistic for our family. When we celebrate my daughter’s birthday next week, I will make a white cake with wheat flour and without dairy (he has problems with cow’s milk, too). It’s not ideal, but I’m not sure what else to do at this point. Thoughts, resources, recommendations? Thank you!

    • Linda says:

      I have often posted a link to Linda’s excellent site, and here it is again.
      I love her recipes because she always tries them out before posting, she always gives honest appraisals after preparing them, she always provides pictures and, most importantly, she gives us the nutritional information regarding each recipe. For those of us keeping food diaries and still counting carbs, this is so important.
      Perhaps you could find a nice, healthy substitute there?


      [Her Pound Cake is awesome!]

      • Linda says:

        Forgot to add:
        I use crumbled plain pork rinds as “breading” for both chicken and fish. Works great. I brush with home made mayo, then roll in the crumbs. Delicious!

      • Sarah says:

        Thanks, Linda, I will take a look. It’s tough to have to take out all the milk products (including butter), plus the tree nuts. I’m not quite sure where to look to find tasty recipes that work. I feel so much better without wheat, but I can’t seem to lessen it much for my kids.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      You will find these discussions peppered about in this blog, Sarah.

      It means turning to other any nuts he might not be allergic to, such as hazelnuts or walnuts, or coconut flour and flours from ground sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds. Garbanzo bean flour can be a nice flour, as well.

  7. Pingback: Cholesterol Primer - Page 5

  8. Mary D. says:

    Dr. Davis,
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to be saying that the reason these gluten free items are poison to your heart is because “they ‘only’ cause sky-high blood sugar and, with it, formation of extravagant quantities of small LDL particles.” But they don’t always cause high blood sugar, especially if eaten in small quantities. I watch my blood sugar carefully and I also eat a slice or two of gluten free bread every day. It has no corn starch but does have rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch. There’s nothing toxic about these ingredients and my blood sugar doesn’t go at all high after a slice. Also, isn’t it possible that baking a lot of your own bread with almond flour will give you too much oxidized omega 6? It’s hard enough for people to eliminate wheat. Why so alarmist about a little gluten free bread or pasta?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      The problem, Mary, is that the portion size of these gluten-free foods is so small as to be impractical. And that is certainly not what most gluten-free people are doing.

      The price: cataracts, arthritis, heart disease. These are NOT healthy foods. Why bother trying to stay below the radar and, for instance, restricting yourself to half a slice of bread when you can have virtually unlimited quantities when having foods made with truly healthy ingredients?

      Be sure to obtain omega-3s. The omega-6 issue is of secondary importance, if that.

      • Beverly says:

        I’m feeling anxious about the omega 6 issue. If baking with nut fours causes them to oxidize and create free radicals in our body how can this be a healthy alternative. Should I be limiting these baked goods to a rarely if ever treat? Would it be healthier to eat the cookie dough raw which is how I prefer it anyway.

  9. Leslie says:

    I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you and your grandma. Moderate consumption of a substance does not reduce or eliminate the negative consequences, and frankly I’m a little tired of this saying being used to refute actual evidence based arguments by people who don’t want to think logically because it conflicts with their (addiction based) desires. Does moderate consumption of narcotic pain killers for the moderate amounts of migraines I experience eating a moderate amount of wheat sound healthy? How about moderate usage of an inhaler for the moderate inciidents of winter asthma? I’ve come to realize over the years of striving for the best health I can achieve after having severe thyroid AI disease that breaking away from whatever the current group thinking may be is hard. It requires a large amount of personal commitment, research, and conviction. The only reward is what we personaly experience, and being somewhat isolated by our thinking. I’ve realized that most people DO NOT CARE about any of this unless their personal circumstances have brought them to the same place I am. Not my parents, not my siblings, only on of my two children (the other i do the best i can with). I find a very small percentage of friends that don’t glaze over when they ask why our family doesn’t eat wheat. I only give a quick synopsis of what improvements we have experienced, and then leave it completely up to them to ask further questions. If their personal issue is not bothering them enough, whether it be weight, migraine, thyroid, or whatever, they almost universally respond with “I could never give up wheat”. My personal point of being willing to try anything was when I had suffered a decade of under treated thyroid symptoms and worsening migraines. I actually consider myself lucky to have these other conditions. Since I don’t have a particular weight issue, I would not have changed my diet this drastically without debilitating health problems. I hope this heads off a nasty mid life diagnosis of something terrible, but at least I know I’m literally trying everything to live healthier. Others may have different paths; at least the information finally has enough coherence to make a logical argument thanks to such pioneers as Dr. Davis, Drs. Eades, Taubes, and others.

    This blog is a place of discovery and support. Posting nonsense cliches like “everything in moderation” announces that the author is finding it too hard to break free from group thinking and endlessly repeated mainstream media misinformation and propaganda. Why is it necessary for those steeped in the current thinking to try to wrestle the rest of us back into the group? Is it really so subversive to come to the conclusion that hybridizing our food sources upsets a very delicate balance? While I welcome the presentation of though out arguments, possibly with a reference or two, I find it sad that some are compelled to make passive statements of resistance to new thinking on supportive blogs. Most every publication, talk show, and even most medical professionals will back up anyone wanting to stay with the status quo. Seek your reassurance with them, because here you will only find rebels to that way of existing.

  10. Deniece says:

    I am loving all of you who post your success stories,I read them daily … it keeps me going. I share everyones success stories with anyone willing to listen. I wanted to share that my BP has gone from 130/85 to 110/70 in just over 2 months. Eliminating the Wheat/grain/sugar was all it took. I have had so many benefits from eliminating these poisons from my body!
    I bought the book and read it a couple of times before passing it onto my son. I am sure I will be buying another copy for myself to have on hand for reference.
    Thanks again!

  11. Mary D says:

    I’m not sure if you are referring to me because your comment doesn’t really make sense in reference to what I said. I don’t eat any wheat; i’m convinced by that evidence. But there is no such evidence against ingredients like rice flour, tapioca, or potato starch. And for most people, a serving of bread made from these is not going to send their blood sugar skyrocketing. Scaring people to death about these ingredients is unnecessary and possibly even harmful. Yes, I’ve read a lot by Gary Taubes and Mike Eades, also Paul Jaminet and Chris Kresser. I’m interested in the facts. This blog entry and some of the comments sound a bit like a religious cult.

    • Neicee says:

      Mary D – I too have read those writers. I’m curious though, can you please reference anywhere that Gary Taubes recommends anything close to your claim? If so, I’d love to see it. Or are you a drive-by troll? No we are not cultists, but are certainly concerned about our health. I don’t eat any wheat products, nor other grains. I wear a size 4 and slowly going for a size 2. I have never felt better.

  12. Laura F says:

    Darn, I had some gluten free banana bread in the oven when I read this. My gf flour is mostly rice flour, but 1/5 of it is arrowroot powder. Is that really so bad (sniff)? I can stay off this stuff myself, but two of my three kids go psycho if they eat wheat. They love to have a batch of quick bread or muffins now and then. How strict does one have to be with children and high GI foods?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Not strict, Laura, but I believe they will be much better off in the long run not developing a taste for these foods.

      You might try, when baking, mixing in a greater proportion of truly healthy flours, such as ground almonds, ground golden flaxseed, and coconut flour, to blunt the excessive high blood sugars of the gluten-free flours. Though I don’t think us adults should do it, the kids might be better off also using millet, buckwheat, and quinoa flours.

  13. rick says:

    I know the starches are bad, to clarify, does that mean the rice flour, potato flour etc.. are bad as well?
    Looking online for wheat and gluten free breads is a pain in the butt!


  14. Patricia says:

    What is your opinon on Blood Group also affecting small LDL particles and your opinion on (Food for Life) “GENESIS 1:29″ bread. Please Respond

  15. carol says:

    Has anyone followed the diet and did not have improved cholesterol ? I’ve tried every diet recommended. Really, every one. None made any difference. I’m afraid to go get my blood tested now cause I don’t want to be disappointed again. I’ve been wheat free for a few months without significant weight loss. But my weight was not a real issue, but I’m afraid that means its not working for my cholesterol? Otherwise, feeling great. Love being able to eat foods I enjoy without gaining.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      But who cares about cholesterol, Carol?

      If you really want to know what is going on, you need lipoprotein testing, not the absurd cholesterol testing done in primary care offices.

      I use NMR lipoproteins, but there are others, such as Berkeley HeartLab’s test, VAP, and HDL Labs. The toughest hurdle: Getting a doctor who understands what this is, as most are stuck somewhere in 1980 in their level of sophistication about these things.

  16. Martin says:

    That goes back to the statement paleo folks are best aware of: Eat real food, do not eat processed crap. Going gluten free has benefits for some, eating real food has benefits for many

    • Boundless says:

      > Going gluten free has benefits for some, …
      No, it has benefits for all. It’s just a matter of degree and decades. Those who consider themselves not especially gluten-sensitive (and I’m one) are making a real mistake if they think that the long term problems will all be found to be reversible when discovered years hence.

      Further, it’s not just the gluten. The gluten-bearing grains contain multiple threat stealth toxins.

  17. Karen says:

    My 78yr old Mother has aortic stenosis, and her cardiologist is recommending surgery for heart valve replacement. The only symptoms she is experiencing are shortness of breath during exercise and some heart palpations. My questions is if she becomes wheat free, how much of that would reverse her condition? And, would if prevent her from needing surgery?
    Her doctor measured the stenosis and said that it went from 0.8 to 0.7 in one year( I appolgize I do not have how that was measured in cm or mm, I am assuming mm) which is what prompted the rush for surgery.

    Thank you,