What supplements lower cholesterol?
Have you had cholesterol for a while and you are concerned that it may put you at risk of cardiovascular disease or worse a heart attack or stroke. Are you taking prescription statin drugs and you are worried about the reported side effects of statin drugs?
Either way it may have crossed your mind that there could be alternatives to statin drugs, there are choices available to you to lower cholesterol that have been proven to work in scientific studies.
Supplement manufacturers have a large range of natural products that claim to lower cholesterol but what supplements lower cholesterol naturally.?
Read my comprehensive guide to the best supplements that will help you to get your cholesterol numbers down.
High cholesterol dangers
It has been well documented that high cholesterol is one of the leading causes of heart disease and stroke, so it is important to know your cholesterol numbers 200 milligrams per decilitre or under 5 depending on what part of the world you live in is desirable for adults.
Cholesterol is actually needed by our bodies to produce hormones, fat soluble vitamins and fluids to help your digestion cholesterol is present in all of your bodies cells and is a critical component for your wellbeing.
Most people assume that cholesterol is produced by the foods that we eat but the truth is that is only 20% of the cholesterol produced 80% of cholesterol production comes from your liver and intestines. Cholesterol is found in animal products like dairy, meat and eggs. So what makes you cholesterol high?
Causes of high cholesterol
When we hear of high cholesterol it means that our levels of LDL or bad cholesterol are too high, cholesterol is carried around you blood vessels by LDL or low density lipoprotein. What happens is fatty deposits of plaque start to build up in your arteries this causes a condition atherosclerosis, a dangerous condition because it impedes blood flow to the affected arteries.
Atherosclerosis affects many of the other blood vessels as well and causes conditions like peripheral artery disease, heart and kidney disease, heart attack, blood clots and stroke.
HDL is known as good cholesterol it is also known as high density lipoprotein, HDL is good because it keeps LDL or bad cholesterol under control by bringing it back to your liver where it is broken down and excreted. HDL is good for your heart it acts as protection from heart disease and stroke.
Triglycerides are part of your overall cholesterol picture they are a fat and act as storage for excess energy that comes from the foods that you eat, high Triglyceride levels are a marker for heart disease and stroke, levels of triglycerides above 150 mg/DL are considered too high.
Lower cholesterol with supplements
Science has proven that the two most effective ways to lower LDL and raise HDL are eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise, eating too much saturated fat and trans fats increases LDL, these are found in processed foods, dairy and red meat so avoid these types of food.
To raise your good cholesterol HDL consume foods like nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruit, and fish.
The range of food supplements to lower cholesterol is huge and it can be confusing, it is important to buy supplements that contain active ingredients that are proven to lower cholesterol.
How true is it that supplements lower cholesterol? let’s look at the studies.
Red yeast rice
In four studies of red yeast rice participants found that their LDL or low density lipoprotein levels fell by on average 20% by taking 1,200 -3,600 mgs per day of red yeast rice for between 2-6 months, red yeast rice has small amounts of compounds that are similar to statins.
Omega 3 fish oils
Several studies have shown that omega 3 fish oils are quite effective at reducing triglycerides levels leading to an increase in your HDL or good cholesterol, omega 3 is present in high doses in fish like salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel. Not everybody likes fish so a good quality Omega 3 fish oil supplement is perfect and convenient.
These are extracts from plants they reduce the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestinal tract. They are clearly effective so manufacturers add them into cholesterol supplements as well as margarine products like Benecol.
The recommended dosage of a phytosterol supplement is 2,000 milligrams per day this should lower LDL levels by roughly 8%, a stronger dose of 3.5 grams should lower LDL cholesterol by around 12%, physterols can be used in conjunction with statins.
Niacin or Vitamin B3 is a very effective cholesterol lowering supplement it also boosts your good cholesterol doctors like to prescribe Niacin in high doses but you can buy Niacin in a lower dose that may be equally as effective be careful because niacin in high doses can harm your liver and cause facial flushing.
If you were to eat more vegetables, nuts, fruit and grains you may be able to lower your cholesterol in addition to regular exercise and moderate alcohol consumption. Plant sterols are good at blocking food cholesterol and lowering LDL.
Curcumin supplements were taken by a group of people with similar characteristics during a trial it was found that higher levels of a Good quality Curcumin supplement increased the levels of HDL cholesterol.
Studies of garlic have shown that not only is garlic good for your cholesterol levels but it makes your food taste so much better!
A study where the people taking part were given 7 grams of soluble psyllium each day for 8 weeks reported a reduction in bad cholesterol LDL levels by around 11%.
Soy protein can lower total cholesterol but not in any significant way, however as they say every bit helps!
Guggul is a resin extract from the Indian Mukul myrrh tree, locals there have used it for many years to help with lowering cholesterol amongst other health condition.
Questions and Answers on cholesterol supplements
Question: Do they work?
Answer: Yes, many serious studies have shown that popular supplements containing soluble fibre, omega 3 fatty acids, psyllium, plant sterols, niacin and Curcumin do indeed lower bad LDL cholesterol levels while raising good HDL cholesterol at the same time.
Question: Can I take one or more types of cholesterol supplements?
Answer: Everybody’s metabolism is different, try one cholesterol supplement at a time, that way you will you can gauge how effective it is or whether it gives you any side effects.
Question: Does price relate to quality
Answer: Price always plays a part in quality, I find that the lower the price the lower the quality, stick to brands that you trust they have a lot more to lose.
Question: Are there side effects?
Answer: It would be disingenuous to say there are no side effects from cholesterol supplements just like statin drugs some will cause side effects to some people and some won’t.
Generally speaking the ingredients in these products are safe to take but some people are sensitive to stomach upset, bloating, facial flushing or in rare cases liver damage, consult your physician or a qualified naturopath before starting on a course of cholesterol supplements.