There are alternative methods for reducing cholesterol naturally. But before you start using any alternative supplement, talk to your doctor. Some supplements may react with other drugs that you take or have dangerous side effects.
Herbal and nutritional supplements
Some of the available herbal and nutritional supplements include:
- Garlic. According to some studies, garlic can lower total cholesterol by several points. However, other studies show that garlic does not possess such beneficial properties. It may also have serious side effects and / or react with other drugs. Garlic can prolong the period of bleeding and blood coagulation, therefore garlic and garlic supplements should not be taken before surgery and in combination with blood thinning drugs such as Coumadin (warfarin).
- Guggulipid. Guggulipid is a chewing gum made from the resin of myrrh tree. Clinical studies conducted in India have shown that guggulipid significantly reduces total cholesterol and LDL levels in the blood. However, enthusiasm regarding the use of goggulipid as a drug to lower cholesterol levels, slept when the negative results of a clinical study in the USA were published. Further research is needed to determine the efficacy and safety of this drug.
- Red Yeast Rice. Red yeast rice is contained in an over-the-counter supplement called Cholestin. Studies have proven its properties to reduce cholesterol. However, in 2001, the FDA removed Cholestin from the sale because of its content of lovastatin, a component that is contained in the prescription drug Mevacor. The new “Cholestin” no longer contains red yeast rice. Other supplements containing red yeast rice contain very small amounts of lovastatin. Their effectiveness is questionable.
- Policosanol. Made from sugar cane, policosanol has been found to be an effective drug for lowering cholesterol as a result of several studies. Most policosanol supplements that are sold in the United States, including new Cholestin, contain policosanol extract from beeswax, not sugar cane. There is no evidence that beeswax policosol lowers cholesterol. More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of policosanol from sugarcane.
- Other medicinal plants. According to the results of several studies, the useful properties of lowering cholesterol also have fenugreek seeds and leaves, artichoke leaf extract, yarrow and holy basil. Currently, the properties of these and other common herbs and spices, including ginger, turmeric, and rosemary, are being studied for the prevention of coronary artery disease.
Eating enough fiber, soy and herbal ingredients similar to cholesterol (plant sterols and stanols) can significantly reduce LDL or bad cholesterol.
- Fiber. Only vegetable products (vegetables, fruits, legumes, unrefined grains) contain dietary fiber. Soluble fiber contained in oat bran, barley, plantain seeds, flaxseeds, apples, citrus fruits, lentils, and beans, especially effectively reduces cholesterol levels.
- Soybeans. Replacing other proteins with soybeans or soy protein helps reduce the risk of coronary artery disease by reducing LDL and triglyceride levels. Soy protein is found in soy curd, tempeh, soy milk, soy yogurt, green soybeans, soy nuts and many other products made from soybeans.
- Phytosterols. Phytosterols (plant sterols and stanols) are components that are found in small amounts in products such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and vegetable oils. They reduce the level of LDL, preventing their resorption in the intestine. Phytosterols are found in pasta (for example, in margarines for lowering Benecol, Promise, Smart Balance and Take Control cholesterol), salad dressing and food additives. In addition, phytosterol-containing foods include Minute Maid Heart Wise Orange Juice, Nature Valley Healthy Heart Chewy Bars, CocoVia Chocolate, Rice Dream Heartwise Rice Drink, and Lifetime low-fat cheese.
Dietary fiber, soybeans and phytosterols lower cholesterol through various mechanisms. Thus, it is not surprising that the use of these products, together with the limited intake of saturated fat, give even better results.
Inclusion in the diet of omega-3 fatty acids can also help reduce cholesterol levels. Eat at least 2 servings of fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, sardines) per week. Other dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseeds and walnuts.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids have a beneficial effect on blood cholesterol levels. They can be found in supplements such as fish oil capsules, flaxseed or flaxseed oil. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce liver production of very high density lipoproteins and triglycerides. They have an anti-inflammatory effect, reduce the formation of plaques on the walls of the arteries and thin the blood. If you decide to take omega-3 fatty acids, you should first discuss this with your doctor (especially if you are taking blood thinning medications).
Avoid hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. They are sources of trans fats that increase LDL levels (which contribute to the formation of clots). They reduce the level of HDL (beneficial for the heart) and increase the body’s inflammatory response. You can find information about the content of trans fats on the packaging of goods. Minimize the use of trans fatty acid products.
If the diet is based on the use of herbal products with a limited fat content, you do not help, you also need to take drugs to lower cholesterol.