Medication is not the only option when you need to lower your cholesterol levels.
We all know that a healthy lifestyle can help lower levels of LDL cholesterol, which is the type that contributes to poor health and puts you at risk of heart disease and strokes.
But there are also several supplements which have a significant effect on cholesterol. By taking one or more of these, you might be able to see an improvement in your levels of LDL cholesterol, without relying on medication.
As always, talk to your doctor before making lifestyle changes, but here are the supplements that can work to lower cholesterol.
Artichoke extract can potentially lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels by a small amount, with results normally showing in around 6 to 12 weeks.
An excellent source of fibre, which works to lower cholesterol in the body, barley is a good option as it is widely available, easy to add to an existing diet, and has little in the way of side effects or intolerances.
A cluster of recent studies suggest that bergamot, which is most commonly found as a flavoring in tea, could have powerful effects on cholesterol levels; lowering bad cholesterol, raising levels of the good kind, and reducing blood sugar and liver fat.
Reducing levels of bad cholesterol by as much as 10%, as well as blood sugar levels, blond psyllium is an effective treatment. However, there are a range of side effects that should be considered, including stomach and intestinal issues, and problems with iron absorption.
Fish oils, found as capsules or actual liquid oil, can reduce triglyceride levels, but should not be used when on blood thinning medication, and can also cause intestinal complaints.
Flaxseed supposedly has an impressive effect, lowering total cholesterol levels by 17% and LDL by almost 20%.
However, overuse can cause intestinal issues, and again, cannot be used with blood thinning medication.
Whether as a supplement, or as a drink, green tea is an effective treatment that was found to have a 'significant' effect on cholesterol levels, including LDL and total levels.
Standard side effects apply, with intestinal issues seen, and recommendations not to use green tea is on blood thinning medication.
Improving levels of good cholesterol, whilst reducing triglycerides, niacin is an effective treatment, but requires high doses, and can cause a range of minor side effects.
Very high in fibre, oat bran can reduce levels of total cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol, and has very few side effects, besides some minor intestinal issues such as gas or bloating.
Plant sterols work by directly blocking your body from absorbing cholesterols. They reduce your ability to absorb LDL cholesterol, (the bad kind) but don't affect HDL or triglyceride levels.
Some studies directly point to plant sterols as the most effective natural treatment for high cholesterol. Plant sterols can be found as a supplement, and also as part of certain 'heart healthy' margarines and other foods.
Similar in structure to plant sterols, plant stanols work in much the same way, but are generally less effective.
The vast majority of people already consume foods that provide plant stanols, for example vegetable oils, fruit, nuts and cereals.
Soy protein is commonly found in soy products, and as a supplement in non-meat protein foods.
Evidence suggests that soy protein lowers cholesterol levels, but at a generally low level. It is naturally cholesterol free, and also high in Omega 3s, as well as fibre, which could contribute to a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Are there any supplements to avoid?
Yes. Firstly, Red Yeast Rice is a commonly used supplement for cholesterol, but it shouldn't be used alongside anything else, including medication, as there is a risk that it contains a natural version of a commonly used statin drug: Iovastatin. By using Red Yeast Rice alongside other supplements or statins, there is a risk of overdosing.
Secondly, garlic is commonly seen as a home remedy for high cholesterol, but recent studies have suggested that it might not actually have any effect.
By adding some of the above supplements to your diet, you might just see your levels of cholesterol, both bad and total, decrease.
Bear in mind that supplementation is not a substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle. Always attempt to fix the root cause of the issue as well as attempting to supplement the problem. With that in mind, the above are an effective short and long term solution to cholesterol levels, as well as being natural and generally healthy.
Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and information purposes only. It does not take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. It is not personalised health advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any decisions about your health or changes to medication, diet and exercise routines you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from a medical professional.