Around 38% of U.S. adults are struggling with total cholesterol of over 200 mg/dl. About 12% of them are in their 20s.
While a staggering 7% of affected are adolescents and children between the ages of 6 and 19.
The higher the cholesterol, the bigger the risk of heart disease. Decreasing the cholesterol doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take statin medications.
Relying on natural cholesterol remedies can also help. They can ave a beneficial impact on improving your cardiovascular health and overall well-being.
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10 Natural Products Clinically Proven to Decrease Cholesterol
Whenever a patient is at risk of heart disease, the first thing they will need to do is control their cholesterol levels. Complementary or natural treatments are used to achieve those exact results. But, only a handful of products may deliver these effects.
It’s vital that you learn to recognize them to obtain the results you are looking for. Here are the ten natural remedies that could prove useful.
Niacin, commonly referred to as vitamin B3, is a potent essential nutrient that benefits the body’s central nervous system, metabolism, and antioxidant protection. Since our human body is incapable of producing its own B3, you will have to replenish its sources by implementing B3 in your daily diet.
Ideal RDA (recommended dietary allowance) is 14 mg for women and 16 mg for men a day. That’s fairly enough to meet the RDA requirement of 98% for adults. To avoid B3 deficiency, it’s best to opt for practical B3 food sources like tuna, liver, or chicken breasts. However, each food you eat will provide a different RDA. Take a look at the table below for more details.
Astragalus is a famous herb with some potent medicinal properties. It’s used for kidney disease, diabetes, hay fever, respiratory conditions, and more. But, it can also help with natural cholesterol management.
To study the impact and efficiency of astragalus on cholesterol absorption, scientists researched its effect on the small intestine and liver. After a three-month treatment with astragalus polysaccharides on plasma lipids, scientists noticed a drastic change in total cholesterol levels.
Reports showed that the total cholesterol reduced by 45.8%, LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) by 47.4%, and triglycerides by 30%. Further research indicates that astragalus also proved beneficial for cholesterol absorption, which is why it can potentially be used as a natural cholesterol reduction agent.
This plant is one of the most widely used herbal substances. The whole hawthorn can be used as a medicine, including its flowers, berries, and leaves. According to experts, hawthorn could help widen the blood vessels, boost nerve signal function, and help with heart contractions.
But, most importantly, it can have a direct positive impact on cholesterol. Studies show that hawthorn can reduce cholesterol, particularly LDL (low-density lipoprotein). It may also come in handy for managing the fats in the blood known as triglycerides.
One of its key benefits lies in reducing the accumulation of fats in the aorta and liver. That’s why it helps the blood vessels maintain an optimal function.
The hawthorn extract derived from the fruit also seems to have cholesterol reduction properties. Since it boosts the bile excretion, it controls cholesterol formation and enhances the LDL receptors. These are all key benefits when looking to manage antioxidant activity.
The only real setback with hawthorn is that it can interact with some medications-especially beta-blockers, heart medication, high blood pressure, and sexual dysfunction drugs. The plant creates potent effects that could reduce blood pressure and affect the heart. Therefore, it’s important to consult with a doctor before adding hawthorn to your diet.
4) Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Fish oil is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids. Not only are they essential for numerous bodily functions, but they can also help with cell growth and muscle activity.
Foods like oysters, mussels, shellfish, mackerel, and other fatty fish are a great source of the Omega 3 fatty acid. The recommended daily intake of Omega-3 for healthy adults is 250 mg to 500 mg. But, it’s not uncommon for a doctor or nutritionist to recommend higher dosages, especially when the patient is dealing with a specific health condition.
Plus, even if you are not a fan of oily fish, you can take it in the form of a pill, capsule, or liquid fish oil supplement. But, there is more to fish oil than it meets the eye. There is plenty of research to support fish oil’s benefits for a healthy cholesterol level.
In fact, fish oil can come in handy for significantly reducing triglyceride levels and high cholesterol. To top it all off, the fish oil also causes a minor improvement in HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). This is extremely important for those who want to avoid a possible cardiovascular disease.
5) Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
Consuming meals rich in omega-6 is a great way to control LDL cholesterol concentration. The body will synthesize all the fat and supply the system with enough energy.
Compared to saturated fat, polyunsaturated fats will focus on promoting healthy cholesterol and managing LDL levels. This is vital for those who want to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Using vegetable oils when cooking can also come in handy. They can help with arterial pressure reduction and lower cholesterol. Besides, any veggie-based product, like vegetable oil, is rich in phytosterols, which are critical for blocking the intestines from absorbing cholesterol. So, when you pair it with a healthy meal, you can go a long way.
6) Plant Stanol and Sterol Supplements for High Cholesterol
Countless seeds, grains, nuts, veggies, and fruits are rich in stanols and sterols substances. You can also find a fortified version of them in processed meals. For instance, you can get it from yogurt products, fortified margarine, and orange juice. Typical food sources include:
- Whole grains (brown rice, wheat germ, rice bran, bran, oat bran, etc.)
- Veggies and fruits (broccoli, avocado, wheat germ oils, cauliflower, apples, Brussel sprouts, berries, etc.)
- Certain legumes (walnuts, pecans, lentils, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, sesame seeds, almonds, etc.)
The way they work is relatively simple. The food you consume gets absorbed into the intestine. When the sterols and stanols make their way to the blood, they lower LDL and don’t affect the HDL cholesterol.
Reports show that if you consume 2g of plant stanols or sterols a day, you could lower LDL from 6% to 15%. Focusing on a plant-based diet is not enough to get the desired daily intake. To replace the cholesterol-lowering medication, the doctor might recommend you opt for sterols or stanols.
Therefore, experts suggest using stanol and sterol cholesterol-lowering supplements. The content of the supplement may vary, so you should check the label to know the exact amount of plant sterols and stanols you are taking.
This is a practical alternative for those looking to reduce the need for statin medicine to lower cholesterol. For achieving the ideal results, you should spread the supplement dose evenly throughout the day.
7) Green Tea
There is more to tea than just its ability to soothe the mind after a stressful day. Both black and green tea is an effective natural remedy for curbing high cholesterol. Preparing the drink from organic leaves can have a significant impact.
Experts estimate that the antioxidants (catechins) present in the beverage give it unique LDL cholesterol reduction properties. However, the best results can be achieved from unfermented leaves. Since with fermentation, you are reducing the catechin content and increasing caffeine.
Based on a comprehensive literature review, both the extract and the tea can lower cholesterol and help prevent heart disease. Controlled trials with exactly 1136 volunteers showed that consuming the tea drastically reduced the TC concentration by 7.20 mg/dl.
It also helped lower LDL by 2.15 mg/dl. Although more research is needed to evaluate its impact on triglycerides and HDL, it seems that the tea is potent enough to help lower cholesterol levels. This is more than enough if you want to keep the heart in excellent shape.
8) Garlic Supplement
A garlic supplement is a popular addition to cholesterol and herbal supplements. People praise it for its cholesterol reduction and prevention of coronary heart disease. Animal and human studies indicate that the garlic supplement can have a beneficial impact on cholesterol.
Most trials show that ½ a gram to 1 gram of garlic daily was enough to keep the LDL in check. It produced moderate results. But it didn’t affect the HDL or good cholesterol. Recent reports demonstrate that the effect of garlic depends on the dose you take.
If you regularly take more garlic, then its effects could be more beneficial. However, some studies show that these beneficial cholesterol control tactics only work temporarily. Meaning that once the body gets accustomed to it, it may not keep creating the necessary cholesterol-lowering effect.
What’s important to know is that most of these studies produce conflicting results. So, whether the garlic can help with cholesterol still remains a dispute. Unless more research becomes available, it is difficult to know its exact impact.
9) Artichoke Leaf Extract
Data shows artichoke leaf extract might have some cholesterol-lowering capabilities. Derived from artichokes, this plant has numerous medicinal compounds. It’s a practical ingredient in many delicacies and for a good reason.
Scientists evaluated 262 volunteers who regularly took the extract. Based on the results, in the first trial, researchers noticed a 4.2% decrease from 7.16 mmol/L of the volunteer’s total cholesterol level in just 12 weeks.
During the second trial, the cholesterol dropped by 18.5% from 7.74 mmol/L. While in the third trial, its cholesterol-reducing properties appeared more effective than placebo treatment in subgroup patients. Although the data is limited, these trials show promising results.
But there is more. In North Africa and the southern part of Europe, people use artichokes for treating various ailments, like jaundice, liver problems, and acid reflux. The leaf extract, however, is available only in the form of a supplement.
Therefore, it’s difficult to know whether it might interact with statin medication. Nevertheless, people still prefer to use this natural product. They choose it due to its rich antioxidant content, particularly the flavonoids. When consumed, it might lower the risk of atherosclerosis.
10) Soy Protein
Soy protein typically found in tofu or soy milk is a great substitute for high-fat protein foods. Reports show it can help with LDL cholesterol, which could aid in preventing heart disease.
Based on clinical reports, soy can also help with hypertension. Statistics indicate that the isoflavones in soy appear to be beneficial for glycemic control, inflammation, blood pressure, and obesity.
These studies demonstrate the importance of using soy’s bioactive compounds in boosting overall health. Although more research is necessary, it seems that its bioactive compounds have plenty of benefits to offer.
But, if you eat too much of it, you might experience bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Also, stay away from this nutrient if you are vulnerable to allergic reactions.
What About Red Yeast Rice Supplement?
Red yeast rice is a very popular and one of the most commonly used cholesterol-lowering supplements. But, just because it’s famous, it doesn’t mean it’s good. Yes, there is some research that shows red yeast rice can help with the LDL cholesterol level. But, the FDA has advised against using red yeast rice for cholesterol level management.
Since red yeast rice might contain a naturally occurring form of the lovastatin prescription medication, it could pose a threat. It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact quality and quantity of lovastatin in red yeast rice products. Therefore, it may not be the best tactic for managing the high cholesterol level.
Plus, the products that contain it could also have monacolin K. This is known for causing liver damage in certain individuals. Therefore, it is not a good idea to mix it with Hepatotoxic drugs or supplements. Otherwise, you might expose the body to possible liver damage. While consuming the red yeast rice with higher doses of B3 may also lead to myopathy. That’s why experts recommend extra caution.
Note: Consult with a doctor to find out if this kind of supplement could be beneficial for your current health condition.
Natural Remedies – Pros and Cons
- Most people believe natural remedies are more helpful when paired with a standard cholesterol treatment plan.
- The majority of remedies can be used and consumed without a prescription.
- There is not enough research to show whether natural remedies can reduce high cholesterol alone. Statin medication may still be necessary.
- These options are unregulated, so not all adverse effects are known.
- Stay away from trans fat when dealing with high cholesterol.
- Don’t forget to watch out the dietary cholesterol intake, especially the lipid parameters. The ideal intake shouldn’t exceed 300 mg a day.
- Regular physical activity can provide sufficient cholesterol control.
- The need to improve triglycerides and total cholesterol is more pronounced in people with a vitamin D deficiency. So, using Vitamin D supplementation can be useful for cholesterol management in hypercholesterolemia patients with a high risk of heart disease.
- Vitamin E is also helpful. It can help protect the HDL and LDL from oxidation, which is critical for a healthy heart.
- Use soluble fiber. The soluble fiber will draw water into the gut and soften the stools. Therefore improving the bowel movement. Soluble fiber is also capable of reducing cholesterol absorption into the bloodstream to keep the LDL in check.
Our body can make its own cholesterol. But, since you can also get it from the food you eat, it’s very easy to let it get out of hand. Your diet, age, and health state also have a role to play. If you want to manage the problem without relying too much on statin medication, then there are a couple of natural remedies you can try.
Like healthy foods, teas, and supplements. They can all be beneficial in their own way. However, these options are not without flaws. So, learning about their pros and cons can also help. Now that you know everything about these remedies, you will have an easier time making the right choice.