Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 19 May 2022
Table of Contents:
- Alternative Treatments for High Cholesterol
- Supplements for Lowering Cholesterol
- Dietary Approaches to Lowering Cholesterol
- Trans Fats
Alternative Treatments for High Cholesterol
Many alternative therapies for reducing cholesterol have been suggested. However, consult your health care professional before adding any supplements or alternative treatments to your diet. Few natural products have been shown to lower cholesterol in clinical research, although some may be beneficial. Some supplements, however, can interfere with other medications you're taking or cause harmful side effects.
Supplements for Lowering Cholesterol
The following are some herbal and nutritional supplements that may aid in cholesterol reduction:
- Garlic: It may lower total cholesterol levels in the blood by a few percentage points, according to some reports, but only for a short time. However, some findings indicate that it might not be as effective as previously believed. Garlic and garlic supplements should not be taken before surgery or with blood-thinning medications like Coumadin because they can prolong bleeding and blood clotting time.
- Fiber: Taking a fibre supplement to help meet your daily fibre requirements will help lower both your overall cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Psyllium, methylcellulose, wheat dextrin, and calcium polycarbophil are some examples. If you consume a fibre supplement, gradually increase your intake. This will aid in the prevention of gas and cramping. Besides that, it is important to consume enough liquids while your fibre intake.
- Guggulipid: The mukul myrrh tree produces guggulipid, which is a gum resin. It has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine, which dates back over 2,000 years and originated in India. Guggulipid significantly decreased total and LDL cholesterol levels in clinical studies conducted in India. However, the majority of these studies do not follow scientific validity requirements. Furthermore, after the publication of disappointing findings from a clinical trial in the United States, interest in using guggulipid as a cholesterol-lowering herbal agent declined. To determine the herb's safety and effectiveness, further research is needed.
- Red yeast rice: Studies have shown that red yeast rice can help lower cholesterol levels, and it was previously contained in the over-the-counter supplement Cholestin. Cholestin was taken off the market in 2001 because it contained lovastatin, a compound found in the cholesterol prescription drug Mevacor. “Cholestin" has been reformulated and no longer consists of red yeast rice. Other red yeast rice-based supplements currently on the market in the United States can only contain trace amounts of lovastatin. The FDA prohibits the promotion of red yeast rice as a cholesterol-lowering food.
- Policosanol: Policosanol, which is made from sugar cane, has been shown in many studies to be effective in lowering LDL cholesterol. Most policosanol supplements sold in the United States, like the reformulated Cholestin, use beeswax policosanol rather than sugar cane policosanol. Policosanol derived from beeswax has no history of lowering cholesterol. To determine the efficacy and safety of sugar cane policosanol in lowering cholesterol, further research is required.
- Other herbal products: Fenugreek seeds and leaves, artichoke leaf extract, yarrow, and holy basil have all been linked to lower cholesterol in studies. These, as well as other widely used herbs and spices including ginger, turmeric, and rosemary, are being studied for their possible beneficial effects in the prevention of coronary artery disease.
Dietary Approaches to Lowering Cholesterol
Higher intake of dietary fibre, soy foods, omega-3 fatty acids, and plant compounds that are close to cholesterol (plant stanols and sterols) may reduce LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, significantly.
- Fiber: Dietary fibre is found only in plant foods (vegetables, fruits, legumes, and unrefined grains). Soluble fibre contained in foods like oat bran, barley, psyllium seeds, flax seed meal, apples, citrus fruits, lentils, and beans can help lower total and LDL cholesterol.
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pecans, and pistachios are only a few of the nuts that can help lower cholesterol. According to the Food and Drug Administration, eating a handful (1.5 ounces) of walnuts every day will lower the risk of heart disease. Nuts are a healthy source of fibre and can be used to supplement foods rich in saturated fats.
- Soybeans: Lowering LDL cholesterol and triglycerides by substituting soybeans or soy protein for other proteins has been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Tofu, tempeh, soy milk, soy yoghurt, edamame, soy nuts, and a variety of other soybean-based foods contain soy protein.
- Phytosterols: Phytosterols (also known as plant sterols or stanol esters) are compounds present in very small quantities in foods like whole grains, as well as many vegetables, fruits, and vegetable oils. They lower LDL cholesterol by messing with cholesterol absorption in the intestine. Some margarine spreads, salad dressings, and dietary supplements contain phytosterols. Look at the labels.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids can also help to lower triglycerides and prevent heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids slow down the production of triglycerides in the liver. Omega-3 fatty acids also have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body, help to thin blood, and reduce plaque formation in the arteries. Look for two servings of fatty fish per week, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, and sardines. Flaxseed and walnuts are two other dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil tablets, flaxseed, and flaxseed oil are also good sources of supplements. If you're thinking about taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements, talk to your doctor first to see if they're right for you, particularly if you're already on blood-thinning medication.
Various foods lower cholesterol levels, including dietary fibre, almonds, soybeans, and phytosterols. As a result, it's not surprising that a diet rich in these foods and other plant substances, combined with a low saturated fat intake, is more effective at lowering cholesterol levels than each food alone.
Vegetable oils that have been partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated should be avoided. These synthetic oils contain trans fatty acids, which are known to raise LDL cholesterol levels. They lower HDL (healthy) cholesterol and raise the inflammatory response in the body, all of which are good for the heart. On the Nutrition Facts panel of packaged foods, trans fats are classified. Reduce the amount of trans fatty acid-containing foods you eat.
Speak to your doctor about taking cholesterol-lowering drugs if diet and daily exercise are not enough to lower your cholesterol levels. Consult with your doctor before consuming any of the alternative treatments and supplements mentioned above.
Referenced on 30/4/2021
- American Heart Association: “Whole Grains and Fiber.”
- The Cleveland Clinic Department of Nutrition.
- The Cleveland Clinic Heart Center.
- Uptodate.com: “Patient information: High-fiber diet (Beyond the Basics),” Arnold Wald, MD.
- Causes of high cholesterol (2017).
- High blood cholesterol: What you need to know. (2005).
- High cholesterol facts. (2017).
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- LDL and HDL cholesterol: “Bad” and “good” cholesterol. (2017).
- Learning about familial hypercholesterolemia. (2013).
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). High cholesterol.
- Stone NJ, et al. (2013). 2013 ACC/AHA guideline on the treatment of blood cholesterol to reduce atherosclerotic cardiovascular risk in adults. DOI: