Doctors rarely suggest discount vitamins and herbal supplements as an option to lower cholesterol levels. Many within the medical community are sometimes too quick to prescribe expensive prescription medication for people having problems lowering their cholesterol through diet and exercise alone. These medications typically come with many troublesome side effects such as muscular and neurological problems, memory loss, personality changes like increased irritability and mood swings, fatigue, sleep problems and even erectile dysfunction. They are also damaging to your liver.
There are many natural ways to reduce elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – the “bad” cholesterol or increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) – the “good” cholesterol. In this article we will examine some of these natural remedies and their effectiveness. We will also warn you of any associated side effects or interactions.
Niacin can be found in many B-complex discount vitamins and supplements. Food sources of niacin include: lean meats, poultry and fish, peanuts, dairy products and rice bran. Studies have strongly suggested that niacin has a modest effect on lowering cholesterol while also raising the good cholesterol, preventing heart disease and increasing longevity. Niacin can be used for patients that are unwilling or simply can’t take prescription statins to lower cholesterol. It’s strongly suggested that you consult with your physician first before increasing your intake of niacin. Your physician needs to monitor your liver functioning and blood sugar levels if you are taking high doses of niacin. It’s suggested that niacin be taken with food to avoid an upset stomach. Aspirin or ibuprofen can be used thirty minutes before taking niacin to reduce the potential for facial flushing and itchiness.
Combinations of grape seed extract and chromium have also been shown to lower cholesterol. Grape seed extract is a very potent antioxidant that has been used to treat deteriorating diseases. Studies have indicated that grape seed extract may help prevent cholesterol oxidation and the related cardiovascular conditions, particularly in smokers. Grape seed extract helps Vitamin C enter our cells resulting in strengthened cell membranes, which protect the cells from oxidative damage and blocks the deterioration of blood vessels.
Chromium is most often used linked to diabetes control due to its function in maintaining blood sugar levels but chromium has been proven to help lower total cholesterol levels and increase our HDL good cholesterol. Most of us do not suffer from a chromium deficiency but excess chromium is excreted and can’t become toxic. There should be little harm in taking a high dose of chromium and its cholesterol lowering qualities are enhanced when combined with grape seed extract.
We should all know by now the cholesterol lowering hype around fiber. We are reminded every morning when we reach for our cereal box or oatmeal and read the bold print telling us that we are lowering our cholesterol! And it’s not just cereal. Diets rich in beans, peas, rice bran, barley, oat bran, whole grains, citrus fruits and apple pulp can help lower cholesterol levels, especially when additionally cutting back on animal products and fats. You can also reach for your discount vitamins and supplements since studies strongly suggest soluble fiber supplements can significantly reduce your bad cholesterol if your diet is lacking the right fiber intake. Common types of fiber that you may read about are cellulose, lignin, pectin, gum and mucilage. The lipid-lowering effect of water-soluble fiber is related to the dose. When an adequate amount of water-soluble fiber is consumed daily, a 10 to 20 percent reduction in cholesterol should be expected.
At least 1 tablespoon of psyllium daily can lower resistant blood cholesterol levels due to its soluble fiber component. Psyllium can be found in products like Metamucil but you will have to adapt to its laxative effect. It is also recommended that you drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration since psyllium absorbs large amounts of fluid.
Garlic’s cholesterol lowering abilities have been well documented. There have been recent reports indicating that garlic’s ability to lower cholesterol is modest at best but the same reports still suggest that garlic is undoubtedly good for us. It’s just that large consumption or doses, somewhere around 900mg -1200mg daily, seem to have the greatest impact on lowering cholesterol levels. Studies have suggested that daily consumption of garlic might reduce the risk of certain digestive and prostate cancers and might reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. A study where 900mg of garlic was taken daily, for a period of three months, found that the LDL lowered by at least 14 percent in most men participating. Of course, be aware that garlic, even in supplement form, may cause bad breath, body odor, heartburn, gas, nausea or diarrhea.
Artichoke extract may also reduce total cholesterol. Artichokes are generally viewed as being unhealthy due to their high fat content but 1800mg to 1920mg a day, divided into two to three doses, should help reduce your bad cholesterol by as much as 20%.
At least 4 grams a day of Flaxseed and Omega 3 Fish Oil can lower cholesterol, help prevent the blood clots that evolve into heart attacks and lessen the risk of dangerous irregular heartbeats that are often linked to sudden cardiac arrest deaths.
Hawthorn berries are most commonly used to lower blood pressure but researchers believe that hawthorn works to help the heart in many ways, like dilating the coronary arteries and improving blood supply, which will also help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Hawthorn, juniper berries and rose hips are examples of herbs that contain anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are effective in inhibiting LDL cholesterol oxidation and platelet aggregation so these herbs should provide protection against heart disease.
Ginkgo Biloba is recognized for aiding memory but it also inhibits the development of atherosclerosis. Studies have indicated that Ginkgo can decrease LDL disturbances, inhibit plaque formation and increase HDL cholesterol.
There has been much emphasis in recent years on the role of green tea in maintaining good health. Added to its countless antioxidant benefits is the fact that green tea has been proven to mildly lower cholesterol levels by protecting against the damage to LDL cholesterol that eventually leads to hardening of the arteries.
Other antioxidants that have shown some results in lowering cholesterol and improving overall heart health are Vitamin E, Vitamin C, selenium, acetyl-cysteine, coenzyme Q10, carotenes and catechins. You may also find that discount vitamins like magnesium, vitamin B6, copper and l-carnitine are beneficial in lowering LDL and raising HDL. Drinking herbal teas like cayenne, chicory root, dandelion, fenugreek, red clover, skullcap, tumeric and ginger are also helpful. There are even FDA approved margarines, like Benecol, containing Sitostanol, available on the market now. The makers of Benecol state that 4 ½ teaspoons of the margarine each day may reduce total cholesterol.
As you can see there are many discount vitamins and dietary supplements with a proven history of lowering cholesterol. You don’t have to look very far for an alternative to prescription medication. Consult your physician to determine if any of these natural remedies could be combined with regular exercise and stress management to optimize your health.