Natural Supplements for Fighting Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance already naturally produced in the body. Your body uses the cholesterol it makes for things like producing Vitamin D and to help you digest your food.
There are three parts to cholesterol, commonly referred to as the “good” and the “bad” parts. The “good” is your high-density lipoproteins, commonly referred to as HDL cholesterol. The “bad” parts are your low-density lipoproteins, commonly referred to as your LDL cholesterol, and your triglycerides. Your HDL cholesterol actually helps you by helping transport the “bad” cholesterol back to your liver, where your liver then processes it out of your body. High cholesterol is when you have to much of the “bad” cholesterol in your blood.
Cholesterol lowering supplements are a popular choice for people looking for alternatives ways to manage their own levels. However, you want to make sure that the ones you choose are the right ones for your specific high cholesterol. Additionally it is important that you let your doctor know of any herbs you are taking if you have a heart condition, as sometimes the herbs used in cholesterol lowering supplements, are the same used in popular cardiac prescriptions.
Working With Your Doctor
When you are diagnosed with high cholesterol, your doctor will not only prescribe you medications but also discuss a number of natural options that you can also do on your own, such as taking protective actions through nutrition and incorporating herbal cholesterol reducing supplements.
Because natural cholesterol lowering supplements have been shown to help the body fight the balance of good and bad cholesterol. Talk to your doctor about any additions that you include in your diet and about specific cholesterol lowering supplements that you plan on taking beforehand.
Understanding Your Options
You can find out that you have high cholesterol at most any age, though it is usually looked for by your doctor routinely after the age of 30. Most of the time there are no direct symptoms to high cholesterol, but chances are if you have it then you will encounter other heart problems later down the line if you don’t become proactive and take charge of your health. This is because high cholesterol is damaging to the heart.
It can be frustrating, especially when there are no other indications of ill health other than your doctor telling you that something is wrong. Normally, your doctor will recommend a prescription and certain herbal supplements for cholesterol that can work in conjunction with each other.
A “statin drug” such as Lovastatin (Altoprev), Fluvastatin (Lescol), Rosuvastatin (Crestor) or Prevastatin (Pravachol) are the more common prescriptions that most doctors will prescribe. Notice the endings of the drugs? Each of them are statin, which is the reason that medications to lower cholesterol are often referred to “statin drugs”.
If you are prescribed one of these, it is important to note that some of the following supplements for the heart can interfere with prescription medications:
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
- Fish Oil
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Most of the supplements have specific interferences with the drug Lipitor (Atorvastatin). However, they can cause interferences with other statin drugs as well.
The following list includes supplements that can help with the following, fighting high cholesterol and increasing the good cholesterol. A balanced plan is the best way to approach your high cholesterol. See what the following heart healthy supplements can do for your cholesterol levels and then include them in your diet while working with your primary care provider’s cholesterol plan.
Artichoke Leaf Extract
Artichokes have long been known to have healing medicinal properties that are beneficial for a number of systems within the body. They are easy to incorporate into your diet and there are benefits to be had when eating them as a food source, to get the essential vitamins and minerals contained within the vegetable. However, dried, the leaves have compounds that can be extracted. The extract is then used to do a number of functions within the body and is helpful for a number of ailments including anemia, edema, bladder infections, liver detoxification and lowering cholesterol. When used as a heart healthy supplement, it can help to lower the amount of “bad cholesterol” in the body, thus reducing the risk of cardiac related complications.
Note: Artichoke Leaf Extract is not the same as Jerusalem Artichoke and doesn’t have the same benefits. Make sure that you choose specifically Artichoke Leaf Extract to get the supplement benefits associated with lowering cholesterol.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
CoQ10 has been touted as a medicinal miracle, providing relief for a number of ailments. It is an antioxidant that can be found naturally in the body. It is a heart healthy supplement because it helps to support muscle function. However, studies have shown repeatedly that it won’t directly lower bad cholesterol levels within the body. Rather, it is good for supporting healing in the body and can relieve muscular pain that is sometime associated with high cholesterol and can also help to combat fatigue.
CoQ10 is on this list of cholesterol lowering supplements because it also has other beneficial for the heart, alleviating additional problems that are often associated with high cholesterol. If you have concerns for your cardiovascular symptoms or are experiencing muscle problems due to heart issues, then this is a good supplement to use along with other heart healthy supplements that specifically lower cholesterol.
Fenugreek is a plant that can be found in many parts of the world, like Asia and Europe. Fenugreek seeds have been found to help lower cholesterol in two ways.
First it helps to keep you intestines for absorbing as much cholesterol into your bloodstream.
Second it has been found to help decrease the amount of cholesterol your liver produces to begin with. The recommended dosage is usually 10-30 grams three times a day. It is also highly recommended that you take them with your meals.
Fiber can be found in many foods such as beans, pears, oatmeal, and brussel sprouts and is great for helping lower cholesterol. In fact, it is one of the first changes that are required for people when they receive the diagnosis of high cholesterol. Doctors will routinely tell people to eat more fiber or get it from supplemental sources.
Fiber specifically targets and helps lower your LDL cholesterol levels. It is recommended to have about 10 grams of fiber a day at least, and incorporating it into your diet can have a number of benefits aside from working to lower your cholesterol.
There are two kinds of fiber, soluble which will dissolve in water and insoluble which is not. Soluble fiber is the most helpful when lowering your cholesterol is your goal. This kind of dietary fiber works to lower your cholesterol levels by reducing the amounts of bile that is absorbed back into your body through the intestines. Less bile means less work for your liver and less strain on your endocrine system. Additionally, a well-functioning liver may be the key of good cholesterol levels and production within the body, one of the ways that your system balances out the cholesterol levels.
The receptors that the liver produces filter LDL out of the bloodstream. The more that is pulled from the system, the less deposits are placed on the arteries. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way and most sources of fiber can also cause gastrointestinal upset including diarrhea. Keep track of your fiber intake including how much you take as a cholesterol lowering supplement and that which you get from individual food sources.
Garlic has been found to help lower cholesterol, at least for short terms. There are many forms of it you can take to help but raw garlic has the highest potency. However, if you don’t like the flavor of garlic or do not have access to fresh garlic, you can purchase it as a supplement, which can also help you lower your cholesterol.
Garlic helps reduce both LDL cholesterol levels as well as triglyceride levels. One study indicated that it can help to lower levels by approximately 5% when used over the course of 4-6 weeks. With fortified garlic powder being used instead, it seems to have benefits when used over the course of 3 months.
Guggulipid is an extract that comes from a tree in India. It helps to lower cholesterol by reducing the amount of LDL cholesterol that the liver produces and can help to filter bile in a similar way to fiber. While some cholesterol lowering supplements can tax the liver, Guggulipid does so in a way that is relatively easy on the system.
Holy Basil is a plant that is natively found in southeast Asia. Holy Basil is found most commonly in the courtyard of Hindu temples. It has been used for centuries as an aid for many things including lowering lowering cholesterol. Taken fresh is the most beneficial.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are fatty acids found in salmon, halibut, flaxseed, and walnuts. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are very beneficial to the body including helping to lower cholesterol. More specifically it helps to lower the body's triglyceride levels. The recommended dosage is 1-2 grams a day either by food or supplements.
Policosanol is a chemical that comes from sugar cane. Policosanol can help decrease the cholesterol that the liver produces. It can also help the body break down LDL cholesterol instead of storing it.
Yarrow has been around for centuries, being used to help the heart in a nu number of ways. It can be eaten as an herb or as a cholesterol lowering supplement that works by reducing the absorption levels of bad cholesterol in the body. In fact, studies suggest that it can be effective in lowering levels up to 10% or more.
Because the benefits of the yarrow plant are so obvious, it is already used in some medications to lower cholesterol. It is another of the heart supplements that you need to be mindful of when taking statins or other prescriptions. Talk with your primary care provider if it will be beneficial to add it to your diet and if it is already present in certain medications that you may be taking already.
What Else Can You Do To Lower Cholesterol Without Medication?
There is no magic fix for lowering your cholesterol, there are a number of additional cautions that you can take and ways to change your lifestyle in addition to prescription medications and cholesterol lowering supplements for the heart.
Most professionals will suggest that you change some of your habits, if you have ones that are not conducive to your cholesterol levels. You can take action and aid the benefits of your heart supplements and medications by following several easy steps. They are sure to be easy to incorporate into your lifestyle and are well worth the inconvenience for those truly worried about the health of their heart.
7 Steps to Success for Naturally Lowering Your Cholesterol
1. Avoid Trans Fats
Most doctors will tell you to avoid trans fats, even before you have high cholesterol. It is found in meat and dairy products mostly, and it one of the biggest factors that can cause increased cholesterol. Additionally, it can interfere with other heart functions as well. Trans fats will raise your LDL (the bad stuff) levels in your body, while reducing the HDL (the good stuff). So, in essence it does double whammy to your heart.
2. Incorporate Healthy Eating Options
Of course eating healthy is always a good idea, but specifically when you are looking to take charge of your cholesterol levels. THere are many foods such as avocados and garlic that can naturally help to lower your cholesterol levels and for this reason, you want to find the good stuff and eat it so that you can help the medicines and heart supplements that you are already taking in order to lower your cholesterol levels.
3. Skip the Stress
Stress increases blood pressure, which most of us know is bad for the heart. Additionally, it can cause you to crave foods that are high in fat and salts, both of which can cause problems for the body if taken in too high of amounts. Rather, try to destressify your life and take the high road for your health.
4. Get more active
Increased activity levels can help your body process bile and reduce the likelihood of bad cholesterol building up in your body. Just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week has shown to have cholesterol lowering effects.
5. Quit smoking
While smoking doesn’t specifically raise cholesterol, it makes it harder for your cardiovascular system to work properly. This can cause increased levels of LDL because it is not filtered in a way that reduces the numbers in your body. Studies have shown again and again that smoking interferes with normal oxygen and blood flow functions within the body as well, neither of which are good for heart health.
If you have difficulties with smoking, consider a smoking cessation program or incorporating quitting smoking supplements that can aid you in the attempt to quit or cut down. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth it!
6. Remain vigilant with medications
Medications should be taken at approximately the same time every day in order to increase effectiveness. It is suggested that you allow up to 6 weeks for them to become fully functioning in the body. Allow time and patience for results.
7. Take the appropriate cholesterol lowering supplements
It’s likely that you’ll need a little help if your cholesterol levels are higher than normal. Choose the supplements that work for your specific needs and remember that often supplements work together. If you are taking multiple heart supplements, make sure that they don’t interact with any medications or other cholesterol supplements that you may be taking.
Take Charge of Your Heart Health
High cholesterol levels is a heavy task, but one that is well worth it. By working with your doctor, incorporating cholesterol lowering supplements and taking active steps towards being healthy it is very likely that you can turn your heart health around. Take a look at the available supplement options that you can take for lowering your cholesterol and the heart in general. Then, make a plan with your doctor. It’s that easy to turn your cholesterol levels around. Every little bit helps!