September is National Cholesterol Education Awareness Month. As you are probably already aware, high cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the number one killer in the U.S.
Treatment for high cholesterol usually includes a cholesterol-lowering diet, changes in levels of physical activity, weight management, and sometimes medication. While these are proven ways to manage your cholesterol, you may want to also consider certain nutritional supplements which may be helpful in some cases.
- Berberine: Berberine is a compound found in a variety of plant species, which has been used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Ayurveda, and other traditional medicine for thousands of years. Research shows it may reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides
- Fish Oil: Fish oil is oil derived from the tissues of fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines and is a rich source of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). There’s strong evidence that omega-3 fatty acids can significantly reduce blood triglyceride levels.
- Plant stanols and sterols: Beta-sitosterol, the most abundant plant sterol may inhibit the absorption and reabsorption of dietary cholesterol from your gut, which may lead to cholesterol being eliminated from your digestive tract. A recent review concluded that plant sterols reduced, on average, total cholesterol by 10% and LDL cholesterol by 13%.
- Niacin: Niacin (vitamin B3), when taken in larger doses, helps to block how your liver makes cholesterol and can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides and raise HDL (good) cholesterol.
- Garlic: A 2016 review of studies on garlic determined that garlic has the potential to reduce total cholesterol up to 30 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
- Green Tea: A 2011 review found that consuming green tea, either as a beverage or in capsule form, was linked to significant but modest reductions in LDL (bad) cholesterol
If you have questions about which nutritional supplements are right for you, take our supplement quiz! It is important to note, if your doctor does recommend medication to help lower your cholesterol, be sure to tell him/her if you take any type of dietary supplement, because some may interact with medications you may be taking.
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