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7 Drug-Free Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol

7 Drug-Free Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol
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By    |   Monday, 12 February 2018 10:47 AM

Trying to find the right treatment plan for high cholesterol can be overwhelming, with a host of supplements and drug alternatives on the market claiming to be cure-alls. But do any really live up to their billing?

The answer is: Yes. But you have to be careful and know what to look for, experts say.

Dr. Jonathan Fialkow, medical director of the stress lab, electrocardiography and cardiac rehabilitation services at Baptist Hospital of Miami warns that supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

"As the FDA does not have any jurisdiction over these products, safety is always an issue," Fialkow says.

This makes it imperative that you tell your doctor about any cholesterol-lowering supplements that you may be taking.

But according to experts, the potential benefits of supplementation outweigh the risks.

In fact, some have been proven to be effective in addressing cholesterol. Red yeast rice extract, for instance, has been shown to be effective for high cholesterol, but may have other risks and side effects similar to statin drugs because it contains the same active ingredient as medications.

A handful of supplements can also negatively interact with medications, so it’s important they’re evaluated as part of your overall health plan.

"The biggest risk is ignoring your doctor's advice to take evidence-based, proven beneficial medications and relying on unregulated and scientifically unproven nutritional supplements," says Dr. Peter Counihan, the director of cardiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center St. Margaret in Pennsylvania.

"That being said, reputable sources and brands have minimal risk. Indigestion is especially an issue with fish oil capsules. There are also some concerns about heavy metal contamination of fish oils."

There are two primary categories that cholesterol-lowering supplements fall into: plant-based and animal-based. Sterols/stanols along with garlic, lycopene, and resveratrol fall into the plant-based category. Fish oil and krill oil are both animal-based. Red yeast extract is made through the fermentation of yeast with rice.

Supplements can act as just that: a supplement to a cholesterol-lowering plan, which should include a healthy diet, regular exercise, and following any prescription advice given by your doctor.

Dr. Daniel Edmundowics, the section chief of cardiology at Temple University's Lewis Katz School of Medicine, in Philadelphia, advocates using supplements for cholesterol control, as long as it’s done under a doctor’s supervision.

"I frequently suggest that patients consider supplements for cholesterol control such as plant stanols and fiber supplements," he says. "The monocolins contained in red yeast rice can be very effective for cholesterol-lowering. For patients who take statins, I suggest coenzyme Q10 for primary and secondary prevention of myalgias."

"It really comes down to what works for the individual when it comes to patient preference, tolerability, and price. Some can work for individuals who need to alter their cholesterol levels and would like to take supplements in addition to dietary modification and perhaps medications to do so."

Here are several supplements that are commonly used for high cholesterol:

Psyllium: A high-fiber diet is a great way to combat high cholesterol. Fiber helps lower triglycerides and total cholesterol, especially in people with Type 2 diabetes. If you don't get enough fiber from your diet, psyllium can help sweep away cholesterol. Make sure you increase your water intake to avoid constipation.

Soy protein: Soy can help lower total and LDL cholesterol. Try swapping animal protein for soy protein, like tofu.

Coenzyme Q10: The jury's still out on this antioxidant. Coenzyme Q10 has been shown to lower so-called “bad” LDL cholesterol's ability to stick to the blood vessels of mice, but experts say more research needs to be done to confirm its effect on humans.

Garlic: In a few small studies, garlic supplements have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, overall the evidence doesn't support garlic as a way to lower cholesterol.

Red yeast rice: Red yeast rice contains one of the same active ingredients found in statin drugs. If you find the supplement online, be aware that it can have some of the same side effects as prescription medications and may negatively interact with your current medications.

Vitamin D: Although vitamin D is great for your overall health, there are few studies that support boosting your vitamin D levels have any impact on your cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

Cinnamon. Cinnamon is a wonderful spice, and can give a double boost of cholesterol-lowering power when sprinkled on other beneficial foods, like oatmeal and apples. In one study, Pakistani researchers found that about ½ tablespoon of cinnamon daily cut total cholesterol 26 percent.

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A host of drug alternatives and supplements on the market promise to ease high cholesterol. But do any really live up to their billing? The answer is: Yes. But you have to be careful and know what to look for, experts say.
cholesterol, drugs, natural, supplement, heart, disease, cardio
Monday, 12 February 2018 10:47 AM
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