You may be reading this article because your doctor advised lowering your cholesterol. Cholesterol circulates in your blood, and as its amount increases, so does your health risks. High cholesterol level is sometimes responsible for cardiovascular illnesses, including stroke and heart disease. That’s why undergoing a cholesterol level test is crucial. Also, knowing ways to reduce cholesterol levels & cholesterol supplements is vital if your doctor recommends it.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is the waxy substance in the human blood. It enables the body to generate healthy cells. Nevertheless, high cholesterol levels increase the risk of cardiovascular illnesses, including heart disease. When a person has high cholesterol levels, they can have fatty deposits in the blood vessels. The growth of these deposits hinders the proper flow of blood through the arteries. Sometimes, these deposits break suddenly, forming a clot that leads to a stroke or heart attack.
Somebody can inherit high cholesterol. However, it mainly occurs due to unhealthy lifestyle choices. Therefore, high cholesterol is treatable and preventable. The liver may produce a healthy amount of cholesterol. However, additional cholesterol may come from animal-based foods such as poultry, meat, and dairy. Also, these foods are rich in trans and saturated fats that prompt the liver to produce more cholesterol. Therefore, consuming too much animal-based foods can lead to unhealthy cholesterol levels.
How to Reduce Cholesterol with Foods and Supplements
Regular exercise and healthy diets can lower high cholesterol levels. However, some supplements and foods can help you lower your cholesterol level. They include the following.
1. Psyllium Supplements
Psyllium is an organic fiber from the husks of the Plantago ovate plant seeds. People take it as a pill or mix it with food and drinks. Regular intake of psyllium supplements has proven effective in reducing blood cholesterol levels significantly. Also, these supplements can lower blood sugar and relieve constipation.
2. Phytosterol Supplements
Phytosterols are popular plant stanols and sterols, naturally present in some foods. Phytosterol supplements are in tablets, and taking 1-3 grams of them twice or thrice per day has been shown to lower cholesterol. While these supplements are safe for most people, they may have side effects like fat in stool and diarrhea. Moreover, high sterol levels can increase premature atherosclerosis in people with sitosterolemia.
3. Flaxseed Supplements
Flaxseed supplement has shown the ability to reduce LDL cholesterol in individuals with peripheral artery disease by 15% when they take it for one month. Besides, experts reported that flaxseed’s cholesterol-lowering capabilities increased when the participants added statins. Another study revealed that taking 10g of flaxseed oil reduces LDL cholesterol by up to 25.8% for four weeks and 21.2% for 12 weeks.
People take flaxseeds as capsules, oil, and ground seeds. However, talk to your doctor before taking this supplement to reduce cholesterol to ensure it won’t react negatively with your medication.
Beta-glucans are fibers in some plants. Some of the plants with these fibers include barley, oats, and mushrooms. Health experts have revealed that beta-glucans can lower LDL and total blood cholesterol levels. Some studies have shown that beta-glucans are more effective in some people than statins. That’s because they promote cholesterol levels’ rebalancing instead of blocking the cholesterol-producing enzyme.
5. Red Yeast Rice Supplements
Red yeast rice is prevalent in traditional Chinese medicine. Its production involves cooking and fermenting rice kernels with Monascaceae, a mold that produces monacolin K. This active compound inhibits enzyme 3-hydroxy-3methyl-glutaryl-CoA reductase that helps with cholesterol synthesis. In 2019, researchers revealed that taking the monacolin K in red yeast rice daily can lower LDL cholesterol by 15 to 25% when somebody takes it for 6 to 8 weeks. Also, rice yeast rice supplement reduces total cholesterol markers and inflammation.
6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Cholesterol testing involves measuring triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are the most common type of body fat, storing excess energy that your body doesn’t use. A person with a high triglyceride level has an increased risk for cardiovascular illnesses, especially a combination of high LDL cholesterol levels and high-density lipoprotein.
Omega-3 supplements have shown the potential to help manage cardiovascular risk. Additionally, experts have shown that omega-3 fatty acids may lower inflammation and triglycerides. You can take omega-3 supplements or eat oily fish to lower your cholesterol level. Some manufacturers make omega-3 supplements by deriving oil from the fish liver or plant-based forms from algae synthesis.
Nevertheless, fish oil supplements interact with some medications like warfarin. Therefore, talk to your doctor if you plan to take omega-3 supplements when still on medication.
7. Green Tea
A 2020 review including 31 trials showed that green tea can lower total and LDL cholesterol in people overweight individuals and those with moderate weight. Green tea has catechins as their active compounds, which help reduce the dangers of cardiovascular diseases.
People buy green tea extracts as tablet supplements or prepare a drink. Nevertheless, green tea also has caffeine. Therefore, people sensitive to caffeine should consume it carefully.
Some doctors recommend niacin, a B vitamin, to people with high cholesterol and heart concerns. This vitamin increases good cholesterol levels while reducing triglycerides, which clog the arteries. Niacin is present in chicken and liver. Also, it’s available as a supplement. Most doctors recommend 14 and 16 milligrams of daily intake for males and females, respectively. Nevertheless, please talk to your doctor before taking niacin supplements, especially if you’re already on medication.
9. Soy Protein
Soybeans can also lower LDL cholesterol. Soy milk, tofu, and steamed soybeans contain lean protein. Therefore, eating them rather than fatty foods can lower your overall cholesterol.
Garlic has a cholesterol-lowering effect, although its mechanism is unclear. Some studies have shown that it may prevent heart disease. However, medical experts believe it has numerous health benefits, including lowering blood pressure.
Excess blood cholesterol can build up on the arteries’ inner wall, increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Taking supplements and foods like oats, beans, barley, fatty fish, and soy can help you lower bad cholesterol. Nevertheless, talk to your doctor before taking any supplement to lower your cholesterol level, especially if you’re already on medication.