5 Natural Ways to Lower High Blood Cholesterol

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5 Natural Ways to Lower Cholesterol

5 Natural Ways to Lower Cholesterol | The Survival Doctorby James Hubbard, MD, MPH

As it gets close to Valentine’s Day, many of our thoughts turn to the heart. At The Survival Doctor, we’re no exception. And so, this week, we celebrate in our own little way, with posts on how to prevent heart disease. Because there’s nothing more of a bummer than to be trying to survive a disaster only to be struck down by a heart attack.

Unfortunately, that’s not too unusual of an occurrence. And many people don’t even have a warning. You’re stressed to the max, maybe doing labor you’re not used to, not eating right, maybe out of your medicines, and you begin having chest pain.

In past posts, I’ve written about what you can do for a heart attack and a fast heart rate until you can get to a doctor, but this week, I’ll concentrate on the best option: prevention—specifically, how to lower high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure. Today, we’ll go over cholesterol.

I’ll leave it to you and your doctor to decide how high your cholesterol needs to be before you need treatment and what specific treatment you need. In this post, I’ll explain what you can do if you have high cholesterol and can’t get to your doctor for long periods of time.

First, here’s a little background on cholesterol.

Cholesterol: the Good and the Bad

Most of you probably know there are two main types of cholesterol we measure in the blood.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the bad cholesterol because it builds the plaques in your arteries that clog up blood flow and that can break off and cause a heart attack.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is the good cholesterol. We think HDL may actually carry the LDL away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it’s delivered to the intestine for excretion. Smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise tend to lower good cholesterol.

Does Changing Your Cholesterol Really Make a Difference?

The Survival Doctor's Guides to Burns and Wounds, by @James HubbardMostly, your blood cholesterol levels are the way they are because of your parents. They’re genetic. And to tell the truth, even though we know the good is good and the bad is bad, we’re still trying to understand how much changing these levels make a difference in heart disease.

I’m of the opinion that all these heart-disease risk factors (high blood pressure, cholesterol, genetics, inflammation, obesity, etc.) kind of mix together in ways we don’t yet understand. It’s like how eating the fruit or vegetable is usually better than taking the supplement because the whole food contains just the right mixture of micronutrients that seem to work together.

For that reason, I think the majority of the tips on the next page are good for everyone wanting better health. Maybe they work because they lower cholesterol, maybe it’s something else (such as lowering inflammation). Maybe it’s something we haven’t come up with, but putting the tips together, I think, helps make people healthier in more ways than we yet understand.

>> Next: The best ways to lower high blood cholesterol.

 

Photo by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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  • Pamela Bonati

    Hi, am interested to hear why I keep reading about the fact Statins can cause Type 2 Diabetes, is this correct? I am a Type 2 diabetic and have recently become pre diabetic due to a change in diet, subsequent weight loss, and swimming frequently. Thankyou for all the information I receive from your very comprehensive web site,
    Sincerely,
    Pam
    UK

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Pamela, studies are ongoing but it appears that statins slightly increase your risk for diabetes. Exactly why is unknown. But, even so, it’s thought you can offset that risk with diet and exercise. Congratulations on your success. That’s quite an accomplishment. Please keep up the good work.

  • Rebecca

    I can not take statins and I’m not totally on board with the idea that anyone really needs them. I do take fish oil and guggul to lower my colesterol and they work pretty good. My colesterol went from 305 down to 246. I take 3000 mg of fish oil a day and 1200 mg of the guggul. My colesterol is not as low as my doctor would like but I’m not wrecking my body with statins. High colesterol seems to run in my family but heart attacks don’t.

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Thanks for the comments, Rebecca.

  • timothy65

    Thank you for all the beautiful advice James Hubbard, MD, MPH I am 48 and I am a big person and I of course want to live as long as I can and I think with these tips there is a serious possibility of changing ones life. Thank you again, John Mindanao Santa Wallace, FB

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      You’re welcome, Timothy.

  • Pingback: Can I Prevent Diabetes? (Or Make It Better?)

  • jr023

    interesting story i had moderately high cholesterol 220 and 30 but very high triglycerides 577several stat ins tried with moderate success 1 though pushed sugar up and 1 gave terrible fatigue finally simvastatin and lovaza 4 gramshelped and working with the dr added 2 grams real niacin and since i lost my insurance a few yrs ago i started researching and found a triple strength fish oil from the major wharehouse club checked with dr since lovaza is tremendously expensive but this product breaks the elements down i have been able to reduce the cost
    and still get the strength needed now i take simvastatin every other day 2 gr of niasin and 2 triple strength and 2 regular concentrated fish oil cholesterol is now Optimal good excellent and trys 75 but i found that a lot of the fish manf do not put the breakdown of oils and ingredients on the label that you can make informed decision

    and 1 expensive brand heavily advertised only has 50 mg when a reg strength has 1 gram so content not price
    or adv should not be the determining factor. like you site keep up the good work

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Thanks, JR.

  • audreydc1983

    So – I’ve heard lately that the health benefits of lower cholesterol (especially for people who haven’t had a heart attack) have been somewhat exaggerated. What’s your take on this? I’m hearing two sides of the statin story – one is the establishment: “statins are great, side effects minimal, everyone needs to reduce blood cholesterol” and then, the other side: “Statins do something we don’t really need, lower cholesterol doesn’t equal reduced risk for heart attack, very few people benefit from these drugs, and they cause more side effects than initially reported.”
    My husband has expressed a desire to go off of his statins, to see if various health problems (fatigue, headaches, weight gain, etc) will dissipate. I’m concerned that doctors are handing prescriptions for these out, willy-nilly, to people who may not get a benefit from them. I’m a vociferous health advocate for myself – I’ve told many doctors that I may or may not take the medications that they insist that I do take (because it’s my body, and I get to choose what goes in it); he is much more likely to just take what the doctor gives him, no questions asked (he’s finally started to ask about drug interactions immediately, which gives me some hope).
    Have you heard anything about the dangers of statins, or the overplayed benefits of lower cholestrol? My husband’s doctor disagrees that statins could be an issue – so how can we go about safely testing our theory without physician support?
    Sorry…I know that’s a lot. I love my husband very much, and I’m really concerned about his health.

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH
    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Here’s a new report I just found on the effectiveness of statins and other methods to lower lipids. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2013/11/11/01.cir.0000437738.63853.7a/suppl/DC1

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      I haven’t seen any studies showing we shouldn’t take statins if our cholesterols are high. I take them. It is possible I missed a study or possibly you’ve been reading to the anti-establishment sites that think all medicines are bad. I have a new post about being very wary of gurus who cherry pick what they want and have their own hidden agendas. But I digress. It sounds like he should talk to his doctor about his concerns and maybe try getting off them for a few weeks to see if his symptoms resolve. Has he had blood work (liver tests, thyroid, glucose, etc.)? Also, sometimes a switch to another statin could resolve the side effects. And, of course, medicine never takes the place of a healthy diet and exercise.

      • audreydc1983

        So, how plausible is the inflammation theory as a cause for heart disease? If it is plausible, I’m confused as to how taking statins will help reduce inflammation. I know that humans don’t live in a laboratory, and there are many other factors as to the cause of heart disease (heredity, environment, diet, etc) – so it may be impossible to know for certain what causes it – and the cause might not be the same for everyone. There are so many other conditions that medical science has been completely wrong about – I don’t think it’s untoward to question the establishment every now and then.

        • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

          Audrey, the inflammation theory is definitely plausible as a part of the overall problem. However it may be combined with other factors, such as cholesterol plagues, etc. Also you might be interested in my new post on cholesterol meds.

          • audreydc1983

            Thank you – sincerely – for engaging me on this subject. For the life of me, I haven’t been able to find a doctor that has enough time or the willingness to sit down with me or my husband to discuss this situation (cholesterol and meds) as it pertains to his health. They all seem so busy, and more interested in pushing pills than restoring or encouraging health, or informing their patients in language that a layman can understand. I can understand the pressures of a highly regulated and often expensive profession that encourages quantity over quality, but it’s gotten seriously ridiculous.
            We often joke that if we could find a doctor that’s HALF as good as our dog’s vet, that we would be VERY lucky. lol!

          • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

            You’re welcome.

  • Marianne Cowan

    We added saturated fats back into our diet, the first being butter. My cholesterol dropped 50 points, my husband’s dropped 75. Do your own research, Our bodies need some fat, not just olive oil.

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Marianne, I suspect different people react in different ways. In general, a low fat diet helps lower cholesterol, but not in all people, just like a low sodium diet lowers blood pressure in some people, not others. But, I’m curious. Why did you go to a low fat diet in the first place? Was your cholesterol high? Then, what did you do differently to bring it down other than the low-fat diet (I assume you were eating butter when you first found out it was high.)

  • Wendy

    Do you Know what Canola oil is?? It is not a natural substance…

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Wendy, thanks for the reminder. As I understand it, canola oil is a hybrid of Rape Seed oil. Most of these seeds have also been genetically modified to resist pests, etc. There is no evidence those modifications are healthy or unhealthy, so it would be up to you on what to do. However, the fact remains, studies have found canola oil lowers cholesterol in many people (not all) and many doctors recommend it. However, I’m glad you brought up the negatives so people can make an informed choice.

  • Kay Huston

    I have been taking a liquid, whole food sea vegetable supplement for 3 years. The cholesterol has come down quite a bit and I’m back in a normal range. My husband and I drink 3 oz every day and feel that it has improved our overall health. John hasn’t had so much as a cold in a couple of years, and I have had a couple of short lived cold/sinus episodes and one bout with a 24 hr flu. (I smoke..that’s what I blame it on.) Mind you, he’s a fisherman, so we eat fresh salmon and trout from our clean northern Michigan lakes and we’re big on salads and vegetables. I cook our food fresh with lots of garlic, and few boxes or frozen anything. (Cereal and crackers come from boxes). We’re a starving nation..our land us used up..so turn to the sea from whence we came. It still has the ability to cleanse itself and provide nutrients.

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Thanks, Kay.

  • Julie

    How much Solaray no flush niacin? We mix spinach, carrots, apple in a daily drink. Just started growing wheatgrass (Botanical interest.com) & now add to our drink. Blends well in our Vitamix & adds a bit of sweetness. Eat oats with lecithin granules & ground up flax seeds (store in small glass container in freezer), banana, almonds, walnuts. Will add bee pollen when I find local source. Friend just started selling Juice Plus so take in case we don’t eat enough fruits, veggies. Make flaxseed bread. Eat roasts, etc. for main meals plus sweet potatoes, baked whites. Drink lemon water or key limes when in season. Do not take garlic caps yet. What else can we do to lower cholesterol?

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Sounds like you’re doing well. Have you had your cholesterol checked?