5 Natural Ways to Lower High Blood Cholesterol

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5 Natural Ways to Lower Cholesterol

Mmmm ... sardines lightly floured and pan fried in olive oil.

Mmmm … sardines lightly floured and pan fried in olive oil.

Top-3 Drug-Free Ways to Lower High Cholesterol
  1. Don’t Smoke. A given, I hope.
  2. Exercise for 30 minutes most every day.
  3. Eat healthfully. Consider this when you’re storing food. Just because it’s stored doesn’t mean it has to be bad for you. Of course, fruits and vegetables are always great. But other heart-healthy foods include:
    • Oatmeal.
    • Fish. Salmon and sardines are two of the best. Others are halibut, tuna, mackerel, herring, and lake trout.
    • Nuts—especially walnuts and almonds.
    • Flaxseed and edamame (soybeans).
    • Oils. They need to be liquid vegetable, if possible—polyunsaturated or monounsaturated. Olive oil is one of the best. Canola oil is good.
Natural Supplements That May Lower High Cholesterol
  1. Garlic. This food is good for so many things. One is lowering your cholesterol a little. The dosage is one clove (that’s one segment of the whole bulb) once or twice a day OR garlic extract, 200-400 mg, three times a day.

    5 Natural Ways to Lower Cholesterol (including garlic) | The Survival DoctorGarlic may have side effects and can interact with other medicines such as blood thinners and birth control pills. Read here for details.
  2. Red yeast rice. Be careful with this one. It contains the same ingredients as in statins, which are the most popular prescription medicines for lowering blood pressure. The problem is, there’s no way of telling how much of a statin dose you’re getting with red yeast rice. One small study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found 1,800 mg twice a day significantly lowered cholesterol.

    Never combine red yeast rice with or substitute it for prescription medicine without asking your doctor. As with prescription statins, it’s a good idea to take about 90-110 mg of coenzyme Q10 with it since it can deplete this enzyme. Don’t take it if pregnant or breastfeeding. Here’s more on safety and side effects.

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Cholesterol-lowering prescription medicine is more standardized and consistent in lowering your cholesterol than supplements. There are several cheaper generic versions of some of the statins now. I wouldn’t recommend taking a cholesterol-lowering supplement without checking with your doctor first.

Have any of you tried supplements? How did they work? Also, about the fish, oils, nuts, flaxseed, and such: Does anyone have tips on how to store these and how long they’re safe to eat?

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Sardines photo via Flickr/Ignotus the Mage.

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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,

    • 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.

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  • 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.)