Can Supplements Help Lower Cholesterol Levels?

Can Supplements Help Lower Cholesterol Levels?

If you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol, you may be wondering if taking supplements can help lower your levels. While supplements alone cannot effectively control cholesterol, there is evidence that certain supplements, along with a healthy diet, can make a difference.

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is carried in the bloodstream by molecules called lipoproteins. There are two main types of cholesterol that affect the risk of heart disease and stroke: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, often called “good” cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to the build-up of plaque in arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke, while higher levels of HDL cholesterol are associated with a reduced risk.

A healthy diet plays a crucial role in reducing cholesterol levels, particularly LDL cholesterol. This includes consuming more unsaturated fats, such as those found in olive oil and avocados, while limiting intake of saturated fats and trans fats. Additionally, increasing soluble fiber intake can significantly lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber can be found in fruits, vegetables, oats, barley, beans, and lentils.

Supplements such as psyllium fiber have strong evidence supporting their use in improving cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that consuming about 10g of psyllium per day as part of a healthy diet can lower total cholesterol levels by 4% and LDL cholesterol levels by 7%.

Probiotics are another supplement that may help lower cholesterol levels through various mechanisms. Research suggests that probiotics can assist in the elimination of cholesterol through the gut. In a meta-analysis of 32 studies, it was found that taking probiotics can reduce total cholesterol levels by 13%.

Red yeast rice is a non-fiber supplement that has gained attention for its potential cholesterol-lowering effects. However, more research is needed to determine its long-term efficacy and safety.

It’s important to remember that dietary changes and supplements may not be sufficient to lower cholesterol levels significantly. Other lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, managing stress, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep, are also crucial. Your healthcare provider can provide guidance on whether cholesterol-lowering medications, such as statins, are necessary based on your risk factors.

– Lauren Ball, University of Queensland

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