How to Lower Your Cholesterol – Diet, Supplements or Statins?

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More than one in 10 Americans have high cholesterol. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, the number one killer in Americans.

The good news is that high cholesterol levels can be lowered and maintained with a combination of diet, exercise and cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins, according to Marco Gonzalez, MD, Nebraska Medicine neurologist.

With a combination of lifestyle changes, medication and supplements or natural health products, it’s possible to lower cholesterol levels.

 

What is Cholesterol?

 

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance your body needs to make cell membranes, some hormones and vitamin D. You get cholesterol from the foods you eat and your liver also produces cholesterol.

There is good cholesterol (also called HDL)  and bad cholesterol (also called LDL). Your body needs good cholesterol to function properly. However, high bad cholesterol is a risk of heart disease and stroke.

Women should strive for HDL levels of 50mg/dl or higher, and men should aim for levels of 40mg/dl or higher. LDL levels should be 100mg/dl or less.

 

 

Diet, supplements or statins?

 

Dietary changes can be your most powerful weapon against high levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease.

If you are in a low-risk group for heart disease, your doctor may recommend lowering your cholesterol through diet, natural health products and exercise. Studies show many people can reduce their cholesterol levels by 20% to 30% through a healthy diet and exercise regimen.

 

Here are some general lifestyle recommendations to lower your cholesterol levels:

 

Take your diet seriously. The foundation of a healthy diet is eating lean proteins like chicken and turkey, increasing intake of proteins with omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, mackerel and herring and nuts such as walnuts, almonds, pecans and macadamia nuts.

Eating less cholesterol and saturated fat can help lower your cholesterol levels. Reduce your saturated fats intake – found in red meat and full-fat dairy products.

One of the best ways to do that is by increasing fiber in your diet, which can help lower cholesterol. Eat more high-fiber grains like barley, whole wheat, flax seeds, bran, and nuts like almonds, pistachios, pecan and sunflower seeds.

Add more soluble fibers to your diet, like brussels sprouts, beans, oatmeal, apples and pears. Soluble fibers can help reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream.

 

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Supplements

 

If you cannot reduce your cholesterol levels through diet and exercise, or your need an additional pillar, you may consider taking a supplement. With natural ingredients in concentrated forms, you have the power to make healthier choices for your body.

Although it’s difficult to get your cholesterol down quickly, many people find that taking supplements can help.

Soy protein, green tea, probiotic yogurt, flaxseeds, red yeast rice, flaxseed, psyllium and omega-3 fatty acids from marine sources are some of the best natural products and supplements that may help lower your cholesterol levels.

 

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Statins

 

Statins are prescription medicines that can help lower your cholesterol.

“Statins are safe and can reduce cholesterol levels by up to 50%,” says Dr. Gonzalez. Studies have shown that a 20% reduction in LDL cholesterol levels with statin therapy can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 23% to 36%.”

If you aren’t able to lower your cholesterol through diet, supplements and exercise, you may be a candidate for statins. If you have a family history of heart disease or are considered intermediate heart risk or higher, have had a prior heart attack or stroke, or have autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or metabolic syndrome, you may be a candidate for statins.

Your doctor can advise you on the right type for you – whether it’s a supplement or statins – as well as how to take them safely and effectively.

4 thoughts on “How to Lower Your Cholesterol – Diet, Supplements or Statins?”

  1. With high cholesterol being such a tremendous problem for many people, it’s important to know ways to minimize this. Though supplements are available, better dieting is arguably more effective.

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