Are there any natural options for someone who needs to lower their LDL but cannot use cholesterol medications due to side effects? Is red wine a good supplement to other lifestyle changes?
The most effective natural way to lower cholesterol is with diet and exercise leading to weight loss. A diet low in cholesterol, trans and saturated fats as well as regular aerobic activity is ideal.
Plant sterols can also help decrease cholesterol. These plant extracts inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the small intestine. Thus, cholesterol in food never gets from the stomach into the blood stream. Two plant sterols are now available as a substitute for margarine. Sitosterol, (Take Control) and Sitostanol (Benechol) can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by up to 10%.
Soy products can reduce also reduce LDL cholesterol levels by about 10%.
Red Yeast Rice is an ancient Chinese remedy used both medicinally and in the preservation and coloring of food. Red Yeast Rice can cut levels of LDL cholesterol by as much as 15%. The cholesterol lowering of Red Yeast Rice comes from a chemical in the rice called lovastatin (or Mevacor). Lovastatin is similar to other drugs known as statins, such as Lipitor and Zocor. Because of this similarity, those with allergies or side effects from the other statins should be cautious using Red Yeast Rice as the same complication(s) could occur.
In 2000, Red Yeast Rice was subject to FDA regulation. Since then, this “natural” supplement is processed in such a way that eliminates lovastatin. Therefore, its ability to lower cholesterol levels is probably very limited.
Dietary fiber can also cause a significant reduction in cholesterol levels. The fibers contained in oats, lentils, pinto beans, citrus, black beans and barley are ideal. Other, less studied cholesterol lowering substances include gugulipid and Rooibos. Of particular interest is the effect of mild to moderate alcohol consumption (two drinks or less per day) in the raising of HDL (good) cholesterol. You should speak with your physician before proceeding with any of these options.
Published On: July 09, 2007