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What are some natural remedies for high cholesterol?

Learn how to lower cholesterol naturally with the use of common foods and supplements.

Garlic can reduce high cholesterol. [© Shutterstock, 2010]
© Shutterstock, 2010
Garlic can reduce high cholesterol.

High levels of cholesterol, a fatlike substance in the blood, can lead to increased risk of heart disease. The body needs cholesterol to produce certain hormones, aid in tissue development, and protect nerves, but it is important to keep cholesterol levels within a healthy range. Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliters of blood, and a normal, or good level, is under 200. A reading of 200 to 239 is considered borderline, and any level of 240 or above is considered high. 

Medications to lower cholesterol are available, but there are also plenty of natural remedies that can be used in lieu of, or in combination with prescription treatments. The most effective natural remedy for high cholesterol is a change in diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables and fish, which provide essential oils, are staples of a low cholesterol diet. Limit fatty foods, whole-fat dairy products, red and processed meats. Your daily total intake of cholesterol should not be more than 300 milligrams. Along with a healthy diet, moderate exercise (30 minutes per day on most days) and maintaining a healthy weight are great ways to keep your cholesterol level down. 

Take a look at some of the natural remedies for lowering cholesterol below, but remember that it’s important to communicate with your doctor about drastic diet changes and herbal supplements.

Garlic

Taking 600 to 900 milligrams of garlic per day in capsule form, or just adding garlic to your daily meals, may help bring your cholesterol level down a few points. But it’s important to note that garlic also prolongs bleeding and delays clot formation, so be sure that you don’t take it before surgery or if you are taking a blood-thinning medication, such as Coumadin.

Soy

Products made with soybeans have been shown to help reduce high cholesterol when eaten as part of a balanced diet. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved claims that soy products can improve heart health. Helpful soy proteins can be found in foods such as tempeh, soy milk, soy yogurt and tofu.

Fiber

Soluble fiber, which is found only in plant-based foods, has been shown to help reduce cholesterol. Particularly effective fiber-rich foods include psyllium seeds, oat bran, apples and citrus fruits. Flaxseed and sunflower seed were also shown to help reduce cholesterol.

Herbs

Herbs that are thought to help lower cholesterol include fenugreek, artichoke leaf extract, holy basil, rosemary, ginger, yarrow and turmeric. While trials to determine their effectiveness are ongoing, herbs are not considered harmful and add flavor to the low-fat diet recommended for people with high cholesterol.

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