Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in a persons’s blood and in their cells. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the unhealthy kind of cholesterol often referred to as ‘bad’ – high levels of LDL cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease. Fortunately, eating a healthy, balanced diet and doing regular exercise can reduce a person’s cholesterol and stave off the risks. Evidence also makes a case for taking natural supplements.
Here are three such supplements proven to lower high cholesterol.
Psyllium is a soluble fibre derived from the seeds of Plantago ovata, a herb mainly grown in India.
Psyllium is a form of soluble fibre available as a supplement. A four-week study of 33 adults found that cookies enriched with eight grams of psyllium reduced total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by nearly 10 per cent.
Another study found similar results using a 5-gram psyllium supplement twice daily. LDL and total cholesterol decreased by about five per cent over a longer, 26-week period.
According to Harvard Health, the amount needed to lower cholesterol is 10 to 20 grams a day.
Ginger is a popular ingredient that has been touted for its cholesterol-lowering properties. It can consumed as a spice, in oil form, or as juice.
In a 45-day study of 85 individuals with high cholesterol, three grams of ginger powder caused significant reductions in most cholesterol markers.
This is backed up by another study in hypothyroid rats, where ginger extract lowered LDL cholesterol to a similar extent as the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin.
Both studies also showed reductions in total cholesterol and blood triglycerides.
According to Holland and Barrett, there is no reference nutrient intake (RNI) for ginger, but it’s not recommended that a person consumes more than 3-4g of ginger a day from all sources, including food and supplements.
Artichoke leaf extract may also lower cholesterol levels, according to a growing body of evidence.
A large review in over 700 people found that supplementing with artichoke leaf extract daily for five to 13 weeks led to a reduction in total and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
One study in 143 adults with high cholesterol showed that artichoke leaf extract taken daily for six weeks resulted in an 18.5 per cent and 22.9 per cent decrease in total and “bad” LDL cholesterol, respectively.
Additionally, an animal study reported a 30 per cent reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol and a 22 per cent reduction in triglycerides after regular consumption of artichoke extract.
The extract may also boost “good” HDL cholesterol in adults with high cholesterol, noted another study.
Evidence chalks its cholesterol lowering properties up to the fact that contains luteolin, an antioxidant which prevents cholesterol formation.
Second, artichoke leaf extract encourages a person’s body to process cholesterol more efficiently, leading to lower overall levels, suggests research.
Holland and Barrett recommends taking one to two capsules daily, preferably with a meal.