Much has been said and written about cholesterol over the years. Lipitor and other statin drugs continue to be one of the top selling pharmaceuticals year after year. Cholesterol is just one risk factor for heart disease but it gets the most attention. Another important number to know is your CRP level-C-Reactive Protein. This is a measure of inflammation in your body and it is a better predictor of a heart attack than cholesterol levels. It’s important to note just as many people die of a heart attack with low cholesterol levels as do those with high levels. Homocysteine levels are also important to know and often not tested. Those with high homocysteine levels need folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 to reduce the level. It’s not all about cholesterol but if you’re looking to control cholesterol levels naturally there are many choices for you below.
* Phytosterols-plant sterolshelp to reduce LDL cholesterol and are able to block intestinal absorption of dietary cholesterol. Studies have shown when taken with omega-3 fatty acids, the combination was shown to reduce plasma total cholesterol by 13.3%, decrease LDL by 12.5% and increase HDLs by 8.6%.
* Soluble fiber-often a forgotten player, soluble fiber has been shown to be very beneficial in lowering cholesterol by binding to cholesterol and bile acids in the intestine. Good forms include oat fiber, prunes, psyllium seeds, broccoli, carrots, lentils, peas and beans. Shoot for 25-30 grams a day (soluble and insoluble fiber combined)
* Red yeast rice-this is rice fermented by the yeast Monascus purpureus. It has been shown to be effective for those with cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol levels. Red yeast rice extracts have been also shown to be well tolerated and do not cause side effects often found with stain drugs even though there are small amounts of naturally occuring statins found in it. It is best to include 100mg of CoQ10 when taking it.
* Niacin-is a member of the B complex family and shown to be very effective in lowering cholesterol. Niacin does more than just lower cholesterol levels, it also helps to raise HDL levels. It works by preventing certain enzymes involved in inhibiting HDLs from being removed by the liver. Liver enzymes need to be monitored if using high doses (2-3 grams daily)