It is a common health question people ask themselves, and that includes those who haven't yet been diagnosed with a related problem: How can I control, or even lower, my cholesterol naturally? In fact, How exactly do I lower cholesterol without using prescription medicine? and How quickly can I lower those cholesterol levels? Having high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol ( bad cholesterol ) in your blood can increase your chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke. That's why taking measures to maintain healthy cholesterol levels should be on the minds of us all. That includes being aware of how much HDL (high-density) cholesterol is in your bloodstream, and in this case the higher the number the better. Healthy cholesterol levels are generally regarded as less than 200 mg/dL for total cholesterol, less than 100 mg/dL for LDL, and 50 mg/dL and above for HDL. Levels of cholesterol, which by the way is manufactured by your liver, can be measured by a simple blood test at your doctor's office. It normally is part of a routine annual physical—you do get one of those every year, right?—in which blood is drawn, sent to a lab and results returned usually within a week to your physician, who then relays your numbers to you. Do you know your numbers? You should. A diet high in cholesterol, saturated fats and trans-fat can raise your blood cholesterol levels, putting you at increased risk of heart disease. Foods typically mentioned as being bad for cholesterol include eggs, liver, shellfish, shrimp, bacon, red meat, cheese and pastries. In place of those, consider heart-healthy, soluble-fiber foods such as fruits (oranges, pears, peaches, etc.), veggies (asparagus, kidney beans), potatoes, whole wheat bread and oatmeal for breakfast. Keep in mind, though, too much of anything might not be good for you, to include wheat products, the latter of which can lead to the dreaded wheat belly condition. To help in your fight against high cholesterol, get plenty of doctor-recommended exercise—which can include cardio activities such as walking, jogging, swimming and biking, as well as working with weights (carefully and with proper guidance). A healthy diet and regular exercise, however, are just two-thirds of a good strategy for attacking cholesterol. The third pillar to our three-pronged plan are natural supplements known to be particularly good soldiers in the war against unhealthy cholesterol. These include supplements that contain at least one of the following ingredients:
- Berberine: One metabolism study referenced at draxe.com showed that berberine reduced serum cholesterol as well as triglyceride levels. It also has demonstrated a capacity to reduce high concentrations of fats and lipids in the blood by inducing the liver's excretion of cholesterol and inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol into the intestines. Per webmd.com, taking 500 mg of berberine twice daily for three months will reduce total and LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides in people with high cholesterol.
- Curcumin: This extract of turmeric is an effective cholesterol-lowering agent.
- Garlic: There are mixed expert opinions on garlic's role in reducing cholesterol, but if nothing else, it is thought to have numerous other health benefits, to include regulating blood pressure.
- Omega-3 fish oils: Known to reduce the possibility of heart disease.
- Ginger: A study cited by NCBI and healthline.com showed that ginger can reduce total cholesterol and triglycerides levels, while a separate study also mentions its ability to raise HDL cholesterol (the good stuff).
- Barley: Research has shown it may reduce both total and LDL cholesterol, without any known side effects.
- Flaxseed: Part of a blue flower grown in temperate climates and known as a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids.