How to Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally
By Carrie Demers, MD
A doctor prescribed a statin medication to my father to keep his cholesterol low. What are your thoughts about this medication?
Statin drugs (simvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin, atorvastatin, fluvastatin) lower blood cholesterol levels by blocking your body’s ability to make cholesterol. Because statins also lower levels of the vitamin-like anti-oxidant Coenzyme Q10, which supports heart and skeletal muscle health, they can cause detrimental side effects like muscle pain and weakness, and occasionally heart failure.
Cholesterol can be lowered in other ways. Here are some simple ways you can lower your cholesterol naturally:
- Watch your diet. Refrain from consuming refined sugar and white flour. If you aren’t a vegetarian, include wild fish in your diet and take fish oils (1000mg once a day, or 1 tablespoon 1–3 times/day) for their omega-3 fats, which are heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory.
- Take niacin, a B-vitamin that helps decrease LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise HDL (good cholesterol). LDL stands for “low-density lipoprotein”; HDL stands for “high-density lipoprotein.” Both of these are ways your body has of packaging fats within protein containers. Studies have shown that high LDL is associated with heart disease, and that high HDL protects the heart from disease. Take 500mg of niacin to start, and gradually increase to as much as 2000mg per day. Note that high doses of this vitamin can cause a temporary flush of heat and even a rash. This reaction often subsides over time.
- Another alternative is red yeast rice, a traditional Chinese medicine for removing “blood blockages.” You can take 600mg of this supplement 2–4 times a day.
- Stress management also helps keep your cholesterol at a healthy level. Try to practice deep diaphragmatic breathing 10–15 minutes twice a day. And check in with your breath throughout the day—breathe deeply even when you are at your desk. It will help lower your cholesterol, your blood pressure, and your risk for heart disease.
Director of the Himalayan Institute’s Total Health Center, Carrie Demers, MD, blends modern medicine with ayurveda, homeopathy, nutrition, herbal medicine, hatha yoga, and massage.