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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best cholesterol-lowering supplements

    Last Updated October 2018

    Maybe your doctor has warned you that your cholesterol is too high. Maybe you’re simply concerned about keeping your heart and circulatory system as healthy as possible. In either case, you may have wondered if there are alternatives to cholesterol-lowering prescription drugs. In fact, there are several natural alternatives that have proven effective in some studies.

    You’ll find a lot of cholesterol-lowering supplements on sale today, and with these products comes a lot of marketing hype. It’s hard to know what to believe. That’s why we created this guide: to help our readers choose the right cholesterol-lowering supplements.

    Read on for more information!

    High cholesterol is one of the most common health factors that can increase a person’s heart attack and stroke risk.

    What is cholesterol?

    From the bad rap high cholesterol gets, you might assume that all cholesterol is bad – or that cholesterol is foreign to your body. Actually, cholesterol is found in every cell of your body and is critical to your health. This waxy, yellowish fat is a building block of the membrane surrounding each of your cells. It also plays a role in producing vitamin D, hormones, and bile, which helps your body digest fat.

    Another common misconception about cholesterol is that it primarily comes from the foods you eat. In truth, your liver and intestines produce the majority of cholesterol in your body – around 80%. Only the remaining 20% comes from your diet. Animal products such as meat, eggs, and dairy contain cholesterol.

    A blend of three proven ingredients

    A healthy dose of red yeast rice extract, guggal, and policosanol help reduce unhealthy LDL and triglycerides while increasing your level of good HDL. Just two capsules each day can bring about significant benefits within two to three months.

    Good cholesterol vs. bad cholesterol

    When your doctor checks your cholesterol with a blood test called a lipid panel, the results aren’t simply one number. A full picture of your cholesterol level – and whether or not it needs lowering – comes from four separate but related values: LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and total blood cholesterol.

    LDL

    LDL, often referred to as bad cholesterol, stands for low-density lipoprotein. LDL transports cholesterol through your bloodstream to your cells. The “bad” part of LDL is that in high levels, it tends to build up fatty plaques inside your arteries – a condition called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis reduces blood flow through the affected arteries, leading to an increased risk of heart and kidney disease, peripheral artery disease, stroke, heart attack, and blood clots. For adults, a healthy LDL level is less than 100 mg/dl.

    HDL

    HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, is often referred to as good cholesterol. It helps remove LDL from your bloodstream by carrying it back to the liver, where it’s broken down for excretion. Thus, HDL helps protect your heart from disease and lowers your risk of stroke. A healthy HDL level for adults is more than 60 mg/dl.

    Triglycerides

    Triglycerides are a type of fat that stores excess energy from the calories you consume. A high level of triglycerides indicates an increased risk of stroke and heart disease. A triglyceride blood test result above 150 mg/dl is considered too high.

    Total blood cholesterol

    Your total blood cholesterol combines the levels of HDL, LDL, a portion of your triglycerides, and some other fatty proteins into a single number that renders an overall picture of your blood lipid levels. Healthy adults should have a total blood cholesterol level below 200 mg/dl.

    EXPERT TIP

    Along with exercise and a healthy diet, a supplement can be very helpful in lowering high cholesterol.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Let your doctor know that you’d like to treat your high cholesterol with natural products. He or she can advise you on the best choice for your needs.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Most cholesterol-lowering supplements should be taken with a meal.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Supplements to lower cholesterol

    Two of the most effective ways of boosting HDL and lowering LDL are exercising and eating a healthy diet. Consuming too much saturated fat and trans fat – found in red meat, dairy products, and processed foods – can increase your level of unhealthy cholesterol. Consuming too little unsaturated fat – found in nuts, seeds, fish, and vegetable oils – can do the same.

    If your LDL levels are very high or you’re at higher risk for heart disease for another reason, your doctor may prescribe a medication to lower your cholesterol. Usually, this medication is a statin drug. If you’d like to try a more natural approach or cannot tolerate statins, however, you may wish to consider the many foods and food-derived substances that have been shown to lower cholesterol.

    You’ll find a dizzying array of cholesterol-lowering supplements for sale; some combine several active ingredients and others contain just one. The following are some of the most promising natural supplements that are thought to help lower cholesterol.

    Niacin

    Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is so effective at lowering LDL while boosting HDL that it’s often prescribed by doctors in high doses. Over the counter, you’ll find low-dose supplements that may also be effective. Niacin can cause facial flushing, and in high doses, it may harm your liver. Check with your doctor before taking a high-dose niacin supplement.

    Omega-3 fish oil

    Omega-3 fish oil has proven quite effective at lowering triglyceride levels, raising HDL, and promoting overall heart health. While you can get a hefty dose of omega-3 fatty acids by eating fish – particularly salmon, sardines, and herring – most people prefer taking it in supplement form for convenience.

    Psyllium husks

    Psyllium husks and other soluble fibers whisk LDL out of your bloodstream and help regulate your digestive system. You can stir psyllium into a glass of water and drink it or enjoy a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast.

    Plant sterols

    Plant sterols are found naturally in many vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains. Something like a plant cholesterol, they block the absorption of dietary cholesterol and lower the amount of LDL in your blood.

    Policosanol

    Policosanol is a chemical derived from sugarcane, wheat germ, or beeswax. While studies are mixed, it seems to lower LDL and reduce the production of cholesterol in the liver.

    Red yeast rice extract

    Red yeast rice extract contains a natural, low-dose form of lovastatin, a prescription medication used to lower cholesterol. It can lower LDL very effectively, but take care when choosing a red yeast rice extract; some less-reputable manufacturers claim amounts of the extract that aren’t actually in the product.

    Garlic

    Garlic isn’t just delicious in your cooking; it’s also healthy for your heart. Some studies have shown garlic to lower levels of LDL and total cholesterol. It may also reduce the amount of cholesterol produced by your liver.

    Guggul

    Guggul extract comes from the resin of the Mukul myrrh tree. It’s been used in India for thousands of years for a variety of desired health benefits, including lowered cholesterol. While results have been mixed, some studies suggest it can reduce total cholesterol.

    Soy protein

    Soy protein doesn’t have a tremendous effect, but it can lower your total cholesterol and LDL slightly. Replacing one or two meat dishes each week with a soy protein is an easy boost to your health.

    No pungent breath

    Two softgels each day provide 1,000 mg of garlic extract along with parsley and chlorophyll extract to reduce garlic odor and aftertaste. Garlic has been shown in studies to help reduce the levels of LDL in your blood.

    Cholesterol-lowering supplement prices

    Typically, you’ll pay between $10 and $40 for a bottle of cholesterol-lowering capsules. If you opt for a simple formula with one or two touted benefits, you will likely pay closer to the $10 mark. However, if you go for a complex formula that addresses more than one health condition, you may end up paying closer to $40 per bottle. For example, there are some cholesterol-lowering supplements that advertise benefits beyond lowering cholesterol, such as improved physical endurance and mental concentration. This type of product is likely to cost more than a simpler formula.

    Pay attention to the per-pill cost of the supplement as well as how many supplements you should take per day. If the manufacturer does not provide a per-pill cost, calculate it yourself by dividing the price by the number of pills in the bottle. Many bottles come with 60 to 120 capsules that, if taken regularly, will last a month or more depending on how many are consumed per day.

    As the FDA does not regulate dietary supplements, it’s best to stick with reputable brands that use ingredients you can trust.

    FAQ

    Q. Do cholesterol-lowering supplements really work?

    A. Yes, there are rigorous studies showing that many of the most popular supplement ingredients do indeed help reduce levels of LDL, increase levels of HDL, and lower total cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fiber such as psyllium, plant sterols, and niacin have particularly strong results in studies, but some other common ingredients have shown mixed results in lowering blood cholesterol levels as well.

    Q. Should I take a single-ingredient product or a combination product to lower my cholesterol?

    A. While both have benefits, you are less likely to experience side effects or other issues if you stick with a single-ingredient product. Also, if you take a single-ingredient supplement and blood tests reveal your cholesterol levels have improved, you’ll know that the ingredient provided the benefit.

    Q. Does a higher price always indicate higher quality when it comes to cholesterol-lowering supplements?

    A. No, not always. Because there are so many different ingredients and formulas that can lower cholesterol, the price range for these supplements is vast. As a general rule, you may wish to stick with well-known brands that use proven ingredients, avoiding bargain-basement prices from lesser-known companies.

    Q. Should I be concerned about side effects when taking a cholesterol-lowering supplement?

    A. While most of the ingredients used in these products are free of side effects, some people do occasionally have sensitivities or problems with certain ingredients. Guggal and policosanol, for instance, upset some people’s stomachs, while psyllium and other high-fiber products might cause bloating or gas. Niacin causes facial flushing in some people, and in rare instances, it can damage the liver in high doses.

    The team that worked on this review
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      Daniel
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      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Linsay
      Linsay
      Editor
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor
    • Michelle
      Michelle
      Writer

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