Under the new guidelines issued by the American Medical Association, roughly 1/3 of all adults should consider taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs to control their cholesterol levels. Many healthcare practitioners already feel there is an overuse of statin medication in the United States. Statins may cause serious side effects, which I'll get to in a bit. Also, 50% of people who die suddenly from heart attacks do not have high cholesterol. In this post we'll discuss 15 home remedies to naturally reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart attack, the role of cholesterol in the body and side effects of statin medication.
15 Ways to Naturally Reduce Cholesterol
and Lower the Risk of Heart Attack
Home Remedy for Lower Cholesterol #1 – Increase Your Magnesium Levels
In The Magnesium Miracle, Dr. Carolyn Dean explains how magnesium acts as a natural statin, limiting cholesterol production so that it covers necessary functions but is not produced in excess. Foods that are high in magnesium include: kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews, molasses, brewer's yeast, buckwheat, brazil nuts, dulse, filberts, peanuts, wheat grain, millet, pecans, English walnuts, rye, tofu and dark chocolate. Many wild plants are also high in magnesium, such as burdock root, dandelion, chickweed and nettle. It may be difficult for people to get enough magnesium through diet, so applying magnesium oil topically can also be helpful.
Home Remedy for Lower Cholesterol #2 – Get More Vitamin C
As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps to reduce inflammation. A 2008 study showed a significant decrease in serum LDL cholesterol and tryglyceride concentrations with the supplementation of at least 500mg/d of vitamin C. Some good sources of vitamin C include:
- citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes
- sweet bell peppers – green or red
- cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and kale
- sweet potatoes
Home Remedy for Lower Cholesterol #3 – Drink Some Green Tea
Catechin, a major constituent of green tea, has been shown to reduce oxidized (damaged) low-density lipoprotein. In a 2007 study, volunteers consumed the equivalent of 6 to 7 cups of green tea daily and experienced a significant change in plasma LDL concentration.
Home Remedy for Lower Cholesterol #4 – Add Some Vitamin K2 to Your Diet
In the book Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox, the author explains how vitamin K2 packs a one-two punch when it comes to heart disease. While K2 can lower serum cholesterol, more importantly, K2 reduces atherosclerois, i.e. plaque accumulation in the arteries. This plaque is the deposits of calcium, fatty substances and scar tissue that together cause “hardening of the arteries”. With plaque build up, the arteries either clog up and reduce or stop blood flow entirely, or get fragile and have a blow out. Vitamin K2 is not the same as vitamin K1, which is abundant in leafy greens and great for bone building. Vitamin K2 works in concert with calcium and vitamin D, making sure the calcium gets where it's needed – in your bones, not your muscles and arteries. In addition, vitamin K2 can remove calcium buildup in the arteries after it has formed and help restore arterial flexibility. The best source of vitamin K2 is natto, a fermented soybean concoction with a stringy, slimy texture. Other sources of vitamin K2 include goose liver pate, hard cheeses (such as gouda), soft cheeses (such as Brie), egg yolk, butter and chicken liver. Most people in the US are low in vitamin K2, although regular cheese eaters tend to far better than the general population.
Home Remedy for Lower Cholesterol #5 – Eat Your Oatmeal
As the much publicized commercials for popular cereal brands note, the soluble fiber in oats helps to lower total and LDL cholesterol levels. Go ahead and enjoy a nice warn bowl of oatmeal (soak overnight for quick morning cooking and easier digestion) or sneak some oatmeal into your snacking with fun recipes such as these cranberry-walnut powerballs.
Home Remedy for Lower Cholesterol #6 – Make Sure Your Thyroid is Functioning Normally
Hypothyroidism (under active thyroid) often correlates with high cholesterol levels. Talk to your health care provider about checking your thyroid. Improving thyroid function may help to naturally reduce cholesterol levels.
Home Remedy for Lower Cholesterol #7 – Get a Cat
University of Minnesota Researchers studied more than 400 people for 10 years and found that cat owners had their risk of heart attack reduced by 30%. Of course, this tip would probably not be helpful if you are a cat hater like my father-in-law. This may be related to a cat's ability to purr. In the article “The Cat's Purr and Sounds That Heal“, the author states that “The type of frequencies that are found in the cat's purr are good for healing muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries, as well as for muscle strengthening and toning. They are good for any type of joint injury, wound healing, reduction of infection and swelling, pain relief, and relief of chronic pulmonary disease.”
Home Remedy for Lower Cholesterol #8 – Eat some Blueberries
A recent study concluded that “blueberry intake acutely improves vascular function in healthy men in a time- and dose-dependent manner”. Blueberries are high in anti-oxidants, which reduce inflammation. Learn how to grow your own blueberries.
Home Remedy for Lower Cholesterol #9 – An Apple a Day Really May Keep the Doctor Away
My grandmother Catherine always loved to say, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. It turns out she was probably right. A 2011 study by researchers from Florida State University found that older women who ate apples every day reduced LDL cholesterol levels by 23% within six months and increased HDL cholesterol levels by 4%. The apple eating women also lost an average of 3.3 pounds.
Home Remedy for Lower Cholesterol #10 – Choose Coconut Oil for Lower Cholesterol and a Slimmer Waist
In a 2011 study, woman consuming about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil per day experienced increased levels of HDL, decreased LDL/HDL ratio and reduced waist circumferences. For a sweet treat that includes coconut oil, cocoa (for magnesium) and walnuts, check out our No Cook Coconut Oil Fudge recipe.
Home Remedy for Lower Cholesterol #11 – Enjoy Some Garlic
A study published in January 2012 analyzed 26 clinical trials and found that garlic was more effective than a placebo in reducing cholesterol levels, specifically total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Garlic did not appear to have a significant effect on HDL and LDL. Garlic is also anti-viral, antibacterial and anti-fungal, and may help lower blood pressure and improve liver function. Fresh garlic packs more punch than cooked. Learn how to grow garlic.
Home Remedy for Lower Cholesterol #12 – Supplement with Fish Oil
Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil is a nutritional powerhouse that reduces inflammation and clotting, lowers triglycerides and increases HDL cholesterol. Make sure to choose a quality brand that has been tested for mercury and other contaminants.
Home Remedy for Lower Cholesterol #13 – Get a Little Nutty
Walnuts, like fish oil, are also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts are also high in magnesium. In an unrelated note, getting a little silly to reduce stress is also very good for reducing inflammation and improving overall health.
Home Remedy for Lower Cholesterol #14 – Ditch Transfats, Don't Smoke, and Eat Less Processed Food-like Products
What you shouldn't eat is as important as what you should eat. The FDA has *finally* admitted that transfats are bad, after allowing them to dominate the market for years. Of course, manufacturers are likely to come up with some other modified goobledegook that is equally as nasty. When choosing fats (and other foods), look for less processed options. As the saying goes, I trust cows more than chemists, which is why I eat butter. Shop around the edges of the grocery store, looking for items that are minimally processed – real vegetables and fruit, fresh meat and dairy. Learn to bake your own bread. You can check out our Recipes page for a wide assortment of homemade fare.
Home Remedy for Lower Cholesterol #15 – Exercise
Although exercise is very good for many reasons, promoting circulation and strengthening the body, it's not a magic bullet when it comes to cholesterol. Cleveland Clinic states that “Exercise has the greatest effect on triglycerides (lowers them) and HDL, the good cholesterol (increases it). Exercise does not have much impact on LDL unless combined with dietary changes and weight loss.” Start out slowly and gradually increase your activity levels.
I hope this post has helped you to realize just how important cholesterol is for our bodies, and how many side effects statin drugs can have. Remember that oxidized (damaged) cholesterol is more of a problem than high cholesterol. Look to reduce inflammation so that your body doesn't need to produce excess cholesterol to fight inflammation – don't attack the firefighters for trying to put out the fire!