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15 Home Remedies to Naturally Reduce Cholesterol

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Collage of home remedies to reduce cholesterol

What is Cholesterol and What Does Cholesterol Do in the Body?

“Everyone” knows cholesterol is “bad” – which is why you should think twice about going along with what “everyone” thinks.

Cholesterol is not good or bad – unless it's oxidized (damaged). Then it can cause problems. Otherwise it's just a specific form of lipid (fat). Some studies have even shown that people with high cholesterol levels live longer.

In truth, cholesterol is absolutely essential to good health and used for many functions in your body.

Does Eating Cholesterol Raise Cholesterol Levels?

For some time, eating foods high in cholesterol has been demonized in the United States. Now the tide is finally turning, as multiple studies have shown that dietary cholesterol has little impact on blood cholesterol levels. As noted below, 85% of the cholesterol in the body is produced in the liver.

The study, “Rethinking dietary cholesterol” notes:

The European countries, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Korea and India among others do not have an upper limit for cholesterol intake in their dietary guidelines.

Further, existing epidemiological data have clearly demonstrated that dietary cholesterol is not correlated with increased risk for CHD.

Your Body Uses Cholesterol for:

  • Making vitamin D from sunlight, helping to preserve strong bones and boost your immune system
  • Making sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, so we can reproduce
  • Creating cell membranes and coating nerves with a protective fatty layer that makes up 60-80% of our brain. (This is likely why cholesterol lowering drugs have been linked to dementia.)
  • Essential for proper food digestion and fat absorption (and fat soluble vitamin absorption, such as vitamin A, D, E and K) because cholesterol produces bile salts
  • Acting as an anti-inflammatory in the body, working to repair damage due to stress, poor diet, toxin exposure and other other health challenges

High-density lipoproteins (HDL) takes cholesterol from the body tissues back to the liver. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL – so called “bad” cholesterol) takes cholesterol from the liver out to the rest of the body. As Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue says in the book Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox, “blaming cholesterol for heart disease is a lot like blaming firefighters for a fire“.

In most people, our livers produce about 85 percent of the cholesterol in our bodies, and 15 percent comes from diet.

This is why switching to a low cholesterol diet is not generally an effective way of reducing cholesterol.

Instead, we should look at ways to reduce the inflammation, i.e., put out the fire, to help our bodies heal and reduce cholesterol naturally.

Side Effects of Statin Medication

Statin medications work by reducing the liver's ability to produce cholesterol.

Sometimes this produces a rebound effect when cholesterol levels get too low (remember, we need cholesterol).

This triggers the liver to produce more cholesterol, which leads to an increased dose of the medication and so on.

But what happens when you shut down the body's ability to produce cholesterol? Use of statin medication has been linked to:

Muscle Pain and Weakness

The most common complaint associated with statin use is muscle pain and weakness. People find themselves unable to get out of bed, unable to walk or climb stairs, or simply plagued with muscle pain and soreness.

In rare cases, Mayo Clinic notes that “statins can cause life-threatening muscle damage called rhabdomyolysis (rab-doe-mi-OL-ih-sis).

Rhabdomyolysis can cause severe muscle pain, liver damage, kidney failure and death. Rhabdomyolysis can occur when you take statins in combination with certain drugs or if you take a high dose of statins.”

Decreased Cognitive Function/Memory Loss

Julian Whitaker, MD reports in the article “Statins: Bad for the Brain” reports that ” Hundreds of cases of statin-induced memory loss and TGA (transient global amnesia) have been reported to MedWatch, the FDA’s system for filing adverse drug events.”

People can't concentrate, they can't remember, they can't focus – basically, the brain starts severely malfunctioning.

Liver Damage

Dr. Mercola notes that the most common adverse drug reaction due to statins received by the Swedish Adverse Drug Reactions Advisory Committee from 1988-2010 was drug induced liver damage.

This liver damage was linked to death from acute liver failure, liver transplantation and jaundice.

Kidney Damage

Health Day News reports that, “(Study) participants who took higher doses of statins were 34 percent more likely to be hospitalized for acute kidney injury during the first 120 days of treatment, compared to their counterparts who were taking lower doses.

This risk remained elevated two years after starting treatment. The findings appeared online March 19 in the journal BMJ.” Please see your health care provider if you have dark urine, difficulty urinating or less frequent urination.

Heart Damage

Statin medications have been shown to deplete Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) levels in the body. Both your skeletal muscles and your heart muscles need CoQ10, but your heart may need as much as 200 times more CoQ10 than your skeletal muscles.

Elderly people, who are most commonly prescribed statins, also typically have the highest risk of low levels of CoQ10. Put all this together, and it's no surprise that statin therapy has been shown to decrease myocardial (heart) function.

Decreased effectiveness of exercise

Both statins and exercise should reduce your health risks – in theory. Researchers recently tested a group of volunteers on an exercise regime combined with a statins. Half the volunteers used a statin, half did not.

The study found that: “The unmedicated volunteers improved their aerobic fitness significantly after three months of exercise, by more than 10 percent on average. But the volunteers taking the statins gained barely 1 percent on average in their fitness, and some possessed less aerobic capacity at the end of the study than at its start.”

The list of potential statin side effects goes on and on – digestive issues, rash or flushing, increased risk of type 2 diabetes…

It's no wonder that many people who try statin medications to control cholesterol stop taking them. As I mentioned above, half of people who have heart attacks do not have high cholesterol 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!

There are alternatives to statin medication. Please Share this post to help get the word out!

Originally published in 2014, updated in 2017.

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View our Home Remedies Series

This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any illness. Please work with your health care provider to address any health concerns you may have.

References

New cholesterol guidelines: The statin decision lies with patients
What you need to know about cardiovascular disease
It's Not Dementia, It's Your Heart Medication: Cholesterol Drugs and Memory – Why cholesterol drugs might affect memory at Scientific American
The Benefits of High Cholesterol
Can Statins Cut the Benefits of Exercise?
Intake and time dependence of blueberry flavonoid-induced improvements in vascular function: a randomized, controlled, double-blind, crossover intervention study with mechanistic insights into biological activity.
Statins: Bad for the Brain
High-Dose Statins Linked to Acute Kidney Damage – Large study doesn't prove connection, but experts say patients should ask doctors about concerns
Can Statin Drug use Cause Your Liver and Heart to Fail
Statin side effects: Weigh the benefits and risks
Statin therapy decreases myocardial function as evaluated via strain imaging
Coenzyme Q10 and Statin-Induced Mitochondrial Dysfunction
Risks of statin drugs for cholesterol
Cat Owners Have Lower Heart Attack Risk, Study
Cholesterol Guide: Exercise tips
Vitamin C supplementation lowers serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides: a meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials
Tea catechin consumption reduces circulating oxidized low-density lipoprotein.
Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan.
Apples Significantly Lower LDL Cholesterol Levels In Older Women
Coconut Oil: The Amazing Oil that Trims Woman's Waistlines
Few Patients With Hyperlipidemia Receive Recommended Thyroid Screening
New Study Supports Cholesterol-Lowering Effects of Garlic
WebMD: Find a Supplement – Garlic
Dr. Weil's High Cholesterol Condition Care Guide

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70 Comments

    1. Thanks, Adrienne. Actually, that study didn’t see the same correlation with dog owners, perhaps because dogs require more care (walks, attention) or maybe due to the differing personalities of dog and cat owners. Other studies have shown that dogs are very good at lifting depression and reducing anxiety, so dogs may have a less direct effect on reducing cholesterol.

      1. I can’t imagine a cat would reduce your cholesterol, but a dog wouldn’t. People who own cats either can’t find them or they are wrapping their wounds after being bitten or scratched 🙂

        1. Kristen – That is so not true! My 2 cats follow me around most all the time. And on the rare occasion that they are out of my sights, all it takes is for me to yell “PARTY MIX!!!” and they come running for a treat. Bo biting, no scratching.

  1. This gave me a big smile! By the way… it is very true! Sure, cats all have very different personalities… same a people all act different! 🙂

    1. Maybe the cat thing is tied into their purrs?

      “The Cat’s Purr – A Biomechanical Healing Mechanism?” – http://consciouscat.net/2009/09/14/the-cats-purr-a-biomechanical-healing-mechanism/

      “In a 2006 study conducted by Fauna Communications, researchers found that the frequency of a cat’s purr (between 25 and 140 Hz), convers the same frequencies that are therapeutic for bone growth and fracture healing, pain relief, swelling reduction, wound healing, muscle growth and repair, tendon repair, and mobility of joints.”

  2. Thanks Laurie for the very well put together post!
    My Mom and Mother-in-law are both on cholesterol lowering drugs and I don’t think either one of them need them. My Mother-in-law is 85 years old and is in great health, will go for a 5 mile walk when the weather permits or rides a stationary bike for an hour, lifts weights and eats really well (I even got her to to start drinking Kombucha) and has no problems with her heart or blood flow.
    My Mom is stiff and osteoarthritic and she notices that she feels much better when she is off her Cholesterol meds. I’m going to print this off for her.

    1. There are so many people I know who are affected by this that I just felt I had to say something about it. Those side effects are nasty! Give you mom a hug for me – and your MIL, too, if you can catch her. 🙂

  3. Real good article. I am looking for more information on Coconut oil. I recently has by pass surgery and my cardiologist is saying to reduce saturated fats, one of whom is coconut oil. I realized this is a plant based saturated fat so this is why I am looking for my information. Thank you for all the good resources

    1. Hi Catherine.

      You may want to check out this recent article on Dr. Oz and share it with your doctor. http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/surprising-health-benefits-coconut-oil

      Information blaming saturated fats for heart disease is based primarily on a study that used oxidized (damaged) fats, force fed in large amounts. This site offers a comprehensive discussion of the saturated fat/cholesterol myth – http://chriskresser.com/specialreports/heartdisease

      You’re very welcome, and have a great holiday season.

  4. I have been diagnosed with extremely high triglycerides (over 300) and my doc put me on Lipitor first, then Crestor. I had terrible muscle pain and weakness with both and did not continue with the prescription. I went for a few years before getting my lipid panel, changing the food I eat (more Paleo) and exercising more. As a result, my next lipid panel showed a whopping increase to over 600 and my doc said it was the highest she had ever seen. She recommended I change my diet and start on LiVaLo a newer statin that was not supposed to have the same side effects. After doing some research, I found that my age 63 and lack of any familial heart disease could make my high levels a non-issue. Paleo diets are also reported to increase levels as well. I would rather eat pure and healthy and feel better than revert to how I was previously. The meds are outrageously expensive also $280 for a month supply of 15 pills. That is close to 1/3 my monthly income. Totally makes no sense for me to take these meds. I’m glad more medical professionals are speaking out on this topic, and thanks for posting it here. We can all be more healthy without Big Pharma if we do some of the things on your list!

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Pamela. I’ve seen loved ones have terrible side effects from the medications, and I don’t wish that on anyone. Good for you for doing your research.

  5. Thanks for sharing this information, Laurie. I recently had a wellness check that showed my ldl cholesterol was slightly higher than optimal. Their recommendation was to switch to low fat foods and exercise more…exercise yes, low fat foods…not so sure. I’m going to try increasing vit c, magnesium, and some of your other suggestions (and exercise too). Thanks!

    1. My niece, who is a nurse, says that very little time is spent on nutrition, and from what I have seen from my own health care practitioner, I would agree. It takes a long time to change long held dogmas. Good luck!

  6. Thank you for this post! I’m so glad it poped up in my pinterest feed. My 12 year old has a cholesterol of 200. No mention of drugs….yet! I’m glad to have a few other more natural options to try. It was also interesting to read why we need cholesterol. Knew that had to be a reason if our bodies produce it. No way is she going on meds.

    1. Have you ever watched “My Cat from Hell”? It’s got some good tips for dealing with difficult cats and helping them learn to be the good companions we’d like them to be. One high energy cat showed up and adopted us last summer, and we’ve have to really work with him to get him to be a much more loveable fellow.

        1. It’s a really neat show. The turnaround in the cats is amazing. Miss Kitty, our older female cat, does the ankle attack sometimes, too, when she’s feeling sassy, but not too often.

  7. Have the yearly check up next week and remembered this post. Thank you! I’m taking a copy to the doc. 🙂

  8. Thanks for this post. I don’t know anyone who feels better taking statin drugs. I would much rather manage my cholesterol with diet and lifestyle. So far, my tests all come back looking great on the HDL and lipid panels and I hope to keep it that way

  9. What about those who are genetically predisposed to high cholesterol? My husband has tried the diet changes to no avail. He is not overweight and gets moderate exercise.

    1. If he is otherwise healthy, I wouldn’t be overly concerned about it, as there are numerous studies that link higher cholesterol levels with longevity. You can read more at, “The Benefits of Cholesterol“. If he has other health concerns, you should work with a trained health professional. I can share general information, but it’s not safe or legal for me to give specific advice.

  10. Great information, keep up the good works, information thats natural and, makes sense is truly valuable. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  11. Great post Laurie,

    One of the natural, and interesting, ways to reduce the level of cholesterol is sleeping.

    Our bodies metabolizes cholesterol as we sleep. This is the exact reason why it is recommended to take statin drugs before we go to sleep.

    Those who get too little sleep or too much sleep are more prompt to have higher levels of bad cholesterol and lower levels of good cholesterol. Sleeping time intervals that are not normal are believed to interrupt the way cholesterol is metabolized by our bodies.

    Additional advantage of getting enough sleep intervals is that you will have more stamina to be more physically active, which will benefit your cholesterol levels.

  12. I use all the ones you listed and still have high cholesterol. I just found out about these two and are adding these to my diet! Dr. Oz says they work.
    Add these to the list.
    PURSLANE (Portulaca oleracea)
    Goji berries.
    I just ordered seeds to grow my own because their are none in the city here.

  13. Great article! I grew up in a family of skinny people slowly dying from cholesterol related illnesses. Through the 80’s, we adjusted our diet to include a plethora of “substitute” foods. Over the years, I’ve watched my dad become less and less healthy, as my grandfather and his brothers did. All take/took statins, and my brother is on his way, if he isn’t already. I’m happy to say that, even though I’m overweight, by eating real foods, including butter, eggs, and red meat (mostly venison, I’ll concede), for several decades now I don’t have any of those health issues. I firmly believe all the fake stuff we ate and the damage the statins cause (my dad is diabetic from them) has diminished their lives instead of helped.

  14. I like your article and will be following a lot of the suggestions you made. But I have a problems with owning a cat. For one thing I’m allergic to cat hair and most importantly, I have a german shephard. So that suggestion will NOT be followed. But will take your book to my doctor on Friday. Thanks again for this.

  15. My doc recommended a low carb diet and I have stuck to it faithfully for about a year. My HDL is on the high side of normal( can you have too much good cholesterol?) And my LDL is ten points over the limit. I read an article stating that there is a subset of people whose lipids don’t respond to a low carb diet. I will continue this diet for other reasons, but will also try your suggestions. Thanks!

    1. Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor, just someone who does a lot of research.

      Generally speaking, I think the push to put people on cholesterol lowering medications is a really bad idea. Cholesterol performs many critical functions in the body, including addressing inflammation.

      If you have elevated levels of HDL, maybe it’s trying to work on healing some sort of inflammation in the body? In your diet, have your tried eliminating common allergens to see if it makes a difference? Are you eating plenty of foods that are high in anti-oxidants, including leafy greens and other bright colored veggies, and raw foods? Do you include fermented foods to improve gut health? Have you tried adding a spore based probiotic supplement (such as Totnes’ Probiotics) to aggressively rebuild helpful bacteria in the gut (including the lower intestinal tract, where many probiotics can’t reach)? Most of us have had our gut health compromised via antibiotics, stress and other environmental toxins, so a good quality probiotic can make a big difference in overall health. Probiotics have been a big part of addressing my own health issues, and I firmly believe that they would be a benefit in many other conditions, too. At the very least, they shouldn’t hurt.

  16. Great article
    I am 52, i checkd my blood and i came to know my SERUM TRIGL YCERIDE is 580 , i am planing have some herble medicine, Curry leavs ,cooking with cocount milk and rice ,like as a soup. You have any idea about this? I got this infor from local aurwedic docter in my town.

    1. Curry is well know for its anti-inflammatory properties. In the article “Health Benefits of Curry Leaves“, they state:

      Many research shows that curry leaves have properties that can help in lowering one’s blood cholesterol levels. Packed with antioxidants, curry leaves prevent the oxidation of cholesterol that forms LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). This in turn helps in increasing the amount of good cholesterol (HDL) and protects your body from conditions like heart disease and atherosclerosis.

  17. Hello!
    I’ll be 60 on Tuesday…Yay! And I’ve just been told my cholesterol is high. I don’t remember the numbers as I was in shock after my Dr. said that on the phone!
    I have a super food smoothie for breakfast and lunch with toast and lingon berry jam (yum). For the last year and a half.
    Most all of the things that are supposed to lower cholesterol I consume daily.
    Apparently it’s another part of being a woman this age. Again, Yay!
    I’m still reading a lot about it, thanks for your information! Coconut oil, is that high in cholesterol or does it help lower my numbers?
    Thank you!

      1. I really appreciate you taking the time to dig, I was finding the same thing.
        Thanks lots, glad I found you, so much information I can’t wait to read!

  18. Again, the medical profession has it wrong. Cholesterol is an IMPORTANT part of a healthy person, especially the older we get. It is, very generally speaking, the ‘grease’ that helps keep our joints working. It is also NOT the cause for heart disease!

    Carbohydrates consumed, antioxidant intake, smoking, weight (especially around the middle), lack of exercise, high blood pressure, and HEALTHY saturated fats, all combine to increase your risk factor of heart disease.

    All the above suggested ways to reduce cholesterol are great suggestions though.

    1. Carol – did you read page 2 of the article? (I broke it into two pages because it was so long, but perhaps I should go back to one.) Cholesterol is not the enemy. It is essential to life and health. Unfortunately, many people are forced by their healthcare providers or healthcare plans to try and lower their cholesterol – thus the post.

  19. I’ve been told that mine was very high Dr wanted to put me on meds but I asked if it were possible to give me a year to lower on my own I’ve read some horrible stories regarding Statins. Reading this article will help me to do so. Thank you so very kindly for your advice.

  20. really great amount of FACTUAL info throughout the site, dies the C M A or Ag Can know you exist? gt ready for them to raid you if they don’t. Anyhoo the item on the walnut balls reallllly is important.
    Over in Norfolk county the Kernals Peanuts have REAL peanut BUTTER in many forms, like peanut butter chocolate fudge ice cream; great for desert after the double garlic black peanuts that are put into a chicken, pork or haddock fried rice and veggie supper. deciding which will be eaten first, your walnut bars or quinoa oat barley power bars i make when i want a mid morning or mid afternoon munch. if you want the recipe sent to you send a reply, the medic can’t get it through his head how
    throwing in the burdock weed leaves along with recipes like you put out helps keep the cholesterol and weight levels down. again lots of good ideals for solid thinking on not just for eating.
    ‘ber, my nick name

    1. I suspect we’re on some watch or another for simply encouraging people to grow their own food. My husband used to have pretty high security clearance back in the military, and I’ve had to have background checks done for entering nuke plants, so were white listed back in the day, but it’s been a while. You may find this satire piece I wrote some years ago humorous – “Homeschool Family Raided by SWAT Team for Possession of Raw Milk and Thorium Reactor“.

      Good recipes are always welcome.

    1. I hunted down the abstract for that study and re-linked it. The abstract doesn’t give details on dosage in terms of how many blueberries they ate, only that they consumed varying amounts of blueberry polyphenols. The “time and dose dependent manner” means that their blood work changed over time depending on the dose they were given.

      The title of the study is a mouthful, as they usually are “Intake and time dependence of blueberry flavonoid-induced improvements in vascular function: a randomized, controlled, double-blind, crossover intervention study with mechanistic insights into biological activity.

      Their results and conclusions:

      RESULTS:
      We observed a biphasic time-dependent increase in FMD, with significant increases at 1-2 and 6 h after consumption of blueberry polyphenols. No significant intake-dependence was observed between 766 and 1791 mg. However, at 1 h after consumption, FMD increased dose dependently to ≤766 mg total blueberry polyphenol intake, after which FMD plateaued. Increases in FMD were closely linked to increases in circulating metabolites and by decreases in neutrophil NADPH oxidase activity at 1-2 and 6 h.

      CONCLUSIONS:
      Blueberry intake acutely improves vascular function in healthy men in a time- and intake-dependent manner. These benefits may be mechanistically linked to the actions of circulating phenolic metabolites on neutrophil NADPH oxidase activity.

      So it looks like the blueberries started to kick in around 1-2 hours after consumption, and continued to positively influence blood chemistry for at least 6 hours. (But they didn’t test after 6 hours, so there’s no clear indication of when the impact subsides.)

      Blueberries, like most brightly colored fruits and vegetables, are high in antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation in the body. Reduce inflammation, and blood cholesterol levels may go down because the cholesterol crew has fewer repairs to make.

  21. Have heard of drinking a little bit of water that an egg plant was boiled in daily will bring down your number ? I have a customer that says this has brought hers down a lot . She is in her early 70 s in great shape ,slender and very active so her high numbers must be inherited ? ( she cut egg plant in chunks boils it 10 min in large pot of water, cools it then dips out the pulp and stores the water in fridge ) she said it was working for her and her husband……

    1. I hadn’t heard of this, but some online searching does show that some people use eggplant to lower cholesterol. One site places eggplant and lemon slices in a pitcher of water in the fridge and tells people to drink the water.

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