Have you been told that your cholesterol is too high? Or are you worried that you have to check food labels to check for the levels of cholesterol in food? Should you get your cholesterol checked every year? Have you read or been told that high levels of cholesterol can cause an increase in the risk of heart disease or stroke?
Many people have a lot of questions about cholesterol—and specifically, how food can impact cholesterol. There has been a plethora of evidence in the last several decades indicating the relationship between our diet and the level of cholesterol in our blood.
There definitely is a direct correlation between the foods we choose to eat and the level of cholesterol in our blood, but what about the effects of taking extra nutrients in supplement form?
4 Foods That Lower Cholesterol
It may sounds very exciting; however, what is behind the cholesterol-lowering effects and cardiovascular benefits of strawberries?
The researchers behind the study said there is no direct evidence supporting which compounds have the beneficial effects of strawberries.
However, several other studies have suggested that strawberries’ phytonutrients, in particular the anthocyanins, are responsible for their cardiovascular benefits. The anthocyanins give strawberries their red color.
The other studies documented had participants consume one to two cups of strawberries daily over a one- to three-month period. The results also indicated reduced fat circulation levels (lowered total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol).
The studies also found lower fat oxidation (lipid peroxidation) in the cell membranes of the cells that line blood vessels, and a reduction of angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) activity. Increased high blood pressure risk is typically the result of ACE’s over-activity.
A 2013 Harvard University study also found that strawberry consumption could lower women’s heart attack risk.
Strawberries are also potent in pectin, which is a soluble fiber known to reduce LDL cholesterol as well.
Garlic contains several healthy compounds, the most widely known is allicin. This sulfur-containing compound has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cholesterol-lowering properties.
The addition of garlic extract to the diet equivalent to 4,000 mg of fresh garlic or approximately 4,000 mcg of allicin consumed daily can reliably lower total and LDL cholesterol levels and, after extended use, can also reduce triglycerides and increase HDL cholesterol.
Considering the safety and effectiveness of this herbal extract, I recommend using it as a first intervention compared to other cholesterol-lowering treatments.
3. Fish Oil
Fish oil containing an omega-3 formulation of fatty acids can be very useful in the control of high cholesterol. Fish oil derived from salmon, herring, sardine, or oils from seal and krill which all contain the omega-3 marine unsaturated fats can reliably lower LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and increase the formation of HDL cholesterol.
Even in patients who have high cholesterol, diabetes, and a high risk of heart disease, the addition of three to four grams per day of omega-3 fats has been shown to decrease high levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Niacin or vitamin B3 has been used for several decades to reliably lower total cholesterol. Niacin is also one of the few agents which can selectively decrease LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing HDL cholesterol. Niacin accomplishes this task by the way in which it can uniquely affect the liver.
Niacin can directly affect the manner in which the liver metabolizes cholesterol and triglycerides and can also decrease the formation of blood-clotting agents and pro-inflammatory chemicals.
The problem with niacin is that it can cause flushing and itching of the facial and upper neck areas. This can be prevented with the addition of vitamin C but also by slowly increasing the dosage of niacin.
The other forms of niacin including the sustained-release preparations can be toxic to the liver and the flush-free preparations are relatively ineffective.
The recommended dosage of niacin is between two to four grams per day, taken in divided dosages with food.
Related: More Foods To Lower Cholesterol