Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Q & A (Health--Cholesterol and Statins)

This week's question is from J. D. in W. Warwick, RI.

How can I lower my cholesterol naturally so I can stop taking statins?

Cholesterol. How can something we need in our bodies be so bad for us, too? Well, simply stated, more is not better..., and high cholesterol levels proves this maxim.

Cholesterol is a fat (lipid) and a sterol (hormones known as steroids are made from this). Its essential functions in our bodies are to make hormones and vitamin D, forming outer cell walls, and bile acids (for digestion).
We manufacture cholesterol even without eating it in our diets; the body can over-manufacture cholesterol when certain factors are present--heredity, over-consumption of high cholesterol or high-fat foods, or the inadequate use of cholesterol when producing bile.

I won't get into what your numbers should be and all the available medications, you've either heard it before, or you should be asking your doctor to explain the cholesterol fun facts. What I will share with you today are some things you might not hear in your doctor's office, but I add, always speak with your physician before embarking on dietary changes that are significant (especially when adding supplements). "Natural" does not automatically mean safe. Herbs can interact with other herbs and medications. Herbs are the natural or original forms of most medications, usually safer but not always safer. You can also ask your pharmacist about mixing your medications with herbs and supplements.

Each of us is a bio-individual--what works for one is not certain for another; add to that our dietary and medical differences and you have a biological lottery of possible horrific outcomes--the least of which is death...considering life from a vegetative state being the worst possible scenario. I cannot stress enough the importance of taking seriously the use of supplements. Anything in too large amounts is not healthy especially if contraindicated with another medication or herb or vitamin. Substances interact with each other--to help or to harm; by nature they are to do something...

Now that I have terrified you into submission, you are ready for the useful lists of foods to eat, foods to minimize or avoid, supplements to aid digestion and reduce cholesterol, and lifestyle support (note I did not say changes).

I have just started growing a group of glossary/fact pages for all the bits of knowledge necessary to further explain subjects posted in this blog. See the tabs at the top of the page.

Do not expect your cholesterol to plummet and your statin days to be a memory cast aside like a treacherous ex-spouse because you ate some beans and drank green tea. This lifestyle may take getting accustomed to, and you may be able to reduce (or remove) your dependency on pharmaceuticals, but there are no absolutes. Remember, bio-individuality and all the factors of your life. Pay close attention to how you feel and report changes to your doctor immediately.

I don't want to sound like a downer, I want you to be successful in gaining control of your body and its systems. I also don't want to sound cavalier about natural medicine or its affects to your health.

Foods to Eat to Help Lower Cholesterol

Whole grains (oats, barley, oat bran), fresh fruits (high fiber types: pears, apples, raspberries), vegetables (artichokes, broccoli, peas), beans, lentils, split peas, garlic, onions, mushrooms, yogurt, nuts and seeds (about a handful--raw not roasted: walnuts, pistachios, almonds), green tea, avocados, and extra-virgin olive oil (unheated). 

Meat eaters should avoid visible fat and skin. Chicken and fish are the best choices. In fact, fish oil from mackerel, salmon, herring, halibut, and sardines are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids--good for lowering blood pressure and keeping your heart healthy when eaten in moderation.
Flax seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids in lesser amounts. Flax seeds should not be heated or toasted. Their vital fatty acids are rendered not only useless, but rancid once cooked due to their delicate balance.

Foods to Minimize/Avoid

Refined foods (white sugar and flour), processed foods (boxed breakfast cereals, white pasta), fat-laden dairy (milk, cheese, ice cream), animal fats, fried foods, red meats, salty foods (chips, salted nuts, snack foods, canned soup), sodas and soft drinks, and bottled juices (better to eat the fruit rather than to drink a pasteurized, processed juice).

Animal products contain cholesterol, plant products do not.


Brewer's yeast*
Red yeast rice*
Nutritional yeast*
Green tea or green tea supplement
Milk thistle tea or milk thistle seed extract
Dandelion root tea
Cinnamon caps or cinnamon added to oatmeal or tea--1 tsp. per day (also helps manage blood glucose levels)
Maitake mushroom extract
Essential fatty acid complex (EFA oil caps--especially omega-3 rich)
Panax ginseng (protects the liver), taken in extract or capsule or tea
Digestive enzymes (capsules before or during a meal--chewables are also available, but may contain sugars)
Probiotic capsules
Cholesterol blended product, specific to lowering or improving cholesterol and used in conjunction with the above intermittently. Read dosage on labels. Example: Cholesta-Lo

Herbs to stimulate the body to heal itself, not to do the work for the body!

Lifestyle Support

Reduce body weight--it's always in the answer if you are overweight at all. Every 10 lbs. overweight produces extra cholesterol every day.

Regular exercise--daily exercise (even 10 minutes) will lower LDLs and raise HDLs (as well as boost circulation).

Each day pray, meditate, sing, or whatever you do to calm down and relax to a peaceful state or to routinely reduce stress. Stress does more harm in the body than you can imagine. As an example, when you are stressed or experience fear...even for a moment, the body excretes B-vitamins in the urine. B-vitamins are necessary for nerve health (and keeping cholesterol in check). Do you see the cycle? All systems of the body affect each other.

Eliminate all forms of tobacco--nicotine raises cholesterol.

Eat smaller meals towards the end of the day for best metabolism; snacks should be no larger than your fist.

Increase fiber in your diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, oats and oat bran, cooked beans and peas, and nuts and seeds.

Drink 8 to 9 8-oz. glasses of water per day; more if you exercise or sweat from hot weather. Water is necessary to all organs and systems to do their jobs, to maintain body temperature, and to hydrate skin and lubricate joints.

*Please, see the Supplement page (tabbed at top of page) for usage/dosage and warnings.


  1. Are there ANY plants out there that contain cholesterol? I remember hearing people mentioning something about avocados in the past.
    Thanks, Sunday!

  2. Hi There,
    Plants don't have cholesterol, even high-fat fruits (like avocados) don't contain cholesterol. The types of healthy fat they have actually help to lower the LDL (bad) cholesterol, and raise the HDL (good) cholesterol--improving your overall cholesterol number and providing essential fatty acids, enzymes, and loads of vitamins and minerals!
    It is considered a superfood--or superfruit!
    Thanks for the question :)


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