If you're searching for how to lower cholesterol naturally, you've come to the right place.
If you like, you can scroll straight down to the diet list of foods and supplements that naturally lower cholesterol.
But I do recommend reading the whole article to get a full picture of the problem and solution.
I've searched through research and listened to many experts who are on the cutting edge of this topic.
I've also experimented on myself after discovering my lipids were a mess.
This article is what I've discovered to be most useful and important.
*Note, I am not a doctor. This article is my opinion based on what I've seen and experienced and is not medical advice. You should always consult your doctor before taking any supplements, making dietary changes, or analyzing lab results.
There are some affiliate links in this article. All are products I've tried and believe can benefit you
Ok, that's out of the way. Now let's move on.
Why I'm Passionate About this Topic
A while back, I got some deep bloodwork done through a company called Marek Health.
I'd never really paid much attention to my cholesterol before, and assumed I was in great health.
I eat well (I thought), work out all the time, and feel good.
By outward appearances, I looked perfectly healthy and strong.
The results from the bloodwork shocked me.
My lipids (cholesterol) were a mess, my glucose levels were high and by all measures I was at a high risk for cardiovascular disease and pre-diabetes.
This led me down a path of getting as much information as I could to fix the problem asap.
And that's exactly what I did.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is essentially a type of lipid (fat). It is a waxy substance that is made by the liver.
Cholesterol is made by the body because it is extremely important.
It is used by the body for everything from making hormones, to creating new cells.
The first thing to understand is that cholesterol is not "bad."
It is actually vital, and you literally could not survive without it.
In fact, there are studies showing that certain types of cholesterol can be protective against diseases like Alzheimers.
The Framingham Study
Most of the current beliefs surrounding Cholesterol come from what is known as the Framingham Study.
The conclusion of this study was essentially that high cholesterol is bad and is predictor of heart disease.
This is known as the "lipid hypothesis" of heart disease.
The study further divided cholesterol into "good" HDL cholesterol, and "bad" LDL cholesterol.
Major Flaws and Ulterior Motives
As with any study, it is very important not to just take its conclusions as objective truth.
The Framingham study has many flaws.
A great critique of it can be found here in more depth if you want to go deep down the rabbit hole.
From how it was funded, to the bias of those carrying out the study, to the fact that it's a purely observational study (which can never be used to prove causation).
Despite many shortcomings, this study is still the reason your doctor will put you on statin drugs with an outdated and misinterpreted cholesterol test.
Statin drugs are one of the best-selling drugs on the market, and one of the biggest money-makers for pharmaceutical companies.
So obviously, contradicting the notion that cholesterol is the boogey-man is going to be bad for business...
Unfortunately, statin drugs come with a host of undesirable side effects, such as:
- Increased blood Sugar and Diabetes (study here)
- Severe Muscle Damage and/or pain (see here)
- CoQ10 Depletion, which can damage heart function (see here)
- Neurophathy (weakness, tingling, pain in the hands/feet)
The point of this first section is to highlight two important things:
- Cholesterol is not in itself bad and has to be analyzed deeper. Traditional tests do NOT do this.
- Statins are handed out like candy to anyone with even moderate cholesterol levels. This is more due to profits and ignorance than actual benefit to a given individual.
Logic and Reason
When I say that cholesterol is not "bad," what I mean is this:
First, your body would not produce something and place such a high priority on it, with such complex mechanisms, if it was not extremely important and beneficial.
Second, we need to look deeper into our cholesterol to understand which parts are actually harming us and which are beneficial or benign.
And last, it is our diet and lifestyle that cause our cholesterol to become problematic, and it is probably fixable for most people without prescription medication.
This is where an advanced lipid panel comes in.
Before we discuss diet to lower cholesterol, we need to get an accurate picture of what our cholesterol profile looks like.
Below is my original lipid panel done through Marek Health. It was not pretty, as I said.
Advanced Lipid Panel.
To get an accurate picture of your lipids, you have to get an advanced panel.
The way most doctors are using the old method is unacceptable, as we know that we can easily get a much more accurate picture with additional measurements.
In my opinion, the old panel is used as it continues to allow the prescribing of the statin drugs. It's part of the profit machine.
Most doctors are probably just taking the safe route and following the "standard of care," in which case they are free from liability by prescribing statins for "high" cholesterol, as it is the accepted norm.
They should be discussing a diet to lower cholesterol, including lifestyle changes, before handing out medications.
The Real Cause of Heart Disease
While we've allowed cholesterol to be deemed the boogeyman in relation to heart disease, there's another monster lurking in the shadows.
That monster is insulin resistance.
It is estimated that over 10% of the US population is diabetic, and up to 2/3 are pre-diabetic.
This is NOT natural. It's a symptom of a massive problem in our society.
The majority of people with diabetes will eventually develop cardiovascular disease.
This means that through a poor diet and lack of exercise, our bodies have become full of inflammation and resistant to insulin, one of the most important hormones in the body.
When you eat sugars (carbohydrates), Insulin clears that sugar from the blood and stores it away inside cells. When you're resistant, you cannot properly deal with that sugar.
The result is constant inflammation and oxidative stress, among other things.
Heart disease is an inflammatory disease.
The real enemies are sugar, dangerously unhealthy oils, and unhealthy chemicals in our food that cause all of this inflammation and stress.
If this article was titled "how to raise your cholesterol and increase risk of heart disease," the recommendation would literally be the Standard American Diet.
It's All About Your Diet
Starting with what you put into your body, it all comes full circle.
It goes something like this:
We eat a diet full of unhealthy sugars and carbs, seed oils and chemicals..
This leads to insulin resistance and inflammation, along with oxidative stress.
This inflammation and oxidative stress damages the LDL particles transporting cholesterol around your body, shrinking them.
Those now small LDL particles (Small LDL-P on the test), will wreak havoc on your vascular system and arteries, leading to further inflammation and plaque accumulation.
Further, eating this way can also lower your HDL or "good" cholesterol.
The test actually measures the size of the small LDL particles, giving you a snapshot of how damaged those particles really are, and how dangerous they may be.
LDL on its own is not necessarily "bad."
The larger LDL particles are healthy and may not cause problems.
It's the damaged particles that are dangerous, and that's critical to understand.
A test that doesn't differentiate between the two is throwing darts in the dark and handing you potentially harmful medication in the process.
Diet to Lower Cholesterol Naturally
So now the reason you probably clicked on this post in the first place.
What foods can lower your cholesterol naturally?
Here's a list, with links to studies that show they work.
Note some similarities in a lot of these;
They often work as antioxidants and/or have anti-inflammatory properties.
This is addressing the root of the problem, as we discussed earlier.
One of the best supplements to lower cholesterol naturally is Citrus Bergamot.
Bergamot is a citrus fruit native to southern Italy.
Studies have shown that supplementing with Citrus Bergamot can lower both total and LDL cholesterol.
It is thought to be the potency of phytochemicals (flavonoids) that provide this protective effect.
Below is a brand that worked really well for me and is rated very high:
Similar to citrus bergamot, several studies (like this one) have shown that Red Grapefruit (about 1 per day) can reduce triglycerides.
This is likely due to the antioxidants present, including naringenin, a powerful antioxidant.
(note, grapefruit can interact with some medications, so make sure to consult your doctor)
You can also get Naringenin as a supplement, if you don't want to consume grapefruits every day.
Studies have consistently shown that Berberine can reduce LDL and Triglycerides by 20-50 mg/dl.
Berberine is made from the bark, roots and stems of certain plants, so it is natural.
Here is a link to a high quality Berberine Supplement.
Studies have shown that olive oil can reduce total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides, as well as increase HDL more than any other plant oil.
I believe the reason for this is the way it is made.
Other oils like canola and vegetable oil are heavily processed.
If you don't believe me, check out this YouTube Video on how Canola oil is made (gross).
Cold Pressed, Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made by simply pressing the oil from the olives. That's it.
It's important to only buy good olive oil (cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil should be the ONLY ingredient.)
Here's a good one off Amazon:
Garlic has been shown by several studies (like this one) to lower both total and LDL cholesterol by up to 10%.
While the mechanism is not fully understood, it is thought that compounds in garlic inhibit the synthesis of cholesterol in the liver.
Eating about 1-2 cloves/day should do the trick.
You can also blend garlic, olive oil and lemon juice to make an extremely heart-healthy dressing.
Of course, if you don't like garlic, you can always take it in supplement form.
Cod Liver Oil
Cod Liver Oil is a rich source of Omega-3 Fatty acids (DHA and EPA).
Many studies have shown the effectiveness of Omega-3 at reducing inflammation and "bad" cholesterol..
Our typical diets are low in omega 3's, so making this addition can have a profound effect on your lipids and inflammation levels.
This is the one I use (pure ingredients, no fillers, just cod liver oil and lemon).
Lower Your Sugar Intake Dramatically
If you're eating the SAD diet (Standard American Diet), you are probably consuming a ton of carbohydrate and sugars.
As we already discussed, this is leading to insulin resistance, inflammation and oxidative stress in your body.
Eating healthier fats and cutting out a lot of those carbohydrates will lower insulin levels and go a long way to fixing your cholesterol issue, and probably other issues as well.
Here is a fascinating study where people were put on a carbohydrate restricted diet for 12 weeks.
At the end of 12 weeks, their lipid panels were dramatically improved.
The Large LDL particles (good) increased in size and number, and the small (harmful) LDL particles decreased.
This has incredibly powerful implications for improving your risk for cardiovascular disease.
Avocados are naturally full of monounsaturated fats.
Eating about 1 avocado a day (along with avoiding processed foods and sugar) can help raise your HDL cholesterol.
Avocados are one solid way you can replace carbs/sugars with healthy fats and see progress.
This discussion would not be complete without at least mentioning this.
Studies show that increasing cardiovascular fitness has a positive effect on lipid profiles.
It also has been shown to reduce all-cause mortality (higher cardiovascular fitness means you're less likely to die from just about everything.)
By combining increased cardiovascular fitness with an improved diet, you'll have a very solid plan of attack.
Final Thoughts on how to lower cholesterol naturally.
The overarching theme of this article is pretty clear.
Profits often dictate a lot in our current world. Reliance on pharmaceutical products and the widespread consuming of garbage foods is a symptom of that fact.
The root of much of our cholesterol and heart problems lies in what we eat.
Insulin resistance, inflammation and oxidative stress are wreaking havoc on our bodies.
But, we can take steps to combat the problem.
Through eating the right foods, taking the right supplements, avoiding processed foods, sugar and chemicals, you can see dramatic improvements in health, which are likely to be reflected on your lipid panels.
For some people who have genetic disorders and simply cannot control their cholesterol, statins may provide enormous benefit.
But for the majority of us, it's lifestyle changes that are long overdue.
Hope you enjoyed this one, leave a comment and let me know!
Here's another article you might find interesting: How to Get Lean Fast